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Siddow
03-17-2007, 03:45 AM
You know, those folks who hook up to my computer and fix whatever I did wrong? Live chat with tech support?

I'm wondering if this would be a great job for a deaf person. I'm in the planning stages of a novel with a deaf MC (and that's another bunch of research I have to do, but fortunately my library has a ton of books on the subject), and since he's intelligent and independent, I need to give him a job. He would never live on disability or let others take care of him.

Anyway, my main concerns are: could a person in this position work solely on the computer and never have to deal with the phones? How much education must he have? Would a small tech school (Associates degree or even a certificate) be sufficient, if additional education was required at all? Do they even do this stuff from the US anymore? :tongue

He could have gone to a four-year college, I guess, but I'm thinking the story starts when he's 20, and I don't want him still in school. I could always make him 23. No big difference there.

Any information about the job environment appreciated. The story (at this point) doesn't revolve around his job, but a few references to it are, I think, important in rounding out the character. Hilarious anecdotes are also appreciated!

And if you know of another job that would be more suitable, I'd like that, too. He just needs to earn enough to support himself. And probably a dog.

Medievalist
03-17-2007, 03:58 AM
No, it really wouldn't unless he dealt solely with users relying on text/deaf users/teletype etc.

The average user with a computer problem is even less coherent in text.

But . . . I know some hellaciously good deaf programmers, graphic artists, writers, and librarians.

Siddow
03-17-2007, 04:31 AM
The average user with a computer problem is even less coherent in text.


LOL! I know I am. I have to tell them, "Talk to me like I'm a 4-year-old."

I had one tell me (on the phone, the computer was kaput) to open the tower. I was like, "How? With a hammer?" :Shrug:

Linda Adams
03-17-2007, 04:58 PM
At one of the companies I worked at, we had an online tech support of about three technicians. People from all over the U.S. called them when they had trouble with their computers (one person called in with this question: "How do I enter text on the screen?"), and the technicians often used a program to interface with the other computer and work out the problem. But the technicians never just sat at a desk and worked with a computer and never talked to anyone. Help Desk is always about the people who need help with the computer problems.

Now, if you had an onsite technician, that person could be deaf. Once a ticket gets escalated to desktop support, someone goes out and sees the client in person to try to fix the problem.

But here's another option: Maybe your fellow works for the government, since in government jobs you are very, very likely to see people with varying disabilities. It's even possible they may require other workers in the same area to learn sign language (I know someone who had to do that). That person could be the "unofficial" techy, since there's usually at least one in every office. He's the guy everyone calls on first before they call the help desk because they really don't want to spend time on the phone (or don't want to deal with the help desk).

If you're willing to hunt around, this ezine does have some articles written by a help desk technician. http://pubs.logicalexpressions.com/Pub0009/LPMIssue.asp?ISI=0

Tsu Dho Nimh
03-17-2007, 05:14 PM
You know, those folks who hook up to my computer and fix whatever I did wrong? Live chat with tech support?

I'm wondering if this would be a great job for a deaf person. I'm in the planning stages of a novel with a deaf MC (and that's another bunch of research I have to do, but fortunately my library has a ton of books on the subject), and since he's intelligent and independent, I need to give him a job. He would never live on disability or let others take care of him.

Do you need him to work from home, travel from client to client, or have a regular job in a cube farm?

He can do any of the above ... figure out what your plot needs in the way of his location and I can tell you what he can be doing. There are a lot of IT jobs that the customers don't see.

Programming
Database administration
System administration
Network setup and maintenance
Computer security


He could have gone to a four-year college, I guess, but I'm thinking the story starts when he's 20, and I don't want him still in school. I could always make him 23. No big difference there.

FYI, one of the major contributors to a huge Open Source project was 14 ... no one knew or cared his age. It only became an issue when a group invited him to the US for a coinference and he told them he was too young to leave the country without an adult companion. So they invited his mom too.

Siddow
03-17-2007, 05:34 PM
I want him to have a regular job with everyday co-workers. The job itself can be boring as crap; what I need is for MC to have a couple of pals from the office.

And I just got your screen name. LOL! Good one!

Linda Adams
03-17-2007, 06:27 PM
How about Web design? That does require a lot of work at a computer, usually on a cube farm (by the way, I know of someone who is deaf who does design Web sites from a cube farm). But he'll also end up interfacing with the people he's designing the sites for, usually at meetings.

Managers will often get locked into a particular mindset of how the graphics will look (never mind that their idea of graphics might be truly horrible). I've seen one manager leave up a truly awful Web site that hurt business because he kept rejecting every site design as not being perfect graphic-wise. Another came to a meeting with a PowerPoint slide of what she thought the Web site should look like--and unfortunately, it looked like what it was, a PowerPoint slide, not a Web site. The same manager was so insistent on the site looking that way (it was a site shared by two departments, and her department didn't own it; the one doing the design did) that she refused to discuss content until the site looked the way she wanted it. Content never did get discussed with that manager.

But chances are, he would be working with other Web designers and possibly database guys as well (a lot of sites use database), so there would be people he could socialize with. Though, in truth, they don't necessarily even need to be in the same job ... they could just sit near each other (or one near the copy machine or the water cooler, etc.).

Siddow
03-17-2007, 06:42 PM
Thanks again, Linda. Web design sounds good. And thanks for the story, too. Could make for a little middle of the book conflict while MC is trying to resolve the main plot.

Leva
03-18-2007, 01:10 AM
My day job is answering correspondence and e-mails for a major corporation. A lot of it revolves around technical help for customers with the company's web site.

A deaf person could do it easily, as long as they're able to write fluently in English. (English is a completely different language than sign, and some people who are deaf are NOT fluent in English.)

Biggest issues I see would be communicating with a supervisor/coworkers and team meetings. Both could be overcome by various obvious methods.

Sometimes people want to be called rather than e-mailed back -- those e-mails would need to be passed to a coworker, who might be a bit resentful of the added work.

spike
03-18-2007, 05:00 PM
Siddow,

I just re-read your opening post and see that you plan to do more research. I missed that the first time and I realize that my post might seem a little harsh. But I'm leaving my post intact because I think it will give you areas to research.

My original post:

Are you in the US? If so, you might want to research the deaf community. Most do not qualify for disability (you would need an additional ailment), and most deaf people do not consider themselves to be disabled or handicapped.

You can find deaf people in most jobs, other than those that require heavy telephone or speaking work. Employers must make "reasonable accomondations" for their deaf employees. I worked in a computer support department with a deaf man and he had his service dog with him.

Most deaf people can read lips and many can speak. If not, they all can read and write and often use that as a better mode of communication with the hearing world.

I do work tech support, and it would be hard for a person to do a helpdesk type position. Although you can get full support from Dell's website, including chatting, via text, with a tech, without ever picking up the phone. But I don't know if that would be the person's only assignment. Where I work, most is done by phone.

He would probably need a minimum of an associates degree and industry certifications. And he could certainly do bench testing and desktop support.

When I worked in a Atlantic City casino, the hard count room was almost entirely staffed by deaf people. Hard count is where the coins are counted and it is terribly noisey. The job pays well, because no one wants to do it. Even with the required protective ear covering and noise dampening devices, you leave with a headache. Unless you are deaf.

Assuming you are in the US, you need to know the difference between Amslan (American Sign Language) and Signed English. The former is a language all its own, with syntax different from English where the latter is direct translation of English into Sign.

I think it's great to have a deaf main character, but please, don't have him be a loner or use any of the other stereotypes. In most cities there is a vibrant deaf culture, and with the internet, it has expanded.

Medievalist
03-18-2007, 08:08 PM
He could have gone to a four-year college, I guess, but I'm thinking the story starts when he's 20, and I don't want him still in school. I could always make him 23. No big difference there.

He'd need to go to a four year college, realistically to work in technology at a high level or in graphic design. There are a number of deaf students at most large universities, I've had a number as students. Some use a sign interpreter, and I've had two who relied on lip reading, and note-takers. There's Gallaudet (http://www.gallaudet.edu/) University, a top-notch school for the deaf; they have one of the best writing programs anywhere, with some fabulous teachers.

Siddow
03-18-2007, 10:00 PM
Thanks, everyone. Spike, your post was great and I'm glad you left it intact. You really put a bug in my ear with that casino job; I haven't settled on a location yet but right now I'm loving the idea of him being in that type of environment. Lots of chances to make friends with all sorts of people in a casino atmosphere. Lots of sub-plots, too. And I love casinos, just went to Vegas a couple months ago.

And don't worry, I have no plans to write about a loser/loner character. I'll do as much research as I can, and when I'm ready for betas, I'll make sure to include at least one deaf person (even if I have to beg and plead and bribe). I wouldn't want to do anything offensive. I'm not making him deaf just because, it's essential to the plot.

If I wasn't so hung over today (damn you, St. Patrick!) I'd hit the library right now. It'll have to wait until tomorrow.

spike
03-19-2007, 01:40 AM
You're welcome. And if you need any info about AC casinos, let me know. I worked in one for quite a while.

benbradley
03-19-2007, 03:05 AM
No, it really wouldn't unless he dealt solely with users relying on text/deaf users/teletype etc.

The average user with a computer problem is even less coherent in text.

eBay uses "live chat" for "live help," tech and other types of support. For some reason eBay does not offer telephone support. I understand (from reading the eBay discussion boards) that this work is done in India, and that a live support person is often "chatting" with several users requesting help at a time. I've never used it myself, but I've seen several "transcripts" of such chats posted online. I don't know if any of these people are deaf or how/if being deaf would affect their job, but such workers would also need to communicate with supervisors (presumably done by voice most workers) for problems they don't know how to solve (just like any other "customer service" worker).

L M Ashton
03-19-2007, 12:39 PM
Fahim's done online tech support for a few years, and it's all over the internet. The only time he uses his hearing/verbal skills is to call a manager who's not online with an urgent message about this server or that being down. He's also come across remote programming jobs - no actual human interaction required.

Really, whether this type of work is possible or not depends much more on the company than on the industry.

Medievalist
03-19-2007, 01:10 PM
Fahim's done online tech support for a few years, and it's all over the internet. The only time he uses his hearing/verbal skills is to call a manager who's not online with an urgent message about this server or that being down. He's also come across remote programming jobs - no actual human interaction required.

Yeah . . . but.

Look, to be really blunt, Fahim is way atypical. He's really really good, technically, and verbally.

Nine out of ten people doing tech support are very much not good verbally/writing. They really aren't.

The other thing about consumer tech support is a lot of time they're wanting support for a computer that isn't working well enough for chat.

Sandi LeFaucheur
03-19-2007, 02:28 PM
Why don't you contact an association for the deaf? Here is a link http://www.nad.org/site/pp.asp?c=foINKQMBF&b=91587 I dare say they would be pleased to help you with your research, and thus help to dispel stereotypes.

Bear in miind that there are degrees of deafness, just as there are degrees of blindness. Maybe someone who was born profoundly deaf would have different capabilities than someone who lost his hearing later in life--maybe by industrial accident, for instance.

Since I know very little about deafness, I'm going to shut up and suggest once again you contact those people with the greatest knowledge.

L M Ashton
03-19-2007, 05:52 PM
Medievalist, yes, I fully acknowledge that Fahim is very unusual :D, but that's beside the point. He's one example for a whole group of people who do the same sorts of things. Siddow wanted to know if the scenario was plausible. It is. There are people who do that sort of job. That some or even most people have lousy communication skills is irrelevant to the question of plausibility for the purposes of fiction. :)

Siddow
03-19-2007, 06:02 PM
Thanks, everyone. I did make it out to the library yesterday and picked up several very interesting books on deafness. Choices in Deafness has been a great read, lots of info on the different degrees of deafness, the difference in learning between those born deaf and those who become deaf after language has been learned...very cool stuff. It goes into the different ways to teach the deaf, and has stories about the students...makes me want to go volunteer, really.

And did you know that there's an organization called Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, acronym SHHH? That made me smile.

This book is going to be a challenge, but I'm excited about it. All this background work is making my character more real; I want to meet him. Too bad he's in so much trouble. :D

RumpleTumbler
03-19-2007, 06:04 PM
I do remote support all day long. I have a chat box that I can use. 99.9% of the time I'm on the phone with them at least until I know what the issue is. Could I use the chatbox? Sure. It would be slower but it could work. Would the clients accept the use of the chatbox exclusively? That would be the question.

Tsu Dho Nimh
03-19-2007, 06:27 PM
Siddow -
As a side detail, I have seen stories about landlords with properties where the ambient noise made them "undesirable". They altered them with flashing lights for doorbells and a few other modifications and deliberately rent to the hearing impaired.

Or, if he is profoundly deaf, you could give him a sweet deal on an apartment ... he doesn't hear the whatever it is that drives the others away.

TrainofThought
03-19-2007, 08:31 PM
Donít make the MCs occupation IT support it makes for a boring character; unless you go into stories about the technically challenged underworld of Corporate America. :D

vile
03-24-2007, 03:13 PM
As to the education question, I've worked in the industry since 2000 (technical support for Internet service, web hosting, and websites) and my education didn't really help me at all. It all has to do with ability and knowledge, and honestly, colleges don't always care about that. Then again, I've been using computers since I was 14 or 15 (31 now) and have taught myself to do things on them, like web design, development, etc.. None of the people I work with now have degrees, but we're a small company, so there is probably a difference between us and the big companies who have strict requirements.

The web hosting company I worked for did chat support. Most of it was outsourced through a company in India, but they were trying to get away from that, so they were slowly training us to use it. I don't think it's unreasonable to say that they would employ someone to do just chat and email support. In a big enough company, that's more than enough for a group of people to tackle.

Maybe it's true in the bigger companies to have a tech support person not be good at written or oral communication, but MOST of the places I have worked, a certain level of intelligence has been required. AOL would definitely be an exception to that rule, though. I've known people that have worked as phone support/sales and also people that have been supervisors there. AOL did not like hiring real computer technicians. They wanted people that were comfortable reading from a screen. Anyway, AOL's call centers have all been moved to India as of January. What a shocker.

cnihosting
03-31-2007, 02:47 PM
Hi,

In my company, we have a person dedicated to answering emails.
This preson rarely talks on the phone.

Also, the people who "do" talk on the phone, if they cannot resolve
the issue in ten minutes, they create a ticket for the Tier 2 & 3
agents who are capable of doing repairs on the server. These agents
also rearely work on the phone.

In taking calls, we do have deaf customers who call and use a RELAY STATION. They call a relay station, type what they want to say and
who they want to call. The RELAY OPERATOR will then make the call
and translate back and forth from the text with the deaf person and
TALK to the person on the other end. This is how we support our
deaf customers over the phone for issues that cannot be efficiently
resolved via email with them.

I hope that helps.

L M Ashton
03-31-2007, 05:29 PM
That's also a very cool company for doing that. Welcome to the cooler, cnihosting. Feel free to introduce yourself in the newbies forum. :)