What We Wished We'd Known - Advocacy Series #1

Compiled by Michael Argenyi, MSW, MD

This month, we discussed what we wish we’d known or figured out ourselves during our steps toward becoming trained health care and research professionals. Answers revolved around three themes: our responsibilities as a deaf or hard of hearing applicant for any training program or employment position, our rights and flexibility concerning accommodations, and disability-related discrimination.


Concerning Your Responsibilities

  • You are expected to know your legal rights, to have researched the extent of your rights, to have researched your options of accommodations

  • It’s scary to disclose to the school/employer, but we are not “burdensome” and actually increase diversity and equity and model communication standards

  • You may have support, but you likely will have to initiate everything first yourself

  • Institutions are more likely to admit or accommodate you if you come well-prepared

  • It may be worthwhile to meet with the disability office in advance during the interview, prior to acceptance


Concerning Accommodations

  • You may not know every accommodation you need in every situation, but most programs like a forecast

  • Accommodations are well within the purview of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but many admissions committees or employers operate under the idea that accommodations are a choice

  • You can be involved in the screening and selection process of accommodations and interpreter fit to meet your needs and the institutional needs

  • Interpreter fit goes well beyond ASL/language modality skill; these are the people you will see every day in a rigorous discipline

  • You can change your accommodations if it’s not working for you (however, in an employment or private institution, you are not entitled to your preferred modality if two or more exist that grant you equal accessibility)

  • You can set up a joint meeting with your VRS company and institutional IT team to integrate VRS into the calling system


Dealing with Discrimination

  • The way you and your administration approach informing future placements/internships/clerkships regarding your use of accommodations can heavily frame whether they are accepting or discriminatory toward your ability to learn best during the placement

  • Educate yourself on advocacy tools