Hearing From a CART Consumer, an Interview with Chandra Werner
Chandra Werner has always been profoundly deaf in one ear. When she was 18 years old, she lost the hearing in her other ear. She usually relied on reading lips, but only 30 percent of the English language comes from the lips, the rest is in the back of the throat. However, since she still had some residual hearing, when accompanied with speech reading, Chandra's comprehension was over 90 percent in an ideal situation: proper lighting, no background noise, etc.
This situation made the first years of her studies in obtaining a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree difficult; but for the last two years, Chandra worked with CART provider Tammy Stoneberger. She graduated in May 2001.
How did you first learn about CART?
The challenges of a strenuous program and ineffective accommodations led me to contact national deaf organizations. They all strongly suggested CART based on the knowledge that I did not know enough sign language to effectively use interpreters.
What was it like using CART for the first time? Was there a transition period in terms of becoming comfortable with this method of communication?
Using CART for the first time was astonishing; tears rolled down my cheeks as I was overcome with joy. For two long, horrible years I had slowly watched my lifetime dream erode, as the struggle to keep up with my class became nearly unbearable. One session with CART, and I knew I could make it!
How has CART benefited you?
I went from being three to seven days behind my classmates with only a few hours of sleep a night to sleeping and eating like a normal person and being at the same place everyone else is in class. I used to feel really ostracized by others who thought of me as being not only deaf, but dumb too. Now I'm just back to being deaf again.
As a student who is hard-of-hearing, what are some of the challenges you have to deal with in the educational setting? Has CART helped to eliminate some of these challenges?
The educational settings have really advanced with multimedia; computers, PowerPoint, colorful slides and animated videos all flash before the student's eyes - usually as a professor narrates from behind the protection of a podium propped in the far corners of the classroom and in total darkness. In this environment, my sole method of communicating is lost. I often wondered at those times if that is how Helen Keller felt without her Annie Sullivan. For me, CART in the classroom is like having my own Annie Sullivan. I'm back in touch with my world.
Were your professors and classmates receptive to your use of CART?
Most people were amazed at the process, and Tammy gave an impromptu demonstration about every two weeks as we moved to a new rotation within the hospital, and there was a new inquisitive audience that wanted to experience it up close and personal.
With your experience with CART, what must CART providers do to ensure they are providing the best possible service?
In the academic setting everyone, CART provider and student alike, has to do their homework. It's best to look at new vocabulary ahead of time and be prepared. The gratification is captioning a lecture smoothly. When the lecture is over, it's over!
How would you describe the relationship between a CART consumer and a CART provider? Client/service provider, or does it become more personal than that?
Some CART providers and I stay very professional, but usually because services are few and far between. My relationship with my steady/primary provider is likely equivalent to a couple of marines in a foxhole. The Veterinary Medicine program has been so intense with emotions due to the nature of the program itself. Sometimes the days are so long. Then there are patients that sometimes get better, sometimes suffer greatly and sometimes go to heaven. And there is also the diversity of clients, professors, residents and interns who are running on empty. My CART provider is stuck to me like white on rice; we can't help but go through the same joys and sorrows together. When I've made my share of mistakes, Tammy has provided a very comfortable shoulder to cry on. Hopefully she can find the same comfort from me.