COLORADO SPRINGS — Some might assume that people who are deaf or hard of hearing aren’t qualified to work in the healthcare industry, but that simply isn’t true.

“Traditionally it has been difficult for any individual who is deaf or hard of hearing to get a job in the medical field,” Rebecca Hull with The Independence Center Said. “Communication can be a concern. However, our hope is to show people that communication is really not that difficult.”

The Independence Center held its first CNA training class geared specifically toward students who are hard of hearing or deaf. The program has an on-site ASL interpreter, but the students admit there are still a couple of struggles.

“I think the biggest challenge is definitely some of the medical terms don’t translate well in ASL so they have to get creative with how they word things because a textbook isn’t necessarily set up for ASL learning students,” student Stephanie Langhart said.

While the students may have to work a little harder, there are no exceptions or special treatment. Each student goes through the same training seminars.

Starla Sanchez hopes to work in a rehab center or as a home health care worker once she gets her certification. She says the growing demand for CNA’S peaked her interest.

“People need help everyday and if there’s a shortage, whose going to be there to help them?”

Sanchez says she is just as capable of entering the workforce as anyone else and encourages people not to judge others based on their hearing loss.

“Our hearing losses enables us to use our eyes,” she said. “We read body language. It comes naturally to us. Facial expressions and body movements gives us an idea of what people are feeling.”

Skylar Sypher is another CNA student attending the summer 2019 program.

“I want people to see that everyone can be successful if you believe in yourself and you can prove yourself to everyone else and if you have pride, you don’t have to be afraid and can achieve your dreams and goals.”

All of the students in the summer program just completed the training class. The next step is to take the state exam so they can get their official certification and start applying for jobs.

The Independence Center says it hopes to launch the program again next summer and welcomes any input from the public. You can contact the agency directly by calling 719-471-8181.

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