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?”
For 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 and realized I wasn’t going to be able to hear. It was a real “duh” moment and 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 and 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…
I think many of us with hearing loss start out being diffident and self-effacing. We think of 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, and 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, and 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, but there is nothing wrong with asking, and there also 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, and 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?