Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

My sweet Sheprador
My sweet Sheprador

In my opinion, one of the more frustrating truths about positive advocacy is the need for repetition. I understand that because my challenges and disabilities are a part of my life, adapting, coping, and sometimes “making do” are a natural part of each and every day. I also understand that because many people with whom I interact do NOT live with hearing loss and balance issues, what is second nature for ME never crosses their minds. The trick… and something I have been struggling with, is how often do I have to ask for accommodations? How often do I repeat the same ol’ request so that I can simply interact with others equally?

The above photo is of my current service dog, Milo, from Fidos For Freedom, Inc. Milo is a young Sheprador (German Shepherd/Laborador Retriever mix) who rarely sleeps. When he does, he sure is cute. ‘Course I’m a tad bit prejudiced being Milo’s partner. The phrase, however, “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie” originates from a proverb that means to leave something alone if it is going to cause trouble, or dredge up old arguments.

However, when we strive to promote positive advocacy and request accommodations (that were asked for before and are still not a habit for those providing the service, workshop, or seminar), when do we just “leave it alone”? One of my longtime requests is that speakers use the microphone, and repeat questions asked from the audience INTO THE MICROPHONE. Yet, time after time speakers say, “Oh I don’t think I am going to use the mic. My voice carries…” or, “I’m just going to put the microphone over here… you can all hear me, correct?” I’ve even had speakers have everyone in the audience introduce themselves and give some information about their background WITHOUT A MICROPHONE in sight!

I wave like a crazy person and “shake my head no” when speakers say this, and yet time after time I sit in meetings like this with no one using the microphone. At the end of conferences I fill out surveys about my conference experience and have tried to relay how important the microphone is to me. I’m to the point that I may stand up and create a mini-scene, asking them to use the microphone. As a person with hearing loss, in a large, cavernous room, I go from hearing 95% with microphone in use, to about 20% when it is not. Any idea how hard it is to get anything out of a meeting if you are only getting 20%?

I don’t even go the extra mile and request CART. It’s expensive. In spite of people with normal hearing asking for a copy of the transcript as well and my knowing it helps more than just ME, I don’t make formal requests for CART as a simpler solution WILL actually meet my needs. Entering a new school year with loads of meetings on my calendar already, I am to the point of “letting sleeping dogs lie”.

The only problem is, it isn’t in my nature to roll over and give up. So wake up, DOG.

Denise Portis

© 2016 Personal Hearing Loss Journal



6 thoughts on “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

  1. Don’t let those dogs sleep!
    How can you so your job if you have no idea what is going on?
    Request CART a few times, see if they start using the mic after that.

    I have a problem with just letting those at home off the hook when they repeatedly don’t do as I ask to help me hear. I wake up those dogs very loudly.

  2. So many aspects of the issue here! I was caught by your comments that speak to the fact that the other requests, rather than CART, would be simpler and less expensive. I immediately thought “well, maybe they’re not simpler! Maybe the shift in behavior to provide the “simpler” accommodation is so challenging–especially in a one time or periodic situation versus daily life–that insisting on CART would actually be the simpler accommodation. I’m thinking on a personal basis here. Also, perhaps the insistence on the need for CART would, in addition to being the simpler solution if utilized, it could be the wake up call to those who don’t really hear what you (I, we) are saying when we express the need for accommodation and ask for it by name, i.e. use the mic, repeat questions from the audience, don’t simply assume that because the speaker has a clear, carrying voice that it’s enough, etc. It’s worth a try. I’ve considered it. I think I need to become my own experiment. Thanks, Denise!

  3. Yes, CART is not inexpensive. Neither are interpreters but do Deaf people let that stop them from requesting, no demanding them? People need to understand that the cost of putting on a meeting or conference must include the cost of providing accommodations for people with a variety of disabilities. If we do not ask for accommodations we will never get them voluntarily. Neither will people understand the need to use the mic. Instead we will hear what we have been told for years: “I’m only going to be off-mic for the Q & A portion. You won’t be missing anything.” or some semblance of that statement.

  4. In 4-H, when the kids were giving Oral Presentations and being judged, they were all trained to repeat the question. I’m surprised (not really) that the speakers don’t. It’s well know that all speakers always need to, at least among competing speakers and considerate people. Yes, those with hearing problems need it. But everyone in the room in further away from the questioner also needs needs it to be repeated. Once again, basic good habits support everyone, and fewer accommodations are needed by individuals.

    In our public schools, when kids needed a teacher to wear a mic, they had a handheld one for kids to use for discussions. Teachers **loved** it. The kids understood the importance of using the mic, and it meant waiting for their turn and not talking over each other. Then they added mics and speakers to all the classrooms, with added tech that interfaces with it for kids who needed more, because all the kids turned out benefitted from it, and it made the teachers less tired to use a mic, and they could stand anywhere, back to kids, and be heard.

    So, yes, they should do these things because you need them. That should be enough reason. But it’s not like it will be a hardship for anyone, and will benefit everyone else, too…they should be thanking you for pointing it out!

  5. 1. I always wondered what that phrase about sleeping dogs meant… Haha

    2. In college I was on a video crew that put conferences online and I can’t tell you how many college profs do the “I don’t need a mic!” Bit. And I have to explain how CAMERAS work. Without a mic, it’s a silent movie. Oy! Just use the mic, it’s there, why not?? College speakers are so weird.

  6. DO IT. If standing up and asking them to use the microphone will help you catch more information from a meeting you’re taking the time to attend, then it’s totally worth making a scene.

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