When it comes to employment opportunities for the d/Deaf/Hard of Hearing (d/D/HoH) community, breaking into the medical field can be tough. “But it’s actually a great fit,” says Rebecca Hull, who helps coordinate the Certified Nursing Aide Training Program (CNATP) at The Independence Center (The IC).
“The medical field is very visual; half of the job is just paying attention to details,” she says. “People who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing are usually exceptionally observant and in tune to visual cues that others might miss.”
That’s one of the reasons the staff at the CNATP decided to try something new. During June 2019, they offered d/D/HoH students the chance to complete the coursework with an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter in attendance.
Another reason is to help address a growing need for qualified RNs and Certified Nursing Aides (CNAs). These professionals are already in short supply at hospitals and other care facilities. And, as the population continues to age, this need will only rise. By 2060, the number of Americans age 65+ is projected to grow to 98 million. In Colorado alone, that age group is expected to double to 1.7 million by 2050.
While hospitals and other caregiving facilities may need to provide certain work accommodations, hiring a CNA with hearing loss has many other potential benefits. Individuals in a hospital or care facility who are d/D/HoH can become isolated or unable to make their needs understood, resulting in poor physical and mental health. By having someone on staff who can communicate with their d/D/HoH residents or patients, medical professionals and facilities can provide better health care.
As one of the first opportunities of its kind in the country, numerous people across the U.S. expressed interest in participating. While most of this year’s class is from Colorado, one student travelled from Maryland to participate. Originally from Sri Lanka, he plans to take the skills he learns back to his home country where there is an even greater need.
“This is just the sort of out-of-the-box thinking that The Independence Center does. By offering training to non-traditional groups such as people who are d/Deaf or speak other languages, we’re opening doors for people who want to work in their community,” said Patricia Yeager, CEO of The Independence Center.
For more information about the CNA Training Program, call 719-648-1020 or CLICK HERE.