Category Archives: October 29, 2013

Etiquette for Interacting with People Who Have Disabilities

An excellent post about how to interact with those who are deaf / hard of hearing

Can You Hear Me Now?

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I got into work today, and my office mate was talking with one of my co-workers about a course he is working on about etiquette to follow when interacting with people who have disabilities.  I mentioned my blog, and he told me he would get me in touch with the woman who is creating the course.  I will have to post about that later.

It got me thinking though.  I think a lot of us, myself included, are nervous and unsure of how to interact with people who have disabilities. Do we look at the interpreter or the person who is using the interpreter? Can we touch the wheelchair? How should be act around a guide dog?  Things like that.  If you slip up, knowingly or not, it can be awkward, offensive, and embarrassing.

This website is a great resource for what you should and should not do when interacting…

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A funny thing happened in New York City…

Thanks to all of you who replied with comments and sent emails regarding the blog! I’ve already received emails letting me know that the website link is being shared with others that are hard of hearing or are considering a cochlear implant. There is so much more to share about people being Hard of Hearing (HoH), deaf, Deaf or in denial, so your feedback helps provide that extra encouragement needed to continue my blog journey, share my experiences, and in the process provide additional information that may help others.

Back in 1994 when I first started losing my hearing in my “good” ear I visited the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis to learn more about options (hearing aids, sign language, lip reading, etc.). At the time I thought the deaf community was one big happy family that worked together to help people with hearing disabilities. Boy, was I WRONG! The deaf community is divisive to the point of animosity toward “other” camps; to those that don’t see things a certain way (sign language vs. oral communication, defecting to the “hearing world” vs. staying in the deaf culture, intermarrying, etc.). If you are interested in reading more: Deaf Culture and Ethnicity, Ethics and the Deaf World for starters, to give you an idea how complex this community is. Perhaps I’ll delve into this some more in future posts. Like so many things in life, when looking from the outside-in, we see cohesion and similarity on the surface when in fact, the things that look the same are very very different when looking from the inside-out.

So, how am I feeling? I am still sore but bruising around the right side of my face is starting to fade. I still get fatigued easily and take those opportunities to nap. Good news: I finally got a full night’s sleep last night (Sunday)!

How am I adapting? since my hearing loss in my right ear has been gradual, I am not freaking out the way I probably would if I lost all my hearing at once. I’ve had time to adapt. How have I adapted? Sometimes the hard way… For example, earlier this year I was staying at a hotel in New York City where I was presenting at a conference. I set my alarm for 6:00 AM and also had the front desk call my room at that time. Well, my hearing had gotten so bad that I did not hear the alarm go off nor did I hear the phone ring. I just happened to get up around the right time and decided to go jump in the shower. After getting out of the shower I was shaving with a towel wrapped around my waist, when all of the sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the hotel room door open! In stepped a heavy-set security lady. I yelped! She yelped! My towel stayed on.

After recovering somewhat from my rather high-pitched screech, I causally asked if I could help her. She replied that she was sent up to my room to see if everything was alright because, “after multiple phone calls to your room with no answer, it is our policy to check and make sure everything was OK” (code phrase for making sure there was no dead body in the room…). I explained that I was hard of hearing and didn’t hear the alarm or phone go off. A bright idea struck me just then and I said, “hey, would it be OK if you came up to my room tomorrow morning and woke me up?” I had forgotten that I was standing there with nothing but a towel around my waist and razor in my hand. Apparently she hadn’t. She smiled, looked me up and down and said something to the effect that, “it just wouldn’t be appropriate” and that they have devices for persons with disabilities they could install so she wouldn’t be needed.

Well that little incident prompted me to explore options such as vibrating watches, strobe lights, etc. I scoured the web and came across a great device – a Pebble watch. This watch not only has a vibrating alarm, it has blue tooth capability with my phone – to vibrate any time there is an incoming text, calendar appointment, phone call (which I can’t hear) or email. I turned off the vibrating option for incoming email since I would be shaking all day long…

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Pebble Watch

This device is not gimmicky nor is it a novel geek gadget; it is essential and I wear it all the time now. Just a heads-up to all of you that the “wearable technology” market will be going gang busters in the near future. stay tuned for many other “Smart Watches” coming to stores near you and most likely just before Christmas… Google Glass soon to follow…

I am going to attempt to do something different this evening. I am going to try to “re-blog” interesting posts that I think might be interesting and/or helpful. I am also going to “publicize” on Facebook and Google+ so bear with me If you get multiple emails this evening. I’ll figure out how to not inundate your inbox for those of you that are “following” me.