Deaf brain drain

Dec 24, 2012

The Rochester region has a long history of deaf education and culture, but highly trained members of the deaf community are moving out of the region due to a lack of jobs.

One firm that recently opened an office in the city is calling for companies to take advantage of the talent in their own backyard.

Alicia Lane-Outlaw is the Chief Creative Officer for AllOut Marketing in Rochester, and she says there‘s a great deaf community in the city, but when deaf and hard-of-hearing students graduate, they often don’t stick around—even though they want to.

Lane-Outlaw is deaf, and speaking through  interpreter Elise Mongeon, she says she’s not sure if businesses are hiring out of state, or if the job market is contracting, but it’s hard for deaf graduates to find a local position.

“A lot of businesses here in Rochester are really, really missing out on an opportunity that they have, there are resources right here in Rochester, people who are graduating locally and they’re not able to take advantage of their talents" she says. "Now the brain drain in the deaf community that’s being experienced, I do see that here in Rochester. And I see deaf people moving because they’re not able to find jobs.”

Lane-Outlaw says while it is different hiring deaf employees, the companies that do tend to move forward to the cutting edge of communication in the workplace.

She says this is not a problem specific to Rochester, or even the state. She says the struggle for deaf people to find employment that equates to their education level is a pervasive issue around the nation.