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The impact of disability can increase in low income countries where there may be fewer services and trained staff, and exclusive attitudes in society
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Diversity amongst deaf communities worldwide

this image shows Philip Waters and other individuals attending a workshop on evaluation in the Philippines in June 2014
© Philip Waters
Philip Waters (far left) participating in an evaluation in Mindoro, Philippines in June 2014.

For the International Week of the Deaf 2014, Philip Waters, Programme Officer at CBM Australia talks about diversity at the workplace amongst deaf communities around the world.

Inclusion at CBM

This image shows Philip Waters smiling at the camera ©Susan Emerson
Philip Waters during a project visit in Luzhou, China in September 2013
I am a Program Officer of Philippines, Indonesia and China for CBM in Australia. CBM Australia is very supportive by providing sign language interpreters both in the office and to accompany me when I travel. We also have annual deaf awareness training with some Australian Sign Language lessons. 

Internationally, there are at least 5 deaf and hard of hearing staff working for CBM with various roles such as a Senior Technical Advisor, Assistant Officer for Inclusive Development, Project Coordination Manager and Administrative Officer.

Restrictive attitudes must change

Human diversity of peoples around the world is mirrored by the diversity within the deaf community. Deaf people have a diverse range of employments just like everyone else. Common perceptions around the world exists that without speech, it is not possible for deaf people to be educated or have meaningful employment. Many societies believe deaf men can only do physical labour or trades such as carpentry or motor repairs. As for deaf women, jobs are limited to painting, drawing or sewing. These attitudes can be very restrictive and place a barrier to achieving a greater range of human diversity. 

Right to meaningful employment

This image shows Philip Waters with other CBM staff and partner staff in Xinjiang, China in September 2013. ©Cindy Cave
Philip Waters with other CBM staff and partner staff in Xinjiang, China in September 2013.
Article 27 of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities relates to the rights of deaf people to meaningful employment, which also includes access to training and workplace modifications to enable deaf people to work. Additionally the International Labour Organization has also set standards for people with disabilities and employment.

In fact, deaf people can and do a wide range of jobs. Listed are examples of jobs deaf people exercise with an example of a well-known deaf person:

  • Dentist – Dr Steven Rattner
  • Sky diver – John Woo
  • Actress – Marlee Matlin
  • University President – Dr Robert Davila
  • Head Chef at JW Marriot in China – Sean Han
  • Lawyer – Rebecca Adam
  • EU Member of Parliament – The Hon Dr Adam Kosa
  • Emergency Services – Andrew Welshe
  • Philosopher – Dr Teresa Blankmeyer Burke
  • US Army Cadet – Private Pete Nolan
  • Street Performer – Tie Feng
  • Olympian – Dean Barton-Smith
  • Journalist – Dawn Jani Birley
  • Film maker – Samuel Dore
  • Regional Policy and Campaigns Manager – Washington Opiyo

And the list goes on. All of these people are deaf and use sign language as their first language. By removing barriers in education and employment, deaf people have shown they can and do anything.


Kentalis International in association with CBM has recently launched a video featuring deaf role models in Kenya. Successful deaf professionals share their stories about how they achieved their goals. Have a look! 

More reading

International Week of the Deaf 2014

This International Week of the Deaf we are featuring deaf staff within the CBM family, and at our partner organisations in Cambodia and Gaza

22-09-2014

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