I have a friend who is trying to find a job who happens to be deaf. She can read lips and communicate effectively. Currently, she has those facts listed both in her cover letter and resume. When she asked me to review them, I felt like this information is not directly related to the job and thus she should leave it off?

On one hand it is who she is and I wouldn't want prospective employers to feel as if she was trying to hide something from them. On the other hand, it really should not be a consideration as she can communicate effectively and it has no direct correlation to the job.

Any advice or help would be appreciated.

  • 11
    I suspect your friend knows more about this than any of us do. Some employers would react poorly if surprised by a deaf applicant, and later, having had a chance to think, would regret that, but too late. By telling them in advance, she only goes to interviews with those who are ok with it (as they all should be). She might get more interviews leaving it off, but they might not be pleasant experiences or lead to jobs. Jun 11, 2013 at 12:15
  • I would definitely scrap it as irrelevant
    – Balog Pal
    Jun 11, 2013 at 12:29
  • I would think that the time to bring it up, if you think the employer shouldn't be surprised by it, is when scheduling the interview. Before that, why should it matter? Jun 11, 2013 at 15:44
  • She can read lips and communicate effectively. Depends... if the job might involve a lot of communication over the phone / teleconferences, that could be an issue I guess. In my opinion, I wouldn't expect this would be an issue for most working environments, but they're the ones who can figure it out. So it might be best to give them the information. However, maybe it doesn't need to be on the resume. Just something to tell them right away during the first interviews. I guess as most companies do the first screening on the phone this will come up quickly most of the time anyways, no?
    – haylem
    Jun 11, 2013 at 22:43
  • Please add country and region, There are a lot of legal requirements and associated do's and don'ts that depend on them, bu they vary a lot per country.
    – Hilmar
    Dec 1, 2016 at 14:15

4 Answers 4


No, your friend should not disclose deafness on a resume/CV or cover letter unless it will help her get a job. It might be helpful if the job is in a medical field or working with deaf people or similar.

Otherwise, it just gives employers a reason to not interview her. If she can do the job without any accommodation (or if in the US, with reasonable accommodation as per the Americans with Disabilities Act), then she should avoid mentioning it to a company at least until she is offered an interview.

If they want do a phone interview and she can't do that, then she can mention it at that time. The company might choose to do the interview in person or via Skype or other video chat.

If they want to do an in-person interview and no special accommodations are required, then she can either mention it when the interview is confirmed or wait until she arrives. If minor accommodations are required, then she should say so when the interview is confirmed, just as you would do if an interview would include lunch and you have dietary restrictions.

Even if an employer isn't overtly prejudiced, they might feel awkward about interviewing someone who is deaf, thinking they won't know how to act. Avoiding mentioning it early on will allow the employer to evaluate your friend's qualifications without that bias being a factor, even a subconscious one.

  • 1
    Otherwise, it just gives employers a reason to not interview her. It's kind of a strange wording... While I do agree you shouldn't give companies grounds to discriminate unfairly, there's nothing bad with giving them reasons to not interview you, as long as these reasons align with the constraints of their environment. It's a two way street kind of thing, and both parties are trying to find a good match for each other.
    – haylem
    Jun 11, 2013 at 22:45
  • 7
    @haylem - there's a big gap between what some employers should be doing and what they are doing. If you give them a reason, some people will just chuck the resume into the pile with all the obviously-not-the-right-person resumes instead of evaluating it on the basis of the candidate's suitability. Jun 13, 2013 at 16:58

I wouldn't reject or accept a candidate because of a disability but I feel a disability which may require work to accommodate should be highlighted.

It means that if companies need to make special facilities available then they can do so in advance, the interviewers can be aware in advance and additional time potentially allocated to the interview which may be necessary.

Generally when it comes to interviews, don't surprise the interviewers.

Edit: Leave it off the cv, it's not part of your marketing brochure but I'd put it on the cover letter. Better still - use it to demonstrate your (presumed) strength at communication and your ability to communicate with more people than your "average" applicant.

  • A short but good answer, some require special consideration and facilities to enable a fair and easy interview. Nicely put
    – user5305
    Jun 11, 2013 at 12:33

First off, as one may or may not know, it is illegal in the US to discriminate against people with (ADA recognized) disabilities. The only exceptions that I know of, are if the disabled person would be unable to do the job adequately, or caused an unsafe environment. For example a blind person could not perform the job of a bus driver safely or adequately.

I would leave it off to start with. Dont give the interviewers a reason to pass her over before she has a chance to interview. If the interview goes well, that might be the push she needs to get the job that she would have been passed over for.

However, if she finds that she is consistently interviewing and getting turned down for her deafness - illegal, but hard to prove. Then I would put it on, just to weed those companies out.

  • Lots of things are "illegal". People get away with them obviously not by saying, "hey we won't hire you cause you're deaf (or ugly, fat, old, brown,etc), but by giving "legitimate" excuses. Unless you're in a position in the company to know exactly why someone was not hired (it's hardly an exact science), you simply won't know. And I do agree that it's better to leave it off, though many reputable places would still offer her interview (for appearances' sake) if she puts it there and she is qualified otherwise. Whatever she decides, if she impresses in interview, she can win them over.
    – Horat
    Nov 30, 2016 at 21:38

Absolutely include it. The ability to read lips and communicate via sign language are skills to be sold as invaluable to any business. Website designers, for example, have to be American's with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 508 (Government Services Administration) and International Accessibility Compliant aware when designing websites for a government (and certain corporate) entity websites. Whatever her other professional talents and skills, she can get a job with those two talents alone as they are high valued.

These truly are skills that add value to her ability to sell herself for a higher salary (by the way, those who know CPR and First Aid skills can bring added negotiation points towards salary negotiations). Secondly, one does not have to be deaf use sign nor to read lips (* ADA aside, one needn't be blind in order to work with braille either*).

By including these skills on her resume, she's merely acknowledging that she has the skills necessary to communicate with people with hearing impairments. These are valuable skills good employers are well aware of. Such skills can make her stand out more attractively amongst the competition of good talent, especially in the corporate (government contractors too) and government sectors.

  • Another reason to include a disability is that in some countries employer get a bonus in contributions to social security. Therefore, a disability is a financial advantage on itself and could be a reason to hire somebody.
    – Pere
    May 3, 2017 at 20:59
  • Hiring in preference for or against a disability is discrimination. The disability aspect is not identified by the acknowledgement of the stated skills. Just as speaking Chinese or Spanish does not indicate a heritage or either culture, a communication skill in and of itself does not indicate a disability. Therefore inclusion is a benefit to both the employer and the job seeker.
    – Bgrimmer
    May 3, 2017 at 22:30

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