School district failed my hearing assistance needs
“Hearing assistance here,” reads the sign on the wall of the Renee Henderson Auditorium at Kenai Central High School. I, being Deaf/hard of hearing and there for my daughter’s graduation, decided to ask for that assistance.
I never expected the school to hire an ASL interpreter for me or the other Deaf mother in the audience. Yet I did expect that they would have the technology to work with hearing aids. Walking into the sound booth I was welcomed by an amazing sound tech who went to work getting what looked like an old Walkman with earbuds (amplification system). Explaining to him that wouldn’t work with my hearing aids I asked about Teli-coil Technology. There are very few buildings in Alaska with Loop system. I was not surprised when said there was nothing he could do to help me.
When I saw the principal, Alan Fields, I asked him if he would link me into the internet so that I could use an app on my iPad that would caption for me. There needs to be a strong internet connection so that the live caption technician can hear and type keeping up with the presentation. His simple answer was that he didn’t have the power to give me access. So no.
Americans with Disabilities Act legislation was passed in 1990 for issues such as these. I did not demand the school system hire an interpreter for me. I did not demand that they install and have CART there for me. Understanding what our school systems are going through with budget issues, I planned to take the stress off the district and use my Ava app. Using Live caption through my iPad given to Deaf/hard of hearing persons in Alaska through ATLA. This would make it possible for me to “HEAR” all of the speeches being given.
The amplification that the high school offers, is only that, Amplification with earbuds. Let me be clear THIS IS NOT HEARING ASSISTANCE. Amplification is not compatible with hearing aids. Every person Deaf/Hard of hearing has different levels of loss. I have more hearing loss in my left ear then my Deaf ASL teacher in Anchorage. It is a scope of loss. No two people are the same. Each deaf/hard of hearing person will have a different story with different amounts of loss. I may look less deaf than my dear friend in town because she went to a school for the deaf. She is more fluent in ASL than I am. Yet I have more loss in different tones than she does.
What does this mean for the future of the KPBSD? You may no longer have one deaf parent as her children are now graduated. But I know of three more parents up and coming. Together we will be demanding more from now on. I will request an interpreter/Cart for all of us all the time. You, KPBSD are going to be held accountable.
Equal access for all.
— Jennifer Ticknor, Kenai