Research Article


The Helen Keller Question Applied to Workplace Discrimination: Hearing Loss vs. Visual Loss

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In exploring the matter of sensory loss and job discrimination, the National EEOC ADA Research Project (NEARP) seeks to answer a singular question.


How do persons with hearing loss (HL) vs. visual loss (VL) experience the nature and scope of workplace discrimination differently, if at all?


The NEARP team uses an ex post facto, causal comparative quantitative design that includes descriptive and inferential, nonparametric statistics. Closed EEOC files involving ADA allegations of workplace discrimination filed by Americans with Hearing Loss (HL, N = 21,847) and Vision Loss (VL, N = 16,136) were compared in terms of demographics, issues, and investigatory outcomes.


HL and VL groups show Demographic differences to one another and to population statistics of sensory impairment in the areas of Gender and Race/Ethnicity. Regarding Issues, HL and VL groups are different from one another with respect to several prevalent matters (i.e., Discharge, Reasonable Accommodation) and small-scale matters (i.e., Hiring and Terms/Conditions). With respect to the Merit of allegations following EEOC investigation, HL and VL are very similar.


Workplace discrimination is experienced differently for Charging Parties who experience HL vs. VL. Moreover, important differences exist Charging Parties from both sensory impairments vs. those from a General Disability Population.

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