Sunday, September 23, 2012

School and Entitlement

I've been registered with my school and working with a disability-centric counselor for over a year now. Unfortunately, this is my third enrolled quarter and I'm still fighting for access to reasonable accommodations.

Every quarter, several times, I've asked my counselor about providing me with captions for online video. She's had me email teachers to ask about class content, and then nothing would happen. Without those captions, I've seriously struggled through video assignments, and it's been mostly luck that it hasn't affected my grades yet.

Things reached a head last week, my counselor was on vacation, but was still responding to her emails, and was answering my very specific and time sensitive questions in a lackadaisical, canned manner. She was trying to help me without access to her file on me, I'm assuming, because I had to remind her of everything ever about my classes, disability and accommodations.

THEN, my email went wonky and she couldn't see any of my text in my messages. (I found out later that my email client was switching my font color to white on only some emails, so the message was there, it just couldn't be seen unless you looked hard for it.) I tried a few more times to message her, with no success, then gave up in frustration. We weren't getting anywhere anyway, and she wouldn't be back in the office for weeks, when I needed help NOW.

So, I decided I was finally done screwing around and got in touch with the head disabilities guy, my counselor's boss.

He wasn't initially as cooperative as I'd hoped he'd be. He didn't seem to understand that people with sensory issues can benefit from captions, and we went back and forth a few times on the topic. But, in my last email to him, I got down to business. I laid out exactly why I needed captions, I explained the difficulty I'd had with my counselor in the past, and I also asked him if I understood their job correctly.

"I was under the impression that the disability counselors are also supposed to be advocates in part, and should be proactive in finding accommodations that are available to and would help their students. After a year of struggling with issues that should have been resolved in my first quarter, I'm finding myself wondering what else is falling through the cracks. What other accommodations could I use that haven't been brought up?"

It pained me to write that last sentence, and let me tell you why.


I can't help but flinch when I question what else I can get out of the system. Am I a parasite on society? Am I milking the teat of the government, like Mitt Romney says I am? I'm trying to have a better life! I'm trying to make myself productive again, and I'm sure as hell using the tools that the government and private charities have set up to help people like me breathe a little easier.

But thinking like that is considered scamming the system, it's being shiftless. I'm now part of a group of people who "believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it."

And by the way, yes, I do think I'm entitled to food. I think we all are. When we don't have food, we die. Does Mitt Romney think I should die of starvation because I'm disabled? Am I overreacting, here? It feels like overreacting, but I quoted him up there, that's exactly what he said, he thinks it's wrong that people who need to be cared for can get food benefits, and later he states that these people, who need benefits, aren't taking responsibility for their lives.

Oh, did I swear up a storm when I heard him say that.

What kind of a person thinks it's fine for people to die of starvation when there is plenty of food to go around? Or thinks poor and working-class people just aren't responsible? The kind of person who thinks government-funded public services that save people's lives EVERY DAY are wasted money. He is absolutely not the kind of person who's fit to run a country.

Obama 2012.

But, back to the accommodations. After I sent my rather scathing email, which was still pretty damn diplomatic considering the bull I've been putting up with for the past year, I got the most productive response I've ever gotten out of their office, the highlight of which is that they are allegedly working to get me transcripts for all audio content.

Success will be sweet.


WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

Hoping you get this pushed through. It is reasonable, and you are not asking them to change the classroom environment or requirements, just add a tool that will enable you to be successful with less pain and distress.

By the way, what really cranks me off about the "entitlement" crap is that a REPUBLICAN named BOB DOLE is one of the originators of the original food stamp legislation. He felt it a shame that a country as rich as ours did not feed our more vulnerable brethern when times got tough. Republican didn't use to mean elitist a** when I grew up, but the last 30 years have put an end to moderates. OBAMA 2012!

Migrainista said...

Oh I can hardly even think about what Mitt Romney said without getting super pissed off. OBAMA 2012 indeed.

So glad you are finally making headway with your very reasonable, much needed accommodations. May we never live in a country that doesn't believe that all people deserve the opportunity to live with dignity and access. May we never live in a country that makes those of us who need assistance because of our disabilities feel like we are somehow lazy, less than or irresponsible.

Sue said...

No, no, no!! You are NOT milking the system. The system is in place for cases exactly like yours. It is not about entitlement - it is about the university doing what is right.

As a Canadian, I can only say I watched the appalling video last week and shook my head in disbelief.

We presently have a Conservative government in Parliament, so I understand frustration with stupidity. The difference is that the Prime Minister has absolutely NO personal power. He can do nothing without the approval of his party and cabinet.

It helps, but sometimes not enough. I'm hoping for a Liberal majority next time around.