Use your Lived Experience to make a difference!
Anna Krauss: A Voice for Those Who Can’t Listen
No matter the number of times a test proctor for the English Language Arts regent exams reads a passage aloud, Anna could not hear them. Anna is deaf, and, like all other students in the state, for her the listening portion of the exam was mandatory. The only additional accommodations afforded to students like Anna were extended time and a third or fourth reading of the passage.
For Anna and other deaf students, these accommodations were not accommodating after all. Unable to hear, they were unable to listen. As Anna says, it turned what was simply one part of her identity into a disability. Lip reading and sign language couldn’t fill the gap. There was a much larger problem in need of fixing. So Anna decided to be the one to take on the task.
The challenge was how to make the information equally accessible to all students. And the solution, Anna found, was simple: Allow deaf students to read the passage themselves.
With hundreds of emails, website submissions, and letters written, Anna got the attention of the state board of education, the governor’s office, and the senator’s office. It took three years of lobbying before a letter came from New York State Commissioner of Education John B. King Jr. affirming that the Test Access Accommodations Guidelines for students With Disabilities had been altered to provide written transcripts during the listening portion of the exam.
The joy Anna experienced completing her project came from knowing that she had prevented others from feeling that deafness is a barrier to success, a diploma, or realizing their dreams.
Anna will be studying biotechnology and molecular bio-science at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Someday, she hopes to be a teacher for the deaf. Until then, she is a proud advocate!
Anna is an 18 year old girl living in New York state. Although not an ILR consumer, Anna’s story is an example of advocacy in a simple form. Is there a barrier for you that you would like to address? It could be talking to a landlord, or a teacher, or an employer about accommodations that are already available. Whatever the barrier may be, ILR can help you decide the best way to overcome that barrier, and work with you to accomplish your goal!
Reprinted in part from blog.girlscouts.org/2014/08/spotlight-on-national-young-woman