University Isn't Accommodating Enough

Yesterday, the kid who wanted to play baseball. Today, the students who want an education. Deaf Students File Lawsuit Against USU. Suddenly, I feel like we’ve jumped back in time.
I graduated college over 10 years ago (yikes!) and even then, American University (AU) had an office for students with disabilities. I spent my freshman year at TCU and got notetakers there. Some good. Some bad. I needed a strong one in economics and got someone who was an economics major, but his notes stunk more than a garbage bin on a hot and humid day.
I just remembered a notetaker that I liked and had for a few classes while at TCU. Tracy. She had the stereotypical girl’s cursive handwriting with big, neat, and round letters. She was thorough and thanks to her, I did well in Ben Proctor’s U.S. history class.

At AU, I don’t remember too much about notetakers in the classes not related to my major. For my major, I believe I sat next to folks and reviewed their notes or made copies. By the time you take classes in your field, you see the same people and they’re easier to approach for help than strangers.
Oh yes, I had notetakers for my literature classes as I’ve got the notebooks to prove it. My handwriting wasn’t that nice. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had a “handwriting style” except for my signature: Meryl ————. It used to be Meryl K. Ev ——–. Then in the last few years (I guess since I got busier with three kids), I got lazy and blurred away the K. Ev.
It’s a trip whenever I read my journals that I’ve been keeping since I was a sophomore in college at AU. My handwriting has a life of its own like newscasters’ hairstyles. When we watch Barbara Walters or Katie Couric flashbacks, we see a new hairstyle every year. Yeah, that’s my handwriting. Yet, my siblings and my parents all have distinctive handwriting. I even remember my grandmother’s.
Maybe using a computer for the first time at 10 had something to do with it. My daughter’s handwriting isn’t typical of a pre-teen/teen girl’s handwriting. It’s shocking Paul isn’t a doctor. He writes like one.
Anyway, literature. Notetaking. Back on track. I took two lit classes in one semester. How dumb was that? I read more books in that semester than I had in a year. I loved the classes though. Should’ve just taken them in separate semesters instead of trying to spend all my waking hours outside of the classroom with a nose in a book.
Not so back on track. Well, I made it through college with a good GPA. I wouldn’t want to go through it again. I love education and plan to go back for a masters… online. Unfortunately, more colleges are adopting online lectures using VoIP. Which puts me at a disadvantage again. Just hope Texas Tech won’t do that as the university has a program I’ve got my eye on. Just need to gain 10 hours a week before starting.


    • Alicia on May 17, 2006 at 8:44 am
    • Reply

    I find it ironic that USU is in Salt Lake City, home to the Sorenson Video Relay headquarters and the largest call center in the USA. Here in the Twin Cities (Minnesota), the local Sorenson call center (2nd largest, I think) has been responsible for sucking up nearly all the community interpreters since opening a few years ago. The plum benefits they’ve been offering has caused a mass exodus of interpreters from our community into their call centers. This has created a dire interpreter shortage and many times local meetings have to be cancelled because of this shortage.
    I’m very unimpressed with how Sorenson has greedily pursued profits in the short term and not given much consideration to the long term in building positive community relations and trying to strike a good balance between getting the interpreters they need while not crippling the local communities. They’ve thrown some money at some interpreting training initiatives, but beyond that I am not aware of any real efforts to address the immediate community interpreter shortage. They even refuse to provide remote video interpreting (for face-to-face meetings). Sure, it’d require a different billing structure (would have to be paid by the consumer and not the FCC), but it would do a lot to help out local communities.
    I would not be surprised if they see their current dealings with the deaf community simply as a launching pad to a future where everybody uses videophones, not just deaf people. It’s their patented video codec (compression/decompression algorithm) and equipment that is being used, after all, even by other video relay service providers. Stimulate the market for videophones, and presto changeo, an instant market for their technology! The question is though, will they just leave the deaf community in the lurch after they’re done with us? Maybe I’m cynical but I have not really seen much evidence to the contrary.
    The good news is that I think the pendulum is starting to swing the other way … Sorenson has started cutting some of the perks for interpreters and I’m seeing more and more interpreters start to become disillusioned with working in the call centers. Those interpreters are now returning to community interpreting.
    I’m hoping that at least the high demand will stimulate a growth in more people wanting to become interpreters, but I don’t know.

    • Alicia on May 17, 2006 at 2:50 pm
    • Reply

    BTW, I wrote my earlier comment in a hurry this morning; sorry if it seemed like I only read the first part of your post. I did read the rest, very interesting, especially about your ever-changing handwriting! 🙂
    I had notetakers in college too but to be honest I didn’t really pay attention to their notes because I preferred to read the info in a textbook. Class time for me was mostly a waste because I’m a very visual learner.
    I got bitten bad by one class where the teacher gave weekly quizzes based solely on his lectures, with no info from the textbooks. Worse, his lectures were deluges of meaningless bits of information (it was a history class with HEAVY emphasis on rote memorization). So the notes were mostly incoherent, and it didn’t help that his lectures usually put me to sleep. I spent many hours desperately trying to memorize the copious notes, to no avail. I flunked many of the quizzes while getting A’s on the textbook-based tests, ending up with a very dismal C- in the class. I avoided that professor’s classes like the plague from that point on.

  1. I would’ve liked to rely only on textbooks — but I knew better. Many professors based tests and quizzes off their lectures. College wasn’t the best use of my learning abilities as it was mostly for aural learners. I love online classes since they’re more balanced — however, I am glad I had the college experience.

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