Thursday, March 08, 2007

399: VRI: Finding the Way

Activism is a spiritual effort for me. You close your eyes and stand in a roomful of angry people and find the balancing point; then you make a world dance on it.

Work still continues as we struggle to get to grips with the situation at Beth Israel Medical Center, which I blogged about here, here and here. When people began to send BIMC letters addressing their concerns regarding VRI, a friend of mine was contacted to go meet with the administration of that agency. I was invited to go along with advocate and friends Zlotte.

This was a pre-emptive attempt at education for myself and my community, especially underserved and disadvantaged Deaf people.

The meeting went as you'd expect. We brought two interpreters and met with the COO and Patient Services Representative, and also the woman in charge of the interpreting department. I can sift through semantics better and more quickly than anyone I know. They promised nothing and said they'd decided nothing - what were we concerned about? (Hearing people don't get that Deaf people gossip faster than lightspeed, and any business working with Deaf people had better stay on the up and up, or the old deaf grannies will be reading about it on the blogs these days.)

Our technique was mostly to ignore their denials. Instead we simply brought out legal points and social points. Deaf interpreters, educators, social workers and counselors described what people experienced and the problems with the technology. New problems came to light as we explored ones we already knew.

Bottom line? They took our feedback and will create a policy and share it with us in a few weeks. We asked for a draft, to provide feedback, but got a very haughty "No, feedback, what do you mean, feedback? I've never heard of this feedback stuff. Can you get it out in a restaurant?" So, we wait.

Which is fine. Another important technique is to remember the role and position of these people. But I have my own ideas about how VRI could be positively incorporated in a hospital, under a more Deaf motivation. And speaking truth to power is never out, right?


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