As part of the "make disability stuff visible" thing I am trying to do, here is an update I just sent some of the staff at Purdue's DRC (Disability Resource Center). First, a little explanation/setup.
SETTING THE SCENE
I'm deaf*, and need interpreters/transcribers to be able to understand lectures, participate in group discussions, etc. Since interpreters/transcribers also need to be booked in advance, I can't simply schedule an impromptu meeting, add a class, etc. like my classmates. I also need to also arrange for accessibility for it, and sometimes it's touch-and-go. If I want accessibility, I constantly need to juggle these logistics with no assurance that the other end (teachers, events, etc.) will remember, follow up on things, etc. I can never tell how long it will take, so I can't budget or plan for it -- one email? Ten emails back and forth? Five emails and a meeting? Seven emails, and then they forget to set it up on the day of the class? Eight emails, and then I have to go through the humiliation of asking a friend to make phone calls for me, because sometimes they don't reply to my emails, but they will respond right away to a hearing person calling them on the phone?
It's no wonder I hate logistics with a passion; imagine being a kid and having this -- not things like "organize your Boy Scout troop's hike!" -- be your first, primary, and repeated exposure to "doing logistics." I wish I had enough money to hire someone to just do this for me, but... seriously, how many people have the sort of economic privilege needed to hire a personal assistant? (Personal assistants get paid more than I do as a grad student!)
Anyway, that's why I'm so grateful to have such a great DRC counselor at Purdue, because that's what their job is -- to be the people who taks this stuff off my shoulders. It took a while, but I'm now at the point where I completely trust my counselor to pick up on things when I ask for them once, and to do what needs to be done to make them happen (especially when the other party is nonresponsive). It makes the cost predictable -- I email the DRC once, and things happen -- and since I know and have bounds on how much effort it will take, I actually do it, and now I'm participating in classes instead of just faking my way through them.
And with that, the email to my counselor is below.
Update on all things Mel-accessibility related, for your convenience.
OLD STUFF, NO ACTION NEEDED
1) Thursday afternoon meetings/seminars are being worked out with Voc Rehab, all set here.
OLD STUFF, ACTION NEEDED (HELP PLEASE!)
2) FIE (October conference in Madrid) has not responded at all to my requests. I think I'm gonna need some firepower here; can someone call them and be annoying 'till we get somewhere? I have sent them what I need, have contact info for a interpreter who's familiar with my discipline's material and is willing to go, etc. etc. -- we just need them to acknowledge this and say yes and figure out who will pay for it.
NEW STUFF, ACTION NEEDED
3) I'll be guest-teaching a colleague's class on September 25 (Thursday) from 10:30-11:20 in [location]. His students are going to be asking me tons of questions. Can we get CART/ASL?
4) I got a new RAship! [Purdue Department] hired me to do faculty development (...of sorts) for the professors doing the first Big Pedagogical Experiment. I think I'll be ok with 1:1 convos, but it sounds like there will be Big Meetings With Everybody (that they have not scheduled yet) and I am thinking "oh man, I am going to need an interpreter or CART or something for this, or my brain is going to fry." Can we make this happen, once I figure out when/where those meetings will be?
UPCOMING STUFF, NO ACTION NEEDED (YET)
5) I'll be registering for the POD conference in Dallas in November pretty soon, and am going to do the accessibility ask to them; I think it's their responsibility to take care of it, but just sending a heads-up in case we need to loop you into the convo for any reason (like the "hey, can you be really annoyingly persistent?" thing we need to do for FIE now).
6) The Faculty Coaching Seminar I mentioned earlier and signed up for is about to schedule my weekly check-in small group conference call, and I should have the schedule for that sometime next week so that we can arrange CART for it -- it'll be a regular weekly thing for all of Fall semester.
Thank you so much. You have no idea how much better you are making my life.
*A lot of people are surprised when they find out I'm deaf, or when they read these sorts of posts even if they already know I'm deaf. I speak and lipread so well that I can pass for hearing if I want to, so it looks like I am "doing fine by myself." It's a tremendous privilege and convenience to be able to pass, so I spent most of my life passing, and still frequently do today -- but I would like to show people a little of how much it costs to do that, which is why I'm writing blog posts like this.