disability

Why I demand professionals act professionally


As so often happens, cross-pollination of ideas occurs between Facebook, Blogspot, WordPress, Readit, and many other sites.

I’ve been feeling as if this blog is full of nothing but complaints (at times) and then something enlivens me  to write yet again.

A person on another site, in a galaxy far, far away, suggested seeing the humor in being mistreated by medical personnel who can’t remember the person they’re talking to is extremely Hard of Hearing (deaf). I mean, aren’t they the dumb sort of person who talks louder when the person is a foreign language speaker as if that would help?

The humor in it? REALLY?!!!

Is it funny that medical professionals are too unprofessional to consider the needs of the patients they are serving?  Yanno, my insurance and my co-pay are what support the doctors and nurses and staff at the clinics. THEY work for ME. Would it be funny if I just didn’t pay them? Or did things that made it impossible for them to work with me? Like not show up and not pay for a missed appointment?

Lets put it in another perspective:  A man goes into an orthopedists office and can’t walk since his lower leg has been broken. He’s dragging himself in with his fingers. Does the nurse:

A. Open the hallway door and suggest the man drag himself down the hall on his hands, squirming like a snake?

B. Provide the man with a wheelchair?

If you picked A and are in a medical program of some type, please drop out now. Yeah, I know someone hurt that badly today would go to an ER, but the point is the same. Would you ignore the needs of someone who needed help?  We, the patients of the world, neither want or need anyone without common sense and compassion in any medical capacity. There are others far better suited to serve individuals with disabilities – which is all of us at one time or another.

I’ve had people ask me how I can be so incredibly entitled as to demand being treated like a human being. Why can’t I understand this is just a human foible? Doesn’t it just show how humorously inadequate people are that they can’t remember I’m HoH?

The difference between friends/acquaintances and professionals:

I have long-time friends who can’t remember I need them to walk to the right of me and that I will deal with (with some requisite eye rolling) because they are not my medical providers. I am not paying them to be there for me.  However, as soon as someone is working with me/for me in a professional capacity all bets are off. I will remind people a few times, after that, their inability to remember (especially after I tell the receptionist to remind them I’m still deaf) is beyond belief.

I’ve been a social worker and a lawyer and I d**m well never forgot a client had a specific problem. Why? Because I pay attention! Because it is critically important to the service I am to provide.

Over the past few years I’ve gotten to the point I’ve been known to stand stock still at a doctor’s office and refuse to follow someone who is talking away from me seconds after I’ve just told them to face me when they talk to me. I will sit near the door but refuse to respond to someone who refuses to speak louder than a whisper. Am I supposed to guess if someone is calling me or someone else?

I am a human being and I have a right to be accommodated for my specific needs. It isn’t difficult.  I’ve had volunteers at hospitals take note of what I need and walk up and gently touch me on the hand to let me know I need to go thither or yon.

I have friends or acquaintances who are hard of hearing, deaf, blind, or deaf/blind or who are orthopedically incapable of certain things, and I expect all of them to be treated with dignity and respect. I expect the mentally challenged and the mentally ill to be similarly treated with dignity and respect.

Just as no one should be forced to crawl down a hall, dragging a broken limb behind them, so should I not have to beg to be allowed to have adequate communication with professionals who are working for me.  They are not paying me to be there. I am paying them for their services. I don’t ask them to use ASL with me (though it would be lovely) but do require them to treat me with the dignity I deserve and I’ll return the favor.

I’ll say this for my doctor – he knows I can’t hear. His staff knows I’ve got hearing issues. I LOVE my doctor and his staff. My doctor treats body, mind, and spirit and it shows.

 

 

Why bother asking?


I have been at the social security office twice in the past two weeks. When there I use a large computer touch screen display (must be fun for the blind!) to enter my information. It always asks me if I have one of a few disabilities. I always select Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

I’m wondering if this is not, as it says, for them to serve me better, but for statistical purposes. Why? Because no one there gets a notice that I am HoH. The person I’m working with has a lovely, soft, lightly accented voice that is at the very far edge of my ability to hear. She’s a wonderful person and she works hard. I appreciate her dedication to getting things done right the first time.  Thank heavens for hard-working government employees – and if you want to bash a government employee just don’t start because I’ll delete the post. I spent years working my butt off for the state of Idaho and Alaska.

Anyway, this lovely and efficient lady talks to her computer monitors, or at least I think she is. I don’t know if she is talking to herself or to me. I’ve finally decided that if she isn’t facing me she isn’t talking to me – and if she is, when I don’t answer she WILL turn around and face me.

I will say this, she starts talking to me and writes instructions at the same time – which is great, because I can barely hear her when she’s facing me.  I repeat that I am HoH. She apologizes and 5 minutes later we do it all over again.

At least I can hear the guy at the front desk as he has a good voice.

Why?  Why bother asking? Does anyone know the answer? You’d think that with Social Security working with so many retirees they’d be clued in on hearing loss.  I guess not.  It is not like I’m asking for a terp, but it would be nice if they’d talk just a bit louder, face me when they want to talk to me and make sure I understand by going over the information again.

I swear to Buddha I am going to get a T-shirt printed on the front:  DEAF  and on the back STILL DEAF!  Or maybe it should be I CAN’T HEAR YOU! and on the back I STILL CAN’T HEAR YOU!

Only one more trip – to drop off a document and (thank the gods) I am done. I hope. Please tell me I’m done!

Networking


The problem with being deaf or seriously hard of hearing (HoH) is that unless we are part of a larger Deaf community or involved with organizations for the hard of hearing we tend to be isolated souls.  It is not that we want to be, it is simply a fact that oral communication is generally limited for us. However, now and then we have a breakthrough.

There are blogs for the D/deaf and HoH. Blogs dealing with Meniere’s and blogs about CIs. There are groups on FaceBook (FB) that cater to the D/deaf and HoH in a variety of capacities. I’m in 3 such groups – one professional, one focusing on ASL and another that is more conversational.

Not long ago one of my blogging pals, Wendy of Picnic with Ants mentioned she no longer needed her relatively new hearing aids (HAs) because she now has bilateral CIs. Recently on FB another individual mentioned a need for replacment HAs that could not be met because of no longer being a part of the work force.

A contact with Wendy and a contact with the FB gal (who happens to have a blog on ASL on a different blogging site) and a connection was made – much to the delight of both parties. And I was more excited than both of them together. 🙂

I’ve previously returned older, serviceable digital HAs to my audio service provider who sends them on to be refurbished and donated to children who cannot afford them. That’s great. But what about adults who are not working and cannot afford them?

In general, insurance does not pay for HAs. And there’s the rub, because it is now known that untreated hearing loss leads to a loss of brain density which is related to dementia. Dementia is a huge problem in our elderly population today and is a drain on financial resources. If $6k in HAs every few years could prevent tens of thousands of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars in custodial care costs it appears to me to be the height of stupidity on the part of the medical insurance industry not to market hearing insurance aggressively. Keeping people functional would be an enormous cost savings. What is wrong with the bean counters that they are missing this? I’m not sure, but I’ve a niece in the health insurance business so I shall ask her about her thoughts on this.

Back to networking:  It appears the Lions Club accepts donated hearing aids to benefit men, women, and children who cannot afford them. It also appears that the Starkey Hearing Aid Company accepts donations, but I’m not sure how they are handed out. Hearing Loss of America has a financial assistance program. In Massachusetts the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing helps individuals get hearing aids, although funds are limited. Not every state has a commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, but it might be wise to contact state government and see if your state has assistance.  Of course, for individuals in the workforce your state’s Vocational Rehabilitation office can assist in paying for hearing aids so long as they are related to employment.

It is important that deafies or HoH folk network so that HAs that are functional but live in dresser drawers (unless they are the backup HAs one should have) find their way to people who need them. Behind the Ear (BTE) is the only kind that can be easily recycled (a new ear mold will do it) although In the Ear (ITE) can be donated and the parts used to build another HA. My hearing loss is at such a level that an ITE won’t work for me anymore – I’m BTE from here on out now.

It is estimated that only 10% of people worldwide get the support they need to deal with hearing loss. We need to start engaging in some serious networking and rabble rousing to have HAs covered by all insurance.

It’s been awhile


Yeah, I’ve been lagging in posting. Why? Probably because there have been few new challenges that have come my way regarding the hearing thing. Who wants to listen to a rehash of the old ones? Not to mention that I’ve been down with “the plague” – a severe cold exacerbating the asthma that gave me severe laryngitis and has now devolved into a long, drawn out bronchitis. All viral of course, so no treatment except to outlive it. (sniffle, hack, cough, sniffle)

I did end up at the ER with this version of the creeping crud. The consensus was I probably needed a chest x-ray to make sure I wasn’t getting pneumonia. So off I went. However, the laryngitis was so bad I could’t even whisper. This left me the option of writing or signing. I usually voice for myself. This time I thought, what the heck, ask for a terp so s/he can voice for me.

The hospital was WONDERFUL about it. Absolutely no problems there. Johnny on the spot. There were only three little problems.

1. The terp was contacted over a video system and the monitor was not exactly large. I could have used a telescope to get a better view.

2. The ER was very busy and I was not in a private area where one could hear oneself think – probably because someone with more severe problems was in there. Makes sense. Except for one other problem.

3. The interpreter could not hear the nurse. Even if the nurse was screaming into the designated sound area the terp was bewildered. It was an absolute avalanche of sound and everything hit the terp just like it did me.

However, I was able to sign to the terp and have her voice for me. The problem was that she couldn’t sign the nurse’s questions back to me because she couldn’t understand them. Eh? What was that you said? Huh?

That particular foray into remote terping ended up with the nurse and myself writing notes back and forth.

This little hospital really doesn’t have a lot of private rooms where they can put people with special needs. It is the size of a large postage stamp. But the staff is kind and caring so I wasn’t upset. We just worked it through.

Thankfully, I didn’t have pneumonia and went home with instructions to use Afrin Nasal Spray (sorry for the ad) for NO MORE than 3 days less my nose get addicted to it (A nose can get addicted? Who knew?) and to get 12 hour Sudafed (sorry for the second ad) and take it as long as I had symptoms. I still have symptoms so I’m still taking Sudafed. I ponder taking another run at the nose spray.

What this demonstrates is that while a terp who was there with me could have dealt with the noise level, the terp who is working remotely may be as unable as the deaf or HoH person to understand what is going on in a very noisy environment.

I now have a friend working for a company providing this sort of terping so I’m going to mine information from her and get back to all y’all.  🙂

And oops, I have to run now.  So without further ado, here’s a new post.

How to Kill Your Kid


Snappy title.  Not a murder mystery.  Consider it a medical mystery. One you may find important in your life.

Meet “Katie.”  She looks fine when you meet her. Underneath that big smile and wise-cracking exterior beats a heart with too many nerve centers so it can beat a syncopated rhythm or start going lickety-split in, well, a heartbeat. And then there’s the problem with the valves. She needs a valve job sometime in the near future. Because of these problems she has other problems – like excruciating headaches.  But there is no label saying, “I’m fragile” anywhere to be seen.

When you shake her hand you might think she’s being ladylike, but the reality is that her weak grip is a manifestation of the peripheral neuropathy that’s slowly eating away at her arms, legs, hands, and feet.  She can exercise morning, noon and night, but will never gain muscle mass.  She will however, be sore and exhausted. If you watch her hands you may see her fingers tremble.  She’s not nervous, that’s the neuropathy.

She watches her kids play, but rarely  joins them. She can’t run. She can break an ankle by tripping over a tree root or stepping down off a curb the wrong way.  In fact, she broke an ankle the first time when she was in grade school.  The last time it was so bad she had three surgeries to fix it.  It is still not fixed.  But you probably don’t notice it because she walks without complaint, although slowly. She always wears pretty flip-flops – because her feet don’t fit in shoes because of the deformation that still needs to be surgically fixed. But you are unlikely to be staring at her feet while you ae paying attention to her laugh and smile.

Katie is sick – a lot.  She’ll be out and around with a massive migraine to take her kids to sports and you won’t know. But we do. That’s the problem. To the family, Katie being sick is normal. To Katie being sick is normal. Life revolves around heart palpitations, headaches, surgeries. walkers, crutches, visits to the doctor, blood draws, CT scans, MRIs, X-rays, and visits to the hospital.

If someone else had seen Katie turning bright red all over they might have thought it was something other than having the heating pad on too high. There were signs – a hard time breathing. (Was it the asthma? Get an inhaler.  Is that better?) Hot and sweaty and red – but it went away – and then came back.  (Cold? Flu? Actually, neither.) Take a good look, because a tidal wave of misery can be coming.

Finally, Katie, who is sick of doctors and hospitals, went to the hospital. Thank God she did. There a miracle happened. An ER doctor didn’t brush her off as a chronically ill complainer. He had a hunch why she was sick. He had her transferred to a state of the art medical center where they realized that Katie was close to death.

No one has answers for how Katie got both bacteria and fungus in her blood. Was it from one of her surgeries?  There have been several recently.  Was it from the cellulitis she got from a flu shot?  The cellulitus from the foot surgery?  From the Port? (the port had to be removed). After a CT scan found the tumor in her upper spine and she started losing body function there was a surgery to remove it, but it couldn’t be removed. So they took out spinal bone instead to stop spinal cord compression.

They might never have gotten that far if Katie died from the effects of the infections in her blood. The list of complications from that is long and scary. The surgical risks were scary too. Life for Katie is a roller coaster high point to a screaming low after another.That’s why people who are used to seeing someone with chronic illness can miss things. And those missed things can be fatal.

The lesson I learned was that if a symptom in anyone else would concern me – the next stop is the hospital where they can draw blood, do MRIs on the spot, CT scans, and x-rays. Over the years it became too easy to see all problems as a chronic illness problem rather than a life-endangering acute crisis issue. See your primary care for routine medical care.

A lot of my readers have chronic illness. It is easy to feel like that super-low you’ve been facing for a few days is just another crappy day. Then again, it might be something like Katie is facing.  Want to take the chance?

I told Katie that the next time I see something that would scare me in anyone else I am taking her to the hospital – period.

I’m HoH – almost deaf – but I can see. I knew she was sick and I knew the symptoms were out of the norm.

I want you to look at yourself in the mirror – especially if you have chronic illness – and ask yourself if this is different from what is usually going on. Then look at your loved ones with health problems and resolve that if they were anyone else and you had the power to get them medical care – that you do whatever is necessary to get them that care.

Katie’s saga continues.  We’re fortunate it does, although it is a painful continuation.

Take care of yourselves. Don’t brush off pain in the chest and difficulty breathing even if you think it is the “same-old, same-old” whatever it is that gives you grief. If you start having strange symptoms like turning red all over and dripping sweat for no reason at all – get medical care, for goodness sake!

Be well. Stay well.

What’s the point?


At a new doctor today. When I am at a new place I wear a large lime green button (see below). If staff does not read it what is the point of wearing it?

BTW, once they understood everything has been great.

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Shouting Won’t Help – Captioning


I’ve got to admit that the reason I prefer American Sign Language to captioning is because the Interpreters make sense.  They may also be unable to hear at times as some situations such as large meetings with soft speakers are a challenge for even those who can hear a bug fart at five miles, BUT when they can’t understand it they tell you, rather than giving out word hash. However, captioning is here to stay and hopefully it will get better over time.  More people can read captioning than can understand ASL, unfortunately.  Please, God, let captioning get better over time.

Ms. Bouton chimes in on captioning on phones and TV in the chapter entitled “How To Be A Deaf Theater Editor.  You’ve got to love it when she gives several versions of how a captioning service translates “Good afternoon.  Preston Health Center.  This is Laura [or whoever is answering] speaking How may I help you?”

Captioning:
“Good afternoon.  A Person healthcare.  Is the Lord speaking.”
“Good Morning.  Oppressive Health Care.”

She includes some TV captions of note:
“The boy ate the bridge.”
“Can you hear the garbage.”
“He liked to eat morphine.”

My personal favorites are the ones that look like Klingon after Worf has had too much to drink and the ever baffling:
“That woman has an umbrella in her uterus.”

Why we must care about police conduct


from the Robert Tanenbaum Website

Echos of My Soul by Robert K. Tanenbaum should be required reading for every American. Why?  Because this case is exactly why there are activist groups challenging prosecutions and convictions.

Few Americans have any concept of how easy it is for the police to extract a false confession. In the case detailed in this book, it isn’t even that the police were corruptly attempting to pin a murder on a young black adult man, George Whitmore, Jr. with an IQ below 70.  The police were so zealous, so intent, and so wiling to believe he was THE ONE that they made him THE ONE.

from the New York Times

We tend to forget that by going after the innocent and fixating on an easy target that we let the person who actually committed the crimes run free and commit more. George Whitmore Jr.’s mistake was in talking to a police officer, telling him that he saw the police chasing the actual murderer, and then telling the officer where that man went.  There is a reason many people in crime-ridden neighborhoods are afraid to talk with the police, and being targeted while innocent is one of them.

Anyone who is not a cop is at a decided disadvantage in a police interrogation.  I have worked hand in glove with the cops and I appreciate the good they do and the tough situations they face.  That being said, if I were on the receiving end of questioning by the police I’d be apprehensive and looking for a lawyer ASAP.

If arrested, or even taken in for questioning, the best thing to do is to refuse to speak with the police until you have a lawyer present. Then remember that each time you say something to the police that you have to invoke your right to remain silent and to have an attorney present all over again. It isn’t easy to do.  Police detectives are the masters of silence.  People want to fill in the silences and they also think that if they can just talk long enough and explain enough and attempt to please the officer enough that everything will be okay.  Rarely is it okay if you’re cooling your heels downtown.

In particular, individuals with a low IQ, people who are deaf – as well as those who are not native English speakers, people who are mentally ill, people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol – and more – are all vulnerable.  Long interrogations which result in sleep deprivation, and deprivation of food and water, as well as physical and mental abuse can lead to false confessions. Even the questions that are asked and the accusations which are made can lead to false confessions.  It can’t be said too often that the police are allowed to lie to the suspect about evidence they do not have, confessions of alleged co-defendants that never took place, and so on and so forth.

There are too many innocent people in the criminal justice system, in jails, in prisons, on probation, on parole.  There are a lot of folks who have made false confessions or plead out because they felt they had no other option, even though they were innocent of the crime with which they were charged.  And when we take the innocent it means that the person who is actually guilty is still out there.

If juries had any idea how much exculpatory evidence is suppressed they’d be stunned.  That’s right – not all evidence comes in.  Evidence on both sides can and is excluded for a variety of reasons from rape shield laws protecting rape victims to being too inflammatory.  Having sat in on criminal trials and hearing exculpatory evidence being excluded is chilling. How can the jury get it right if there is documentation that the witness lied or that the evidence is not what it seems to be?  However, the tendency of the jury to automatically decide the defendant must be guilty or the case would never have gotten this far tends to make me wonder if exculpatory evidence would be ignored anyway unless it was overwhelming in nature.

In America we talk a good game about defendants being considered innocent until proven guilty, but in a media driven society – more so now than ever – many people are tried and convicted before they ever get to a courtroom. Most Americans who sit on juries figure that if the system has gotten that far the person MUST be guilty… right?  And, admittedly, sometimes the only real question facing a jury is just what level of crime the individual committed when the prosecution and the defense cannot agree to a plea bargain.

Felix Garcia was a vulnerable person snared into the criminal justice system.This is why people who cannot understand the consequences of their statements should not be making them.  This is why we must provide a high standard for accepting statements. And while I understand how staggeringly overworked the prosecution is these days, we can’t afford to have standards lower than that of the legendary District Attorney Frank Hogan or Assistant District Attorney Mel Glass.

I am not saying that individuals with low IQ’s, with literacy or language deprivation, etc. can never be guilty of a crime.  Certainly, everyone has a breaking point and can do something wrong.  However, it is also true that not everyone is guilty of the crime they’ve been convicted of nor do some people understand the ramifications of their actions.

Studies  indicate that our prisons are now warehouses for the cognitively impaired, the mentally ill, the deaf, and other groups who are particularly vulnerable.  Prisons are not suitable places to house those groups.  If an impaired prisoner is actually guilty, there needs to be another form of confinement where the prisoner is provided with rehabilitative care while protecting the community. A psychotic who hears voices needs to be in a controlled medical/psychiatric environment, not a general prison population. A deaf person who is neither literate in English nor fluent in ASL needs habilitation to the point they can participate in their own defense and not railroaded into prison.

Take the challenge. Read the book. Get a look at how wrong it all can go. Then look me in the eye and tell me why you think that we should let Texas continue to execute people who are seriously “mentally retarded” by manipulating what mental retardation (cognitively impaired) means.  Have a conversation with yourself, your higher power/God, your neighbors, your friends.  What if this were you, your son, your brother, your friend? Could never happen to you?  Don’t be so sure.

Articles on George Whitmore, Jr.

NYTimes

The Career Girl Murders – Crime Library 

The Innocence Project 

The Boston Globe

Fierce or fierce advocacy?


An Internet friend commented to me that yesterday’s blog was “fierce” for addressing head on the problem of what amounts to English illiteracy among many, but certainly not all, the prelingually deaf – and also wondered if I’d had incoming fire from the Deaf Community over it.  Not yet.  But there is time – yesterday were the SCOTUS decisions on same-sex marriage and that filled the field.

ASL is not English.  It has it’s own syntax and grammar.  I love it for what it is.  I do not expect it to substitute for English.  Perhaps this is because I am hearing impaired rather than part of the Deaf Community or because I am what the Deaf community calls “oral deaf.”  I heard well enough early in life to sound like any other native English speaker from the Nebraska area (I have what is known as a Nebraska or Newscaster’s accent.) Perhaps it is because I had dyslexia and struggled madly to learn to read and write English, and once I had the “Aha!” moment I immersed myself in the English language. That being said,  I could not identify a gerund if my life depended on it, but I know how to USE the language that is dominant in my homeland.

I am not a native ASL speaker.  Therefore, my sentence construction and grammar leave something a lot  a great deal to be desired.  I figure I have the rest of my life to work that out because, insofar as I am aware, no one who is a native ASL speaker is going to refuse to hire me or give me a bad grade, or sanction me in some meaningful way because my sentence is backwards as regards ASL sentence construction. The same cannot be said in reverse.

Now, granted, I won’t be an Interpreter for the Deaf any time soon because (a) I’m not able to hear well enough to be a “terp” and (b) I’m not Deaf enough to be considered for a position as a Deaf Interpreter. Nor am I facile enough (yet) to be hired by facilities who recruit ASL speakers for all positions from nurse to receptionist.

However, there are two disabilities that substantially interfere with employment:  blindness and deafness.  Now the Deaf Community folks have explained to me that being deaf is not a disability. I’ve heard the exact same thing from the blind community.  However, no one can argue that when upwards of 80% of each community is unemployed, unless they go out and create jobs for themselves, that there isn’t a barrier to employment.

The Deaf believe they can pretty much do anything a hearing person can.  That may or may not be true, just as the blind believe they can basically do anything a sighted person can do with just a few restrictions.  What I will say is that one thing I have run into pretty consistently, from the very first time I interacted with a deaf person (my first boyfriend) is an inability to adequately communicate in writing.  Why?  Because ASL is not English.

Personally, I prefer ASL to SEE, but I believe that SEE is preferable for educational settings so that a deaf or hearing impaired child learns English in sign and English on the paper.  I do believe that all seriously hearing impaired or deaf children should be bilingual.  They need sign early and often and they need oral abilities.  There’s a reason why.  Education and employment, firstly, and God forbid they end up involved in the legal system because without understanding English it is a nightmare.

There are Deaf lawyers – I know quite a few – and so far I don’t know one who is not oral deaf.  Some sign, most don’t sign much, and they’re all pretty darn literate in English and legalese.  They have to be.  It is their trade.

The scary part for me is representing someone who has extremely poor language skills.  I have met people from Vietnam who needed interpreters and yet were more skilled at navigating the legal system than most of the deaf individuals I’ve worked for.  If an individual can’t tell the difference between the defense and the prosecution we’ve got a huge problem.  If the individual can’t read and understand even basic forms associated with the court system, we’ve got another enormous problem.

Since Deaf literacy is so low (estimated to be 3rd to 4th grade in most studies) there are a lack of words and concepts to convey necessary information.  If there is no understanding of a complex concept then I’m left spending hours trying to convey information that is absolutely critical and yet may never be understood by the person I’m trying to explain to.  Deaf Interpreters may not be able to explain it either.  Call me crazy, but I don’t believe most Deaf with minimal English skills spend a lot of time watching Law and Order with Closed Captioning. There’s a reason studies since the 1990’s have pointed out that fully 20% of the deaf in prison were not able to participate in their own defense and should never have been tried.

This is one of the reasons that when I tutor bar exam students I refuse to accept text message lingo from them in texts or emails.  Because I am a pain in the butt?  I’m sure there are a few who’d agree, but mostly it is because we humans default to our lowest level of functioning when we’re under stress – stress in court, stress in a job interview, stress while taking the bar exam, you name it. So the higher the functioning level the better the overall outcome regarding communications.

I do get push-back.  I get it from bar exam students who sometimes have to fail a couple of times in order to get it that they need to listen to what they’re being told.  I get it from the Deaf Community – largely because I’m told I’m not deaf enough to understand.  I get it from those I’m doing my best to help with their legal issues.  I don’t expect someone who cannot function at a certain level to miraculously learn to do it overnight.  That’s water over the dam. What we need to focus on is making sure that under-education for the deaf/Deaf stops – now.  Today.  And for those who attempt to write English as if it is ASL, realize that if you want something – a job, a good grade, whatever, you need to communicate adequately with the person you’re talking too.  Many years ago I learned that it is the person making the communication who is responsible for making sure it is understood (with a few exceptions). It’s probably why I beat a topic to death – I am trying my hardest to make sure the message is both received and understood.

My English is not perfect, yet it is good enough that I can get a job.  No one has to question if I can read instructions well enough to understand them.  It doesn’t take being a wordsmith to have an adequate command of the English language.  However, unless someone is at least a 5th grade level of reading and writing comprehension, we’ve got problems.  It doesn’t mean that person is stupid – because they can be a brilliant dyslexic, but they’re going to have problems in the world at large with education and employment.

So if I am “fierce” regarding the ability of the deaf and hard of hearing (or hearing impaired, take your choice) to be able to communicate, it is because I see that as the only  way we have of getting a decent education and adequate employment.  It can be labeled as “audist” by deaf activists or it can be understood as the reality of the world in which we live.  I can only assume we do all live in the same world, else this would be written in Martian, yes?

A series on hearing loss on Bloomberg


More Noise, More Hearing Loss, More Isolation 
By Katherine Bouton Feb 14, 2013 6:42 PM ET

The lead from the first article is:  “I lost my hearing one early spring day shortly after my 30th birthday. I heard the phone ring, but when I put it to my ear no one was there. “Hello?” I said. “Hello???” I tried the other ear, the right. It worked just fine.”

What I Didn’t Hear at the New York Times
By Katherine Bouton Feb 17, 2013 6:30 PM ET

The lead from the second article is: “After I lost my hearing in one ear, I did well enough with the hearing in my other one. But as that ear started to go, in my late 40s, I floundered.

Hearing loss dominated my waking life. Every time someone said something to me that I couldn’t follow, every time I flinched at a loud noise, every time I couldn’t hear at the movies or the theater, every time I answered the phone and not only couldn’t tell who was calling but even whether the caller was male or female, I despaired.”

Cochlear Implants Are Miraculous and Maddening
By Katherine Bouton Feb 18, 2013 6:30 PM ET

The lead from the final article in this series is:  “You’ll never be deaf,” my longtime ear doctor, Ronald Hoffman, said to me years ago. At the time, I thought he meant I’d never lose all my hearing.

What I know now is that technology would take over when my ears no longer worked. Through a cochlear implant, I would continue to hear long after my ears ceased to function.”

Note, Ms. Bouton’s book, Why Shouting Won’t Help is on the market now.  Follow this link to her site and her blog.

I recommend a good read of all the articles.  As for me, I doubt I’ll ever take the CI option since I’ve relaxed into American Sign Language (I’ve still got a long way to go, though) and am not in the least ashamed or embarrassed about my declining hearing – nor, I am happy to report, is Ms. Bouton these days.

This is a good person to follow since she has access to publishers and can bring her story into the consciousness of America in a way most of us will never be able to do.