Some frigging people…..

22 08 2008

Following on from my recent post, Changing the way you see disABILITY, I was thinking that it’s not only about how disability is perceived. It’s also about the follow through, how people with disabilities are treated. I am amazed at what some people think they can get away with. Let me give you an example….

Jean is deaf and shares a flat with her flatmate Brian. Brian is not fully mentally capable and is, basically, a pushover. Now I don’t agree with taking advantage of people with disabilities, I think they should be treated with the same respect as anyone else. So does Jean. So this story makes me wonder what the world is coming to. Jeans tells her story …

Last week I was watching TV around 10pm and looked up to see two strangers standing in my lounge, a young couple. The fella walked over to my open laptop and sat down. I said, hang on, who are you and what are you doing? He ignored me. The girl said something, but I couldn’t catch what she said.

Annoyed, I went to find my flatmate and asked him who these people were. Apparently they were the daughter of the next door neighbours (who were away on holiday) and her boyfriend. I went back into the lounge and asked them to leave. The girl started shouting at me. I had no idea what she was saying, as I can’t lipread people when they shout. They left, then came back later and used Brian’s computer, walking in and out as if they owned the place. It transpired that they had been burgled. I was thinking, that’s strange, why don’t they just phone the police, it’s no use emailing them. When they had gone back next door, I took the opportunity to shut my front door. To have a bit of privacy in my own home.

Around 11pm they knocked again. I asked them why they wanted to use my computer, why didn’t they phone the police? The boy ignored me and wouldn’t reply to my questions. The girl shouted at me, interrupting everything I said. I asked her to calm down and explain what the problem was. She kept shouting. I said I can’t understand you when you shout. She kept rolling her eyes when I asked her to repeat herself. So I said I’m not going to be spoken to like that and shut the door.

I then went off on holiday and came back a couple of days ago. Half an hour after I got back, I got an email from Brian’s mum: “Oh we didn’t realise you didn’t know them, they just wanted to use your computer. We don’t see why that’s a problem.” The next day, I got a phone call from her asking why I hadn’t replied to her email, and she wanted a reply. Grrr grr.

Last night, this boy knocked on my door again and asked for me. I thought, hey ho here we go, I’m going to get a nice grovelling apology.

But, oh no! He asked me if he could use my computer to book airline tickets. No apology and no Please. The flaming cheek! I said NO. And certainly not after his offensive behaviour last week, when he didn’t even ask permission and totally ignored me. I said he could ask my flatmate if he could use his computer. He said “Can I use it now or shall I come back in half an hour?”. I retorted “You have to ASK. HIM. FIRST.”

Honestly. I’m outraged!





A new low for deaf ignorance?

9 06 2008

Bill Cresswell kindly transcribed this video clip from the BBC website. Jump to HERE for the transcription and video.

Bryan Adams held a photographic exhibition to raise awareness about hearing loss, showcasing photos of celebrities. I thought it (almost) funny that he was keen to raise awareness, as is the BBC, but I couldn’t even follow the video clip as there were no subtitles. There wasn’t even a little interpreter in the corner of the screen to interpret for sign language users. Oh, the irony …





And the winner is…

29 04 2008

There is a company providing Speech-to-Text-Reporter [STTR] support (among other services), they’ll remain nameless here but I’ll call them Dunce Services. I’ve used Dunce Services on a number of occasions, and they invariably mess up the bookings. Now, this surprises me as my regular STTR provides a stellar service, taking and co-ordinate the bookings themselves (and they never mess up) – whilst providing STTR support at the same time. Dunce Services has one person taking bookings, doing nothing else BUT taking bookings, and they still manage to mess up bookings most of the time.

You’d expect a STTR service to be prompt and reliable. If they don’t turn up, then I can’t communicate and therefore I can’t do my job. Dunce Services have a habit of not relaying information to their STTR, so I end up with the STTR being told the wrong time or place (not her fault), or worse still, not turning up at all. When I ask why they hadn’t passed the information onto the STTR, I’m told ‘Oh, I did. I don’t know what happened’. Which is absolute rubbish. Obviously, now I only use them when I can’t get hold of anyone else.

Dunce Services kept sending me emails advertising their services and last year I asked them to take me off their email list.

To add insult to injury, I got an email from them last week asking me to participate in a Client Quality Survey – I ignored it as I certainly don’t feel very charitable towards them. Today, I got a reminder (English errors are theirs, not mine) …..

Last week we sent you an email inviting you to participate in our Client Quality Survey 2008.

We would be very grateful if you could take5-8 minutes of your time to complete the survey, as the results will help usensure we are providing the quality, service and products you want.

When you’ve completed the survey, you’llhave a chance to enter a prize draw to win a pair of Bose headphones worth over£100.

Thank you!

Dunce Services Quality Survey Team

@#%$!!! Headphones…..?!!! What use are they?!

A crap AND a completely thoughtless service. Thanks for the reminder!





Audiology’s freedom pass to be rude and inefficient

15 03 2008

My Freedom Pass expires on 31 March and my local council kindly sent me a renewal form in January. A Freedom Pass means I can travel around London for free, subject to some restrictions. I went to my local hospital on 30 January and my audiologist Mirza took my renewal forms and accompanying evidence (copy of passport and TV Licence) from me, saying he would send them to the council with the required documentation (my audiogram and a letter stating my hearing loss from the hospital). I made it clear the deadline was 31 March and the forms needed to be sent as soon as possible. No problem. Or so I was told.

In the middle of February, I asked my colleague Amanda to contact my local council and check on the progress of my renewal. They hadn’t received anything. She called the hospital. They gave her the run-around between different departments and eventually she was put through to the right person, after about 30 minutes. This person said there is no application form in my file and that they don’t post out forms for patients anyway. So where is my personal information??? Binned, shredded, mailed, or what?! Does someone now possess a copy of my TV licence and passport?!!!

Grrrrr.

My friend Karen called the council yesterday and asked them to send another renewal form. They said there is a yellow part which my doctor can fill in. What yellow part? Why a different form, and why am I now told my doctor can complete it rather than my audiologist? The doctor would have been a lot easier, quicker, and let’s face it, honest. The council said they would send out the form immediately, by first class mail. Kudos to them.

I walked to the hospital yesterday with Karen and oh boy, was Karen’s back up (she’s brilliant). I had written a letter of complaint explaining the situation, and gave it to the receptionist. It was addressed to Bob, the head audiologist, and asked what had happened to my personal information. The receptionist is one of the rudest people I have ever met, abrupt and condescending don’t even come close. She treated us as if we were the dirt on the bottom of her shoes. She took the letter and took it to Mirza, who then came into reception and started flapping about. He had my file and pulled out my renewal form from the council.

– I will do this letter for you now.

He went to the printer in the receptionist’s office, I could see him flapping about, panicking, then he snapped imperiously at the receptionist,

– This letter is address to Bob. He can deal with this.

And he stormed off.

The receptionist went off with the letter and came back,

– Bob’s busy, you’ll have to come back another day.

Karen said,

– No. We are staying put. We’re not leaving until we get that letter. We’re staying here all night if we have to. We’re not leaving without that letter.

The look on the receptionist’s face was absolutely priceless. She couldn’t believe that someone had actually stood up to her.

She swanned off. In the meantime, Mirza came back into reception with a patient, a young man, who was picking up his earmoulds. Karen was visibly shocked at how rude Mirza was to him, I could tell he was over-exaggerating his speech and being very loud and condescending towards him.

The receptionist came back with Bob. Bob explained, very nicely and calmly, that he’s in the middle of a procedure at the moment and so can’t reply to the letter right now. Karen explained the situation and Bob listened. She said we’ve walked a mile and a half in the pouring rain to get here. She said I’ve waited two months for Mirza to send the information. She said now I have missed the deadline as the council also need four weeks to process the renewal. And we’ve walked a mile and a half in the pouring rain. She said I’ve been lied to on the phone. She said Mirza had agreed to write the letter then changed his mind and stormed off. She said she was disgusted by Mirza’s rudeness. And we’ve walked a mile and a half in the pouring rain. And we want an apology from Mirza.

Bob apologised, and said he would write the letter himself on his laptop on the way home. He asked if I had another appointment booked or needed anything done. I said no, but that I would like to change to another audiologist. Bob said I am welcome to see anyone I like, including him. I’ve seen Bob before and he’s super-duper professional. He explained he’s hard of hearing himself. His attitude was a world apart from Mirza’s and the receptionist’s. Calm, professional, respectful, polite.

I’m now wondering, what gives hearing people the idea that they have a right to be condescending and arrogant towards deaf people?

Or is it that because the NHS provides free hearing aids, the NHS staff think they can be disrespectful towards its’ patients? I know that NHS doctors can be very condescending towards nurses and some patients. Treatment like this in the private sector is unheard of. It’s unthinkable.

Are we now reduced to paying for respect??

Karen’s parting shot,

– Your rude staff need sorting out, they need some management training!

I got up at the crack of dawn this morning and went to visit my doctor’s surgery, and asked if they would sign the form. They said sorry, there should be a yellow part. I’m hoping tomorrow’s post will bring either the form with it’s yellow part or the letter from the hospital.

Sigh. Tomorrow’s a new day. Oh boy.

Score : NHS 0 – Private sector 1

(And no, lucky me, I don’t live in Lewisham!)





Fright train

9 02 2008

I’m not too happy with train doors. Again.

All because I couldn’t hear the doors beeping in the split seconds before they slammed shut.

We were on our way home and we got to the train station. The train was very crowded and it was difficult to get on. My Hearing Dog jumped on first then the doors slammed shut behind him, before I managed to jump on. I couldn’t get the doors to open, neither could the passengers on the inside of the train, and the train pulled out of the station. With my dog on it. And I was on the platform. It was panic mode. Big time. Holy schmoly.

I ran over to the guard and told him what had happened. He went to his colleagues and they phoned through to the next station. Luckily, some nice person put my dog off the train at the next station, and the station manager took him into his office. I went to the office, put my head round the door, and my dog was standing there wagging his tail, happy as anything.

I kept thinking someone would think ‘Aww, nice dog, I’ll take him home.’

What if I had been sight-impaired and my dog had been a Guide Dog for the Blind? *shudder*

I think the rail companies need to think seriously about access and slowing down those door mechanisms – I’m surprised someone hasn’t been seriously hurt yet by train doors chopping them in half. Or are all those ‘fallen leaves on the line’ and other ‘rail incidents’ really down to people getting trapped in train doors, but the rail companies don’t want to scare commuters and lose their customers?





Access to Work reviews

24 01 2008

Arghhh. I have been asked to submit a log of my communication support needs at work so they can review my support and adjust it if necessary. They always think I ask for too much but I always stand my ground and argue back.

What *really* annoyed me this time was the sample log sheet they sent me with simple instructions. It was so patronising that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Do these people really think I’m THAT stupid, just because my hearing’s not perfect? Hey, my brain’s fine, thank you! I was soooo tempted to send it back with a note saying ‘Hey! You’re discriminating against me as there is no picture of a Hearing Dog on the form’. I queried whether they expected me to log every phone call I made and received. Oh yes they did.

Check out the sample log and instructions by clicking on the link –

Support worker log





The worst christmas present ever?

12 01 2008

Sometimes you get a great christmas present that shows the giver has really thought about you.

Sometimes you get a christmas present that’s nice. It’s average. You can live with it.

Sometimes you get a christmas present that you don’t really want. You sell it on Ebay or give it to someone else.

But sometimes …. you get a christmas present that takes your breath away with it’s sheer stupidity.

One year I got a present from my sister. I was 30. She was a nurse and 36 (allegedly), and therefore old enough to know better, or so I would have thought.

I unwrapped the bright christmas paper from the gift. It was a phone. A freakin’ phone. Now hang on a minute. I’ve been profoundly deaf all my life and my sister has never seen me use a phone. She knows I can’t use the phone at all.

So what was the point in that?

Not only that, but it was clearly a phone for small kids – check out the photo.

I wrapped it up and gave it back to her for christmas the following year. I never got such a shite present again.

Photobucket





Traffic noise reduction

9 01 2008

DEFRA (The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) launched the London Noise Map Web Viewer in 2004. This map shows road traffic noise levels across London. Like a weather map, it shows hotspots (noisy areas) and cooler spots (quieter areas). The purpose of noise mapping is to map and monitor noise pollution, and then put into place noise reduction plans. The maps will be used to test the effectiveness of the noise reduction methods employed.

The cost? From 10p to £1 per person in the area being mapped. That translates to approximately a total cost of GBP £6 million to GBP £60 million for the UK.

I find £60 million is a shocking amount of money. Wouldn’t this be better spent on the NHS? Or on hearing aid services?





A trip to the far side

10 12 2007

– This pretty jewellery would make a nice christmas present…

… I thought. I checked out the website. Puzzled. I explored some more. Then paused. And took a deep breath.

Oh.

I can just imagine what my doctor would say if he saw me wearing those.

– *&$#!!!
– Well, you refused me a pair of pink hearing aids!

Apparently these are now all the craze with the emo/hardcore crowd, although they have been around for a long time in the African and Asian tribes. Does stretching hurt? If you do it correctly, it shouldn’t do. If you’re going to do it, do it PROPERLY and do it SLOWLY. If you try to stretch too quickly, you may get a blowout, where the hole deforms itself by twisting inside out, with a section of tissue appearing as a circular flap on the backside of the piercing. These can develop into keloids. (And then you wouldn’t be able to wear your hearing aids. Whatever colour they are.)

If you catch a keloid in time, you may be able to remove them by downsizing immediately and allowing them to reabsorb. Frighteningly, keloids can continue to grow indefinitely and no satisfactory treatment has been identified. Here’s an extreme case …

Still determined? You can stretch your ears by

  • Tapering
  • The most popular, cheapest and ‘safest’ way of stretching ears. You can buy stretching kits which involve inserting larger and larger tapers into the ear hole until you’ve got the size you want. One of the most effective ways is to stretch in the bath/shower as the steam relaxes your earlobes, making them more supple.

  • Weights
  • These are not so widely used, as they tend to cause piercings to migrate and can lead to a thinning of the tissue, resulting in disfigurement and corrective surgery. This method has been traditionally used by various tribes in Africa and Asia. Weights tend to be used by those who want larger stretchings as it is more effective when the fistula (hole) has been made bigger.

    Once you’ve stretched them, you must look after them. Or they’ll rot! Stretchers must be sterilised and jewellery should be removed every day for a period and re-sterilised.

    Even after years of having stretched lugs, your ears can still choose to reject the piercing, which is extremely painful. This tends to happen during the cold winter months, and involves the ear becoming extremely painful to the touch, bleeding and sometimes pus inside the hole. If this happens, you can go down a few sizes and sterilised your ear and jewellery every day to prevent an infection. Then you can slowly re-stretch your ear.

    Hummm. How about this for a new fashion craze?

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    Still tempted?

    THINK OF WHAT YOU’LL LOOK LIKE WHEN YOU GET OLDER!





    Binned! Patisserie Valerie

    5 12 2007

    After spending hours in the Victoria and Albert museum, we desperately needed coffee and cake. Off we went to Patisserie Valerie nearby at 215 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge.

    In this London branch of the fashionable Patisserie Valerie chain, salads, pasta and fresh fish are on the menu, but calorific hits are what Patisserie Valerie’s really about. Pretty pastries, intricate chocolate confections, and cakes offer every reason to indulge. It was certainly a busy cafe so it must be fashionable. But at what cost? Must we have fashion at the cost of disability rights, manners and common decency?

    My friend and I walked in and waited to be seated. We were told by not one, but FOUR, waiters that we could not bring a dog into the cafe.

    PV – Dogs aren’t allowed in here
    Me – He’s a Hearing Dog

    PV – No dogs are allowed
    Me – He’s an assistance dog, a Hearing Dog

    PV – You can’t bring a dog in here for hygiene reasons
    Me – He is allowed, it’s the law, he’s an assistance dog

    PV – You will have to leave the dog outside, you can’t bring pets in here
    Me – He’s not a pet. Go and get the manager!

    The manager came out and I spoke to him –

    Me – I’ve got a Hearing Dog, an assistance dog here. Your waiters keep asking me to leave. He’s an assistance dog, not a pet.
    PV – We can’t have a dog in here.
    Me – Do you allow Guide Dogs for the Blind in here?
    PV – Yes.
    Me – So why is this any different? There are six different kind of assistance dogs in the UK and they all have the Assistance Dogs UK logo on their coat. By law, assistance dogs are allowed into all public places including food shops and restaurants.

    I told him to look at the coat Smudge is wearing and pointed out the logo.

    PV – Our customers around here don’t like dogs.
    Jane – You’re breaking the law!

    The manager then agreed we could bring my Hearing Dog inside BUT… he told us where to sit (which is discriminatory). We were shown a table away from all the other customers, at the back, next to the toilets and an open door. It was freezing. I was not amused and after a few minutes we moved to a table further away from the door.

    The coffee was lukewarm and the cake nothing special, it was more cream than cake. Ugh.

    I don’t recommend PV. I didn’t even get an apology from the manager or any of the staff for their offensiveness. I haven’t been treated so shabbily in years and am extremely pissed off. How dare they!

    When I got home, I looked at PV’s website and came across this – it makes for interesting reading!

    Pâtisserie Valérie review :

    We ordered our wedding cake from PV, 215 Brompton Road branch, and they couldn’t do enough for us at the time. However, on our wedding day, the cake arrived 3.5 hours late. As it was an evening wedding, most of our guests had left and missed out on an important part of the day. It was also the wrong style, and the wrong colour cake. After our honeymoon the MD said that we were lucky to have got a cake in the first place, made no apology whatsoever and said that we should have returned the cake!! Beware! these people just want to take your money and don’t care about the customer.

    review by nafisa, 19 Sep 2007