For the Sake of the Hearing-Impaired, Please Use the Microphone

For the Sake of the Hearing-Impaired, Please Use the Microphone

An academic pleads with her colleagues.

“It’s not about you.”

That’s the message in an article of the Chronicle of Higher Education’s website,

Jessie Ramey, a professor of women’s and gender studies at Chatham University, recounts an incident at a faculty meeting: “When you were offered the microphone to make your comments, you said, ‘No thanks, I’m good.’ But it’s not about how you feel using a microphone. It’s about how others can best hear.”

“Refusing to use a microphone,” she continues, “is like scheduling a meeting in a room accessible only by stairs. And then when your colleague in a wheelchair shows up and asks for a ramp so she can attend, you stand at the top of the steps and say, ‘No thanks, I’m good.’

“If our colleagues and students can’t hear in meetings or in classrooms, they can’t participate. Those of us with low hearing, a hearing impairment, or a hearing-assistive device need you to speak into the microphone so we can fully understand your words. In a crowded or large space, amplification makes it possible for everyone to engage and learn.”

When her colleague said, “No thanks, I’m good,” she writes, “I wanted to yell, ‘But I’m not!’ When you say you don’t need a microphone, what you’re really saying is that you don’t care that I need you to use one.”

Her words can apply to any situation in which someone is addressing a gathering.

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