It is always such a joy to provide this platform to guest writers who want to share stories and information about their own life journey as a person with disability and/or chronic conditions. First-person stories are powerful reminders that we are NOT ALONE. There are people all over this country who are working hard to be a positive advocate and world-changer on behalf of people with disability. Today I welcome a long-time friend whom I first met in 2002 at a national conference for people with hearing loss. We shared same age children and parenting with hearing loss.
I think you all know that hearing loss is a part of my life and it affects me daily. I fully own my hearing loss, and I do everything I can to work on hearing better. I have overcome obstacles throughout my life, including pushing myself out of my comfort zone so that I can participate in a “normal” life. I also personally try to educate people around me if I can’t “hear or understand” instead of withdrawing. Believe me, this is not always easy to do, I was lucky, I grew up with my hearing loss. Most people suddenly experience hearing loss and don’t have the faintest idea of where to start.
Sometimes, society intentionally throws up roadblocks, by not providing accommodations such as insurance for medically necessary hearing devices, rehabilitation, or outright putting communication responsibility on the person with the hearing loss.
Recently, Zoom became a necessary thing in our society, and many people with hearing loss were left out. Because of advocacy efforts, Zoom added captions to paid accounts, and after advocates cried foul, they have agreed to add captions to all zoom accounts by September 2021. During the pandemic and beyond in our new world, without captions online, many people with hearing loss cannot participate equally in their jobs or join in on webinars, online classes, and other types of online classes.
In my case, I participate in dance classes, and luckily, I have a fair amount of experience and I have bluetooth in my hearing aids that serves me very well, but if I didn’t have these two things already, I would be lost in participating in these classes.
When you have a disability, or your child or family member has a disability, it becomes your personal responsibility to deal with your disability.
What responsibility should society have in dealing with the disabilities of others?
What if it means that someone can have a little bit closer to a normal life, or if accommodating the disability means that someone can support themselves instead of society?
What if accommodating someone with their disability means that they can join in and support others trying to make a living, instead of staying home and not participating at all?
What if the majority of people feel that their daily lives are too complicated to consider accommodating even just one person with a disability?