Behind Closed Doors

The other day, I had an appointment at hospital with the medical board. They were doing some interviews of people with disability, so there were many other people who had this appointment. I spoke to the receptionist to confirm my arrival, and I was told to sit and wait with the others. After a while, a man came to the waiting room and started calling out something. About 10 persons stood up and walked behind him. Watching all this, I assumed that the man had just called out their names.

I panicked. Did the man call my name too? I am Deaf, how will I know if he calls out my name? Feeling all flustered, I went back to the receptionist and explained to her that I will not hear when my name is called. She made some calls and told me that she put me on the next list. She said that when the man comes back to the waiting room to call out the next group, he should call my name. So I went back to the waiting room keeping an eye out for the man. When he came, he seemed to call out names again, as people were standing up to follow him. I went to ask him if my name was called – and it was. Hurray – challenge overcome – problem defeated! A simple task of making it to my appointment, by knowing when my name was called, felt like a small achievement actually.

We were taken to a corridor which had about 6 doors and a few chairs for people to sit on while waiting. Again, I was not sure what would happen next. An uneasy, panicky feeling started to creep up inside me, as I suspected that another challenge was about to come up. As one of the doors opened, a person walked out and left. Another door opened, another person came out and left. After a while, I heard someone calling out something loudly from one of the rooms. I had no idea what was called and from which room it was called. But one of the persons who was waiting next to me stood up and went in one of the rooms. So I assumed that names were being called, because every time I heard a person calling out something loud from a room, a person waiting next to me stood up and went to the room. Again, I obviously had no idea what the name being called was, and from which room it was being called. Crap – how will I know when my name is called? And how will I know from which room a name is being called? I have unbalanced hearing, meaning that the hearing loss in one ear is more severe than the other ear. For this reason, I cannot identify the direction and position of a sound. If I am looking at two closed doors next to each other, with a voice calling from behind one of the doors, I would not be able to identify from which side the sound is coming. So there I was, waiting in the corridor, hearing someone calling out names, not knowing what the names being called were, and not knowing from which room the names were being called.

Is the sound of a person calling out a name coming from the door on the left, or from the door on the right? You can only imagine my frustration and confusion! I looked around for a friendly face, but did not recognize anyone. So I went back to the reception to explain again that I am Deaf and that I would not hear my name being called. The receptionist made some calls again, and told me that when it was my turn, they would come up to me to let me know face to face. Phew! Another challenge overcome. Another achievement.

But why do I have to go through all these stressful and uncomfortable experiences each and every time? Why do such basic tasks such as that of knowing when it’s my turn for an appointment feel like a mission? Like something that I have to achieve? Do I really have to tag someone along with me each and every time? No thank you. I like my independence. A simple token/ticket system that would provide a token with a number for each client, and a screen showing and calling out the number of the next client would be so easy to do, don’t you think? It would surely put my mind at rest and keep my sanity at bay..

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