“I was born with a hearing impairment, but also an innate stubbornness.”

A little girl, who no one understood when she spoke, apart from her closest family, and her big brother who interpreted for her at preschool. Today, aged 20, Sandra has just got her first job at one of the world’s largest auditing firms.  

“I was born with a hearing impairment, but also an innate stubbornness.”
Sandra’s mother was not satisfied with the medical theory that her daughter was just going through that difficult age, and so nagged for an appointment with an audiologist. Sandra, who was then 4, was found to have a congenital hearing impairment, which naturally affected her speech. People who aren’t understood get frustrated and grumpy, but everything changed the day the hearing aid was connected.
“I don’t remember that day myself, but I can clearly see the change in photos of me as a child: 
 
Before:  Grumpy. 
 
After:  Like new. The fact that I accepted the hearing aid from the start meant that my progress was much quicker.”

How was it starting school? 
 “I’ve always been in the same class as my hearing friends, right from primary school through to higher education. Special schools are great, but this route suited me better. I also got fantastic support from Ewa Degerlund, who is a hearing educator. She explained that there was a wireless hearing system with microphones and receivers, and that the technology worked. She was also good at explaining what it was like to be hard of hearing to both my classmates and teachers. The classroom chairs soon stopped scraping on the floor once they had experienced being hard of hearing themselves.”

Have you always been so open about your hearing impairment?
“When I started high school, I was expected to be able to inform people about it myself at school, but that’s easier said than done for a 15 or 16 year-old. It can feel awkward being “different” or “special”. My brother tends to say that I’m not in the least bit special! Haha! He’s quite right. I am who I am.”

What did you want to be when you were little?
“I had a little cash register at home and pretended to be a cashier in a grocery store. That was my dream job. I was six then, but I still like counting money.”
Even while still at school, Sandra came into contact with PricewaterhouseCoopers, PwC. PwC is the world’s largest accounting and consultancy firm with approximately 180,000 employees in 158 countries. The company has around 3,800 employees in Sweden, and one of them is now Sandra. She started in her role as an accounting assistant in September 2012.

How did that come about?
“I was on a study visit to PwC together with a few classmates who were studying accounting and taxation. The company was recruiting and invited us to apply for the job. I got to go to the company and introduce myself over lunch. It went well! I was offered a probationary position, which I accepted. I didn’t actually mention my hearing impairment at the time. Not for want of trying to hide it, but because I just didn’t think about it.
Several months later, my manager came into my room with a surprised look and asked “Do you have a hearing impairment?” I thought that was pretty funny. When looking for a job, maybe a hearing impairment needn’t be the first thing to highlight. PwC are good, but there are other people who are prejudiced towards absolutely everything.”

How do your colleagues treat your hearing impairment and your hearing aid?
“I don’t think they think about it. That’s both good and bad. I use a conference microphone at department meetings when there are between 10 and 15 of us, and that works well. It takes away a lot of background noise, such as coffee cups clinking against the table during meetings. I’m thinking about doing the same as I did at school - letting my workmates try having the same hearing experience as me.”

What’s the best thing about your job?
“This is my first proper job, not including summer jobs. In the beginning, it was largely about taking responsibility, being punctual, and learning to cooperate. I learn something new every day and am always progressing.
Perhaps I’ll make a career within the company as it’s so big, with sizeable projects and great opportunities. Perhaps I’ll want to study more. Perhaps I’ll want to travel abroad. We’ll see! Anything is possible!

Name:  Sandra Granfeldt
Age:  20
Family:  Mum, dad, big brother
Job:  Accounting Assistant
Free time:  Elite-series bowler