Grace Lester

I have moderate progressive hearing loss, and have worked with the UAC since my freshman year. When I first got in touch with them, they told me about the services they could offer me, but first they would need to have medical documentation before they could tell me what I was eligible for. I submitted the necessary paperwork and waited for them to get back to me for several weeks. I assumed they were just processing the paperwork, but when I reached out to them times, they admitted that they had forgotten about me. During that time I had gone without services. Since my hearing loss is only moderate, I was still perfectly able to be successful in my classes, but it was such a great help when I was able to start having transcribers join me in my classes. I honestly have nothing but gratitude toward my transcribers, who work incredibly hard and make a world of difference in my entire university experience, but there are a few things that are slightly inconvenient for me.

1. Different transcribers tend to include different things. Because they cannot keep up with the speech in class to get it exactly word-for-word, some of them will not include little social things like jokes or personal facts or stories that a professor or class member is sharing. I know that this doesn't affect my academic performance, but I feel like I am missing out on a shared experience when everyone around me is laughing and I didn't hear the joke and my transcriber chose not to type it out for me. Other transcribers will include things like that, but then they paraphrase important information so I miss out on important details, statistics, equations, etc. I know it is probably impossible to keep up with every word, and they must make judgement calls as to what is the most important content in a class, but I do wish there was a way that I could really share in everything that was being said.

2. The transcription is delayed a few seconds after the words are said. This makes it really difficult in classes that the teacher tends to write out things on the board, because when the professor is saying things like "right here", etc., I missed out on where he/she was gesturing to and the context of the moment is gone by the time I read what has been said. Also, sometimes it is just difficult in general to choose between watching the professor and what they may be writing or demonstrating, and focusing on my screen so I can keep up with what they are saying.

3. I have had students look over at my computer for entire classes, reading my transcription, and pointing out to me if my transcriber made a typing error or laughing at different ways that they format things. It isn't like this has any huge impact on my quality of life, and it isn't malicious, but it's a bit annoying and it feels like an invasion of my personal space and privacy. Sometimes I will use my transcription on my phone rather than my laptop just so I can hide it in my lap and not have people who don't need the service reading over my shoulder for the whole lecture.

4. I am not ashamed of my hearing loss, and consider it to be a huge blessing in my life, but I have had professors introduce me to the class as 'the girl with hearing loss and her transcribers' when they get my accommodations letter. I am a bit shy and being singled out is not my favorite, and also my entire identity is not my hearing loss and I like to have the independence to bring it up (or not bring it up) on my own terms.

5. On the note of professors, most of the time they are wonderful, but sometimes they simply haven't been introduced to the etiquette in talking to a person with hearing loss. I have one professor in particular who gets way too close to me and dramatically over-enunciates all of her words when she is speaking to me. Her class is in a classroom with about 50 desks, and I usually sit in the middle, and sometimes she will come and lecture right in front of my desk. I know that she is trying to be helpful, but I don't know how to tell her that she is actually being condescending. The more she would do this, the less I would participate in her class, because I was already getting unwanted attention, and again, it made me feel singled out.

6. I have priority registration, which is awesome, but in order to schedule my transcribers ahead of time, I feel like I can’t just pop in to a class to see whether it might be a good fit for me. I also can’t arrive more than a few minutes late to my classes, because if I haven’t arrived after a certain period of time after class has started, they can just leave. (They will text me to see whether I am coming, and if I respond then they are willing to wait for me, but sometimes I have been in a test that took longer than I thought, and when I get out I see a text from my transcribers saying that they left. Of course I don’t want them to just sit there if I am not coming, and I don’t know how they could improve this.)

7. It would be amazing if they could get captioning on the devotionals! I don’t go in person because if I watch it on my computer I can put the subtitles on.  


This semester I have been experiencing anxiety, and when I went to reach out for help at the Counseling Center, they told me that they were completely full for the rest of the semester. It already took a lot of vulnerability for me to reach out and ask for help, and being denied that help was discouraging. There aren't any mental health providers within a 40 mile radius that accept my insurance, and I don't have a car, so there is pretty much nothing for me to do now except continue to care for myself and hope that is enough to reduce my anxiety.  I would love to see BYU hire in more mental health providers in general, but especially if they could just get a few extra to work temporarily near finals time or in the height of midterms, it would be so beneficial, so that everyone's needs can continue to be met as more people seek services from the Counseling Center.

Overall my experiences with accommodations and the culture of BYU have been really positive, and I am very fortunate to have had people so receptive to me in the way that I would be most comfortable having my needs met. It would simply serve to make BYU even better if we were able to see improvements in things like this.