Monday, February 15, 2010

Unexpected Twist

The day came, and we were armed and ready.  Both of my parents went to the meeting, which is a pretty big deal since usually it's jut me and my mom. My dad went around asking each person their name and job description, and there was a strong feeling of tension in the room. My dad, a lawyer, was being quite successful at being intimidating. That is, until he asked what an IEP is... Then everyone in the room started revealing their true selves, as they no longer saw him as much of a threat.

My parents began talking about the unfairness of the evaluation and handing out my audiologist's letter. My dad requested an independent evaluation.

"No. That's not necessary," said the lady who was mostly in charge of the evaluation So, apparently they can say no.. Guess we weren't expecting that to happen..

She then went on to say that  in Special Education, in order to show a need for further services, you cannot be making any progress with the assistance/IEP currently in place. With the A's/high B's I currently have, that doesn't demonstrate that I'm failing to make progress.

"I have no doubt that you have to work much harder than everyone else, but that's just the way the law works."

My parents urged me to tell my story, from my point of view. (I'd already done it at every past meeting, but they wanted the people who performed the evaluation to get a better understanding of what I go through)

I told my story about how frustrated I was at the school. How I felt as if sometimes, I didn't even need to go to school because I missed so much of the discussion, it's worthless. That I didn't understand why they were fighting tooth and nail to prevent me from having something that could actually help me. I told them how tired I was. Tired of trying to keep up, tired of fighting- just tired. Sometime during those sentences, tears started streaming down my face. Ugh, I hate crying, especially in front of people I don't like. Yet, that's what happened at every single meeting ( I would then swear I'd never attend another one, only for the whole thing to start all over when there was another meeting.)

"Oh! I wish I'd known you were this frustrated when we'd done the evaluation. This changes everything." Everyone looked up at her...was she kidding?

"I had no idea this was taking such a toll on you and that you felt you needed it so much." Yeah. Because I just asked for CART because I thought it would be fun to fiddle around with...? (note sarcasm)

The lady then said that while I don't have an educational need, that she could put down that I have an emotional need and get me CART that way.

As, I'm sure you can imagine, that was the most bizarre 5 minutes of the meeting. Heck, that was the most bizarre 5 minutes of my life! Pretty sure this song started playing through my head..

(pause music at the bottom of the page)

Not so fast..

"But," she continued, "you'd still have to change schools."

Change schools? You see, they don't offer CART at my school, and aren't planning on it, no matter how much I beg/plead/cry. But, they do at another school that is about as far away as my current school from my house. This other school is a mainstream school, but it's smaller and has a fairly large deaf ed program. They send all the kids in need of CART or interpreting services there. Apparently it's cheaper/more efficient to have it all on one campus.

This meeting was halfway through the school year. I'd finally been adjusting to my new school. Now they wanted to toss me somewhere else? As much as I struggled at my current school, I have a great group of friends, and nice teachers. They just want me to walk away from all of that?

So, that leaves you where I am now. The decision making process. A little bit has happened since then (technology-wise), and I will post more on the pros and cons of each school.

But, for now, my wonderful reader, I leave you with that. I would really appreciate any more input you have, with regards to the current situation. What do you think...What would you do?

*I'm experimenting with my blog banner at the top. Still haven't been able to make anything I like, since I don't have any tools like Photoshop or InDesign at home. If anyone is generous, gifted in the design department,  and would like to design something (for free) then it would be completely awesome!*


  1. Wow. That would be a tough decision. Is there any way you can tour the school or get an idea of what life would be like there?

    For your banner, you could try "Gimp". It is a free image editing program that is as powerful as Photoshop. It's a little different, but I use it for everything now. It's awesome.

  2. I'd want to know exactly what you'd get at the other school. A CART provider for every class? Or each class as YOU request them? Or what?

    It's only cheaper for you to be at that school if your classes overlap with another student's class that has CART too. Is that likely to happen?

    Seems like they're just finding another way to not help you. What would happen if they forced all students in wheel chairs to attend one school?

  3. I agree with Sara. Moreover, they probably don't know about remote CART, which could save tons of money.

    Also, I think your school district is misinterpreting the law. When one has a medical need, you don't need to have falling grades to get an IEP. For example, if you didn't have the use of your legs, they would provide ramps. You wouldn't have to be failing classes to get that accommodation.

    Still, the school district does have the option to send all their special needs students to one place. It makes sense to have an ADA school. My school district has one too.

    So-- this could be a tough decision on your part. You have a nice group of friends. On the other hand, you will meet new friends at another school. This would be a great year to try the other school out, to see what they might offer, and so on. Soon you'll have your driver's license, and your friends from your current school won't seem that far away.

    I'm so sorry you have to go through all of this. Good luck in whatever you decide! :-)

  4. Megan- Thanks, I will definitely give GIMP a try. I actually attended the school for a day a few weeks ago. More about that later...

    Sara- I think it's whatever class I request CART in. At my current school, I only found a need for it in a couple of classes, but it may be different at the other school. Because of the electives I take (French, Orchestra) I'm told none of my classes overlap with the other D/HH students. Most of them are also in lower level classes, so it wouldn't be likely anyway. Their theory is it would reduce travel time, saving them money. They have two CART and I believe 3 interpreters that they use interchangably between all of the students (almost all of them are either ASL only or TC). Since an ASL interpreter would be no help to me whatsoever, they said they'd only give me CART and work around the other kid's schedules. I keep floundering back and forth between my decision...

    Kim- Is remote CART reliable? Would it be able tp pick up the voices of all of the students? The decision is made even harder by the fact that the other school has a much worse reputation than the one I go to. The people certainly seemed friendly, though. Thanks for wishing me luck!

    The "emotional need" thing still bugs me. Apparently they were doing me a favor, but I'm not wild about that being in my file. To me, "emotional need" it sounds like I've got some sort of mental illness or something... I can't help but wonder if it'll make things harder when I go to apply for college...

  5. I would not worry about having "emotional need" in your file. It would be seen that you were just being human. We professionals have to note things like "emotional need" to sound important. LOL. Unless you are noted to have "emotional needs" all of the time, then I would be worried.

    I would not know what to do in your situation. I suppose I would stay. But then you would wonder what would have happened if you changed schools. Do you stay with what you are familiar with (with no CART) or do you try something new (with CART)?

    Good luck,


  6. Thanks, e). That makes me feel somewhat better :) Is "emotional need" a term that's commonly used? Thanks for wishig me luck!n

  7. I am guessing that you know that CART is like the captioning on CNN and FoxNews. Those are sometimes good and sometimes really poor. In the case of classroom CART, I think microphone placement can be a big factor in whether you get the words or just "unintelligible"

    Really separate from that, I am curious why you have never learned Sign, either ASL or signed English. Texas accepts ASL, but not signed English, for foreign language credit toward high school graduation. I find that ASL is much more efficient in communicating information visually than signed English or English transcripts/captions. What that means for me is that an ASL interpreter is much less tiring to watch for an all-day conference than SE or written transcript/captions. Sign does *not* hurt speech, BTW. Finally, *many* of us have had experiences like Kristi's (snaredsoul, Nostalgic Childhood, and a third blog I do not remember) with finding people that it is easy to communicate with.

    Really just curious about the decision process.


  8. Hi Lam,
    No I don't think the remote CART would be as reliable in a classroom discussion. I specifically asked that at an ALDA workshop last October, because I have to go to work meetings where there is lots of technical discussion in a room of about 100 people. She said it could be dicey. But she did have a demo going on of a college classroom environment two states away. I was impressed. Probably depends on the size of the class.

    I don't blame you for not wanting the term "emotional need" in your school records. You have a MEDICAL need.

  9. David-
    I don't know how experienced you are with CART, but there's no microphone involved (at least not in the type I'm experienced with). I went to the school and experienced CART from both of the CART reporters there. They were both great, but I preferred one a bit more, because she also typed the unrelated comments and jokes said by other students. It made me feel more included in the whole classroom experience. Anyway, I'll post more about that in my next post.

    As far as my lack of knowing ASL or SEE... the answer is simpler than you might think. The time has just never been right, and I've never had the time. When my progressive hearing loss was diagnosed at 3.5, I already had quite a bit of spoken language (although with articulation errors that were quickly getting worse, which was helped with speech/AVT therapy) and it just didn't make sense to throw in another language into the mix. I never really needed sign, and then when my hearing got worse we looked into taking some classes. However, it was the same time as I was getting my CI and the many mapping and AVT appointments already took up way too much of my time. At my middle school, they started offering foreign language towards high school credit. Only French and Spanish were offered at the middle school level, so I chose to take French and absolutely love it. Since there is a minimum of 3 credits required of the same language, I want to take French at least through 10th grade (2 middle school years only equal 1 high school credit). I may take ASL my junior and senior year, but it would mean I'd have to give up some of the electives I enjoy (Orchestra and/or French, depending on what classes I take).

    I have absolutely nothing against ASL and think it's a beautiful language. Like Kristi, I went to a Deaf camp (albeit, a different one). However, my experience was quite the opposite of hers and I just felt like I fit in better with my hearing and oral deaf friends than with those that were signing Deaf. It was only a small group of girls, so it's very much possible my experience would have been different with another group. That experience, however, made me feel like an outsider and left me with a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. There were some signing Deaf girls who I befriended that go to the other school I could attend, and they were really warm and welcoming, so obviously not everyone is like the people were at camp.

    Lastly, even if I did learn ASL I highly doubt I would use an ASL interpreter. That's simply becuause ASL would be my 3rd language, and it wouldn't do me very much good to have an interpreter in a language I'm not fluent in. To me, having an ASL interpreter would be the equivalent of having a French interpreter, which sounds quite illogical, doesn't it?

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's very much possible I'll learn ASL, but I don't currently feel a sense of "belonging" with the Deaf community. The future does bring plenty of unknowns.


  10. Hi Kim,
    I think Remote CART is definitely something I'll keep in the back of my mind as far as options go. It's certainly better than nothing. I think part of the reason I'm so frustrated is because what they're doing (offering me the service only if I go to another school, not everything else) is
    perfectly legal, but completely unfair. Thanks again for the info.


  11. David,

    Whether or not PinkLAM will learn ASL is besides the point. This post is about how she is frustratingly fighting for the right to use a CART in her classrooms. She is clearly doing extremely well without ASL. And it is up to her if she wants to learn ASL.
    However, I do agree that for some people an interpreter is much more effective. But, for us who are in between (hearing and deaf) the CART is the best we can do. I personally liked it. Sure it has some flaws, but I was able to follow discussions better in class. What we have to understand is that the CART does not do all of the work for us. We have to make sure we are part of the discussion, asking questions, and asking others to repeat themselves or rephrase themselves. This is something I am working on with my students. I tell them that they can't fully rely on technology or even their interpreters. They have to put in the work themselves.

    I didn't learn ASL until I was 23. I am so glad I did. Sure, I could have learned it earlier, but I really liked that I had a chance to learn it later--it was something new and it drastically changed my life. I don't think I would be where I am right now--"discovering myself" had I learned ASL all of my life. Plus, there was no need for it growing up. I could communicate effectively with my family and the hearing population just fine. Now, I can communicate pretty well with signers as well.

    PinkLAM - You write beautifully. Your writing is clear and concise. You make strong valid points. You should consider a career involving writing. Your blog is one of my favorites. For a fifteen year old, you are one of the most mature persons I've met in the blog world.

    I wished I had something like this when I was in high school. You are lucky to have discovered blog writing and to have access to millions of other viewpoints from all over the world. You are learning so much about yourself in terms of your hearing loss. This is a great learning experience for all of us, as well.

    Keep writing.


  12. (e,
    Thank you so much. It's so nice to get feedback from the "outside world", and see thing from different viewpoints than those of the people I'm usually around. I'm just curious- what sparked your interest in ASL? How/where did you learn it?

    I've always thought ASL is interesting and would be nice to learn. I have met some people who would have been much easier to communicate with in ASL, and it's times like those where I wished I knew some. My (hearing) sister is actually much more interested in it than I am, interesingly enough. It's just that when I'm already staying up unil midnight doing homework and trying to savor every minute of free time, learning ASL doesn't make my "top priorities" list.

  13. Honestly, I took up ASL mainly because I had a lot of time on my hands. I had been running into a lot of signing deaf people after college, and I became interested in learning ASL. I wanted to learn it. I took time off after college and worked part-time, partied, bummed around, so I was able to fully invest my time in learning ASL. Once you get involved, you ARE INVOLVED. You can't stop. So, I can understand with the little time you have now why you would not think about taking ASL. It doesn't make sense to take ASL when you are super busy or if you are not really interested. Why should you force yourself to do something you don't really want to do? You'll know when the time is right.


  14. PinkLAM,

    Thank you for indulging my curiosity and answering an unrelated question.


  15. e)- Thanks for your input. I guess everyone is different, and some get involved in the Deaf community earlier than other.

    David- Anytime. I'm always happy to answer questions, especially when, like yours, they sound genuinely curious (rather than trying to push ideas onto me). I've had some other people start off with questions, and then I discover they have another motive. So I thank you for being an unbiased question-asker ;)


  16. Lesley,

    Ugh... I'm just like you when it comes to crying. I'm such an emotional person. I've cried a lot throughout high school in situations like these. It is sure no fun, but I just couldn't help it...

    You should seriously ask the school this question, "If I had requested an ASL interpreter, would you have brought one here at this school or would you have asked me to switch to the school with the deaf program? Did you know that CART is equivalent to an ASL interpreter but it's for people who do not know sign language?"

    When my first request for a CART was turned down in my freshman year in college for one of my classes, I told the deaf department that the CART was an equivalent to an interpreter and even questioned them why they would hire millions of interpreters for other students, but not a CART for me. LOL... that seriously did help me win the case :)

    Also - I would tell these people to stuff cotton in their ears and wear them for A WEEK to understand what it's like to be in your shoes. Seriously! I would get a bag of cotton and hand it to them :D

  17. Hey Rachel,
    Unfortunately, my district does send all of the kids who need an ASL interpreter to the school with the deaf program. I wonder if they've gotten much resistance on that decision before. I know a lot of the kids started off in the Deaf Ed program when they were young, so their situations are a bit different.

    What reason did your college give for turning down CART? What else did you do to persuade them?

    Seriously considering the cotton idea ;)


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