March 20, 2010

Self Advocating For Your Hearing Needs Is a Useful Tool Proven By Yesterday's Events

Yesterday, my car would not start. As I tried to turn the key in the ignition, the alarm blared loudly. "HONK! HONK! HONK!" Somehow I set off the alarm system and it completely locked up.

So, luckily I have access to an excellent roadside service company. I called them and they said that it may take them more than an hour to get to me because I was in a rural area. And  luckily, it was a pretty day, no rain, and I was within walking distance to a school I work at. 

I got my purse and locked the car. I walked over to the school. It was awful because I had to walk along a busy road in tall un-mowed grass and mud. So much for my new shoes.

At the school, I ran into one of the custodial persons there. We have become really good friends over the school year. When he found out that my car would not start he immediately offered to help after getting permission to leave work early.

Later, he tried to jump my car and it still would not start. That confirmed that it was the stupid anti-theft deterrent system keeping it from starting. I lost my remote control alarm thing a long time ago. I think if I had that it would have solved the problem.

He stayed for a long time trying to figure out how to help get my car going. He even called his son to come with tools to help.

Finally, after an hour and a half, the roadside service company called to say someone will be coming in ten minutes. My friend left and I waited for help.

Thirty minutes went by and help finally showed up. Unfortunately, my help was missing a lot of his teeth and looked down and mumbled when he talked. Plus he was wearing a blue tooth head set, and it was hard to know if he was talking to me or the person on the phone.

I immediately explained to him that I have a hearing loss and am completely deaf in my left ear. I told him that he needs to look at me when talking and I made a little joke about how I will be driving him crazy by asking him to repeat himself several times. He instantly stopped looking at the ground and mumbling. He started talking slowly and gesturing. I could actually understand most of what he was saying! He actually listened!

Wow, this self advocacy stuff works!

Anyway, he somehow got the car to start and told me, enunciating every word,

"What-ever y-o-o-o-u d-o-o-o. DON'T turn OFF the car. Dr-i-ve it all the w-a-a-a-y h-o-me and then ta-a-ake it t-o-o-o the dealership t-o-o-o-morrow."

"Ok!" I said. As he drove away I let out a huge sigh of relief and drove out of the parking lot on my way home. Finally!

Wait, not so fast. I screamed as I realized that I needed to get gas. I forgot that I was supposed to do this right after work. 


As I drove slowly yelling at nothing, my car would honk three loud consecutive honks. It did it every two minutes. Many drivers looked at me, confused and angry. Some made a rude gesture at me. All I could do was concentrate on getting to a gas station.

So I drove to the nearest gas station that happened to be next to a car parts, repair, and maintenance shop. I thought that this would be a good place for my car to be if it were not to start. I filled up my tank and went in my car hoping that it will start. Of course it did not. The horn blared at me. I took out the horn or the device that makes the horn sound, and then went to the car parts, repair, and maintenance store.

Two and a half hours and two different men helping later, my car finally started again.

Again, I advocated for myself and said that I have trouble hearing. I am so glad I told one of the guys this because he tried to talk to me as he was under the front hood of my car while I sat in the driver's seat waiting for instructions. He needed to tell me when to start or turn on my car. I couldn't see him and therefore could not hear him clearly. We came up with some hand signals to help me understand what he was trying to say. It helped tremendously. After trying several different things, he was finally able to figure out how to override the security system.

So, the point of this story is that usually when you tell people about your deafness or hearing loss they will be more than accommodating. And if they are jerks then you know to ask for help somewhere else. I suspect that these people are very helpful by nature, but if I had not said anything about my hearing loss, imagine how much harder it would have been. Even though some of them could see that I wear a hearing aid, it is not enough. I have to tell them about my hearing loss and then work with them to come up with ways we can communicate effectively.

Self advocating is a useful tool, my friend.



  1. I should try this. I tend to try and do things for myself rather than asking for help :)

    Great that you got some great help and that they were so understanding of your needs

  2. Yep-- I have found this to be true! It's better to tell everyone. I loved the way you made a joke about driving everyone crazy with your hearing loss. I try to use humor as much as possible too. Jokes put people at ease. It was also great that you told them exactly what you needed in order to hear. Helped them to know what you needed and there was less frustration for both of you. :-)

  3. yeah, self advocating helps when needed. I also find jokes coming at me too and many comments about them being just as hard of hearing as I since they've gone to lots of rock concerts back in the day. Thus, I don't feel as much different from many people. Egad, about your car, all the more reason why I stick to basics when purchasing a car. Most recently I was stuck with anti-lock brakes since it's now standard. I hope this anti-theft doesn't become standard for many in the future. The more computer technology the car has, the more complicated things become, in my opinion. Enjoyed your post. ;)

  4. About the car, I totally agree, Candy. I heard a saying called K.I.S.S. it is an acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid. :)


  5. I think I should try this too (e. I'm not very good at the self-advocacy thing yet. It's only this year that I've felt the confidence to start writing a blog about my hearing loss!

    I had lunch with a friend not too long ago and I remember her trying to talk to me while she had food in her mouth. Made lipreading so hard cos she was talking, chewing and covering her mouth at the same time! I should've spoken up and asked her not to talk with her mouth full and take her hand away.

    By the way was the car all good in the end?


Keep it civil.