You Think You See, But You Have No Idea

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Jasper, Alabama, United States

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hearing Impaired and Evacuation Papers

Cam and I went with my life long best friend (we'll call her Ruth) and her two older children, along with one of Ruths other friends to the Toby Mac concert at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center Arena. It was Ruths Birthday. We all spent the entire day together and had a fantastic time!
Ruth and her two beautiful kids.

On the hearing impaired end of it though, the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center Arena was an ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE! It saddened my heart beyond belief at the ignorance and callousness of the people who were employed at the event to help people.

But before that,,,

We arrived 4 hours early for the concert and stood outside with our children (imagine the pain of and waited on the doors to open because there were no pre-sell tickets. But, even that was fun...

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

When we got inside, Ruth, being the person she is and my forever friend, asked the floor manager if there were any seats for the hearing impaired or if they could help us because my son and I both read lips. They had seats up on a platform set aside for this sort of thing, but my son and I wouldn't be with our friends. WHAT?!? Okay so the fact that they couldn't set aside an entire section for the hearing or visually impaired and their entire group of friends, I get it, sorta, but the fact that they wouldn't help us?!?

If we weren't willing to to it their way, then sorry. Go away. HUH?

I told Ruth to forget it anyway, because we were early enough to get seats on our own. So, we go over to a section at the side of the stage that was filling up. Only to be told we couldn't sit there the section was closed. (I've been to concerts where you couldn't sit back stage so that wasn't all that surprising.) Ruth again asked if we could stay so we could read lips. No! Go over there, to some reserved seats for hearing impaired. We go. No seats. By this time the arena is full.

WHAT?!? You've got to be kidding me.

We've spent 40 minutes getting the run around and lost all chance to be any where near the stage. Up top we go. I know it wasn't my fault, but I felt horrible for my friend. If she hadn't been with us and tried to help us, she would have been very close to the stage herself. But as always Ruth wasn't even fazed by the whole thing, lets get seats and have fun!

I get up to go complain, because we got the run around. They should educate their staff on reserved seating, or the lack there of, and not send people on a wild goose chase.

The lady at the service desk tells me that they have equipment for the hearing impaired. HUH? Thats not what I'm here about. I'm talking about the ignorance of the staff. I ask to see this equipment, I wanted to see what it was that was suppose to help me in the nose bleed section. She digs around in a box on the floor that has written on the front of it in a marker, "Hearing Impaired and Evacuation Papers". Now you've got to be kidding me?!? What does hearing impaired equipment have to do with evacuation papers? How insulting.

after a few minutes of searching she brings out a amplifying headset. Again, YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. What good is that going to do me? I read lips. No matter how loud you make a sound, unless I have something to work with,(facial expressions, lip reading, captioning, something) I can't figure it out anyway. What a waste.

I go back to my seat.

And sit. In the dark.

Everyone around me is laughing and having a good time with the music and praise.

I sit. In the dark.

Cam at 5 has learned to adapt as well. I look over and he is pretending to play drums by himself while his friends are engaged in the show... My little boy sits in the dark too.

Now I'm Sad.

Then to my astonishment what do I see? The section that was closed is now open for the second wave of people. They only closed it so the first half of the arena would fill up so when they let the second wave of people in they could find a seats instead of it being scattered.

I'm Infuriated!

Now, I'm spitting fire!!!

I go back to the service desk to write a formal complaint.

A very nice gentleman listens to my story and tries to help me. He sees the floor manager and stops him to see if he can help us find seats closer. The floor manager is irate when he sees me and says "I've already talked that woman! She didn't want to separate from her friends!" No I didn't and my son isn't going to leave his buddies either.

So, I go and search on my own.

I find seats behind the stage, but at least from there we can see the big screen.

I went back to get everyone. My beautiful hearted friend Ruth and our other friend and all the kids were thrilled with the new seats. We got to see the performers as the entered and exited the stage. Very cool. Thats why we're forever friends.

Cam never lost attention, and in fact during intermission he went to the restroom, when he returned he asked me if he had missed any music. At that point we were having a great time. The concert wasn't over until 10:00 pm. Cam was exhausted. (He is usually in bed by 8) He fell asleep in my lap during a slow song. I turned off his aids and rocked my baby for the last couple of songs. Only a hearing impaired child can sleep though a christian rock

Why is it so difficult to help us? Why does it irritate people that we need help?


1 comment:

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Wow. I am really impressed by the way you advocated for yourself and your son and didn't give up. Good for you!