Friday, 8 July 2011

Are you listening to me....?!

Many apologies about the lack of blog posting as of late, have been busy busy busy, still that's no proper excuse for not updating in wee dribs and drabs! With this blog update I'm going to have a venting, it may be an 'oh woe is me' post, we'll see how it goes, it concerns mainly being deaf in a hearing world and also a few tales of plagiarisation (which might go on a different blog, we will see).

As many of you are aware I am profoundly deaf with speech and use lip-reading as my main form of face-to-face communications, for everything else there is email which is a godsend!

I have encountered many problems, being placed as support staff in a very busy external office, which was absolutely fine in itself. But the inability to deal with all the queries coming thick and fast from all walks of life there was virtually impossible! I may be good at lip reading one-to-one, but when several people are talking at once I retreat into my shell and would rather hide under the table! It got to the point where I just got the administrative duties done in the morning and ignored anyone asking me questions. It takes time to lip read people and once I’ve explained I’m deaf and lip-read, sometimes even before finishing what I have to say, they’ve either turned around and left the room with no word or become impatient where I’ve asked them to repeat what they have said as I was struggling to lip-read them, heaven forbid you need to ask them to write something down! I just wanted to scream at some them "It really doesn't help when you mumble!" Whilst in this office there were no computer systems for me to use, no minicom systems for me to make telephone calls with and therefore I had no way to communicate with people in the main offices should I need any documents etc. This resulted in me running, physically and quite often sweatily, backwards and forwards between the two places, and I'm not the fittest of people these days either!

A bit further down the line I was placed into another external office to answer the telephones, (yes, really!) which completely beggars belief and also the (many, many, MANY) queries from all walks of staff, I couldn’t cope with it at all. Due to the stress and frustration I broke down in tears later that morning and left the office, I have never ever been in a situation like that before and I never will again, it was absolutely horrible. I went back to the main office and had a serious talk to my Line Manager to never EVER put me in that position again. When I have found myself stressed like this and on the verge of tears I leave the office and walk by the river to calm myself down.

I have had run-ins with people I work with one example is with a senior female member of staff. She came to my desk, moved my chair around and physically moved my face with her finger to face hers, she spoke to me in stunted English with exaggerated lip movements “Have”……”You” (pointing to me)……”Seen”…….”This”……..”File” (Points to the documents in her arm)….. and then spelt out the defendant’s name in ‘baby English’… “Ruh”…..”Oh”….”Buh”… “Eh”….”Ruh”….”Tuh” (….etc). I turned my back to her and told her to go away. She also had a tendency to raise her voice at me, thinking if she raised her voice I would be able to ‘hear’ her. As said I am profoundly deaf, and although I utilise an artificial cochlear implant I do not wear it for work as the office hubbub and environmental noise is very distracting from the work in hand.

Another member of staff came over on several occasions waving pieces of paper in my face and babbling nonsensically as if I’d understand what he was going on about. Another had a tendency to come over and in a joking manner keep saying “You read my lips, you read my lips, you read my lips” whilst pointing to his mouth, it's not a joke, I don't find it funny! Yet another member of staff kept raising her voice at me as well. I snapped with this person and called her a ‘patronising cow’ as she just went off with a ‘well you lip read me then’ and I wasn’t going to stand for it.

After a few years I got a transfer to another office, although this was part of internal staff movements and nothing to do with the problems being encountered. At first all was great, couldn’t believe my luck that I had three managers who I loved to work with. Sadly my line manager transferred into a different section and a new one from another office came on board to manage the my team. It was now a case of deja vu.... we have one member of staff come in each day early to 'man the phones'..... can you see where this is leading yet?! By this point in time and having had to deal with everything else thrown at me in the past I just ‘got on with it’. I can’t answer the phones, obviously, even with my implant it won’t work and no-one will be using the Typetalk service, ....and obviously anyone calling in won’t know I’m deaf, ....and nor will I know which phone is ringing! .....erm?! Regardless I'm normally the first person in the office every day these days, it's one less thing to worry about!

Most recently we have been told to travel to another branch further out in the suburbs to assist them with their work. I queried whether this office had a minicom system for me to use, they said no ......and then gave me a list of telephone numbers to ring should I have any problems at that other office....... erm "Hello?!"......... you can only laugh!

I do my job to as best ability as I can, I've spoken to people about the problems I have encountered and they send me self-help pamphlets! There's only so much you can take before you retreat into yourself and that's where I am right now. I have seen able-hearing colleagues being promoted and I'm still stuck where I am, and without sounding arrogant, it was me doing most of their jobs..... so, well, what can you do eh?! Although wine helps!

It's not just at work either, shopping is an experience in itself. Up at the tills, having to tell people you're deaf and I really hate myself when I say "I'm very sorry but I'm deaf and lip-read" - I mean why is it MY fault, why should I be 'sorry', but it's force of habit I'm afraid. Some cashiers are just too ignorant to even begin to explain. On the flip side some others are absolutely fantastic, so I'm not tarring everyone with the same brush...... you soon click with which chains of shop to start avoiding at all costs! I'd love to do the Absolutely Fabulous quote of "Drop the attitude, you only work in a shop!" sometimes.

Then just the other week on the train home.... I was sat with my back to the inter-carriage doors and someone, unbeknownst to me, wanted to get through. There was a guy further down the carriage waving and shouting at me and I didn't know, he was getting rather het up, once I realised he wanted my attention I did the "I'm sorry I'm deaf, what....." (WHY do I say that, damnit!) and then realised what was going on. I felt about an inch high after that, it's not my fault that my ears don't work!

You live to fight another day and all that eh?!.......

1 comment:

  1. Wow, i just stumbled on this blog. I am appalled at how poorly you're being treated simply because you have a disability. It's weird. You're sane, intelligent, obviously hard-working and yet you're being treated like you're none of those things.