By Chelle George
I used to attend a writing center near the downtown library a few years ago. It’s an off shoot from our community college. I stopped going after getting the cold shoulder when I requested CART for another workshop I wanted to attend. The one I just paid for and went to did not turn out well for me (reason below). They told me they couldn’t afford to provide me with CART, they didn’t have the funds…etc. I was getting ready to argue the fact with them but wound up moving to another state for a short time.
Last month I started thinking, why am I letting them limit me? I’ve been back for a year and if their program is open for everyone, why is it closed to me? If a Deaf person walked in and wanted to take the class, you bet they’d provide an interpreter. Unfortunately, I’m not fluent in sign and can’t use that option.
Instead I’m a hard of hearing person with a 50% word discrimination in the BEST of circumstances (in a sound proof booth) with my hearing aids in. Add noise and bad acoustics and my comprehension drops dramatically. In that situation, all I’m hearing is unintelligible noise making me deaf. I can tell someone is talking but can’t make the words out. (People don’t understand that.)
CART is the only kind of service I can use in this setting. If the Deaf deserve an interpreter, then those who are deaf in noise deserve CART. The Deaf have fought for and made their way. It’s time those of us who are hard of hearing to stand up for our rights and make our way too. I can’t tell others to stand up for themselves unless I do it too. I’m willing to be an example here.
The workshop I want to attend isn’t until May. I started early with my request for CART, giving us both plenty of time to work it out. Here’s the letter I emailed to the center:
Hello, I’m Chelle and I’m hard of hearing. With my hearing aids in, I have a 50% word discrimination in the best of circumstances. When noise intrudes, that number drops. In bad acoustics, it goes down further.
A few years ago I attended the writing center often. I enjoyed the one on one time getting critiques on my work. To make it effective, I made sure the reader faced the windows for better lighting, sat straight across from the him/her to use lip reading to fill in the gaps.
The small writers group was also another good experience however I often left mentally worn out. In the back room with more people, I had a harder time following but with only a handful of members I could manage. I also coached everyone on how I heard best and the attendees were mostly good about helping me out. I enjoyed writing and wanted to pursue more options the center offered so I chose one of your writers workshops; once a week for three nights. (I can’t remember the name of it now.)
The first night, I arrived early enough to introduce myself to the two presenters of the workshop and letting them know I need them to look me as often as they could so I could take advantage of lip reading. They were super nice about it all. There were over 10 people in the class with a lot of class participation. I had an extremely hard time hearing with noise bleeding in from the other room (walls do not go to ceiling) and I couldn’t follow the comments of others because I could not locate the speaker in time for any sort of lip reading. While the presenters did their best to face me, there were many times they spoke while writing on the whiteboard. I felt lost picking up very little and disappointed I missed so much. That night I only understood what was written on the board.
After the class I talked to the presenters once more. Next time I’d bring my FM system, an assistive listening device (ALD). I also asked if I might get an outline to better follow along next time. Again, there were very nice about it all and agreed to do what they could.
The second night, I came early once again to show them how my FM system worked and they handed me an outline. I thought for sure this would lead to a more successful night but I still had a hard time following along. I was maybe picking up about 25% of what was said. I did everything right on my end and still couldn’t hear enough.
The third and final night I showed up with my FM system again with no more success than the last time. My FM system worked for me in the past in other workshops elsewhere but in that room, it wasn’t doing its job. I started looking around and realized the acoustics of the room were what was destroying my remaining hearing ability. Acoustics make a huge difference….high ceilings with bleed over from the other rooms, cement floors and walls, the whiteboard all took away my usual ability to cope and get by. I left discouraged that I haven’t participated in any of your programs since. It’s a beautiful office and your staff is nice but my experience with the workshop made me want to take a break.
I moved away for a some months and have been back in Salt Lake a year now. I’d like to be able to participate in your upcoming Memoir workshop May 1 and May 8th, 2014. I would very much like to get back into my writing again and the writing atmosphere (I contributed to Sine Cera 2012 and Freedom Writers 2011). If the Memoir workshop is being held at the writing center in the back room, I will need accommodation to attend and participate since I exhausted my own efforts last time. I’m requesting CART (communication access real-time translation). Please get in touch with the college Disability Resource Center for more information. Following is the American with Disabilities Act requirements.
I appreciate all your past efforts and I hope we can work this out together so that I might be included once again. If I don’t hear anything via email, I’ll drop this off at the center this week. Thank you for your time.
Chelle (with personal info)
Then I added Title III of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) for Public Accommodations with a link.
Title III – Public Accommodations, January 26, 1992.
Unlike the employment provisions (Title 1), there is no small business exemption.
A place of public accommodation is a facility whose operations- affect commerce; and fall within at least one of the following 12 categories:
1) Places of lodging (e.g., inns, hotels, motels) (except for owner-occupied establishments renting fewer than six rooms);
2) Establishments serving food or drink (e.g., restaurants and bars).
3) Places of exhibition or entertainment (e.g., motion picture houses, theaters, concert halls, stadiums);
4) Places of public gathering (e.g., auditorium, convention center, lecture halls);
5) Sales or rental establishments (e.g., bakeries, grocery stores, hardware stores, shopping centers);
6) Service establishments (e.g. laundromats, dry-cleaners, banks, barber shops, beauty shops, travel services, shoe repair services, funeral parlors, gas stations, offices of accounts or lawyers, pharmacies, insurance offices, professional office of health care providers, hospitals);
7) Public transportation terminals, depots or stations (not including facilities relating to air transportations);
8) Places of public display or collection (e.g., museums, libraries, galleries);
9) Places of recreation (e.g., parks zoos, amusement parks);
10) Places of education (e.g., nursery schools, elementary, secondary, undergraduate or postgraduate private schools);
11) Social service center establishments (e.g., day care centers, senior citizen centers, homeless shelters, food banks, adoption agencies); and
12) Places of exercise or recreation (e.g., gymnasiums, health spas, bowling alleys, golf courses).
Within each category examples are given just as illustrations and can include many facilities other than those specifically listed.
It took a couple of days but they replied to my email. Here is what they said…
“I received your email. I am working on contacting those of knowledge in this area at our college. I did speak with an advisor of the DRC, but will need to talk to the director. Most likely they will also need to consult with you, as well. I can’t guarantee how soon I can get back to you, but I’m hoping soon. As soon as I talk with the DRC director and Risk Management, I should have an answer for you.”
I wrote back right away thanking them for letting me know what’s going on and that I appreciated it. I’m glad they are working on it a little harder this time. Maybe I didn’t mention the ADA last time? I didn’t know I am a risky person but perhaps mention of the ADA made me that way in their eyes.
I will post on this again when there’s an outcome.