FACTS: A Few Reasons Why People Don't (or Won't) Ask
A FEW REASONS WHY
People with disabilities are entitled, by law, to equal access to communications—yet the following tells why so many people who need access to the spoken word, don’t (or won’t) ask for Realtime Communication Support Services even when they become increasingly excluded from their place of worship, town meetings, education, training seminars, employment, healthcare, and loads of other social situations.
The list below doesn’t contain EVERY reason why, as there are many other contributing factors that come into play, like, individual variations.
The following list has personal, intimate meaning for me as the owner of a Realtime Communication Access firm who herself, needs access due to an APD disability. While I’ve always heard my clients complaining about these things for years, I found the reasons why to particularly hit home when I was diagnosed in mid-2013. I now know first-hand how true these reasons really are.
1. Not understanding the laws about equal access: Legal language is difficult to decipher, resulting in very few having the time to go through and understand the content of numerous pages of confusing documentation. They wonder if the law even covers them.
2. Lack of knowledge that Realtime Captioning for Communication Access even exists: Some don’t realize that their TV has captioning. Many aren’t aware what Realtime Communication Access is or know they won’t get the accommodation unless they ask for it by name. Many don’t know it’s available (so how can they ask?) for meetings, or their place of worship, in museums, banks, or in a doctors’ office and (yes, it’s true!) that huge numbers of people think a caption is a cartoon.
3. Uncertain about who or where to ask: Unless provided with good information, resources, and captioning from the early school years, many do not know about local or governmental agencies, available technologies, or other ways to find Realtime Access Services.
4. Too many hassles when asking for it: Many places tell people to use sign language or student note takers instead of Realtime Captioning for Access to the spoken word. 92% of Deaf people do not use sign language. Student note takers cannot capture anywhere near the amount of information captured by a Realtime Communication Access Reporter. When people ask for Realtime Access in other places, they are asked if they need braille or help walking. There are many reasons for the misunderstanding of our abilities and differences. Others do not ask for captioning because they think they will, in turn, be asked for information on captioning that they don’t have or know how to get. Sometimes people assume that if someone has a hearing loss, they communicate in sign language.
5. The need for an advocate, buddy, or group: Finding out about Realtime Access to communications, takes a lot of time and perseverance in order to locate companies that provide the service, because there aren’t many who do. The person needing the access already has their days filled with communications, every-day chores, and relationships.
6. Fearing that Realtime Access is too costly: Far too many people needing Realtime Access to communication have been told this very thing too many times. The truth is that captioning costs can be built right into annual budgets, can be negotiated with many providers (including us!) who want longer term contracts, and indeed costs less than other features of life that are not as vital as Realtime Access to communication.
7. People feel like they are “taking advantage” or that they have an advantage: Another client told me that she “felt bad” about asking to go to a convention in another state because, she said, “Asking for something that others around you won’t be using, makes me feel like I’m too different from everyone else. And because the Realtime Access Service is being paid for and I’m the ONLY one who benefits from it-- well, let’s just say I would feel much better if the service was for everyone in attendance to benefit from. Everyone should get an emailed transcript. If they did, then I wouldn’t feel like I was taking advantage or that I had an advantage over the others in attendance.”
When I asked her what she meant by “having an advantage over the others in attendance,” she answered, it was because she had a transcript emailed to her of what was said, which allowed her to walk away with captured information that others don’t have access to. She’ll remember far more, she said, because she could reference it later in the transcript.
Funding for captioning, or any needed resource, is not an advantage. Having Access is not an advantage; it simply levels the playing field. Humans talk to one another and it's a disadvantage not to understand what is being said. Having Realtime Access in order to understand what’s being said is vital for human communication.
8. Fear that their request will create resentment, lead to punishment, or be ignored: If a person with hearing loss or deafness can still hear a few words—or even many words in a less noisy place or situation—they often don’t consider themselves “worthy” to even ask for accommodations and they sometimes feel they are not “Deaf enough!” If Realtime Access to Communications were offered in more places, and utilized by everyone in attendance, they would be a built-in accommodation for those people with barriers—cultural or otherwise—who need access to vital, daily communications the most—and they wouldn’t have to ASK to be included! Everyone would and should have equal access to all communication. Help us move this idea forward and bridge the gap by providing Realtime Access to all of your events’ communications.
9. Many people have a hearing loss that cuts off a percentage of their comprehension, yet they say they do not need Communication Access Services: Sometimes people “pretend” to hear something when in fact, they didn’t hear it at all. Too often, by the time a person gets to the point of needing Communication Access Service, they may have already withdrawn—entirely avoiding any setting where Realtime Access would be very useful to them. Then there are those who believe they have “adequately adapted” and they think, “Well, if I can adapt without needing Realtime Communication Access Accommodations, then so can everyone else.” Sadly, individuals in both of these groups do not realize how much communication they are actually missing.
11. People with hearing loss do not always have a supportive family: It’s a “given” that everyone needs support from others to feel comfortable enough to ask for things—especially from strangers. People with hearing loss have to ask others, who they don’t know, to pay for Access for them. Many are just too uncomfortable doing this for various personal reasons.
10. A desire not to be “labeled”: Many older people mistakenly perceive having hearing loss as a stigma (social disgrace). People who fear being stigmatized for having a hearing loss, may not wear their hearing aids, if they even bothered getting them in the first place. In addition, fear of stigma results in denial of hearing loss.
12. Assuming that captioning puts the user in the spotlight, when their desire is NOT to stand out: Most people do not understand how Realtime Access works at a business meeting, a hospital visit, a training seminar, a trip to the bank, or other places--and they are understandably reluctant to call attention to themselves, “cause trouble” or be different.