I was in a classroom that didn’t have air conditioning, so they had these huge fans on to try to circulate the air. I couldn’t hear anything over the noise, so I talked to the professor and asked her to wear my assistive technology. The next week, we moved to a different classroom in a newer building that had air conditioning. I was impressed by her effort, and it all happened just because we talked. So remember to be an advocate! You might be surprised what people will do if you are honest about your hearing loss.
… roommates and RAs.
If you are living on campus, it’s important to tell your RA and the people in housing that you have hearing loss. There are assistive devices to help with alarms, but I still slept through a fire alarm once. Thankfully it was just a drill, but I think it’s important to let people know just in case a real emergency happens.
… small colleges.
I attended a smaller school. Everyone was very kind, but there weren’t many students who had hearing loss. In fact, I think I was the first student to ever give a microphone to my professors, so most of them didn’t know how it worked with hearing aids. The best part of going to a small school though was that I had the opportunity to talk directly to a lot of the teachers and students. I think I was good for the school too, because when I went to the Academic Enrichment Center, they had never heard about the Roger Pen. But they were willing to listen, which I think says a lot.
… large universities.
One thing I thought about a lot when I was looking at schools was if I would be the first deaf student those professors had met, or if I would be the first deaf student to go through this program. It seemed like that was the case at the smaller schools. For me, the appeal of a larger university was that they were much more experienced and knowledgeable about working with students with hearing loss. They had seen people like me come through the gates before.
One thing I realized quickly was that passing off my microphone to the professors before class was a great way to differentiate myself from other students. I often used it as a way to make small talk and I noticed that in larger classes I would get called on to answer questions just because they knew my name. It also benefited me in getting mentors and letters of recommendation, so don’t view it as an ordeal that you have to go through. It’s an opportunity.
… being transparent.
In my experience, it’s important to be clear about your needs with friends, such as being able to read their lips or being able to follow conversations. I let my friends know that I needed captions for movies. After I told them that, I noticed them speaking up and asking people to put captions on movies. It’s nice to see that kind of thoughtfulness from others.
… educating others.
As a student with hearing loss in an audiology program, I thought that everybody would be accommodating. It was just a lesson learned that even the people you would think would be understanding are not always, and I still had to educate them on my rights and what it’s actually like to have hearing loss.
… disability services.
As far as services go, CART helped me feel confident in my ability to follow and understand my classes. CART was really great at filling in gaps that I didn’t know existed until I read the transcript. My school also gave me access to this portal where I could request captioning for my classes, specify what type of captioning I wanted, and whether I wanted it to be someone in person or remote. I could also request captioning for university events and club meetings that I wanted to attend. I had a really great experience with our Disabilities Office and the services they offered.