Written by Mary Pat Withem

When discussing unemployment, the community does not really acknowledge that there is a high number of individuals that are unemployed but rather they are referring to those on SSI/SSDI. Some people that are on SSDI get to work under a certain number of hours for a certain amount of time but that doesn’t mean they are fully employed. While part of this is to blame on the hearing community because of their unwillingness to hire people from the community, the community is also at fault for allowing oppressive behavior to continue on an rampant scale. There are many people trying to be successful that do everything possible to provide for their families and when they turn to their “biggest supporters” from the community, they aren’t getting any support but rather requests for freebies.

There are many people that have spoken up against such lack of accountability in the community. This type of behavior has been very damaging and has hurt the collective culture that is in place. While there are many people that don’t make a lot of money and want to have nice things, they need to think more about how their lack of willingness to pay full price on good quality things made by their peers. Community accountability is not just focused on paying for full price with product purchases but also paying attention to actions.

There are some very talented people in the community and they refuse to work within the community because of how people shortchange them even if bound by contract. It is a ugly epidemic that needs to be terminated. There have been numerous responses from other Deaf people sharing that they quit doing what they loved because other people wanted discounts and didn’t want to pay their fair share. This isn’t a single event. The reality is: the community as a whole, have people that are trying to make a living and get into a better status in society, but do not get fair support. People work hard, try to make money, and are trying to contribute to society in a positive way. Are hearing people the only ones to be blamed for failures within the community?

As a collective culture, people owe it to each other to help everybody succeed.  Some things that could be done is supporting Deaf owned businesses, paying attention to what is going on around you. Another thing is for people to stop going out of their way to get things on the cheap or free when they go out for dinner or even to the store and that includes shortchanging the waiter/waitresses on their deserved tips solely because they cannot afford it and the most common excuse is they’re on SSI with a very limited budget. This is a hard thing to hear but every single thing an individual does reflects upon the community as a whole. While it’s evident that there are a lot of hearing people that are selfish, have no problem stealing, lying, they also have a larger group of people to fall back on. Another thing to remember is, two wrongs doesn’t make a right.


Employment in any form such as self-employed, working for a major corporation that spans the globe, or working for a small local company, is the gateway to a better life and hindering people from being able to make a living is the worst thing anybody can do to another human being. This only demonstrates selfish behavior. Having a great support system in place is not just about employment but also staying true to the word. Carrying a belief system is something that many people need to get through life. When individuals from this community enables oppression through demanding freebies, not standing up to wrongful behavior, and turning a blind eye to things that are morally and ethically inappropriate, it creates a negative opinion from others. Hypocrisy is a terrible habit but is one that many human beings have. If somebody is caught doing oppressive behavior in one way or another, it is the responsibility of other members of this community to do something about it, don’t let this go unnoticed.