Chapter Corner

Hard of Nothing

There are challenges in life that many of us will never experience. Situations that make others question whether or not we’re capable of accomplishing specific activities. IEC Fort Worth/Tarrant County apprentice Hannah Mann has what many of us may consider one of those “challenges.” But where others see difficulty, she sees opportunity. When others question whether she can accomplish a task, she asks what she can do next. When others ask how much she can actually accomplish, she sees no limits on her potential.

Hannah has profound hearing loss. A condition that could easily be used as an excuse by many she has used as a tool to empower her. During her first two weeks at Axxis Building Systems, her employer, she organized and labeled the electrical appurtenances in their panel building area and posted sign language signs throughout the office. While she recognizes that career options are more limited for other deaf or hard of hearing individuals, she believes that electrical can be a great way to close the gap if people know where to find the right resources (accommodations, financial assistance from DVR programs, etc.).

“Hannah Mann is an exceptional employee at Axxis,” said Sophie Purdy, president of Axxis. “Hannah’s hearing does not in any way prohibit her from working successfully in the field. Not only does she possess the talents, such as reliability, promptness, organization, etc., a company would desire from a high-quality employee, she also has exceeded our expectations in many ways.”

When any accommodations have been needed for Hannah at work or school, she has been able to partner with the Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Health & Human Services, National Cued Speech Association, and other organizations to provide the accommodation necessary to work and attend class. Using a “disability” as an excuse to not excel isn’t in her playbook. It never was, and it never will be.


Hannah regularly uses her strengths to benefit Axxis and others. She offers to teach others what she has learned, whether it be her electrical knowledge, professional writing experience, or sign language. You will often find her walking into work with hand-made, color-coded drawings of wiring installations completed in the field. All of this effort is to show her competency and dedication, as well as showcase the capabilities of those many considered “handicapped.”

Hannah has spoken with three other deaf electricians in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, working for a solar installation company, recommending different resources she has utilized to succeed and informing them of the advantages of investing in an IEC training. She also encourages anyone who has any challenges to contact her for advice at There are many different voices championing IEC, but Hannah’s is perhaps the loudest and most influential one of all.

“Electrical isn’t just a way to make money; it’s given me a sense of pride and purpose,” said Hannah. “Five years ago, I wouldn’t have envisioned myself in anything other than an office job. Now I plan to earn a journeyman electrician’s license within the next five years – and I know IEC’s resources will get me there.”

Handicapped is not a word to describe Hannah. Neither is “handicapable.” Hannah is competent, exceptional, and an employee we all would love to have within our company. And there are many more out there that you may not consider due to their perceived difficulties. Everyone struggles in some form; what is truly critical is the steps they take to storm past them and excel.