Early Career Job Satisfaction for Full-Time Workers Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Article excerpt

This study presents the results of a quantitative study of job satisfaction (i.e., the degree to which an employee feels good or bad about his or her job) for a sample of deaf and hard of hearing alumni of postsecondary education programs. Hearing-impaired people comprise almost ten percent of the nation's working-age population (ages 16-64). Within this population, about 500,000 individuals became deaf before age 19, 2.2 million became deaf between age 20 and 64, and about 9.6 million people aged 16-64 are hard of hearing. These figures were derived by the authors based on prevalence estimates provided by the National Center for Health Statistics (Reis, 1994) and estimates of the size of specific age groups within the general population (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1991).

A comprehensive literature search involving electronic searches and contacts with VR and postsecondary education experts netted 13 published and unpublished empirical studies of job satisfaction for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Generally, these 13 studies report that most study participants indicate they are satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs, with relatively few participants reporting being dissatisfied (Bigman, 1960; Boatner, Stuckless, & Moores, 1964; Christiansen, 1982; El-Khiami, 1993; Grant, Marron, & Welsh, 1981; Grant & Welsh, 1981; Johnson, 1993; Justman & Moskowitz, 1963: Lunde & Bigman, 1959; Mowry, 1986; Schein, 1968; Schein & Delk, 1978; Vescovi, 1973). This pattern has been observed repeatedly even under such diverse research methodologies as mail surveys and interviews conducted in sign language.

Five of the studies reported results from subgroup comparisons. Individuals who are highly satisfied with their employment tend to have more hearing ability and are more orally competent (Bigman, 1960). Among graduates of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), those with a bachelor's degree were generally more satisfied with their jobs than those with postsecondary certificates (Grant, et al., 1981). Mowry (1986) interviewed 22 deaf former vocational rehabilitation clients. He found that those who earned more money and with less job tenure were more satisfied. Grant and Welsh (1981) concluded from a study of deaf NTID alumni that females tended to be more satisfied than males with various aspects of a job, such as satisfaction with pay, co-workers, and the job in general. El-Khiami (1993) surveyed 490 deaf or hard-of-hearing alumni from 47 special postsecondary programs. She found that the least satisfied workers were machine operators followed by technical or administrative support (clerical) workers; the most satisfied were workers in professional or managerial occupations.

Each of the aforementioned studies described participant's levels of job satisfaction or the relative levels of job satisfaction for subgroups. This focus stems largely from the specific reasons for which postsecondary institutions and VR agencies study job satisfaction. In both settings, measures of job satisfaction are included among a broader array of outcome measures used to assess the effectiveness of delivered services. Nevertheless, both postsecondary institutions and VR agencies can benefit even more from the additional ability to predict the levels of satisfaction for their consumers as well as from an improved understanding of the effects job satisfaction might have on other work-related outcomes. Such information will not be available Until researchers begin to report the results of studies designed to identify variables which, at minimum, are correlated with measures of job satisfaction, and preferably, are either predictors of job satisfaction or are outcomes of job satisfaction. That is, rather than descriptive studies, multivariate studies are needed.

This paper presents a constructive reanalysis of data from one of the aforementioned studies (El-Khiami, 1993) using multivariate procedures to analyze data. …