There is a story coming out of Provo, Utah that is making me think.
Here’s a link to the story: http://deseretnews.com/article/0,1249,695269341,00.html
Here’s my summary:
In this story, we have mom Lareen Strong, who has a daughter that really likes “Rock Star” Miley Cyrus, and it just so happens that Ms. Cyrus is coming to Provo to entertain at the Stadium of Fire on July 4 of this year. Mrs. Strong was “One in a Million” of the fortunate ones who obtained tickets to the event. They will enjoy a “G.N.O (Girls Night Out).”
But “Ready, Set, Don’t Go.” As it turns out, Mrs. Strong’s daughter also has an unfortunate hearing disability.
Mrs. Strong did something that I would consider very smart and reasonable. She called ahead to the BYU Marriott Center ticket office, to ask them if they have listening devices available. She did her homework. If I were going somewhere, I would call or check the website, or do my research and see what preparations I would need to make, and what kind of accommodations were available. I see many people who don’t; who simply show up somewhere and expect that accommodation has already been made for them, and even get upset when the red carpet is not rolled out as they arrive.
Unfortunately, the folks at the ticket office didn’t know. Her call was passed around to five different people, and none of them knew the answer.
Now, I might have a little perspective on this one. Check out “The Other Side of Me” – I work at a technical support call center. I can easily imagine this type of thing happening. Someone calls, and asks a question that seems simple and intimately familiar to that caller, but it blindsides the people answering the phone. They don’t know, maybe even panic and maybe even don’t say something that sounds friendly or helpful. They are not being rude; they just don’t understand the situation yet. They check with other people, and no resolution is found – at least not right away. After all, “Nobody’s Perfect.”
Which seems to be what happened to Mrs. Strong. She received a call the next day from a manager “Who Said” that she knew the answer. The answer was that the LaVell Edwards Stadium doesn’t have them available, but if you call ahead (as Mrs. Strong had done) they can make arrangements to have something there and ready. And so they will be very happy to get a device for her daughter.
But overnight, I suppose Mrs. Strong had a chance to stew over it and get upset at her mistreatment. Now I try to see it from her perspective. The disability that Mrs. Strong and her daughter deal with every day is very personal to them. And they are far more familiar with the situation than they ever want to be. So the fact that when she called people at BYU, and those people didn’t understand her problem or situation and were not ready to help her, she became upset. And keep in mind that some people build up and expect that B.Y.U. is “God’s University,” where the people there are absolute perfect and upright representatives of the Church and the Savior – in other words, they put BYU on a pedestal higher than it really belongs.
And so now she has gone to the lengths to file complaints, talk to the newspaper, and looking into the Americans with Disabilities laws for support of her position. She’s going to “Make Some Noise.” She has out-and-out accused BYU of deliberately being discriminatory to her daughter. Think I’m exaggerating? Then how else can you interpret this quote: “Brigham Young University is discriminating against my daughter, as well as every hearing impaired person who goes to an event at LaVell Edwards Stadium.” There you have it, “Good and Broken.”
If BYU has made reasonable accommodation at her request, then I have to ask her, how are they discriminating? To discriminate, doesn’t one have to place some thought of ill-will toward another person? There is no way every situation can be planned for ahead of time; it would be unreasonable to expect this. The fact that they were not ready with an instant answer in no way says they were discriminatory; just ill-prepared or poorly-trained. And I sympathize with your daughter’s very difficult life condition. But as you should understand by now, the world in general and our society in specific is not particularly familiar with nor always sympathetic toward the problems that they don’t deal with personally. I’m not excusing thoughtlessness or insensitivity; I’m just stating it as a fact.
It sounds to me as though Mrs. Strong is attempting to get “the Best of Both Worlds” for her daughter. “Life’s What You Make It,” and I think she and her daughter should be grateful for the good time they are going to experience together, and don’t dwell on this moment leading up to it.