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This blog is no longer active as of 2017.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Jobs and Stress

Do you find your job stressful?

Mine has gotten less stressful since my job description was changed to accommodate my hearing loss. Previously, a small part of my duties included answering patron requests at an information desk. The questions asked could be on any subject under the sun and were usually voiced by people I had never spoken with previously. To manage, I relied on lipreading (not an exact science, as you know) in addition to my hearing aids and supplemental assistive listening devices. Still, I struggled, needing to write things down and ask for repeats.

Some of the problem was the acoustics of the room. The location of the information desk at my library is in an open area. Sounds from nearby HVAC equipment and library photocopiers and printers get amplified by my hearing aids interfering with my speech comprehension. There was also the problem of human behavior. Patrons would speak to my back from three feet or more away and I would have no idea they were there waiting for me to respond. When they approached me from the front, and I would step away from the desk to accompany them to a computer workstation, they would walk ahead of me and continue the conversation unknowing that I was not hearing what they said. One of my greatest fears was that a patron was going to make a complaint against me. Because of all this, I found my desk shifts very stressful and would be so tense I often got a headache afterwards. The mental strain always wiped me out for the rest of the day.

When a new library director came on staff temporarily, she asked me directly about my job. When I told her honestly what my experience at the information desk was like, she sought out an accommodation on my behalf. This process included my writing an official accommodation request letter to her to have my job description rewritten so that these duties could be performed by text rather than voice communication. With the letter I submitted a statement from my audiologist. It took some time, but human resources eventually signed off on her approval of my accommodation, my job description was changed, and the information placed in my employee file. Now, I contribute to the library's operations, behind the scenes, by working on the website and digital archives and answering questions sent to the library through email. This is a much better fit for me.

What do you think are the least stressful jobs?

I love a good list, especially, a top ten list, don't you? Some of the fun comes from debating the choices selected. CNBC recently posted a list of the 10 Least Stressful Jobs. Would you believe that librarian came in at #9? The median salary they post for the career is one I've never reached despite years in the field. The other part I found laughable was the comment "Books don't talk back or criticize the job you're doing." Interestingly, audiologist was picked for #6. Do you think  librarians and audiologists have low-stress jobs? How do they compare with yours?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

All ASL Episode Coming on Switched at Birth

ABCFamily has announced an episode of Switched at Birth that will be told entirely in American Sign Language coming Monday, March 4th. For those who don't know ASL, open captions will be presented. This episode will take place at Carlton School for the Deaf and will be told from the deaf characters' perspectives. On this season of Switched at Birth, the school is offering a pilot program to have hearing students attend. The ASL episode features a school uprising.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Blondie's 1st Birthday

What a difference a year makes!

Picture of Blondie taken the day before her birthday.

Photo courtesy of her breeder.

Blondie has brought so much love and joy into our home this year. We celebrated Blondie's birthday over the weekend by taking her and Rusty on a special outing. She had such a good time I want to make it a regular part of our family routine.

Last night I came home from work and discovered she had chewed one of my winter boots into an open toed design. I admit that for a minute I was exasperated, but then I quickly forgave her. After all, it's easier to replace boots than one of my best friends!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

No Longer Missing Out

Today I want to share a small bit of advocacy I did at my church in the hopes that it might help someone else.

I attend an Episcopal church which uses the Book of Common Prayer which contains almost every word of the service, excluding the sermon. My church also hands out weekly service bulletins which include a printed copy of the Scripture readings for the day. So for a late deafened person like myself, the service is fairly accessible. But, one thing I always missed out on was the church choir's music. For a time, I moved from my normal pew, located close by the pulpit, to sit near the choir. I could definitely hear the music much better there, but only at the expense of not hearing the sermon, so I ended up moving back.

Recently, two events occurred that motivated me to seek access to the choir's music. First, the church hired a new choir director. Also, about that time, there was a parish interest in improving accessibility, although it was focused on folks in wheelchairs. All the same, I decided to take a chance and speak to the new choir director and ask if he could get me a copy of the words the choir sang during the offertory and communion. I explained my situation - that I was unable to comprehend the words of their songs and was missing out on their ministry through music. He was very understanding and said he had done this before at other churches.

I never heard anything further on the matter and I didn't follow up on it as my church attendance fell off while I was concentrating on my grad school work. Coming back to church during the Christmas season, I was pleasantly surprised to read the following words in the service bulletin below the listing for the choir music: See anthem texts on insert. I found the words to the songs printed out on the back of the announcement sheet inside the bulletin. Excellent! I thanked the choir director after the service.

Last week, I showed the words on the insert sheet to a longtime member who also has trouble hearing. I was startled to realize she did not know the words were now part of the bulletin. I had assumed that an announcement had been made on one of the Sundays I had missed church.

Today, after the service, I showed the words to my good friend, Ann, who also attends the church. I found out she had not known about it either. Just at that moment, our minister walked by, and I reached out to tell her thank you. She had no idea that these words were helpful to us. She had thought they were printed there for the music lovers in the congregation. I explained that they were very helpful, I had inquired about it, and that printing them regularly made them accessible to anyone who needed them without their having to ask. In my heart, I think true accessibility requires no special requests.

Today the choir sang the song "Far away, what splendor comes this way?" With access to the words of the song, I felt my worship experience expressed in these four lines:
Now I hear the sound of music clear:
A page is singing with a voice of silver;
Now I hear the sound of music clear;
Such singing never heard I far or near.