April 20, 2013

Advocating For Myself with a Bang!

I attended a Transition/Career Fair held by the local school district for students with disabilities. It contained several workshops and vendors with information about transitioning to college, obtaining accommodations and services, self advocacy, and assistive technology. This is new for the county, so there is room for improvement. They should work on including awareness and information for disabilities other than learning and physical disabilities. They hardly had information for students with sensory and communication issues such as deaf and hard of hearing students. There did not seem to be much awareness of this. Because of the lack of understanding, I had to advocate for myself several times. I requested closed captions, I asked a workshop presenter to turn down music playing in the background, I asked for handouts or for them to write important information on the board, and I moved around quite a bit finding the best place to sit for my hearing needs. Some parents I work with and one of my high school students attended this fair. I am glad that they got to see me utilize self advocacy in action.

One of the many times I advocated for myself was slightly embarrassing. It resulted in breaking something and making a very loud noise.

During a workshop held in a small classroom with giant windows, I was told to sit in an area with a group holding cards similar to the color of the card I was given. Unfortunately, we were sitting next to the windows facing a busy road. The outside noises were distracting and made it hard for me to make out what was being said in the classroom. I took it upon myself to move towards the middle of the room, where there were a few empty desks. No one said anything or seemed bothered by me moving. It was a little better, however, the door to the classroom stood wide open and the hallway outside was noisy with people talking and walking by on tiled floors. I knew it would make all the difference with the door closed. The presenters were talking and busy helping the class participate in various group activities. I did not think it was necessary for me to ask someone to close the door. I also did not think anyone would mind it if I got up and simply closed the door. I quietly walked over to the door and pulled on it to shut. It was stuck on something it seemed and I gave it a big yank.


Horrified, I let go of the door knob and the door forcefully shut.


The room paused for a few seconds. I sheepishly croaked a "Sorry" and scampered back to my seat. A parent winked at me and mouthed, "Whatever." My student's face turned red as he tried not to laugh.

Then everything went back to normal as if nothing happened.

But, it was much quieter. I could finally follow what was being said, for the most part.

I learned that I broke the wooden door jam that was keeping the heavy door open. Wood splinters and wood chips scattered about by the door; evidence of me violently advocating for myself.

I believe I made my point. Everyone heard it loud and clear.


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