On Tuesday, October 11, 2011, at a public hearing held at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, Seth Bravin of the IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center took a seat on stage opposite Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and ranking member Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. In addition to Seth, other participants addressing the senators about "Leveraging Higher Education to Improve Employment Outcomes for People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing" were:
Senator Harkin opened the hearing with this fact: in the Census Bureau's 2010 American Community Survey, just over 48 percent of 18-64 year olds who are deaf or hard of hearing were employed. Senator Harkin said, "…none of us can be proud of the overall employment situation for people who are deaf and hard of hearing in this country."
After ranking member Senator Enzi made his opening remarks, two panels were introduced. The first panel—the two college presidents—offered 20 minutes of testimony followed by questions and answers. Mr. Buckley said that his institution would remain "committed to maintaining our focus on enhancing the employment of deaf people" while Mr. Hurwitz noted both encouraging employment statistics and several challenges and barriers to success in the workplace for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. These challenges include:
Seth Bravin was part of the second panel where he testified for 10 minutes and then participated in a question and answer session with the committee. Seth called attention to several public policy issues that "inhibit our collective ability to fully enable this segment of the U.S. population to not only obtain gainful employment, but to develop meaningful and economically viable careers." Specifically, he addressed difficulties associated with recruiting, hiring and retention of people with disabilities and the accessibility of information and communications technologies in workplaces and institutions of higher learning.
Read the full text (link resides outside of ibm.com) of Seth's testimony