Monday, April 03, 2006

FRIDA as Public Testimony....Every Day.

Today I was at the Chicago Foundation for Women's Summit on Reproductive Rights. While getting my vinegar stirred up there, I've also noticed lately we haven't been posting on this poor site so today marks my effort to get some more vinegar out in the public discourse...and piss and spit and what have you.

One of the panelists speaking today was a current member of the Empowered Fe Fes. Among other things, she related the story of going to the ob-gyn with her mom and having the doctors mistake her mom for the person who needed services. Now, this girl is a wheelchair user, and basically, she said, the doctor couldn't believe she was actually having sex and might actually need some of the ob-gyn services.

I know lots of women with disabilities will say that's not the first or last story of discrimination they've ever heard, but my point in briefly relating it right now is that WE MUST TESTIFY. The barriers we encounter every day are unfair, unjust and all about bias. If we don't speak up about it though, it never happened.

So, I am calling on you WWDs out there (Women With Disabilities...kinda like WMDs, huh?) to share some of your experiences and insights on this site.

I, for one, could really do without the communication stress and hearing bias involved in going to the doctor. To the receptionist: "I'm deaf, make sure I see you when you call me!" To the nurse: "I'm deaf, can you face me so I can read your lips?" To the doctor: "Can you face me so I can read your lips, and also, can you spin that stool up a few inches so I can see your mouth better?" To the accounts person: "Can you show me to whom I need to address this check?" Yeah, I'm still someone who is in an ongoing process of becoming empowered, so I haven't yet seen the doctor with an interpreter. In low-stress situations like getting my sinuses checked, I'm not too worried, but you can bet I'll call the interpreter if, for some, reason, I get wind that I need surgery. I don't focus well when I'm really stressed out.

I will add this observation on functioning in a hearing environment in this kind of situation: yes, I am constantly guessing as to what the doctors will say. In lipreading it's all about the context. So, basically when I visit the doctor, I have two visits: the one I guess at, the one that happens, and possibly also a third...the one I missed cause I wasn't using an interpreter.

Maybe I should just go see the signing doctors at Mt Sinai, but then I wouldn't get to fight AND get checked up too. Piss and vinegar...well. I just want to go see a doctor in a place that is geographically convenient for me, which Mt. Sinai is not. But next time I go see the doctor, I'll request an interpreter and report on how THAT works out.

So I'm not talking about a jaw dropping instance of discrimination here...but I am TESTIFYING. WWDs, FRIDA wants to hear from you!