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Why Not? by Michele Linder

The question on the Collaborative for Communication Access via Captioning (CCAC) blog is, “Do You Ask?  For Captioning or CART of course?”, and “If not, why not?”

Ask for CART or other accommodations whenever you need themFor me, the answer to “Why not?” is more because I’m not in the habit of it. My daughter graduated from nursing school last year and I intended to ask for CART, but time passed and I didn’t think of it again until I arrived at the graduation.  That’s when I wasn’t going to be able to hear. It was a real “duh” moment.  I scrambled to get a seat close enough to the podium to read lips.

I need to work on putting my need to hear and understand first and make it a habit. It’s the same with using the CapTel or CaptionCall phone, I’ve not been able to use the phone for decades, so I’m out of the habit.  I forget that I can use the phone again, though these phones are not always great. It’s the same with going to the movies. The last movie I went to and understood without captions was probably 20 years ago. I just don’t think of going to movies anymore. Sigh…

Many of us with hearing loss start out being diffident and self-effacing. We put everyone else above ourselves and focus our attention on how our hearing loss might inconvenience others. So, we don’t ask. I’m guilty of this myself, but I’m happy to say I got over it many years ago. When I realized I was being a bit arrogant by pretending to know what would inconvenience others, I decided to live a life with more honesty. It is possible to be TOO nice.

Think of it this way– when you don’t have CART or captioning, you can’t participate. Therefore, you can’t contribute. Often, that means you can’t compete with others who have no barriers. Should we stop participating out of consideration for others? I don’t think so, because I know I have a lot to offer. I don’t want my deafness to exclude me from things that I enjoy and am interested in. Besides, there is no harm in asking.

When we ask for accommodation, hopefully we aren’t coming across as if we think we are owed something.  There is nothing wrong with asking.   Moreover, there is nothing wrong with asking for a reason if the response to our request is “No”. Many times in my advocacy for captioning I’m told that ‘cost’ is an overriding factor, and that bothers me. I realize accommodation isn’t free, but there’s always a way to fund accessibility. I consider it short-sighted for someone to say “We can’t provide captions because it costs too much, and we don’t have the funds.” Look beyond the cost, because if you assess what you’re getting for your money, then captioning is a true bargain.

We need to focus on the humanity of the issue. I can guarantee you that any hearing person of today who wakes up tomorrow to find themselves deaf would want more than anything to be able to continue in their independence and vitality in life. In my opinion, the focus on ‘cost’ is all wrong.  So, I’ve decided that when I advocate for what I need, I should be focusing on the benefits of investing in CART or captions as way to counter those arguing against accessibility, due to a silly little thing such as money.

In a recent advocacy effort I stated: “Quality captioning enables millions to remain independent and vital in a world that too easily justifies excluding them by placing more value on the monetary aspect of what a thing costs, rather than on what providing it accomplishes.”

What is your ability to contribute, compete, and participate worth?

0 thoughts on “Why Not? by Michele Linder”

  1. I just recently requested CART at work for a mandatory staff development in two weeks. I’m waiting for a reply. I made it clear that if I don’t have CART, I would be hard pressed to attend the meeting. Will keep you posted

  2. We were talking about advocating for ourselves in our HLAA chapter meeting this morning. One lady said she’s used to advocating for everyone else (and she’s good at it) but when it came doing it for herself, she felt guilty.
    Last summer I attended a workshop in a room with horrible acoustics. I went three nights, each time trying something different. Nothing worked. I wanted to attend future workshops in the same place but knew I needed CART to get it. I requested it, they said they couldn’t afford it and I knew I’d have to push further and hard to get accommodations. I ended up moving so couldn’t follow through. I am thinking about check it all out again here soon and push may come to shove. I don’t like the icky feeling I get knowing I’ll have to shove but like we said in our meeting this morning, we aren’t only advocating for ourselves but those who come after us.

  3. I have requested CART for most my kids graduations. They always say they can’t afford it at first. In the end, I wear them down. You have to start about eight weeks before the ceremony. The year my daughter graduated college I had just completed my third quarter of ASL and the college had automatically hired an ASL interpreter. I did want to see how well I could do with the ASL– and it worked out OK. It was a relief not to have to press, argue, and be that deaf mom asking for CART again. In a couple years my son will graduate from college and my daughter is considering grad school now, so I think this will be a never-ending process. Down the road there will be grandchildren. . . I haven’t kept up with the ASL. *sigh*

    The problem is most of them have never heard of CART, and they don’t see how it fits into the ADA laws. They may know very little about ADA laws. The organizers of graduation ceremonies may not even know that the school receives money to accommodate people with disabilities. For example, at my kids’ high school, it has traditionally been one of the school coaches who organized the event. Even if they know about ADA laws, they often think they have it covered by hiring an ASL interpreter. I was surprised my daughter’s college did this. I think I was the only ‘deaf’ person there.

    I have never asked for CART at work. My attendance at large meetings has always been optional. Small meetings with 50 or less people became harder and harder, though my coworkers all knew I was hh, and we often sat in a circle so I could see everyone’s lips. It was a huge struggle. I was concerned about losing my job if people knew I was THAT deaf. Communication/hearing is part of my job description since I work with the public. With the CI I hear so much better at meetings. Would still have a difficult time in large workshops.

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