History Through Deaf Eyes – Wartime Opportunities

During World Wars I and II, male industrial workers leaving their jobs for the military created employment opportunities for women and minorities, including deaf people. Deaf employees established impressive work records and supported the war effort in industries producing military products such as gas masks, missiles, tires and machinery. Deaf people also filled non-factory jobs that became available when hearing men were called to war.

Firestone employees

(Left) An “armature winder” works at a Firestone plant. (Right) The woman is feeding ply stock into a machine that molds tires. The huge demand for factory workers during World Wars I and II created job opportunities for deaf people as never before. Gallaudet University Archives, Benjamin M. Schowe, Sr. Collection