Michelle Ganz, co-chair for the Accessibility and Disability Section steering committee, shares an appreciation for her allies in navigating life as a hard-of hearing individual:
“We talk a lot about allies and what they do. But we don’t really talk specifics ever. I realized the other day that my allies (and I am fortunate to have more than one in my life) do so much more than just help me do things. So, I wanted to share some of the things that my able-bodied partner/allies do that really help me out.
He/they pay attention to the environments we go into and asks how I am periodically (especially if there’s a lot of white noise). If I look like I’m overwhelmed or unable to actively participate they offer to go somewhere else (rather than make me ask if it’s ok to leave).
If we’re in a restaurant and I’ve clearly not heard a question from the waitstaff, they’ll say something like she’s hard of hearing so please ask her again.
They explain what hard of hearing versus deaf is to people. My partner explains how hearing aids help/work and what they don’t do. And he explains that disability doesn’t mean can’t, it just means different. They do this a lot when I’m not around (which keeps me from being an exhibit to be examined). They also does it when I clearly don’t want to go through the ‘speech’ again.
The thing is, I am perfectly capable of navigating daily life. But it’s exhausting. And it’s All The Time. And some days I just don’t have the desire to be The Teacher. Having someone to help out is great. Having someone who talks about disability like it’s not big deal is awesome.
Our allies do a lot for us, even when we don’t see the help. They help make disability just another part of being who we are; not the only thing about us. Being an advocate is heavy work, knowing that the work is shared makes it easier.
I’d like to thank the people in the section that are abled-allies. I’m glad you’re here.”