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Advocacy Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Self Advocacy

Proactive with Hearing Loss

Do you manage your hearing loss? Or does it manage your life?

Many people with hearing loss tend to be passive which leads to isolation. We miss out on opportunties and it interrupts our relationships. When we lean too heavily on others to hear for us, we lose ourselves. We end up reactive.

Today we take a look at being proactive with hearing loss. Find out how to manage your hearing loss so you find yourself again.

Michele: Many Hard of Hearing people are constantly on high alert, waiting to react when their hearing or devices fail them. Hypervigilance is part of what makes hearing loss so exhausting, but there’s a better way; choosing to be proactive.

I look at being proactive as taking charge; actively deciding not to wait to react. These are the steps I used to do that:

  • Educated myself about my hearing loss and the tools, technology, techniques and accommodations that would help me communicate better.
  • Defined my needs through experimentation.
  • Developed effective ways to tell others what they need to know about my hearing loss and communication needs.
  • Practiced to find what works best in each situation.
  • Embraced flexibility: When one thing didn’t work, I tried something else.

The shift in energy, from being on high alert to being proactive, really does improve your life and takes the anxiety out of functioning in a world not made for people with hearing loss. By choosing to act first, you’re in control of the way things will go.

An Example

At the start of the pandemic, I had someone contact me to ask how I would have handled going to a new restaurant where you order at the counter:

Problem: The cashier taking orders was behind plexiglass and was wearing a thick black mask. I wasn’t sure how to order, but knew I wouldn’t hear anything, so I asked for a printed menu to point to what I wanted, but they didn’t have one. I gave the combo number I wanted and the cashier kept asking me questions which forced me to tell them I couldn’t hear. They were trying to be accommodating and were kind, but I don’t even know how to help myself; I was having so much trouble trying to understand I almost burst into tears and wanted to leave.

My advice: Actively practice being proactive.

Solution: I always carry a pen and paper with me, and I premise things by speaking first and telling people behind counters that I’m not going to hear them with a mask because I lipread. So if they have a question I’m going to need them to write to me. 

I also often use Otter and Ava (automatic speech recognition apps) on my phone and I enable apps well before I get to the counter to order or check out.

Michele, phone out ready to use ASR as needed.

The next time you find yourself in a similar situation, say what’s true upfront (what you just told me), “I am new to this restaurant and have no idea how to order. However, I’m not going to hear you with masks, because I’m a lipreader (have hearing loss, am hard of hearing, etc.), so I’m going to need you to write to me.”

Go back to this same restaurant and practice until you are comfortable. Set it up and leave nothing to chance.

Yes, that’s what being proactive means. Taking charge and leaving as little as possible to chance.

Chelle: You’ve heard it as self-advocacy…that sounds like too much work and it reminds us of changing laws. We’ve also called it being assertive. Assertive often shows up side by side with ‘aggressive’ so I think assertive gets a bad rap. That’s why I settled on ‘proactive’ recently. It has a nice ring to it. We can be proactive with our hearing loss.

Reactive

Reactive is the opposite of proactive. When we are reactive we get flustered, upset and isolated. Here are some of my past reactive situations.

  • Went to a banquet dinner and sat in the back with my husband and his friends. Couldn’t understand anyone so went to hide in another room.
  • Faked my way through many conversations because the speaker turned away, it was too noisy or I couldn’t lipread them.
  • Stayed home instead of going out. It was too hard to socialize, especially in groups. 
  • Sit wherever the host puts me in a restaurant. 
Proactive

When we are proactive, we are managing situations as they come. 

  • Here’s a proactive statement I use when meeting new people or talking to strangers such as grocery store clerks: “I hear enough to know you are talking but unless you are facing me, I won’t understand you. I use some lipreading.”
  • I’m proactive in attending captioned plays showing support for the wonderful accommodation that keeps me, and others, participating in public. I also try to support any hearing loss related event because not enough people show up.
  • I’m proactive in restaurants, asking for booths or going to quieter areas so I’m not struggling as much to hear conversation. I’m looking at lighting too. I’ll ask to switch seats with people if they are backlit making it harder to lipread. 
  • When going into public venues, I’ll ask about assistive listening devices. If there are issues, I’ll let them know so the next person who comes in won’t have the same issue.
  • Some events I’ll show up early to get my preferred seating. I’ll also let the person doing the talking know what I need for better communication. I’ve taped FM systems to microphones to help me hear better.
  • Sometimes, it’s been leaving meetings or events when there are no accommodations. 
Chelle, proactive about hearing on a train tour recently. See our social media for more on this.

Those are some of the ways I manage my hearing loss. Life got a lot easier when I started managing my communication. So many people don’t know how to talk to us. When I help them help me, it also helps those who come after me.

Hearing Partners

Julia: Hearing partners can be more proactive by being involved.  Learn your partner’s hearing loss truth. Learn how you can support them so that the changes have positive outcomes. Because I guarantee you, hearing loss affects both parties. 

Don’t take over, don’t be their hearing human. Don’t decide what they can and can’t do with the hearing loss. Why? If this is not already in your family dynamics, you will be angry and resentful. If this is your family dynamics you will be even more angry and resentful. Ignorance is not bliss. You have got to work together. When you have knowledge as the hearing partner it will save heartache and hurtful words.

Medical Settings?

You can be proactive by learning when it might be an appropriate time to help interpret a conversation. Do not have the conversation for them. Only help when clarity is needed.  FYI, medical setting and interpreting should be a hard fast NO. I know there may be exceptions to my saying that, but short of an ER visit don’t, just don’t. Instead, help them advocate for captions so they can actively particapate in their care as appropriate.

You can be proactive by asking businesses and event centers to install and use ALD equipment. Keep an eye out for the ALD symbols with with them. Learn the difference between live human captions (cite AF) and automated speech recognition and where each is helpful. Never settle. Communications may look one way for a long time and overnight be something new. Know it all and continue to educate yourself and others. Some day they may need the knowledge. 

Assistive Listening Symbol

Be proactive with your communication outcomes before hearing loss becomes a problem. Not when you are desparate and you’re pissed off about the hearing loss.

  • Stop talking from different rooms now. 
  • Start facing each other for better understanding. Learn how to gesture.
  • Use a ASR app for notetaking.
Don’t wait for it, learn to be proactive now.

All of this and more can be found in our Lipreading Concept Class. Together we can change the look and stigma behind hearing loss.

Podcasts Available

Watch our companion podcast on our YouTube channel with captions. You can also find us on several audio podcast platforms (BuzzSprout with a transcript, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more) by searching Hearing Loss Live.

If you liked this blog post, try Workplace Accommodations, Hospital Communication, and/or Get Out of Your Own Way.

We have a twice a month newsletter. We add tips on being proactive with hearing loss and a challenge. You can sign up for our newsletter on our events page, scroll down a bit.

If you enjoy our content and find it helpful, share it on social media. Or, consider donating so that we can reach more people with hearing loss over the next year as we continue to build our services.

Categories
Accessibility Advocacy Captioning CART (live captioning) Communication Access Connections Education Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Self Advocacy

Happy Anniversary!

Chelle: This is our 40th podcast! It’s been fun making them and seeing where they go. We’ve highlighted hearing loss and its related issues and strategies; spotlighted community members for inspiration, and will continue to do so.

I love the connections we’ve made. 

This Past Year

  • We hosted a free, monthly event called Talk About It Tuesday (TAIT) with human generated captions (CART) so everyone can participate.
  • We’ve met some good people through TAIT and got to meet one attendee in person thanks to our travels to and from the SayWhatClub convention.
  • We offered a free workshop before the holidays to help people Conquer Their Next Family Gathering.
  • We’ve also had free workshops on Family and Self Advocacy for May’s Better Hearing and Speech Month.
  • We tested sensitivity training for a business to clear up misconceptions about the Hard of Hearing. It was well received.
  • We’ve given free presentations for hearing loss support groups on how to request CART and self advocacy.
  • All our podcasts are free and accessible with captions, that’s a lot of work thanks to Julia. She makes sure all we do is accessible with captions. We want to lead the way with captions. 

Lipreading Concepts Class

We started the Lipreading Concepts classes this year (new classes starting next week) which has already helped several people be more proactive with their communication. This is the only thing we charge for so far. It is a minimal charge, $50 for 8 one-hour classes. Soon we’ll have a Patreon channel going with extras from our podcasts.

Next Year

Over the next year, I look forward to narrowing our focus down to self advocacy at a grassroots level. Teaching people how to communicate, how to get the accommodations they need. Reaching the Hard of Hearing as a whole to let them know there are a lot of accommodations available, and more of us need to request them so our communication needs are better known. 

The Funding Question

This question popped up more than a few times this last year, why are we an LLC instead of a nonprofit? Because we want to do it our way. We didn’t want a board telling us what to do. We also didn’t want to be boxed in by bylaws so we went the LLC way. Even in nonprofits there are membership fees, convention fees, fundraisers. We could have gone the nonprofit route, we have years of experience with nonprofits between us. We could have paid ourselves that way too. Being an LLC is going against the current grain but it isn’t all that different. 

We’ve bootstrapped the whole way through. We recently started some crowdfunding and some of you have already helped. Thank you! We want to go another year; then, another sharing what we have learned on our journeys so you don’t have to wait as long as we did to be more successful with hearing loss.

Happy Birthday to Us!

Michele: Can you believe it’s been a year?! Yes and no. Time is a great contradiction, passing slowly and at top speed all at once.

This past year has confirmed to us how hungry Hard of Hearing (HoH) people are for information that will help them live fully with hearing loss. We’ve helped people learn to be better self advocates and to find their confidence to speak up for themselves and their needs.

More work needed for HoH Accommodations

Speaking of needs, many have no idea what they need or what is available to them in the way of accommodation. Helping people with hearing loss define their needs has been a big part of what Chelle, Julia and I have focused on since last September.

At its heart, hearing loss is a communication barrier. Communication access, and the accommodations that provide it effectively, has been another big focus of ours. If the HoH want businesses and organizations that serve us to include us, the best way to educate them is to advocate and ask for what we need. I’ve been working hard on that in my own community in hospital and medical settings. I’ll be giving presentations on hospital communication access later this year.

Equal Access to CART

CART has been a big focus of Hearing Loss LIVE!, and that’s no surprise, as Julia is a captioner. With a profound hearing loss, and being a lifelong lipreader, CART is the most effective communication access accommodation for me and many others. We are working to help start a movement that will grow the CART industry—there is a shortage of CART providers—and to spread awareness among the HoH community, those who organize live events, and businesses. Many have no clue about how to request it or how to go about providing it for those of us who do not communicate via sign language. Quality, on-site, speech-to-text services should be available all across the country, not just in larger cities. We will continue to focus there, because over 95% of people with hearing loss use spoken language to communicate. Communication access keeps us connected! IT IS EVERYTHING!

“If all my possessions were taken from me with one exception, I would choose to keep the power of communication, for by it I would soon regain all the rest” ― Daniel Webster

We are Going to Dig In

Julia: I am hoping this is one of many anniversaries to come. There is still so much work ahead of us and I’m ready to dig in and get more folks in the KNOW!

Whether you’re new to hearing loss or an old pro—or maybe you are still in denial—there is something here for you, your family, your friends and your place of business. In fact, I think everyone should get in the KNOW! Before they need to know. I cannot stress enough how this has improved everything about my journey as a hearing partner.

Our goal will always be to give back to our HoH community and their hearing partners as much as possible but we need your help.

We have many ways you can help us:

Patreon: Get a look at some of our unseen videos. There are hours and hours of hilarious outtakes, serious discussion about hearing loss, thoughts about podcasting and more. Monthly content starts at $3 a month. That’s only $36 dollars a year.

Buy me a Coffee: Buy one or all of us a coffee! Like a specific blog or podcast? Want us to take on a subject? Let us know. 

Join our Lipreading Concept Class: It’s only $50 dollars for eight weeks! This class is taught by Chelle, Michele and Julia. All three have years of experience with what lipreading is and what it is not. We believe the best way to take this class is online/in person, because there is always time to talk about current real life experiences, strategies and hearing loss. This class is built for hearing friends and family, too. Encourage them to get in the KNOW! about how lipreading and communication go hand in hand. Space is still available in all four of our classes starting September 7th. 

Lipreading Concepts Class in Video

We also have a recorded version of our Lipreading Concepts class.This is for those who aren’t quite ready for group settings. Also, this is a great gift to share with a hearing friend or family member to help them learn more about hearing loss and lipreading. 

Subscribe to our E-news: Our E Newsletter comes out twice a month. It’s chock-full of information and fun facts. It contains Zoom links for our events like Talk about it Tuesday. We share our newsletter list with no one.

Share a testimonial with us: Let us KNOW what Hearing Loss LIVE! means to you. Subscribe to all our content. And above all else: Share, Share Share. Share with your friends, your family, your support groups, your doctors, your coworkers and your employer. 

Let’s get everyone in the KNOW!

If you enjoy our content and find it helpful, please consider donating so that we can reach more people with hearing loss to help them help themselves.

Podcast Link

Watch our companion podcast on YouTube channel. Our podcasts available in audio format on BuzzSprout with a transcript. You can also find us on Spotify, iHeartRadio and other platforms.

Check out our first 3 podcasts & blogs:

  1. Introducing Hearing Loss LIVE!
  2. Finding Your Tribe
  3. You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
Categories
Assistive Listening Device CART (live captioning) Cochlear Implants Communication Access Connections Hard of Hearing Hearing Loops & Telecoils Hearing Loss Personal advocacy Public Advocacy Self Advocacy Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Hearing Loss LIVE! Attends the SayWhatClub Convention

Let me give you a taste of a hearing loss convention. Julia and I went to the SayWhatClub (SWC) convention August 10th-13th in Nashville, Tennessee. We believe everyone should go to at least one hearing loss convention. You get to experience Hard of Hearing culture. What does that mean? 

Hard of Hearing Accommodations

You have the accommodation you need to understand everything that is said. They put in temporary hearing loops for those with telecoils in their hearing aids. (*Ask your audiologist to turn on the telecoil program before you go. Make sure it’s a dedicated telecoil program. About 70% of hearing aids have a telecoil.)  If you don’t have telecoils, it’s okay because there’s also a human providing live captioning as we go. (Called CART, Communication Access Real-time Translation.) Our human providing captions was Julia, who also sponsored some time through her CART business.

I helped to lay the hearing loop.

At conventions, you make connections with people. People who are more experienced and can answer all kinds of questions. If they don’t know, they know someone who can. Because most of the attendees are Hard of Hearing, we know how to talk to each other and people are patient with repeats. Knowing what it feels like being left out, they are usually careful to make sure everyone is included. 

Day 1

Conventions start with a welcome party. This is where you find old friends and make new friends. The SayWhatClub has a theme at their welcome party, this year they told everyone to wear a music t-shirt.  Somehow I missed the memo. Thankfully another attendee brought extra t-shirts and let me borrow one for the evening. 

I had a lot of fun with that shirt!

When the welcome party ends, we spread out to either the hotel bar or take on the city. Come on, we’re in Nashville so let’s explore! We found Printers Alley and a bar with a live band. It was loud but the group I was with knew some form of sign language and we lipread too so we got by. We all help each other with signs as needed. 

Day 2

We started the workshops. At the SWC con, give the first workshop to sponsors. Each sponsor had about 10 minutes to speak. Vendors help fund the conventions we love. They bring us knowledge and technology. Some are Hard of Hearing themselves. Here’s the sponsors this year:

  • T-Mobile Accessibility & Wireless who sponsored the welcome party. InnoCaption who sponsored the hearing loop.
  • InnoCaption has sponsored many SWC cons, they are a regular.
  • We have also had Mitchell Levy of Hamilton CapTel sponsoring and attending SWC cons for many years.
  • Advanced Bionics came and talked to use about their cochlear implants and the Roger Technology.
  • CaptionCall is another sponsor.
  • Yours truly was sponsor as well, Hearing Loss LIVE! and we talked about our Lipreading Concepts classes coming up. Vanderbilt University Brain Development Lab – They are studying how D/HoH children learn. Here is their project.
  • We also had Listen Technologies as a silver sponsor and Cochlear though neither could  show. Thank you vendors for helping make this convention possible!

Hearing Loss and Mental Health

The next workshop was Robin Nobling with NAMI of Davidson County. Her talk was  titled: Got Stuff? “Not a single person gets through life without a period of anxiety, depression, fear, grief, anger.” Those of us with hearing go through all those emotions well. She encouraged us to unpack our ‘stuff’ and move toward acceptance. What I got from it was that we should talk about it and connect with peers. 

Our last workshop of the day was with Cynthia Moynihan, a hearing loss advocate for 30 years who gave us Hearing Loss Empower Hour.  She shared some of her challenges from over the years with us. “Why me,” she used to ask. “Because I have the opportunity to learn and give back.” She finds a word to focus on each year, this year’s word is “opportunity”.  She’s found plenty of opportunity. She warned us against fitting into a mold, accept and embrace our uniqueness. 

The SayWhatClub also has daily, accommodated activities. That night we all met at the Wildhorse Saloon to learn line dancing with captions and sign language! Captions thanks to Julia and the ASL interpreter was provided by Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Are you tired yet? I was but it’s worth it.  I love hanging out with my tribe. 

Day 3 Friday, August 12th

Friday’s first workshop was with Nancy Denning-Martin & Mike Helms of Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. It was titled Advocating for Big Change. For those of us passionate about advocacy, this was informative! Nancy and Mike talked about creating change on the “micro level” which is family, friends and people you meet day to day. There is also the “meso” level of advocating which is things like churches, schools and other groups. Last, there is the “macro” level which affects change on a larger scale; politics, legislation, policy. Samples were given of each category.

The second workshop was:Jourdan Holder AuD, the director of the Cochlear Implant Program at Vanderbilt University. She gave us: Hearing Devices, An Update on Technology, Candidacy and Outcomes. She gave us a lot of information about cochlear implants. They are working on shortening the electrodes to have a better chance at leaving the remaining hearing. This is going through the FDA process of approval. 

Our last workshop was with Peter Hodes, Introduction to Tai Chi: Movement for Health, Balance and Relaxation. He led us through a series of tai chi movements, showing us how to breathe through them. He encouraged people to do what they could and no more. Pain isn’t the answer here. Use a chair or a table as needed. He made us laugh a lot. For many of us, wit was the first time trying tai chi. 

The afternoon activities were a tour of the Grand Ol’ Opry backstage, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and then attending the night’s show at the Grand Ol’ Opry. 

Day 4, Saturday August 13th

Our last day is dedicated to afternoon activities in the downtown area of Nashville. They went to the Country Music Hall of Fame to attend the Songwriters Sessions Bonus and tour the Museum there. 

It’s banquet night! The banquet was sponsored this year by Safe N Clear. Safe N Clear gave away a box of masks with a window, one box to each table. They also provided each guest with a mask to use. 

Keynote Speaker

Our keynote speaker was Meaghan Thomas, a broadcast meteorologist in Nashville who created  The Heart of Hearing Foundation.

Her dad had a hearing loss while she was growing up so hearing loss was no big thing.  Her own hearing loss was undetected for many years because they thought, “she just wants to be like dad.” In a high school physics class, they were working with different frequencies and that’s when her hearing loss came to light. Still she considered it normal and blew it off. It wasn’t until college that hearing loss became hard to blow off. She didn’t know about accommodations so she “scooted by”. In grad school she was more upfront about her hearing loss and they let her record classes. 

As a meteorologist/tv host, she had to get an ear piece. She was fitted for that at a hearing aid place. That was her first real hearing test. Up to that point, her coworkers thought she was unfriendly because she didn’t always answer them. One confronted her about it and that’s when Meaghan let her know she was deaf on one side and had a hearing loss on the other side. That helped clear the air and that coworker became one of her champions. 

Hearing Aids

Along the way she was able to get her parents to buy a hearing aid. That was all they could afford. She was amazed at how much she could hear and what things made noise. However, it was too unbalanced having only one so it got put away. 

Three years later she was told about the state vocational rehabilitation program by a new audiologist. The VR program was willing to pay half of the hearing aids and she wanted them so much she was willing to go in debt to pay the other half. When she went in, they gifted the other half to her because they knew she would go on to do good things. She said she sat there and cried.

Last year she came out about her hearing loss publicly posting a picture of her holding her hearing aids out. The next day she woke up to a thousand comments, receiving encouragement. Many parents of kids wrote in to say it helped their kids know they do whatever they wanted. She appeared on Good Morning America with this story. Shortly thereafter she wrote a children’s book based on the comments. Once she made her money back from the book, 100% of the funds goes to the foundation she created.

The Heart of Hearing 

The Heart of Hearing Foundation was created to help others in need of hearing aids. Right now it helps people within in the Nashville area but she’d like to go nationwide and help many others.  Her main goal is to help the working age people, 20-45, to get hearing aids. These people need hearing aids to keep working. 

“When you finally become okay with who you are, you don’t realize how many people you are going to bless.” A lot of heads here nodding at the convention. Hiding hearing loss is a lot of work. When we become more about about it, and what we need to communicate, the easier it gets. We touch many lives and we can make a positive impact. 

Grow your connections. Attend a hearing loss convention.  

Julia and are looking forward to attending the Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA) October 19th-23rd in San Diego, CA. This too is a fun convention with lots of great people and information. ALDA is famous within the Hard of Hearing community for their Karaoke Night. Let’s sing our hearts out because we can’t hear anyway! Just have fun. 

Join our September 6th Talk About It Tuesday at 6:00 PM MST to learn more about either convention.  

Crowdfunding

We are bootstrapping it and started Hearing Loss LIVE! with our own funds. We keep as much of our services as we can free. There’s two ways you can help us. You can share our podcasts, blogs and events. Or you can Buy Us A Cup of Coffee

Categories
College Disability Resource Center Communication Access Education Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Self Advocacy Vocational Rehabilitation Services

College Disability Services

Fall is upon us and it is back to school we go. Many students new to the college experience may or may not know what is available to them with respect to their hearing loss and equal access accommodations. Every state has different rules and regulations that govern their state colleges. And private colleges are regulated differently than state regulated colleges. This is your first opportunity to learn about how to request services that will allow you to have the same college experience as those around you. If a notetaker worked for you in High School with 30 students, will it work in a lecture hall built for 100? Make sure you work closely with your college advisor who can get you connected with your College Disability Services. College is the time to learn how to be proactive in your hearing loss truth. 

How Are Accommodation Requests Handled?

Julia: College is scary right? Whether you are just out of high school or returning as an adult. Maybe you had an IEP or 504 Plan through High School to help with accommodations. Maybe your hearing loss is new and you are returning to obtain a degree. 

I can share my experience as a captioner. Being very clear; every state and every college has different disability service departments and regulations for those departments are different in each state. I have only had a short experience with private colleges, a very positive experience I will say. Some of my contracts I work directly with the disability resource centers (DRC), which is one of many names and acronyms used by colleges. Some of my contracts I work with through a third party, a liaison for the college resource center supplying interpreting and CART services. 

Most colleges have many different options with regards to hearing loss accommodations. In fact, I think it’s easier to get the correct accommodations in a college setting than it can be in an employment setting. I have captioned for students who use ASL for some classes but need captioning for others. Or they need both ASL and captions for each class. I worked with students who I captioned for but they also needed a notetaker. I have had a student who preferred a Typewell writer over a verbatim CART/Captioner (like me) and I’ve had a student who preferred a verbatim captioner over a Typewell writer. Some students get by just fine being in the front row or with a FM system or Loop in most of their classes, but need CART when English is a second language for the instructor.  

Explore Accommodations

Look at college as the sounding board for you to get to know your hearing loss truth. This is the time to use as many accommodations as possible. Learn how to work with that one instructor who is not happy to accommodate you (yes this still happens). Educate your peers on hearing loss. This is knowledge to take with you into the workforce. Whatever degree you seek, when you’re proactive with your hearing loss, you empower yourself and educate others.

Michele: University of Minnesota’s Disability Resource Center has its own Interpreting and Captioning Unit (ICU) that fills all University-related requests. I have requested CART for university lectures I’ve attended and it is arranged through the ICU.

I also participated in a Sensory Loss Symposium at the Weisman Art Museum, organized by a U of MN artist in residence and the university’s CATSS | Center for Applied & Translational Sensory Science. Accessibility for the talk back afterwards was arranged by the ICU. I’m not sure how many colleges have their own ICU, but all should, in my opinion. 

Resources for More Information

For better understanding of Higher Education and the ADA, the ADA National Network has provided An ADA Knowledge Translation Center Research Brief. It was developed by the Department of Disability and Human Development of the University of Illinois at Chicago and the ADA Knowledge Translation Center. Estimates show that 19% of undergraduate students and 12% of graduate students have disabilities. Transitioning from high school to college can be a barrier for students with disabilities, as the responsibility to seek out services and accommodations shifts onto students themselves at the college/university level. It can be a challenge for students to connect with the appropriate campus resources, especially for those who are new to self advocacy. I found this podcast that discusses a lot of the issues in transitioning to the college experience:

Hear Me Out | Let’s Support Deaf Students Transition to College with Annie Tulkin from Accessible College 

Be Persistent

In my peer support volunteer experience, I have encountered young people attending college who have no idea what accommodations are available to them. I always tell them about CART and send them my search results for information and resources in their area and for their college/university. I also encourage them to be persistent, as sometimes they are offered an accommodation that isn’t a good fit for them, and being a new experience, they may not know they can push for a more effective accommodation.

In my area there are no local CART providers, so the colleges and universities who use CART for the Hard of Hearing do it remotely. Remote CART is a great service in the right situation, but the students I’ve talked to complain that they can’t fully participate due to inadequate microphone set up for class discussion. You can’t participate and respond to information you have no access to, and that’s a problem that can only be solved by a broader availability of CART providers for onsite options in smaller cities and towns across the country.

Using Vocational Rehabilitation and Disability Resource Center Services

Chelle: If you are going to college, I recommend that you check in with your state vocational rehabilitation (VR) program to see if you qualify for services. Using the Disability Resource Center (DRC) and Voc Rehab is a great combination helping you to be more successful at school. Be sure your counselors are Hard of Hearing knowledgeable. This makes a huge difference. If they aren’t, ask for someone else. 

Go into any appointment, both VR and the DRC, prepared with clear documentation from a doctor on your hearing loss, and any other disability. You don’t have to pick one disability, all needs should all be covered. It’s helpful if your doctor can write down specific accommodations as well. 

While the DRC can help with certain accommodations and setups, VR services may be able to help you with other things (this varies in each state along with qualification):

  • Books
  • Tuition
  • Technology such as assistive listening, automatic speech recognition programs, hearing aids and more.  
Know Your Options

Sometimes the DRC will only ask you what you need. They may have their hands tied with giving recommendations. In this case, you need to be as knowledgeable as you can about accommodations. Watch our companion podcast (link below) to learn about more options for hearing loss in a classroom setting. 

Sometimes, you might be denied at either VR or the DRC. Get the denial in writing and appeal it. Don’t give up and don’t get mad, you don’t want to alienate them. Use your polite, but firm, ‘mom’ voice. (Sometimes we advocate for others better than we do ourselves. We deserve equal access too.) Take the next step up. Ask for a supervisor and/or request another counselor. 

When I took college classes in the 90’s, I was upfront about my hearing loss with each teacher. I went to the first class early and explained my hearing loss, what I could and couldn’t do. This helped tremendously. See if you can’t make an appointment with your teachers before classes start to get a feel for them. If you can, get in touch with other students who have a hearing loss to get the lay of the land too.

In Conclusion…

Feel free to contact us anytime through our website to ask us questions about accommodations or taking that next step. We are happy to help. You can also join us live at our Talk About It Tuesday, the first Tuesday of every month at 6:00 PM MST. This is an open discussion event, free with CART/live captioning. (Our next one is Sept 6th, register here.) 

Watch our podcast for more information about college disability services.

If you like this post, check out our podcast on Parenting Kids with Hearing Loss for IEP ideas. Also take a look at Defining the Hard of Hearing. Occasionally our needs are mixed in with those of the Deaf community. Another good one to look at would be Self Advocacy.

If you enjoy our content and find it helpful, please consider donating so that we can reach more people with hearing loss to help them help themselves.