The four research questions for this project are:
- In which ways do audist normative structures influence deaf people’s motivations in setting up their own business or becoming self-employed?
- What strategies do deaf business owners use to navigate an audist normative structured labour market?
- How do deaf-led businesses affect the social construction of deafness/being deaf?
- What implications do deaf-led businesses have for deaf people’s opportunities in an otherwise ableist/audist labour market?
I visited and observed at five different businesses (both deaf related and mainstream businesses) and interviewed nine different business owners, and three employees from different businesses. Regarding the first research question on motivations, the literature linked to minority business ownership shows that for minority businesses, especially disabled people, barriers in the labour market are an important motivation factor for marginalized groups to set up own businesses. However, my research shows that many of participants who have maintained their businesses for several years, don’t say they set up own business because of audism/barriers. Rather, they had similar entrepreneurial motivations as typical white male able-bodied entrepreneur: they wanted growth, being their own boss, generate profit, and to develop their business. The finding is similar to studies that have shown that for example gay men were motivated to set up own businesses not because of direct discrimination, but because they wanted the chance of creating a comfortable environment for themselves (e.g. avoiding homophobia). Similarly, my study shows that some of the deaf owners were motivated in setting up a business in the deaf-related sector, because of accessible, signing environments where they do not have to do additional labour in communication.
“Deaf businesses and deaf capital” during SIGNS@HWU webinar in Dec 2020: “The deaf eco-system: Local businesses, global connections”: https://youtu.be/ISl2QrqjY8c
“Deaf people’s coping strategies in an everyday employment context” in Deaf Studies Digital Journal (05, 2020): https://doi.org/10.3998/dsdj.15499139.0005.011