Group helped deaf, hard-of-hearing get casino jobs

February 2, 2012 11:12:37 AM PST
New business means job opportunities. Last summer, the Rivers Casino opened in Des Plaines with more than 1,000 new jobs.

Some of them have been filled by people with disabilities.

Even though there were a lot of positions at Rivers Casino, thousands of people applied.

Getting a chance to be interviewed, for deaf and hard-of-hearing jobseekers required some help from a not-for-profit organization.

Working at Rivers Casino can be lively and fun. The best part is, they are open 22 hours every day, which requires a lot of employees.

"You know, some work back of the house and some work in the front of the house. Some have interaction with customers, which is great, and others are behind the scene fixing and doing electrical and plumbing," said Kate McMahon, director of human resources and community affairs. "I say I hire the best candidate... I don't think it should be looked at as any type of disability or anything like that."

"I work on various things, cleaning up, fix things, build things here," said 38-year-old Kuumba Hogu.

Hogu is a full-time employee with benefits and a retirement plan. He is one of seven deaf employees.

Hogu learned about the job through the Anixter Center's employment program.

"Rivers Casino has been an excellent example of what an employer can do when they make the effort to hire people with disabilities. Anixter Center employment services tries to promote people who are deaf and hard of hearing and of other disabilities to find meaning full employment and Rivers has been a real role model for us," said Sarah Michaelson, employment specialist.

For deaf and hard-of-hearing people, communication can be a challenge in the workplace. But Hogu says that is not an issue at Rivers.

"The people here take the time to communicate with deaf people here... they use writing, they're willing to learn and speak sign language, posters in each department and ABC signs posted," said Hogu.

"I guess the best way to describe them is outgoing and very communicative. They work well with everybody else, and they are a huge team environment, all on different jobs that really need a team environment," McMahon said.


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