September 13, 2011

Why the Deaf and HOH Must Advocate For Themselves

Candy left a comment under a post by Xpressive Handz which I thought was a great example of why we (deaf and hard of hearing individuals) must speak up for ourselves if we want to see any changes made.


I had a situation once, about four years ago, where I got up from my cubical and saw through the window - all of my co-workers were outside. I thought, uh oh, why are they all out there??! They were ready to come back in, so I didn't go out. I realized there was a fire drill and the building is a new building and I had never heard how the fire alarm sounded. I am hard of hearing. I later discovered the alarm had a low buzz and not the typical high frequency, plus, there were no strobe lights! My hearing loss is mostly low frequency. So, I went to my boss and said, ya know - if there was a real fire, I could be dead. A new fire strobe light with high frequency was installed in various places in my building after that. And, now our office emergency plan include several responsible person that will make sure those who have disabilities are notified or assisted to get out of the building. This is common, and a good emergency plan will ensure everyone is safe. It's unfortunate, but, we have to be on top of it and keep educating many. 

My response:

Candy just provided a good example of why we need to start speaking up for ourselves more. It is unfortunate that many people don't think about those who are deaf or hard of hearing and their needs. I don't think it is because they don't care; it just did not cross their minds to think about accommodating them for certain things, such as fire alarms. Most people are more than willing to help if you go to them and let them know the problem. If not, then that's when we must complain. If you don't get a full resolution to the problem, then you find out how you can appeal.

It takes a lot of work and is no fun. But, we can't expect others to do the work for us. We must be willing to speak up. When you advocate for yourself, you are advocating for others who are going through the same situation. 

It is important that we continue to advocate for ourselves, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to others.

My ultimate goal for my students is for them to use their voice and speak up when their needs are not being met or when they are being mistreated. I was so proud of one of my high school students when a teacher told me that she spoke up in class about not understanding the video the teacher showed because it did not have closed-captions or subtitles. The teacher decided to postpone showing all of the video in class. The next day, she found and used a similar video that did have subtitles. Luckily, no one had a problem with this.

I do believe that when you advocate for yourself, you are also advocating for others who are going through the same situation.

So if you have a problem with something, speak up!


1 comment:

  1. Good job in making your requests heard because if you didn't, you might never get what you need even if it is a matter of life and death. This should serve as a great example to all those people with handicap out there.


Keep it civil.