at WOU Web-Based Training Materials
Self-Knowledge is Power
is often thought of as the ability to advocate for your needs. If
you are self-determined, this means you take responsibility for getting
your needs met. You might find that when you take the initiative to
get your needs met, your problem-solving and decision-making skills
increase and your stress is reduced. In the workforce or in educational
settings, this kind of proactive behavior can be the key to success.
How can you
improve your self-determination skills and become a better advocate
for yourself? Learning these new behaviors involves a four-step process.
The first step involves understanding: knowing yourself and recognizing
your needs. Next, you must be prepared. Think about the logistics
of the situation and determine what you will need. The third step
is to manage, to work to get what you need in place. Finally, evaluate
the success of your strategy. What worked and why? What didn’t work,
and why? Where did the plan fall apart? What can you do differently
next time to be successful?
are several tips to help you develop a better sense of self determination.
- Understand your hearing
This means knowing how your hearing aids work, what a telecoil is
used for, and how to effectively use assistive listening equipment,
interpreters, or even hearing assistance dogs. It is not enough
to say that you want a particular accommodation. You need to be
able to state why you prefer one accommodation to another, to describe
why one accommodation will meet your needs better than other accommodations.
In addition, be open to learning about the pros and cons of each
accommodation, and evaluate each one in terms of the communication
requirements of the specific situation. Test yourself by describing
this to a friend, a child, an instructor, a disability services
provider, or an employer. How would you change your description
for each person?
- Be able to describe
the impact of your hearing loss.
Many times students are only able to communicate that they are deaf
or hard of hearing, or that they use (or don’t use) sign language.
This information alone, though, is not very helpful to others who
are trying to engage in communication with you, or in trying to
develop appropriate accommodations.
examples. If you are talking to a new dorm room partner, explain
that you may not hear the phone ring. Let your new roommate know
that music played late at night, for example, will not bother you.
If you are talking with a professor, let her know that you need
to see her face when she talks to you. Think about what that person
(e.g., friends, family, roommates, faculty, disability staff) needs
to know to interact with you best in that situation.
are problem situations for you?
Identifying problems is the first step in solving them. Start thinking
about different situations where you had problems communicating,
and others that went smoothly, situations where you felt very comfortable
and situations where you felt very uncomfortable. Can you identify
why one interaction was successful and the other was not? You may
begin to notice a pattern (e.g., you have difficulty communicating
in noisy or group settings) that you will now be able to address
aware of the coping skills you use.
Don’t stop your self evaluation with ‘I get by ok.’ We all use a
variety of coping skills to make it through various situations.
Sometimes we aren’t even aware of what we do unless someone else
points it out to us. Some coping skills work well in some situations,
and not so well in others. Some worked well when we were younger,
but are no longer appropriate in a college setting or on the job.
See if you can identify behaviors you use in different situations,
and which ones serve you best. Work on replacing behaviors that
no longer serve you well with new ones.
Ask others what they do in your situation. If you are the only student
who is deaf or hard of hearing on your campus, try joining an internet
group, such as Deaf-L or Beyond-Hearing to find out what other people
do. Find out about other resources to help you accomplish your goals.
many materials available that can help you in your self discovery.
Check out the PEPNet Resource Center http://prc.csun.edu
website under PEPNet products for information on a variety of accommodations,
and the pros and cons of each. There are also Tip Sheets available
that you can read for your own understanding or that you can pass
on to others to help them to understand your needs. There are also
several videos available to help you in the decision making process
about attending college. College…Now What? Addresses the questions
students should be asking themselves about choosing a postsecondary
program. Pah! I’m in College…Now What? Addresses the differences students
will face in receiving accommodations in college programs that they
may not have faced in their high school programs. Look out World-Here
I Come! Is the story of a young woman describing her experiences in
a mainstream college program and how they differed from her previous
residential school background. These materials, and many more, can
be found on the PEPNet Resource Center website.
Outreach Site at Western Oregon University webpage also includes helpful
information on understanding the ins and outs of using assistive listening
devices (Demystifying Assistive Listening Devices), and how to connect
with others through internet e-mail lists (Internet Resources Related
to Hearing Loss). These can be found at http://www.wou.edu/wrocc.
It is also a resource you can pass on to service providers so that
they can learn more about accommodations that might be helpful to