hearing loss accommodation in the workplace – part one

hearing loss accommodation in the workplace – part one

i think i can now say i’m deaf without cringing. i still don’t believe it; i don’t really accept it. especially because i do hear some and can’t understand how i can be deaf and still hear something. but i have learned that most deaf, not all but most, do have some residual hearing. and a hearing loss of 90+ dB’s is, well, pretty deaf!

so, past that, let’s talk about heaven. deaf heaven. not religiously of course, but really, what would a deaf person, a newly deafened person, need to make life grand?

shouldn’t have to think too hard but let’s get on with it – we need accommodations. big time. we need the words we can’t hear. especially in our jobs, if we can manage to keep those jobs.

i went back to work this past week. and the day before, just last sunday, my hubby and i were talking, as best as we can talk in the car, and the word “disability” came up. what? me? disabled? even worse – go out on disability?? because i can’t hear? but i feel like me – i’m still me!! i am the same me i was while i worked my way to my assistant prinicpalship!! disability is not my style. i have to find a way!!! i do not want to “retire” !!!!

but what am i going to do? i can’t talk to people – strangers – who i can’t hear, who have accents, who don’t face me. and kids – teens, how am i going to talk to them?? and the phone – oh my god, the phones! i use a tty most times now. in my job, i’m on the phone all the time!! the voice of doubt, the voice of being disabled, started to actually seep into my mind.

don’t worry, it didn’t stay there too long. that’s not my way. <VBG>

i’m a wreck and i go into work monday. we have a meeting where i gave my principal my fm – didn’t help much, but hey, a bit is better than nothing. he used it no problem. and when anyone spoke we passed it, but i was still lost.

so afterwards, i speak to him and to keep this just long and not longer, he says, whatever u need. no problem. we’ll get it. that was monday.

well – have i ever been accommodated at my job!! by Wednesday, I had an interpreter helping me with the phones. a sign interpreter. say whatever you want about sign, but i thank god i know this language. i don’t think about Deaf, deaf, culture, schmulture. sign is another tool in my bag of tricks. and i’ll use it and any other tool i can in order to “hear.”

by Wednesday afternoon, terp #2 arrived, and for our meeting that afternoon, i had two terps – not one! i went into my principal, with trepidation, mind you, and told him, “ummm, the board sent me interpreters, ummm, 2 of them. ummm, they are both here.”

know what he said??????

“wonderful!! this will be fun! exciting to try – let’s see how it works!”

i died and went to heaven.

he came into the meeting, greeted each terp, offered them food and drink and introduced them.

take a deep breath. whew!

Thursday am – the board of ed sent me a terp just for the morning to answer my phones. have you ever seen or experienced an interpreted phone call??? it’s great!! real-time, real-live, wonderful!! takes a fraction of the time of a relay call, which, by the way, everyone i work with is using for me. it’s just great.

anyway, let’s go to thursday afternoon – big, big borowide meeting. big. hundreds of people. guess what i had??? CART!!!!

i’m not kidding – i’m in heaven. <HG> (HUGE grin!)

at first, one of the big-shots of the superintendency came over and started angrily questioning the cart person. before i could say a word, cart was explained. he was sorry and walked away with his head hung a bit lower! then another muckity muck came over – started to say something, then saw me and said, “OOHHH! i didn’t see you here! we’ve just had so many depositions lately, i couldn’t imagine!”

well, i heard. really heard what was going on. i missed less than the hearies. and when it was over, there was a crowd around my CART man. a crowd. they had questions, and wanted his card and his services. why? i don’t know, but WOW!!

next we moved into a different room. i am still amazed, and please forgive this rumination, but i can’t hear. and i have my CART man! we had to go around the room and introduce ourselves. he was at the end, and the group wanted to know – who’s that? and he was introduced as my transcriber. at the end, someone wanted to know if i’d have that all the time. at these meetings i will. and i think that person was jealous! <G>

Part Two