About Breaking The Sound Barrier

Breaking The Sound Barrier is a public communication campaign that aims to encourage employers to hire the deaf in Singapore.

Driven by four final year students from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, the campaign engaged employers, human resource practitioners and other persons involved in the hiring process through a combination of online and on-ground activities. The key message of the campaign was “deaf persons can be as capable as the hearing, if they are given the chance at their respective workplace”.

The campaign highlighted the capabilities of the deaf by:

  • Sharing success stories of employers and companies that hire the deaf; and
  • Sharing inspiring stories which feature how deaf persons overcome barriers at work through their determination, creativity and adaptability.

Talks that sought to debunk misconceptions about the deaf and provide in-depth information about deafness including grants available to support hiring of the deaf, were also organised at co-working spaces and individual offices. Watch the video below to view and learn more about the basics of Deaf culture.

We are at The Co. Singapore for our networking session today! Tune in to learn more about hiring the deaf to grow your business!First up: Basic understanding of Deaf culture #thecosingapore #btsbXtheco #breakingthesoundbarrier

Posted by Breaking The Sound Barrier Singapore on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

 

The campaign also saw the first “Escape The Sound Barrier” event where hearing employers learnt to communicate and interact with deaf persons through a shared ‘Escape Room Challenge’ experience. Watch the video below to hear the sharing of some participants about their experience.

Hear what our Escape The Sound Barrier! participants have to s…

Hear what our Escape The Sound Barrier! participants have to say about their experience today in #Breakingthesoundbarrier #Escapethesoundbarrier

Posted by Breaking The Sound Barrier Singapore on Saturday, February 25, 2017

 

The media, notably TODAY and Channel NewsAsia, featured our campaign and its cause. This has helped to further raise awareness about deaf employment – companies started to approach Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) for job-matching services to hire the deaf.

The Highlights

  • More than 1.2 million persons from the target audience have been exposed to the campaign via both its online and on-ground platforms.
  • At least 100 participants attended the workplace talks and “Escape The Sound Barrier” event.
  • Improvements to the attitudes and intentions towards hiring the deaf has been observed among employers at the end of the three-month campaign.
  • There were five companies who have approached us for job-matching services with VWOs after being exposed to the campaign via its website and social media pages. Two of such companies were Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and WBL Engineering & Distribution Pte Ltd (WBL) – our team arranged a meeting with these two organisations and TOUCH Silent Club, our partnering VWO. At the meeting, both TTSH and WBL shared on job openings that could potentially be filled by deaf clients of TOUCH. All parties have brought the job-matching process beyond the meeting and discussions are still on-going.
  • The campaign’s social media performances were found to be better than those belonging to organisations with similar causes or objectives in encouraging employers to hire Persons with Disabilities. One of the VWOs, SPD, contacted our team in wanting to learn how we achieved this success, and we gladly obliged!

The Memories

Reflection #1 – The Challenges

Difficulty reaching out to our target audience

Our target audience for the campaign were persons involved in the hiring process such as managers, human resource practitioners and other employers.

We faced difficulty in getting more of them to be part of our research and campaign evaluation, and the long lead time needed to tie down talks and interaction events at their workplaces made it tough for us.

When we realised how hard it is to tie down workplace talks and interaction events with individual companies due to red tape, we decided to change our strategy. Knowing that a ready pool of our target audiences were available at co-working spaces, we decided to approach the management of these spaces and they were very enthusiastic about our talks. Three workplace talks sessions were held in total, including one at The Co. Singapore.

We had first planned to organise an interaction event with Marina Bay Sands Singapore and their employees, but it didn’t happen due to some difficulties faced by both parties. Hence, we decided to make the interaction event a public one instead, which meant that it was open to any employer from any company. The promotional efforts of this public interaction event was made through Facebook and LinkedIn advertisements. The result was a memorable and meaningful experience for all participants (both deaf and hearing) who attended.

Partnering organisation was too busy

Due to many different tasks on hand and miscommunication among the various departments of our main partner, The Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf), support for our campaign proved to be difficult, especially when it came to inviting them as important guests to our workplace talks and interaction event.

To overcome this, we reached out to other VWOs such as TOUCH Silent Club. We are heartened that in the end, we were able to not only get the support needed to execute our events and digital campaign, but also managed to help TOUCH Silent Club in their work of encouraging deaf employment.

Reflection #2 – The Takeaways

  • We now have more in-depth understanding about issues that the Deaf community face in Singapore, especially in the area of deaf employment.
  • We learnt that we have to be more aggressive in reaching out to our target audience. It was only after the first month when we realised that the target audience was much harder to reach out to than expected. If we were to implement the project again, we would be more active in (1) conducting door-to-door visits with various companies; (2) firming dates for the talks and interaction events much earlier, so as to ensure enough time for the respective companies to gain approval with their relevant stakeholders; and (3) crafting our messages to attract more potential employers – for example, instead of directly centering our event on the cause we are promoting (i.e. deaf employment), we could center it on a skill they would like to learn, such as “how to hire the best talents for your company?
  • We should have been more careful in ensuring that our selected potential partnering organisation had the bandwidth to support our campaign.
  • The team has learnt that it is possible to change the mindsets of employers and hiring managers towards deaf employment. As long as they are informed of the deaf employee’s capabilities, have social proof and examples of other companies that are already doing so, he/she will stand a good chance of being employed. This showed that employers and hiring managers are actually opened to the idea of deaf employment.
  • We also learnt that it is necessary to continue public communication efforts to raise more awareness about the support available for employers to make their workplaces, a more inclusive one for Persons with Disabilities.