Falling on Deaf Ears - Part III
By Monette Benoit
Responses from my articles in the June and July-August JCRs have been ... not surprising. If you have a question, please refer to my online articles that have been preserved in this area. And, I kindly share, the following are questions I work to address pro bono as people move forward with their careers.
20. "Where do you apply to provide CART?"
That depends on where your skills and goals are. If you want to write for an educational setting, the school administration and disability offices are a great place to begin to advertise services. I strongly advise people gather skills before they go out. Please do not go into situations, accepting professional fees for professional services, then begin to practice. Sadly, word spreads real fast among our community and others; reporters regretted that decision, in hindsight.
21. "What does it pay?"
You need to determine the level of work. How long is the commitment? One day or 12 weeks? Many factors play into the fee that you request. I encourage people to attend national conventions, meet people and "ask 'em." You'd be surprised at what you learn. (And why would someone, your competitor, share with you in your backyard? Good business would be to go and meet new professionals.)
22. "How steady is the work? Yearly average, please."
(Honest, this was the question.) That depends. See the above questions for this article and the past two. If a CART provider has gathered information, formed liaisons with the communities of Deaf, deaf, hard-of-hearing, etc., they won't ask questions like that. You learn. I was told. I am still told. Sometimes it's funny.
Our experiences, as an official and/or freelance reporter, have not lent themselves to our clearing our throats and saying, "I need ... ." But in this field, when people discovered what I was earning, I received e-mails and TTY calls from people telling me to adjust (raise) my rates. Sometimes I wasn't sure if I should be offended that my rates seemed to be posted in kitchens, but if you truly become part of these communities, they become protective. They don't want you to burn out and get upset you're not able to earn a living. They'll do much of the bargaining for you. Hard to believe if you're still an official and/or freelance reporter; this I know. But the people who sit "thigh-by-thigh" truly want you to grow with technology and to remain available "as their ears."
23. "Why do you do this and not depositions?"
See the above answer(s). Has any attorney ever asked you to raise your rates? Has anyone ever attended a meeting to raise money to ensure that you can provide the professional services you choose to share? Each time I'm hugged, e-mailed, receive gestures of kindness, I feel the tug in my heart; I have that "ah-ha!" moment. There's not enough money at this time for me to do a deposition. I'm delighted we have so many professionals providing great services. I choose this, working with my consumers (not clients/defendants/ plaintiffs), knowing I have to write the correct word within two seconds - knowing I'll get that hug, thank you, often teary eye of a child or seasoned professional, who shares deep from within their heart. That's why. It's wonderful to have choices; I intend to take my choices ... as they come to me.
24. "What do I tell people who say my skills will not be needed due to voice recognition and or advancing technology?"
Great question. My sincere reply to students, reporters and professionals within and outside our field (to everyone): "Obviously others have not done their research and gathered all the facts that show, in fact, our discipline as reporters ensures we will move with technology, wherever it takes us!" (And I really believe that.) Reporters survive a 92 percent flunk rate to graduate from school. The ability to survive is a challenge, but the tenacity we earn, the orientation to fulfilling our expected tasks, that's a discipline others do not have. That's the difference of a professional who will move with technology. We're no different than any other profession. We will have challenges, and it's up to us to address those challenges as a group and individually.
Last night my father was discussing technology and his role in a high school in the 1960s using punch cards. He said, "Much of the past is similar to buggy-whippers." I giggled, "What part's that? And what's a buggy-whipper?" Dad said, "That was a full-time job; when there were no buggies or horses, those buggy-whippers were jobless."
As he continued to discuss how he acted as a "human computer," holding punch cards up to the light (11 p.m. to 4 a.m. when the school rented blocks of computer time) to see where a student's classes were and at what level, I had my "memory moment" (deaf phrase). I thought, "Yeah, I get it."
His father delivered milk, my father worked as a teacher and guidance counselor, expanding his skills as a (truly) "human computer." He's now relating technology, referring to buggy-whippers, laughing with his daughter, a CART provider. We have so much, so very much more to offer. If we keep our chins up, work together and share, we will amaze - even ourselves.
And yes, you have my permission to add to, delete from and share my articles. One set of ears, one set of hands at a time. And I still swear learning theory was the hardest thing I ever did.
About the Author:
Monette Benoit, B.Ba., CRI, CPE, is a JCR Contributing Editor.