Bloody morons

8 12 2009

I’ve booked a place on an arts course at the City Lit. I chose this adult education college as it’s famous for being accessible to deaf people. I enquired about communication support for my course;

Dear Visual Arts Department,

I am interested in joining this particular course next spring. I am profoundly deaf and lipread. and I have a query regarding communication support. Which would be more appropriate for this course’s teaching style, a palantypist, lip speaker or notetaker? I have a palantypist already available to me and will be able to bring her.

I look forward to hearing from you. My palantypist tried to phone you but she just keeps getting voice mail.

Regards, Prospective Student

They replied;

Hello Prospective Student,

Thank you for your email. This course will include classroom lectures, discussions, group work and possible outdoor practical work. From my understanding of the available support you have described, a lip speaker may be the most suitable. I would suggest that you contact our Access to Learning team to discuss any support City Lit may be able to offer. Their contact details are on our website.

Kind regards, Visual Arts Dept.

Fair dinkums. I emailed the Access to Learning Team;

Dear Access to Learning Team,

Please see emails below. I have a palantypist already booked so the easiest thing would be to bring her along, and then I wouldn’t incur cancellation fees. She will need a power socket and table or desk to put her laptop on.

I would not be happy using a lip speaker full time (as suggested by Visual Arts Dept) as this is too tiring for me – you would also need to book 2 lip speakers as they would alternate every 15 minutes to give each other a break (however I get no break!).

For outdoor work (and possibly group work) I can use a lip speaker for short periods of time – which also means only needing to book one lip speaker plus it’s cheaper. I usually use Mrs X (a level 3 lip speaker) however she needs to be booked ASAP as she gets booked up very quickly and lip speakers are extremely hard to get hold of. A palantypist can cope with group work depending on how it is set up – she needs to be able to hear others so a breakout room is better than a corner of a room with other groups in it, and if we are sitting in a group rather than moving around, then that is easier for her too.

Regards, Prospective Student

No reply. I emailed them again. Six days after my first email, they replied;

Hi Prospective Student,

Thanks for your e-mail. We use our own in house support service to provide support for learners and wouldn’t normally be happy with students bringing in their own support. All students need to have an assessment of their support needs which takes into account the most appropriate support for that course.

Please contact our Deaf and Disabled support service (DDS) to arrange an assessment.

Kind regards, Learning Support Team

*bangs head on desk*

Bloody morons!

What happened to a deaf person’s choice of communication support? Especially when I’m not asking them to pay anyway! I wonder what level or qualification the in-house support workers hold? There isn’t a level higher then Level 3 for lip speakers, and my palantypist is registered and qualified. There are only 25 palantypists in the UK so I know I am extremely lucky to have one at all, and they want me to cancel her and try to get another one?!!

I wrote back, copying in DDS;

Dear Learning Support,

As I already know exactly what I need and I already have support booked, I don’t see how canceling it (and incurring extra costs) and booking other (possibly inappropriate) support would enhance my learning experience.

Please note I cannot sign and therefore do not require a sign language interpreter. I require a lip speaker and palantypist which is already in place. I am more than happy to come down to the City Lit and speak to you morons someone about this. Arranging an assessment would take too long and cost me extra in cancellation fees if I am asked to cancel and re-book the same support that I already have in the first place.

Regards, Angry Student

*bangs head on desk again*

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9 responses

8 12 2009
Bluesky

Sounds like alot of hassle for some Art Course LOL! Seriously, this is exactly the reason why alot of deaf people avoid doing courses..all the grief, stress..just takes the whole fun out of it. I hope you sort it out in the end on your terms! Good luck.

9 12 2009
MM

There you go ! If you asked for an BSL terp NO PROBLEMO ! It may be they don’t want to pay YOUR Palentypist but use their own system. This is not unusual. One quirk of access laws is while areas have to provide you with support they DON’T have to pay for what YOU personal want, only meet the need, and this is goverened by cost and convenience to them usually.

The only offical directive is that they should ‘consider’ your personal preference. You’d be damned lucky to get a lip-speaker ! and as you say they demand breaks every 15 to 20 minutes so a few hours in a class is gunna cost and then some. There is a lot less stress if you sign, and that isn’t right, they should be addressing all needs.

I prefer palentype too, much superior to sign language and far less distracting in a class situation. These days they don’t require a plug they use batteries lol………

9 12 2009
Alison

Education are particularly bad, and super patronising. The continuing education course I’m currently studying, I asked for an interpreter (have used interpreters for previous courses, same institution). They wanted an assessment, and after dragging my feet I gave into them. No-one in the room had ever used an interpreter, nevermind know anything about BSL. They knew nothing about deaf people either. I’m not even sure how they could be assessing my deafness either! The assessment report contained way too much irrelevant information, e.g. what I had studied 15 years ago, what my future plans were, etc … which I objected to (its a continuing education course, hearing students aren’t expected to provide the same amount of information).

Anyway, that was back in Sept, after me fighting since April. They eventually agreed to fund interpreters one day after the course had started.

The course was short, 10 weeks. Next year, the course continues, like part 2. Same subject, same level, same tutor, same students. I ask to study the course. I’m the same deaf person. Guess what? They want another assessment! Only yesterday I shot off an e mail asking for a logical explanation …. I’m still waiting for a reply.

Assessments are patronising at best, but for some reason institutions seem to see it as complying with ‘anticipatory duty’, and its not just an assessment of support but technically how a tutor needs to modify their behaviour in the classroom. E.g. one person talk at tie, etc. Problem with this approach, it takes away power of classroom dynamics, and perhaps our independence. We’ve been used to sorting it out, now we’ve got to be nannyed.

10 12 2009
kim

I agree with MM. Accommodations are geared toward the Deaf who don’t speak. Once they find out you can speak, then your chances of getting appropriate accommodations diminish significantly. This is one reason I learned to sign. Though I’m still not fluent and never will be. The combination of ASL plus voice does help. . . somewhat. I’m not sure what a Palentypist is, but it sounds like what we would call “CART” here? Computer Assisted Relay Transcription. In the US many court reporters have a side business doing CART for the deaf. There is also remote CART that can work well in a classroom depending on the setting. If there’s a discussion/question/answer period, forget it.

12 12 2009
Liz

How annoying and not surprising to hear either. The laws are there in place, so we get a fair trial at things as everyone else. They supposed to know our needs, but its obvious they don’t just like I’ve experienced in the past in a different setting. And as mentioned before. If we couldn’t hear at all, and it was just BSL, it would be easier to get what we want. But because we can lipread and hear a little. Its harder to get. Bloody pain.

I’m doing a home study course, but I’m finding ok so far. I can communicate by email, and my course is study at home.

Hope you get what you need very soon.

12 12 2009
Cornishandy

I just chuckled my way all through that. I’m terribly sorry.

The City Lit are not usually that bad, you must have got somebody new. Try dropping a line to Melinda Napier, who signs and lip reads to perfection.
I’d be really pleased to hear from you backchannel….

13 12 2009
IanIlly

What a palaver! Interesting comments about the way those of us who can’t follow BSL fall between two stools. It is one reason why I (was) pursuing a BSL course, it just may give me more access. But of course learning and practising this skill in the real world is not that simple.

So, I am in a similar position at work where we have group break-out meetings (management school babel) that were 75% lost on me. I am now asking for a palantypist (yes like the CART idea) but I’ve used these in the past at formal meetings and can’t believe that there are only 25 in the whole of the UK? I am also going for lipspeaker support when on a course early next year so that will be an interesting experience. It seems I am fortunate in not having to go through any assessment of needs process. For the course I simply declared my hearing loss and asked what would be best a Palantypist or Lipspeaker? There is no way I can usefully take part without something like this.

In some ways I see it as an educational experience for the other attendees. They can learn just how hard it is to lose something that is taken for granted. Or should we just curl up in a corner and avoid these obstacles?

So, will you be doing the course then?

16 12 2009
Heather W

Hello there! Now maybe you were too independent by knowing exactly what you need when attending a course. Really amazing, to see the amount of work required when making initial enquires to a college thats known as supporting Deaf students. Hope you manage to get the support you need and dont have to give up the person who already has the qualifications and availability to work with you there! It would be crazy to cancel working with her to discover another “access communication service etc” couldnt provide what you need! Dont give up!! 🙂

3 01 2010
funnyoldlife

@Ian. I got my own way. So yes, I will be doing the course

*wink*

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