What is your role at LCC?
I’m the program director for the Radiologic Technology Program here. It’s part of the Health and Human Services Division. … I have some degree of teaching responsibilities in addition to running the program.
Where did you work before coming to LCC?
Before this, I was the team advisor for Diagnostic Radiology at Sparrow Hospital.
Where did you go to school?
I got my X-ray tech degree, my associate degree, from Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona. Then I moved on from that and got my bachelor’s degree from Arizona State. Then I ended up getting a master’s in administration of health science from Northern Arizona University. And I just completed my master’s in public health from Michigan State University.
What do you like about LCC?
It’s a significant transition between the health care world and the education world, and what I have loved about LCC is that everybody is willing to help. … I can go knock on anybody’s door in the Health and Human Services Building and say ‘I don’t quite know how to do this. Can you assist me with something?’ and we all just work together.
Can you describe your disability?
I was born with a hearing impairment, and I have no functional hearing in my right ear. In my left ear, I only have about 40 percent of the functional hearing. I was born with that, so I don’t know anything different. … Anytime you have a communication disability, which hearing is part of it, you have troubles with the world. You have trouble understanding the world, you have trouble communicating, you have troubles being part of a society. …
It wasn’t discovered until I was about four years old. I was born in the ‘70s. So there was no testing at birth to see if there was a hearing problem. That didn’t come until later. So we didn’t discover it until I was about four years old. And the only reason we discovered it was because I wasn’t speaking well. Per the insurance, we had to get a hearing test before I could get speech therapy. They stuck me in a hearing booth and lo and behold, I can’t hear.
That was a time when there was a push for oral-intensive programs. They don’t work for most people. It’s exactly what it sounds like. It pushes you to learn to speak, to learn to hear, and to not use sign language. Some people hearing that would think ‘Oh, that’s a terrible thing to do.’ You’ve got to realize, your parents are trying to do the best they can for their kids. So of course my parents were thinking this is the best way to be successful. This is what all the experts were telling her. (But) I’m the outlier. I’m the one person it works on. …
The one key thing though with my disability, is that I learned how to read. I learned how to read before I learned how to speak actually. Most people learn to read from speaking. I learned it the other way around. I learned how to read first and then I learned how to read phonetics, and from phonetics, I learned how to speak. …
Because I learned to read, I was able to obtain an education. … Because I was able to get the education, I was able to have a better life than anyone ever imagined for somebody with a disability like mine. The original prognosis was, ‘Boy, I hope we can get her through high school and train her to do something.’ … I graduated high school when I was barely over 16 years old.
How did you get involved in the college’s accessibility initiative?
Interestingly enough, I’ve not been involved in a lot of accessibility initiatives. I’m not a real political person. I don’t get out and do drives or raise awareness. I concentrate more on my own personal circle of influence. If I can show people, hey, I can do this job just as well as anybody else, then I have influenced that person. And that person shares, ‘Hey, we’ve got this person at work who wears hearing aids, and she does just fine.’ If I can change that perception within my own sphere of influence, I call that a win.
Usually I’ve been the first (person) that anybody’s had to deal with (who has) a hearing disability. I’ve been a first for a lot of teachers. … People look at me, they have no idea I have hearing loss, they have no idea the extent of my disability. Even walking around, interacting with meetings, people don’t realize the severity of my disability. I’m constantly educating. So I’ve used that sphere of influence to educate.
The reason why I got involved in the accessibility initiative is … (CTE Director Leslie Johnson) came to the Health and Human Services divisional meeting last in the spring and said, ‘Hey, I’m doing this thing.’ And I was like ‘That’s the right opportunity.’ Because this is where I can be a circle of influence here on campus. I’m not looking to be a leader nationally. I’m not looking to be a leader per se locally, but if I can use my circle of influence locally and it spreads out to campus and to other people, that’s the right opportunity.
What perspective can you offer employees?
I have that student perspective of what it’s like to not have the materials that I need to be successful, and to have to fight to get them to be successful. I feel like that’s what I’m bringing to the initiative, my life experience, my lifelong journey of trying to be successful. And I can share tons of horror stories of things that teachers and educators have done because they didn’t understand, or they thought they were doing what was best, which was not appreciated. It’s the perception of when you do this, this is how it makes the person feel.
It would be incredible to me to be able to walk into a classroom and tell the teacher I’ve got a hearing problem and the teacher goes, ‘Cool, we’ve got everything set up for you already.’ It would be amazing. It would be so incredible. Instead of having to go through the first couple weeks of all this stuff about educating them and having them understand about what needs to be done. It’s extra work for both you and the teacher, and if it’s already done, you don’t have to do that. You can focus all of your energy on learning.
The other thing too is, if stuff isn’t accessible, OK great, they’re going to get it to you. But then that shortens your timeline. So for instance, if there’s a video that needs to be watched and it’s not close-captioned or they don’t have a transcript for you, let’s say you watch it on Wednesday and they’re like, ‘Oh gosh, we’ll get you the transcript, we’ll get you the transcript,’ but they get it to you on Monday, and that Wednesday you have a test. I have 48 hours to study for a test everyone else has had seven days. So it shortens your timeline. And in addition, if there’s more work to do, it starts piling up and compounding upon you. It’s the thing of having the same accessibility at the same time as everybody else.
If you could tell employees one thing about the importance of accessibility, what would it be?
It makes a person feel valued when they have the same accessibility as everyone else.
When you ask for (accessible materials in a classroom), you hear the grumblings, which I think is a natural thing, it just makes you feel devalued. Like why am I not important enough? Why am I not valuable enough? Don’t you value the contributions I can make to this world?
I really noticed the blank discrepancy between when I went from my bachelor’s to my first master’s degree. High school, my associate degree and my bachelor’s degree, those were all face-to-face classrooms. And I generally been a high B, low A average student up until that point. And I always knew that I was missing stuff and that was contributing, but I was doing well enough. When I went for my first master’s degree it was entirely online, and it was way back in early online education, so there were no videos being uploaded or anything like that. Everything was text. What happened to my GPA? Became a straight 4.0. And it really showed me how much that little bit I was missing was affecting my GPA.
Where did you grow up?
I lived in Michigan until I was nine years old and then we moved to Arizona for about 20 years. Then I decided 10 years ago I was tired of constant sunshine and heat, so I decided to move someplace that doesn’t have sunshine and heat. I decided to come back home.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
It’s really hard to narrow that down. There’s so many places that have so much interest to me. I would love to get in a Winnebago and just drive around the country and visit all the states. I’d love to go to Europe and do the same thing. I think the most fascinating place for me would be the Vatican. I’m not a very religious person, but just the history and the culture, architecture, it would be incredible, absolutely incredible.
What’s the best advice you ever got?
It’s hard to think of a specific piece of advice, but I guess the life philosophy … boils down to the phrase ‘When one door closes, a window opens.’ If somebody says no, or I don’t want to, there’s usually another way to do it. You’ve just got to persevere and find those opportunities, find those ways to do it. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be sitting here.
LCC is working on a massive project to make sure all of our courses, documents, forms and materials are accessible. Everyone plays a role in this work. To get started making your work accessible, visit websites developed by eLearning and the Center for Teaching Excellence.