Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hearing Impaired and CI news

The ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. It also mandates the establishment of TDD/telephone relay services.

I frequent other hearing impaired and CI blogs and just had to share this bit of news with my readers. Karen, a hearing impaired blogger that I read regularly, was recently denied service at a Steak 'N Shake drive thru window by the general manager because she would not place her order from the drive thru speaker. All she wanted was two milkshakes, one for her son and one for herself. ABC news and Fox News picked up the story. You can see and read about it here and here. This is making news all across the Internet on deaf and hearing impaired blogs and websites. I will be following the events of this story because it is clearly in violation of the ADA regarding public accommodations. And I'm glad Karen is sharing her story. We need more people like her to speak out for those who can't. And, she isn't asking for money or anything, either. . .she just wants Steak 'N Shake and other similar establishments to be aware of the needs of those who are disabled.

This struck a familiar chord with me and I thought I would share some thoughts on this. The ADA has been around for quite some time. It is pretty sad that there are still businesses and organizations out there who still don't (or won't) educate their employees to accommodate the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing (and other disabilities). I can relate to Karen's disbelief and frustration so well because I've been there. I cannot tell you how many times I've stared and cried at the phone because someone didn't have the time or patience to have a simple conversation with me. I, too, struggle at drive-through windows but not as badly as I used to before my cochlear implants. I used to give my order at the speaker and then just drive up to the window. Most of the time I'd have to reorder again at the window but that was never a problem. If I had a friend or one of the kids with me, they would usually climb over me in the driver's seat to reach the speaker and make the order or interpret for me. My local Starbucks has a video order confirmation screen that shows what I ordered, how much it is, etc. I appreciate that.
I (and many others) look forward to the day when drive thru windows, airport announcements, websites, & movies, etc. are captioned and easily accessible.

Our kids have always been my "ears" for me. We taught our children their manners at an early age and to speak clearly and articulately. Because Steve traveled a lot and wasn't always available, I depended on them to translate for me on the phone and in public so that I could "get the message."

Marissa works at the local Dairy Queen and usually works at the drive-thru window. People who are hearing impaired are the least problematic for her. She says that their deaf customers are so regular that they don't have to say anything! And they do drive up to the window to place their orders. Most of Marissa's coworkers know me and are very accommodating to me when I show up. When Marissa is working and I start ordering at the speaker (like I did today), I will usually hear, "Hi Mommy!" I love that. And she gives me free ice cream!

In other news, two friends who recently went bilateral have had their CI's activated and are doing wonderful! I got an email from Dixie, who was implanted in December, and she is off to a great start in an ear that has not been aided in four years.
She says she is a happy camper with both ears hearing for the first time since her 20's (she is my age) and knows that each day will be better than the previous day. She has already noticed that sounds on her left side (new ear) are making it much easier for her with surround sound and hearing. You go, girl!

Michael Chorost, who wrote the book, Rebuilt, was activated this past week and describes his first two days here. He has waited almost two years for this! I am so thrilled and love reading about his descriptive experiences.

On the insurance front, I'm gaining a new appreciation for those who do insurance. It isn't fun and I'm finding that most agents (not you, Marcy) are clueless when it comes to cochlear implants! Some are saying that it is a pre-existing condition and won't cover my programming expenses and batteries. I've never been denied coverage for normal things like hearing tests, etc. because of my hearing loss. And some agents have very OLD information, saying cochlear implants are still in the experimental stage. And others know exactly what cochlear implants are and the needs surrounding them. I have spent a good portion of my week in several meetings, reading, reviewing, filling out forms, scanning needed documents, and emailing, etc. We need new health and dental insurance by the end of next week! Stay tuned for my next update!


Sam said...

If that was me, I'll stay put and wait for the police to arrive. And as I fair warning...I do know at least 3 journalists/newscasters who I am sure will make the public VERY aware of the situation....LIVE!

kw said...

I love the pictures on your blog. I probably haven't mentioned this to anyone before, but I have a teacup collection and the teacup on your blog looks exactly like one in my collection! COOL! :-)

deafsingle said...

Your blog is COOL. I learnt a lot from it. Thank for sharing

C said...

Terrylene did just that, stayed put until the cops came (1994 in CA).

Stephen Hopson/Adversity University said...

I blogged about it too in my weekly gratitude post. My gratitude went to Karen Putz for having the courage to stand up and be counted in the face of withering criticism and pressure. Her story both inspired and pressed some deeply hidden buttons that I didn’t know existed!

Thanks for helping a fellow blogger spread the news - she’s my buddy too!

Laurie said...

Thank you all for your comments. . .Sam and C, never under-estimate the blogging world in a situation like Karen's.

KW, the teacup along with my pictures has a special meaning. . . means "Come sit on my porch with me awhile with a cup of tea and listen to the birds sing!"

Deafsingle, I'm glad you are learning from my blog. . .it started out as a way to communicate with my family and friends about my CI journey. Now it has evolved into a site with much information that I think would help others.

Steven, I enjoy your blog, too, and would support a fellow blogger any day.

Amy L Brooke said...

Thanks for sharing. It's not something I have really thought about.

Thanks too for stopping by my site and commenting. I appreciate you taking the time to do that.

Have a great Sunday.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortuante that this happened to Karen, but just look at the good that may come of it. I am so impressed by her character and am awed by what an example her children have to look to.

I am equally dismayed by the insurance stuff. I think that insurance in this country is akin to organized crime. We pay more for our insurance than our mortgage and yet they deny all of E's visits to the ENT or audiologist claiming that his hearing loss is a pre-existing condition. Makes my blood boil! Good luck with your search for a good plan.

Laurie said...


We pay more for our health & dental insurance, too, than we do for our mortgage. I've spent MORE time trying to explain my hearing loss and cochlear implants than I have filling out the forms, having meetings, etc. I can remember my mother spending HOURS on the phone trying to take care of so many details related to my hearing loss and my brother's.

Hang in there. . .you are such a good mom to E and he will thank you someday!

Jim said...

I found your blog from a fellow blogger. Great story on Karen and your thoughts behind the issue is also great. I am deaf also.

Adding you to my list of bloggers to read in the future.

Have a good weekend.


Shari said...

Great news. I agree that health insurance agents need to be updated about CIs.

I just posted a segment about my CI evaluation. I'd love some feedback. Thanks. :)

Karen said...


I've been going back through the posts on the Steak 'n Shake incident and I can't believe that I didn't comment here-- thank you for your support on this!

It is now April and I'm still working with the corporation to try and make some changes but still no progress yet. Crossing my fingers and hoping it works out in a positive way.

It is hard to believe that what happened to Terrylene is still happening today, many years after the ADA has passed...