Technology Makes it Happen
We've all been there, busily working through that to do list and then something completely unexpected gets thrown our way. That was exactly what happened recently at work. It was late in the afternoon and I was trying to get a number of things done before the end of the day. Suddenly, my boss stopped in with a gentleman who was in need of assistance. She explained that he was working up until about 2 weeks ago when he was let go due to budget issues. He was once receiving SSDI benefits and now wasn't sure what to do at all. Thinking that I could help him with the benefits issue and possibly assist him in finding another job, she left him with me. And, did I forget to say he was deaf and did not read lips? And, if you don't know me, I don't have a clue about sign language and, even if I did, my vision makes it such that I wouldn't be able to see his responses. Upon realizing this, my boss seemed concerned and began to try and sort out how this was going to work. And, for just a few seconds I shared her concern until I realized that the solution was as simple as my computer and the screen reader I use. In no time at all we were feverishly typing and forming a plan of action.
I know this seems like a simple solution and that the situation was easily resolved. However, it reminded me that sometimes making an accommodation and being able to communicate with someone and providing support and encouragement is easier than we might conclude it could be. While the solution wasn't perfect and it took longer to conduct our meeting, in reality it worked just as well as having a more expensive option or interpreter present. (Obviously the later is the best solution where possible.) I know that helping this gentleman to get back on his feet is going to take a lot of time and effort. However, I also know that the concerns he probably felt about being able to communicate when he came to my office were gone when he left and that he was much happier and more optimistic about things.