On seeking accommodations in school

I’ve known for a long time that accommodations are a Thing–that is, that they existed.  About a year back, TSW had an excellent guest post on this very topic, outlining what sorts of accommodations exist, who qualifies for them, and some of the hurdles folks face in moving through the system.  I hope for this post to serve more as a personal case study, to describe my experience in requesting accommodations for the first time, and to offer any insight I might have gained from the experience.

I’ve written a bit already about my mental health.  As I mentioned in that post, I have pretty serious depression, but I’ve found a combination of therapy, medication, and physical activity that keep me pretty darn happy and stable.  That said, though, most of my first year in grad school has been tougher than it needed to be due to my housing situation. Continue reading


What? Wait a second…Ah, that’s better.

All of my life I’ve had a minor hearing disability, although I wasn’t always aware of it. Growing up, it was misdiagnosed as speech problems, since it was difficult for me to repeat certain sounds. It turns out that that tends to happen when you can’t hear the differences between certain sounds. About five years ago, I was doing research at a national lab when I was finally diagnosed correctly.

I had previously gained a reputation for being extremely attentive, mostly because I had picked up lip reading as a way to compensate for having difficulties understanding my colleagues, and so would pay very close attention to their faces during conversations. The way that the English language works, only about 30% of its sounds can be distinguished from sight alone. I had to spend an enormous amount of energy just trying to understand what people were saying, to figure out all of the the words I was missing. This was extremely difficult when starting on a new project with brand new technical vocabulary, and it took me quite a while to start being able to fill the gaps. Continue reading