When Having A Disability Is Quirky

, , , , , | Working | November 13, 2019

(I go to a reasonably large yoga studio consistently four to five times a week. There is one class that I never get to go to since the instructor always teaches the course before my usual one. My general instructor and her TAs have a retreat, so the instructor that usually teaches the prior class becomes the sub for my usual class. I am naturally excited since I have heard good things about her and am excited to try it out. I will also add that I have single-sided deafness; I am deaf in my left ear, but my right ear is perfectly fine. I do have trouble distinguishing what the instructor is saying with loud music. This becomes important later. When class begins, I notice that the sub doesn’t ask the usual question about if anyone has an injury or anything that the instructor might need to know about. The sub just jumps straight into class. As we do our warmup, she goes to the CD player and turns on relaxing music. It is louder than usual, but I excuse it at first because there are no lyrics and I need to strain a little bit harder to hear the instructor, but it should be fine, or so I think. We go to a difficult move. The instructor plays The Beatles “Ob La Di Ob La Da.”)

Sub: “Now sing along to the music! Now, next, make this move…”

(Great song, but I can’t hear the instructor. So, I flag her down. She comes over).

Me: “Can you lower the volume of the music, please? I can’t hear out of my left ear.”

(She looks genuinely upset. She stomps over to the music and lowers the volume down significantly. The rest of the class, she throws daggers at me with her eyes. So, after class is over, I go over to her)

Me: “Hey, sorry about earlier. I do appreciate it. I can’t hear out of my left ear, and I had trouble hearing you.”

Sub: “Oh! Don’t worry. Everyone has quirks. Just be more considerate of others next time.”

(I am shocked and stand there as she just leaves. I become furious, so I find a comment card and write what happened so I can pass it on to the manager. The manager is gone because the class ended after they left. I write in plain letters that being deaf is not a quirk, and not making reasonable accommodations is against the law. Luckily, I get a call from them the next day, and they agree to have a stern talk with the sub. I see the sub two days later before my usual class, and she wants to talk it out with me one-on-one.)

Me: “I hope you do understand why I got so upset.”

Sub: “Yes. Do you usually take [Instructor]’s class?”

Me: “Yes. Now, I do hope you understand why I got upset.”

Sub: “That’s weird. Most people who go to [Instructor]’s class come to my class and say her class is harder than mine.”

(At this point, I just gave up. She thought that I complained about class toughness and not making reasonable accommodations. One of the many lessons that people with hidden disabilities learn is that making reasonable accommodations means that we are lazy.)


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