By Chelle George
The final memoir workshop was last Thursday night. It was a two night workshop and thanks to CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation), I was fully able to participate and understand everything being said. Out of habit I found myself looking at people as they spoke only tell myself, “You can’t hear. Go back to CART girl!” At the end of the night Julia (my CART person) was packing things up while some people were talking. One of them asked me a question and because the ventilation system was roaring above I couldn’t hear so with my new habit, I turned to look at the laptop for a translation but she already put away her stenography machine. “Duh,” I thought and started to look back at the person for a repeat but Julia was already typing it out for me on her laptop which was still up. Bless her. I’m convinced CART people have huge hearts. Thank you Julia!
Last time when I wrote about CART, I said it gives me courage to participate. That thought rolled around in around in my head this last week and wouldn’t let go because not only does CART give me courage but it also gives me confidence to participate. Without the proper accommodations I’m lost in a sea of noise.
For example, I went to a meeting last month with an FM system in place but with old, omnidirectional microphones in place which picked up every computer keyboard tap, pens and fingers tapping the table, shuffling papers and scrapping sounds as microphones slid back and forth between speakers. It was exhausting trying to pick out speech between it all. I couldn’t place the people speaking in time to lip read fully (I have a hard time locating sound) and I didn’t ask questions in fear of someone else having already asked and slowing the pace of the meeting down. After bout half and hour of this, I found myself tuning out to get away from the excess noise so I hardly participated at all in frustration and lack of confidence. Thank goodness someone there was taking the minutes. A few days later I read what went during the meeting and no one asked the question I wanted to. Oh well, there’s always email.
Another accommodation that still works great for my moderate, severe hearing loss is the hearing loop. I hear like I remember normal hearing to be like while inside a loop with my hearing aids on. It’s a miracle feeling and I will thoroughly enjoy the loop when I can and as long as I can. Unfortunately there’s not many set up in my end of the world yet but I’m working on it! Life is easier when the proper accommodations are in place and both CART and the loop gives the hard of hearing that extra boost we need to stay in society and stay mentally active.
Without those accommodations, we withdraw from life. We come across shy, awkward, aloof and maybe as not the sharpest tool in the shed but it’s only because we can’t hear/understand what’s going around us. We can’t keep up. I’ve been thinking that many of us must have our true selves locked up inside, hidden within hearing loss and hidden from the world.
We need to break out and stop fearing so much. There’s too much life to live. It’s taken me years to break out and advocate for myself and now that I do, I feel a little freer. I share my adventures with you so that you know you aren’t alone, you can learn from my mistakes and make adventures of your own. Ask for accommodations yourself, build your confidence that way too and maybe together we can make the world a better place.
I’ll leave you with wise words: