Chapter 6 of Illusions of Equality continued…
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Evidence from New Deal agencies, state labor bureaus, and private-sector surveys demonstrates that the most common obstacle deaf applicants faced may have been the refusal of government officials and private employers to hire them. Challenging private-sector exclusion presented deaf workers with often insurmountable difficulties. Constrained by their determination to rely upon strategies whose effectiveness depended upon the goodwill of prospective employers, deaf leaders had few tools at their disposal. Determined to maintain a portrait of competence among would-be employers, leaders rejected efforts to mandate either state or private employment or even to argue openly that deaf people had a right to a job. Such programs and claims, they believed, implied that deaf adults were incapable of succeeding and needed protections such as those provided for "handicapped" workers. Instead, most leaders worked to educate reluctant employers through labor bureaus. When existing bureaus fell short of their creators' inflated or poorly examined expectations, however, deaf workers had no effective mechanism to challenge their exclusion.
At the end of the 1930s, the ongoing unequal association between private employer and deaf petitioner remained a primary cause of unemployment and hardship among deaf women and men. This imbalanced relationship would be leveled and the status of deaf working women and men elevated -- or so it seemed -- during World War II.