Not a debate/battle I expected to get into in my last year of college

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by KBeezie, Sep 7, 2017.

  1. KBeezie

    KBeezie Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 15, 2012
    Grand Rapids, Mi
    Karl Blessing
    Spent the last couple hours revising an email reply to the disability office at GRCC since a little over a week ago regarding whether or not the campus live performance theatre was telecoil looped (last response from them a week ago was "As I said, we are looking into options. Will keep you posted. We are aware that a resolution needs to be found asap.")

    Some background though, I'm Hard-of-Hearing since birth, severe to profound bilateral hearing loss (though a number of my friends will just flat out say I'm Deaf [capital D meaning involved with the culture of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing friends/etc]). I was raised orally with speech therapy and hearing aids, and while I have taken four semesters of American Sign Language (ASL 1, 2, 3 and Fingerspelling) in college I am not fluent and a bit out of practice so I cannot take full advantage of a sign language interpreter for my Intro to Theatre class (Which requires 4 live viewings, or nearly twice as many recorded viewings)

    Since I went out and hunted down people who might know about the status of the theatre and still have not heard back from the disability office I have drafted this email sent moments ago.

    If it was simply one issue or the other I probably wouldn't pay much mind to it, but both on top of the fact that I am a part of the D/HH community just aggravates me to no end as it's not like I'm just looking for an early graduation or some easy out (which by the way, I only have 3 classes total before I get my Associates in Fine Arts with emphasis on Photography).
     
  2. ionian

    ionian Mu-43 Top Veteran

    982
    May 20, 2016
    Kent, UK
    Simon
    Sorry to hear of these issues - hope you get it sorted.

    With regards to the sign language course, check the course documentation to find whether languages are specified or explicitly excluded and, if it is listed as excluded, ask what the pedagogical reasons are. If you can prove equivalence there should be no issue, but this is problematic for your institution and I would imagine they will need very clear reasons as to why it wouldn't count.

    With regards to the hearing loop, what adjustments were promised to you when you registered? If they sold the course to you mentioning the hearing loop, it is their responsibility to fix it or make reasonable arrangements to ensure you are not disadvantaged.

    I work in HE but in the UK so things may be different in the states, but I hope it helps you approach things from a productive angle.
     
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  3. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    I'm going to be very politically incorrect here:

    US society has decided, through the ADA and other laws, to subsidize people with disabilities. This is basically a gift. I'm not saying that it is a bad decision and in fact we have an autistic child in the family who is benefiting from it. But, really, the bottom line here is that your gift in the form of this theater "loop" modification is not being delivered as fast as you would like. Agreed you are not asking for "an early graduation or an easy out," but you are IMO complaining about the slow delivery of free lunch.

    Let the flames begin!
     
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  4. bluzcity

    bluzcity Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    389
    Jul 17, 2012
    Memphis, TN
    Brent
    I would want to know the institution's policy and procedure and if they are in compliance. Best of luck!
     
  5. JamesD172

    JamesD172 Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    483
    Aug 18, 2016
    James Dolezal
    Is it a gift that when I attend a university, the professor speaks English? Or is that a basic, obvious requirement in an English-speaking country?

    Is it a gift that classroom doors be at least 6-7 feet tall? Or is that an obvious requirement so that students can actually enter the classroom?

    There are a million other examples of obvious rules that a society needs to abide by in order that all of its citizens can reasonably function.

    If you are going to enter into a contract with someone (e.g. providing education), you have to be able to provide what you have promised. If your attempts to provide what was agreed upon are not accessible to someone because of their physical state, it's your responsibility to make a better attempt. Failure to do so is discrimination. It's not a "gift" to receive something that was contractually agreed upon.

    Last I checked, education isn't free (in the US).
     
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  6. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    That's a nice reply - and I agree with the sentiment entirely. However, I can see that dealing with the needs and rights of everyone can run expensive and that priorities need to be set. Someone has to pay in the end for whatever is provided and one person's justified expenditure on minority facilities is another person's profligacy.

    Like it or not, there's a balance between providing for the few and providing for the majority. Of course, we don't want the majority to get sole attention - that's a recipe for not only discrimination but intolerance.

    When there is a limited budget (and let's face it, when is there not?), the resources need to be rationed. We get this in spades in the UK's health service. There is a government body (NIHCE) who decide what's fair and what isn't. I guess the same happens in the US, but it'll be based on your insurance policy.

    It seems in this case that the expenditure on the loop is probably not huge and will likely benefit a good number of people. It sounds like administrative constipation that it hasn't been done. I'm sure some appropriate noise making will get some action.

    As for accepting ASL as a language choice, I'd say that sounds like ignorance/prejudice - especially given the proficiency of most Americans at any language other than English (ignoring of course the Spanish speakers!). Now I'll get my hard hat out...
     
  7. Kalifornier

    Kalifornier Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    728
    Apr 29, 2014
    California
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  8. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Did someone say there was?
     
  9. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    All I can say here is that I think the accommodations provided by the ADA benefit everyone in US society, not just those who directly need those accommodations.
     
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  10. KBeezie

    KBeezie Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 15, 2012
    Grand Rapids, Mi
    Karl Blessing
    You do realize that the college was federally required to have it installed 3 years ago right?

    Edit: and the reason it's federally required is due to the federal funding the college receives.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2017
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  11. ADemuth

    ADemuth Mu-43 Regular

    111
    Jan 27, 2017
    Koror, Palau
    I was friends with a deaf girl a couple of decades ago, and it made me aware of the difficulties in accommodating the Deaf community; the needs and solutions, as well as demands vary so much.

    Good luck!

    After living abroad for quite a bit, I've noticed that people are fairly dismissive of Americans who speak Spanish as being bilingual. Care to expound? (I know, I'm sidelining here, and perhaps I'm misreading what you said and you aren't being dismissive)
     
  12. KBeezie

    KBeezie Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 15, 2012
    Grand Rapids, Mi
    Karl Blessing
    For those curious, a lot of stuff happened earlier today.

    By mid-day I still haven't heard anything from the disability office regarding the loop system (and I wasn't necessarily expecting to just yet)

    On the curriculum side, in regards to counting American Sign Language as a general humanities, the official response as to why they do not came from the Language and Thought Department Chair, primarily making clear that said decision had nothing to do with the language and thought department, which I can understand, since at the time I don't know *who* exactly is responsible for what decision, that is of course what I was trying to find out, and seemed like a good place to start.

    If I wanted to go off on a tangent and apply said logic to race or gender, it would be like saying such-and-such transfer institutions do not accept a person of color as a student, so why should we at the associate's level. But then... what if I planned on transferring to Michigan State University where it is counted? But they could you know... start the change? I'll likely use this experience to contact the five mentioned universities just to pose the debate with them, especially as I have not yet decided where I would transfer to, or when.

    Her response was quite clear and to the point and identifies the party responsible for enacting those policies.

    Now here is where things get a little hectic, turns out that the visual arts department head (who is also my supervisor for student employment) had been working on a plan, and in his work talking with different departments, dean of curriculum, and provost put in a recommendation to have my general humanities requirement waived, seeing as I had taken 4 semesters of the language during a catalog year when it did count (doesn't count under the 2017-2018 catalog that I changed to, so apparently it *used* to count, but also required a natural science course back then) which would mean dropping the Theater class. But I still would have enough credits to graduation even with that waived.

    On top of that, he looked into getting one of the remaining AT classes that I had not taken counted as a program elective (which mainly needs to be a 3 credit AT or PO course, preferably a studio one), so in the same day the request was put in to drop Theatre, Waive the humanities requirement (which was approved by a number of faculty as I saw in the carbon copy of the emails), and then get me enrolled into History of Art before 1400s next week with a professor that I am quite familiar with (I couldn't ask for a better professor to teach art history), which would keep me elgible to be a student employee for the visual arts department.

    ... which also means at the end of Fall I will have all the necessary credits for the Associates of Fine Arts with Emphasis on Photography.

    Now on the Theatre looping side, Disability office did get an email sent out at the end of the day (around 6PM) after all of the above had already taken place. Course didn't come from my case worker, but rather the program director.

    The nutshell is basically, we understand the severity (I'm sure you do), it will take time and research (you had three years), be glad that theatres outside of campus provide it (besides the point), and we can provide you a bus pass to get to them (yay... $1.75 less than the 10 or 15 per show I'd pay).

    I'm not going to let them know about the class drop until maybe tuesday, would like to make sure they get that accommodation installed as I am not the only student who needs it, I'm just the first who decided to be a pain in their ass about it.
     
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  13. twokatmew

    twokatmew Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 1, 2012
    Lansing, MI, US
    Margaret
    @oldracer@oldracer It's not a gift. It's leveling the playing field. Think of it like a golf handicap. Anyone who objects to people with disabilities getting an 'unfair advantage' or "gift," is really objecting to losing his/her advantage over the disabled.

    @KBeezie@KBeezie Best of luck to you! Please let us know how it works out.
     
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  14. KBeezie

    KBeezie Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 15, 2012
    Grand Rapids, Mi
    Karl Blessing
    The idea behind requiring a level 1 foreign language course as a humanities requirement at most colleges is not about proficiency in the language (otherwise you would also have to take further courses), but rather to inspire students to think about communication differently outside of their normal comfort zone. Because I guarantee you, no one is going to be fluent in any language with no previous exposure, just from a single level one class, which at best may give around 500 word vocabulary and a cursory overview of grammatical structures.

    In that sense, American Sign Language fulfills those goals and more.
     
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  15. KBeezie

    KBeezie Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 15, 2012
    Grand Rapids, Mi
    Karl Blessing
    Should know more starting next week, it'll be interesting playing catch up on the two weeks of art history class that I did not attend, but I have had the same professor before (History of Photography as Art, History of Art since 1400s, Modern Art History, and will likely take her again for History of Architecture next semester) and she can get me up to speed rather quickly especially since I'm already familiar with her testing methods and what she's looking for in regards to note taking.

    I'll probably pop by the theatre department to fill in the theatre professor on what has been going on and what has happened and of course pointing out that the decision to drop has nothing to do with his capacity as a professor since I know some get a bit concerned or irritated when someone drops after 2 weeks (usually don't even think anything of it if they drop after 2 days, other than that spot could have been filled by someone who could have stayed). That way he'll know the dropping was for issues beyond his direct control.
     
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  16. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I guess I was being a bit obtuse. I wasn't being dismissive of bilingual American English/Spanish speakers at all - quite the opposite in fact. I was being dismissive of the monolingual American English speakers! I can afford to be snarky since I'm British and we're pretty much the same!
     
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  17. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    Karl,

    I understand your situation completely. I work in the healthcare field with people with disabilities and you are NOT the first to complain issues like this. I hear complains like this all the time -- not enough funding, don't care about maintaining facilities or upgrading them to serve people with disabilities and so on and so forth. My best advice would be to continue being the "squeaky wheel". That is unfortunately how you can get things done.

    My take on this is that, funding for disabilities is expensive. Society today view disability services as a gift from taxpayers and I always get the feeling as I help people with difficulty ambulating in public space or in public transport that, the person with disabilities has become an eyesore and there is little respect nor understanding about these people and that they are an overhead to the administrative funding system. There is a troubling stereotyping of people with disabilities as someone who does not pay enough in taxes, but are asking too much for taxpayers to pay for adaptive/assisting devices for them to become effective members in society and or to hire caregivers to assist with them. All of this cost a lot of money. Adaptive and assisting devices are very expensive. While they do not show these actions in public, you can sense that level of energy when you are around them. Delay tactics and finger pointing and passing the buck are usually how administration people deal with a disabled person who is wondering why funding are delayed or postponed for a certain project or plan.

    Through the initiatives of the government, we had legislated rules and laws for the protection and equalization of citizens of the modern world to treat disabled people with respect and with the same equal access as a normal person. This may sound great on paper, but unfortunately as long as voters feel that they are being burdened by the costs of providing additional adaptive and assisting devices to disabled people and medication assistance and care giver assistance, you will get bean counters who have to balance the needs of providing you the assisting devices so to allow you to learn effectively within the budget constraints. It means that, when funding is available or enough complaints are registered, the administrative people will continue to promise something to you without delivery.

    Do you have other students like yourself who can help you sign a petition to get this assisting devices installed? Just yourself isn't as powerful as a group who needs this service.

    Hope this helps..
     
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  18. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    I hope that, should your health decline as you age to the point where you require a walker, cane, or wheelchair, that you have easy access to ramps, sidewalk cutouts, and other accommodations to facilitate your movement. They are literally life-changing.
     
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  19. KBeezie

    KBeezie Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 15, 2012
    Grand Rapids, Mi
    Karl Blessing
    Doesn't need a petition, they were federally required (ie: "by law") to have it installed 3+ years ago as a federally funded college. It wouldn't take a petition to get it installed, just a formal complaint with the ADA office which would cost them even more for violating the law.

    (The visual arts department for example has a budget of a few thousand dollars a month to just go buy what we think is needed for the department, the loop system is cheaper than that, and most of the other departments such as the music dept, science department, administration, etc have a much larger budget than visual arts, so cost was not a factor just "research and time" despite having 3 years so far to do it).

    The recognition of the language as being on the same footing as a spoken language, is a different matter however.
     
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  20. KBeezie

    KBeezie Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 15, 2012
    Grand Rapids, Mi
    Karl Blessing
    That was a fun time when I ended up getting sciatica a little over two years ago that I needed physical therapy and about 3 months on a cane which mainly helped me move about half a block before needing to sit down somewhere for half an hour, stairs were horrifying at that time and I learned rather quickly how much of the city isn't easily accessible if it would kill ya just to stretch over a curb.
     
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