*Scroll down to the bottom of this post to watch the ASL interpretation of this story.
Something that really hit me recently, was learning that one parent is trying to teach her child, who is deaf and only 6 years old, how to self-advocate for her hearing-loss so she can defend herself against all these struggles, the same struggles I went through at her age. I was taught that if you self-advocate for yourself, people will listen to you and things will change. This isn't the case.
When I had my first child 5 years ago, I called the Healthline. I was a new mom, I was panicking and I called their TTY number, which is supposed to be 24/7, but there was no answer. Then three years later, I called again. Still, the Healthline is supposed to be available for people 24/7. No one answered. I wrote a letter and got a response that there was no record that someone had tried calling. I guess if the office is empty there is no one to hear the phone ring, even if people are trying to get hold of them. Even though I self-advocated and sent my complaints, the response was that there was no record of that problem. From the perspective of people who don't relate, it's not self-advocacy, it's just one person complaining.
It's the same situation with the relay operator. I tried a total of 6 operators on two different days. None of them wanted to do a simple task, such as help me make a doctors appointment that I need for my unborn baby. I then needed to call my mom and ask her to book my doctors appointment for me for free while other people are getting paid to do that.
Someone said to me, "Why don't you make a report about it?" For the last 10 years, I have. Even national organizations, such as the Canadian Hard-of-Hearing Association, have been making those complaints. They were told hard-of-hearing people should be happy to have a service. The fact that the service doesn't really work was disregarded.
I would like to ask people if they are okay with their tax money being wasted in this way. I have to get my mom to do the service for free while people who chose not to do their work are still getting paid with taxpayers' money. I would like to challenge people to understand some of the services tax money is contributing to and advocate on behalf of people who need those services to ensure they are actually of benefit to the people they are designed to serve.
Parents and support workers, if you feel comfortable to do so, ask others to join and advocate with you. This isn't just a hearing loss issue, there are many different disabilities and the more voice we have demanding change, the better success we’ll have.
If you would like to share your story, please contact Sarah at: