Self-advocacy is really important because you need to ask people for what you need. You can’t be passive in this process. It’s important to be assertive and approach people to communicate what you need. Communication is really the key. It’s also important to ask for clarification from people if you are not sure about something. So being your own advocate is definitely necessary. As an example, here’s how I advocate for
myself. When I meet a new person I introduce myself, tell them I have a hearing loss and that I can read lips when in a one to one situation with a quiet environment. That helps the person understand and we are able to communicate much more effectively from that point forward.
So that’s how I advocate for myself. When I go interview, at first, I felt like I didn’t really need to tell them, but it sometimes was hard to hear them. About the process, and so.. Every time I go to an interview, I would tell them straight that “I have a hearing loss. I could hear you, but I sometimes could misunderstand you because I can’t hear like those soft sounds.” So, I do tell them during the interview. At orientation, I do let the person know, the trainer, know. For communication, when working at Macy’s, I wear a name badge that has my name and also explains that I am Deaf. So, when customers approach me, I can point out that I am Deaf. We then are able to write back and forth or use gestures to communicate. I carry a stack of Post-It notes with me so I am ready to communicate whenever the need arises. At first, I didn’t tell them, but then ‘cuz now I work say if you have any type of problem like guest problem or anything, you have to call them. You have to call somebody. And then that person has to call another person to call you back. So, to me, I can’t hear the phone, so that was one of the biggest issues at work.
And then a lot of people try to talk to me from like behind. Which is it didn’t really work and then they get mad cuz they think I hear them and I’m still trying … they think I’m ignoring them, but I’m not, so…. For the people that I talk to, I tell them, like, if you’re trying to talk to me you have to get my attention. You can’t just talk to me like from behind
or anything sideways or behind, because I’m not going to be able to hear you. My co-workers are hearing. So to communicate, I use some gestures, but generally rely on writing back and forth in English. Sometimes, I use my residual hearing to try to make out what they are saying, but that generally isn’t too successful. Writing and acting out my messages are the strategies I use the most.