A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Employment’

Meet Mary McQueen and Luigi

In audiogram, Deafness, Hearing aids, Hearing Loss, internet videos on April 9, 2013 at 4:12 am

Editor’s Note:  A cookie bite hearing loss is a less common, generally hereditary, mid-frequency loss, thus named because of how it looks on the audiogram — like a cookie with a bite taken out of it; see audiogram below.  Poor speech discrimination is characteristic of this type of hearing loss.  

When my genetic “cookie bite” hearing loss worsened to the point I could no longer discriminate enough speech to get by, my mind conjured doors and windows closing.  I think we who dwell between hearing and deaf can be gravely disadvantaged in the workplace, never mind all the other places.  I think we should band together somehow for employment.  I’ve been a SWC member for months and have read a depressing number of posts from members trying to cope with exhausting and inappropriate phone work or note taking for their jobs.  I was recently on a medical leave because of the stress of not being able to tell what my boss was saying.  I have no idea how successful self-help organizations are achieved but to me the best scenario is being our own bosses.

My job title is administrative assistant.  I hate clerical work.  The pay sucks. And because I can no longer tell what people are saying in job interviews, I’m worried about being stuck in my pink ghetto job forever.  I’m only 50.  My deafness feels like a nail in the coffin.

However, I didn’t end up in the ghetto in the first place because I’m deaf—I had a misspent and extended (yet entertaining) youth doing stuff like being in an all-girl punk band that never performed because we couldn’t play instruments yet made appearances and trashed hotel rooms (then cleaned them up); child bride/child divorcee; infamous party hostess in 1980’s Vancouver; Canadian hillbilly squatting in a shack on a remote island; private investigator who never earned enough to pay rent and eat at the same time; yearlong guest in a Benedictine monastery doing manual labor for room and board etc.  Then I was suddenly 40 and turned to office work to keep a roof over my head.  Age narrows the scope of occupation possibilities.  This is natural.  Being a Bohemian hillbilly in a shack working at odd jobs is adorable at 26.  At 50 it’s crazy lady, plus how would one finance the life in middle age?

Suitable training choices are narrowed by deafness.  For example, one friend said, “you would have made a good nurse; why don’t you go back to school?”  I thought, yes, that will go over well with the doctors when I have no idea what they are saying no matter how many hearing aids are coming out of my ears or FM assistive listening gadgets are hanging around my neck.

“…15 mg of haloperidol!” barked the emergency room doctor.  Nurse Mary asked, “was that ONE FIVE or FIVE ZERO?”  “GET ME SOMEONE WHO CAN HEAR!” screamed the doctor, glaring at Mary and pointing a bony finger at the door as the psychotic patient whirled like a dervish in the opposite direction heading down the hall towards the cafeteria.

My goal now is to learn how to make enough money as a working artist and leave the hard of hearing and clerical stress of the workplace behind.  Meet Luigi the Lovebird… he’s the yellow guy shredding my audiogram.

luigi and audiogram one

Luigi shredding Mary’s audiogram. 

Luigi’s mission and vocation is to shred paper into perfect strips.  Don’t leave money or library books lying around is all I can say because Luigi is free range and home alone, without supervision, much of the time.

Because I have a strong creative drive, a few years ago I got the idea to make collages with the paper he cut with his beak and turn art prints of the originals into greeting cards in my home studio and aviary.  Mostly aviary.  I live inside an aviary basically.

We are the first generation of inter-species folk artists!  Here is the link to a captioned video featuring Luigi shredding:


Luigi is so inspirational that a grade 6 art class who heard about him did their own shred collages!  We visited the class and saw the student masterpieces.  Luigi tried to shred one of them.

 luigi visits grade six class (1280x959)

 Mary and Luigi Visiting a Grade Six Art Class

If the horrible stress caused by poor speech discrimination in the workplace and the fear of being trapped in the pink ghetto makes me finally find a way to earn my living as a full time creative then I will say thank God I was bitten with the cookie bite hearing loss at birth.

Note:  Since this writing, Mary and Luigi have appeared on Dragons’ Den, a Canadian television reality show in which aspiring entrepreneurs pitch business ideas to a panel of venture capitalists in the hopes of securing business financing.  You can see a captioned video of their appearance here:


Mary is a 50 year old free spirit, raised in Vancouver BC with 2 sisters who were also bitten before birth by this crazy genetic cookie.  She wears hearing aids and, depending on the speaker, uses an FM Assistive Listening system in the workplace.  As mentioned above, Mary currently lives inside a free range aviary with her muse Luigi and a second bird named Binky, in Victoria BC.  She is happy to have found SWC, and we are happy to have her.  To see more of Luigi’s shredding technique, go here: 


Disclaimer:  By providing links and/or references to other websites, the SayWhatCub in no way implies endorsement of the website content, operator or administrator, information, materials, products and/or services for sale.

Aimin’ To Misbehave

In Accommodations for Deaf on January 13, 2009 at 2:59 am

Funny Faces 4, originally uploaded by jaaron.

For Christmas my daughter gave me a tote bag with the words, “Well behaved women seldom make history.” I just happened to glance at it this afternoon and it got me thinking about some of the more noteworthy misbehaving women of our times. There have been several, but the one that first came to mind was Hilary Clinton. One thing she was repeatedly criticized for was her temper. During her campaign she was called a ‘shrew’ and much worse. Yet if she’d been a man, few people would have found fault. Sarah Palin was criticized for trying to ‘upstage’ McCain. For shame! If she had been a man people would have admired her strength of character. Seems many people are more forgiving of men who break the rules. Women in office have to be fighters. We shouldn’t expect less of a presidential candidate who might have to go nose to nose with other world leaders.

What an interesting election year we had this past year, and now we’re about to have our first black president–something Martin Luther King could only dream of when he gave his speech at the Lincoln Memorial back in 1963. Imagine if Harriet Tubman were alive today. SHE was one brave woman who misbehaved so much a price was put on her head. Rosa Parks was another who simply stopped ‘behaving’ one day, by refusing to move to the back of the bus like she was supposed to. She has gone down in history as “The Woman Who Changed A Nation” 


I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about other women who have broken rules and changed the world. There was Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Gloria Steinem. . . and one of my favorites Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouts. The story goes she had the audacity to strip down to her pantaloons to play basketball with other girls in a men’s club when she was a teenager. She believed girls could do anything boys could do. (gasp!) Teaching young girls to be ‘capable’ became the foundation of Girl Scouting, and undoubtedly influenced a lot of young girls to seek higher goals.

It might seem this has nothing to do with deafness, but it does. You see Juliette Gordon Low was deaf too. If she had lived today, I bet she would be fighting for deaf accessibility instead of equality for young women. The parallels between the Women’s movement, Civil Rights, and lack of deaf access have not been lost on me.

Deaf people are far from ‘equal’ when so much of society is unaccessible to them. When we visit the National Parks our tax dollars have paid for only to find that video presentations and tours normally accessble to the public are inaccessible to us, that is unfair and wrong. When we try to see movies with our families only to find them uncaptioned and inacessible to the deaf, it’s wrong. When we pay for expensive hotel rooms only to find their TV’s have no captioning or their phones not ADA compliant, that is wrong. When we request accommodations at work, and are turned down; when we are passed over for someone less qualified with better hearing, it’s called discrimination and it’s very wrong. The inequities against deaf are rampant. Deaf children miss out on hundreds of educational opportunities open to hearing children every day. Our public museums, theaters, classrooms, businesses find loopholes in the ADA to prevent access and our government turns a blind eye.

When will our deaf “Juliette Low” stand up and fight for us? How long will it take our deaf “Rosa Parks” to dig her heels in and demand equal access? Who will be our deaf “Martin Luther King?” When will our first deaf “Obama” be sworn into office?

We, the Deaf/deaf/hh community, are too complaisant about accommodations. We will not be treated as equals until we start misbehavin’ some. I think it’s time.

Kim :-)


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