Disability Awareness: Deafness and Hearing Loss By: Taylor Ramsey and Jonnie Fabrizio Three freshman residents, Jenny, Michelle, and Abby, were all put into a triple at St. John Fisher College. Jenny is from Pittsford, and lives five minutes away from campus. In high school, Jenny graduated as her class salutatorian. Since arriving at St. John Fisher College, Jenny has become involved with SAB and is planning on running for class president. Michelle is from Cicero North Syracuse, which is around an hour away from Fisher. Michelle has only gotten involved with SAB, but plans to get involved in more activities while attending Fisher. Michelle really likes going to concerts and enjoys playing her violin. Abby is from Amherst, NY, a suburb of Buffalo, and also about an hour away from the school. Abby really likes music and drawing and enjoys her close, tightknit family. Abby was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss from the time she was three, and now has dealt with her hearing impairment for fifteen years. Abby has not gotten involved with much at Fisher, but really is looking forward to getting involved as much as she can. After just a week, the roommates seem to be getting along just fine. The three girls find that they are from similar backgrounds and have similar interests on campus. Though Jenny and Michelle have not known anyone to be hearing impaired before, they have taken their roommate under their wing and are excited about the upcoming year in their room together as the “Three Musketeers,” as they have named themselves after this week. By the end of the first month, the roommates have started seeing a separation in their “Three Musketeers.” Abby likes her music very loud, so she can hear the bass. Without the loud music, there would be no point to Abby listening to it, as she wouldn’t be able to hear it. Jenny and Michelle realize this fact, but have had multiple conversations just the two of them, and are starting to get very annoyed at Abby. She always has her music loud and it is very distracting to the two other roommates. Jenny and Michelle often talk about this fact when Abby is in the room at night, because they know she cannot hear what she is saying. Jenny and Michelle have become really close, and no matter the topic, are always whispering and telling each other secrets at night. Due to Abby’s hearing impairment, she cannot see what they are saying and always ends up going to sleep. Abby is starting to feel left out and never understands what the other two roommates are talking about. Abby’s impairment allows her to read lips and talk, but she cannot hear fully and it is starting to affect her life on campus. She has seen this issue arise with her roommates as well as in the events she is able to attend. She is finding that certain events are not fun because she does not understand what is happening. This is bridging the gap between Abby and Michelle and Jenny even more because Michelle and Jenny have been attending events and programs together, but seem to now forget about Abby. Abby is starting to feel very left out and is very uncomfortable in her room. Abby approached the two other roommates about the fact that there is a separation between them. The two other roommates automatically start screaming at Abby and tell her that she is annoying and a horrible roommate. They make fun of the fact that she is hearing impaired and tell her she should move out of the residence halls.
After this confrontation, Abby goes straight to her Resident Assistant. She tries to explain to the RA what she is feeling and what has been going on. She does not feel comfortable in her room and is very upset about what has been happening. Abby explains how she feels left out, and feels that it has started from her disability. Abby has had this disability her whole life and hates that it is affecting her experience in college. The Resident Assistant calms Abby down and talks to Abby about resources she can go to and take advantage of on campus. The RA helps Abby set up a meeting with Chris Hogan as well as the counselor on campus to talk about how she is feeling. After the talk with Abby, the Resident Assistant meets with Jenny and Michelle. She explains how hard it is to have a disability and how the three need to work on being respectful roommates. The three roommates are brought together and talk about the issues they have with each other in a calm, and understanding environment. Issues are brought up by both sides, and topics like loud music is dealt with by bringing up the roommate agreement. The residents decide a certain time of day to have as room quiet hours where no music is played. After this room meeting, the Resident Assistant has an accessible program for her floor about disabilities and has the resident feel what it is like to have different disabilities that are present on campus.