WROCC at WOU Web-Based
One Student's Story...or is it?
I can't believe
the difference this has made in my life. You can't imagine what
a relief it is to me to drive home after a day of classes and be
headache-free. For the first time, I feel I can be successful in
my coursework...or even a career.
These are the comments of
"Mary," a student attending Western Oregon University.
my family often became frustrated in trying to communicate with
me. I always thought that if the people who loved me most had problems
talking to me, why would a teacher or employer make the effort for
me. But this changes everything. If I had had this equipment when
I first went to college, I might already have my degree now and
the whole course of my life would have been different. I have to
admit that even though I am thrilled with the difference this has
made for me, once in a while I feel sparks of anger that no one
told me about ALDs before now.
Mary's discovery began when
she went into the Disability Services Office at Western and requested
a tape recorder. Being hard of hearing, understanding class lectures
was a struggle even though she had hearing aids and used speech reading.
Mary had never thought of herself as disabled, and had always managed
on her own without help. Recently, though, she was beginning to recognize
it took a lot of energy for her to keep up in class. After doing poorly
on a test that she thought she was well prepared for, she decided
she needed help. Even though it would mean taking more time from her
family, she knew she would not succeed in her classes if she did not
do something. Reviewing the lectures seemed to be her only option,
thus the request for the tape recorder.
disability services coordinator, had served students experiencing
difficulties similar to Mary's in the past. She spent a few minutes
talking with Mary about her problems in class to determine the kinds
of accommodations that might be useful to her. She found out that
Mary had already talked with her professors and let them know about
her hearing loss, that she sat near the front of the room to hear
them better and to speech read, and that she was a long-time user
of hearing aids. She also found out that Mary was not familiar with
assistive listening devices, but was willing to try. She related the
After discussing her particular
class settings and needs, they decided on a coupler and mic system
that would work for her. Martha gave Mary and her professors instruction
on using the devices, and provided them with a tip sheet for trouble
I brought out the FM transmitter and receiver. I pinned the mic
to my lapel, and gave the receiver and headphones to Mary. With
my back to her, I asked if she could hear me. When she didn't respond
immediately, I turned to see Mary looking flabbergasted. She exclaimed
that it had been years since she was able to hear someone without
seeing their face to speechread. It was a very emotional moment
is not unique. Many people could benefit from assistive listening
devices, especially in group settings such as classes, religious meetings,
work meetings, and even family gatherings. One does not have to wear
hearing aids to benefit, either.
If you are
a student at a public institution for higher education and you have
a hearing loss, you may be eligible for assistance. In college settings,
that assistance may include assistive listening devices, notetakers,
oral interpreters, and/or real time transcription, depending on your
hearing needs, the listening requirements in the class (e.g., group
discussion or lecture), and the amount of specialized terminology
in the course.
to the disability services coordinator on your campus. If you have
trouble identifying this office, contact the ADA (Americans with Disabilities
Act) coordinator and ask what office provides accommodations for students
with disabilities. You will be required to show some documentation
of your hearing loss. In advocating for yourself, you should be able
to describe to the service provider what situations you hear well
in, what situations present the most problems, coping skills you have
developed for various listening situations, and your preferences for
accommodations. The more you can describe what helps you and why,
the more likely you will be to receive that accommodation.
hard-of-hearing students go through school on their own without requesting
accommodations. You school service provider may have never served
a hard-of-hearing individual before. If your service provider is not
familar with ALDs, and is struggling with how to provide accommodations
for you, have them contact an office of the nationwide network that
provides technical assistance to programs serving hard of hearing
and deaf individualsBPEPNet (Postsecondary Education Programs Network).
PEPNet can be found at http://www.pepnet.org. The office serving the
northwest region (including Oregon) is the Northwest Outreach Center,
located at Western Oregon University. Visit our website at http://www.wou.edu/nwoc
for information and materials about assistive listening equipment
and internet resources related to hearing loss, or call 503-838-8642.
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