Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Accommodation fails for Deaf Faculty from A to Z

From the blog Possibilities and Finger Snaps, stories of inclusion fail, mostly around interpreting.
a) Ask the deaf academic if she is willing to write a grant to cover the cost of her interpreters or CART captioning.
b) Return the deaf academic’s conference registration fees, telling her that she cannot come to your conference because her interpreters are too expensive.
c) Tell the deaf academic that she is welcome to attend and bring her own interpreters/CART captioning, and you won’t charge them registration fees (but she’ll have to pay for their services).
d) Tell the deaf academic that she is welcome to attend and bring her own interpreters/CART captioning, and you will only charge them half-cost registration fees (but she’ll have to pay for their services).
Two more:
o) Pay for the colloquium interpreting, but deny the request for the interpreters to interpret the group dinner afterwards. Disinvite the deaf academic from the dinner. Gaslight her by telling her that the dinner invitation was mistakenly made and only meant for members of the department. Look unembarrassed when you are all at a gathering the next day and the other non-department members attending the talk reference the dinner conversation, making it plain that this was not a department-only event, but a hearing people only event.
p) Restrict the deaf academic’s communication access to only the session of the conference that she is presenting, saying that this is all your budget will permit. Tell her she’s welcome to attend the whole conference, nonetheless.
As always, go read the whole post!

I wrote about disability and conferences here and on accommodations in academia generally here. From the latter, Stephanie Kerschbaum, a Deaf academic, told me something important about money and accommodation:
Stephanie Kerschbaum, associate professor of English at the University of Delaware, describes herself as “profoundly deaf.” She wrote me: “I wear behind-the-ear hearing aids and depend on speech reading to understand spoken discourse. While I can understand one-on-one speech fairly well, it is nearly impossible to speech-read individuals in a sea of faces, whether in a classroom or any professional context. For that reason, I work with sign language interpreters.” When she teaches, she speaks orally, but relies on her interpreter to convey student responses.
Of course, a professor’s duties extend beyond the classroom, so the university provides an interpreter — or an appropriate alternative, such as real-time captioning — at committee meetings, at panels and lectures on campus, and in other contexts. “One principle that has been important is that the accommodations be paid for from a central source,” she said. “That is, departments should not be individually responsible for faculty accommodation, because this provides an obvious disincentive for hiring.”
That last is the key thing when it comes to internal accommodations - costs have to be central, not department specific. And they need to cover all the things faculty do, including going to dinner after a talk.


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