Footage Description: A woman #2 is on left and is a bit out of the screen shot, but can see her hands and arms. A woman #1 with short gray hair has lightly tinted glasses and sunglasses on top of her head wears white with light blue and gray plaid short sleeves shirt. They are doing an interview mode via tactile signing and Pro-Tactile.
Woman 1: Ok, what do I do now?
Woman 2: Ok, do you mind to introduce your name and where you are from?
Woman 1: Wait a minute. First, I say my name, right? Two periods of time….ok. Back to 2006 and 2013. 2006 situation has similar situation as 2013 situation, but 2013 situation is worse one. Umm, do you want me to share about the time period of 2006 and 2013 when I attended the HKNC or what?
Woman 2: In terms of timing of this interview, I think it is probably best to share your recent experience - 2013.
Woman 1: Oh, ok. Just one period of time from last year, 2013, but, not 2006. That’s fine.
Woman 2: So, please state your name, then share your experiences with us.
Woman 1: Ok, my name. I will state my name. I have Usher’s Syndrome. Is it ok to say that I have Usher’s Syndrome?
Woman 2: It is up to you to say what you want.
Woman 1: Ok, my name, then share my story, right?
Woman 2: Yes, state your name, then share your experiences. After that, the interview will be ended.
Woman 1: I got it. (smile) I am clumsy and I need more practice for this interview. Anyhow, please let me know when it is ready for me to share my story.
Woman 2: (gentle taps on Woman 1’s shoulder)
Woman 1 = Josefa: My name is Josefa Gonzalez. I myself am a legal DeafBlind. I experienced my time at HKNC. I attended HKNC from May 28, 2013 to July 3, 2013. What happened was that at the residence hall, the food service was terrible. Some of food came with green color and tasted old. It caused me illness including diarrhea. Anyway, I tolerated eating this food as long as I can.
I attended to school to learn reading Braille. My schedule for classes didn’t give me adequate amount of classes that I need to take during the week. Before I arrived at HKNC, at home, I was informed that the Braille class will be offered frequently during the week. However, this was not case when I arrived at HKNC. Two times per week for Braille class, in my opinion, was an insufficient amount of time. The length of the Braille class took 40 minutes which was brief. I was disappointed that the length of class didn’t give me adequate time to be able to learn how to read the Braille.
The teacher for Braille class didn’t have experience in teaching. The teacher was incompetent with teaching technique for reading the Braille. I struggle trying to read Braille and my friend taught me the correct technique which I finally figured out how to do. Anyway, I wanted to learn computer which is called Braille Note. The staff at HKNC said that I must learn how to read Braille on the book before learning how to use the Braille Note. To me, it didn’t matter which book or Braille Note to learn how to read. I took up a fight and stood by my request. HKNC gave in at last to comply with my request. The schedule for June 1st was already set, so they were to make some changes with my classes for my next schedule. I was excited and waited for this opportunity. When my schedule was ready, my Case Manager handed it to me. I became furious learning that my schedule remained the same as previous ones. I told my Case Manager that I didn’t need a job since I am a homemaker myself. It was important to me that I became expert in reading the Braille. My main concern is that when my vision will become worse rapidly before I become fluent in reading Braille. It didn’t make any difference to my Case Manager. I explained to my Case Manager that I already shared my request to Sue Ruzenski, Director of Direct training (name sign: “S” on the middle of chest, repeatedly several times). The Case Manager acknowledged and that was my schedule is as is. I became very angry and met with Sue and she apologized and proceeded to make some changes to my schedule right away. When I received my modified schedule, I accepted it with reluctance and was ok with it. I thanked Sue and left for home which was for the Independence Day holiday.
By 2 pm as on the day of my class had completed, I walked to the residence hall and I bumped into residence supervisor named, Tom Burke and his name sign is T-B in neutral position. I didn’t have a good rapport with him as he continued to pick on me. He never interpreted for me. There was a group of people with Usher’s Syndrome and sighted ones. I couldn’t catch any conversation because I couldn’t see them too well. He left me out by not interpreting the conversation. I repeatedly asked him to interpret the conversation and he continued to ignore me. I became enraged for not being included. I bluntly told him that he was supposed to interpret for me and he must stop leaving me out. He apologized and proceeded to do tactile interpreting for me with reluctance.
It was not only one incident, but many unpleasant incidents. One incident involved the toilet paper in the restroom. The quality of toilet paper was cheap. It was separate toilet tissue papers, not a roll, so I had to take some of it in large quantity. It was challenging when I was ill with diarrhea as I mentioned previously about the spoiled food. So, with separate tissue papers in a bundle instead of wrapping the toilet paper roll around hand, it was a lot of work to ensure that the paper covers my hand completely. I noticed the disgusting odor emitting from the cheap separate toilet tissues. It was not a pleasant experience, I am telling you.
After end of the service, I went up to Tom Burke to make a suggestion about quality of toilet paper by replacing it with mid-weight toilet paper roll instead of cheap toilet tissues. Tom said, “Oh”. Next to him, a person named Eileen and her name sign is “E” with lightly shaking sideway, she was a deaf staff. She insulted me by saying that I should to buy myself some “luxury” toilet paper. I became perplexed by her comment. I explained to her that the money came from the state, so there should be some money to upgrade the quality of toilet paper. Therefore, HKNC was responsible for that. She laughed at me. Tom saw what Eileen said and added to even more insulting by saying that my personal groin area smelled awful. I became very upset and left them immediately to go to my dorm. I packed my stuff in my luggage in tears. I myself am a sensitive person because of my gradual vision loss due to my Usher’s Syndrome. I deal with my frustration on daily basis.
After packing my luggage, I returned to Tom and confronted him that he wasn’t being nice and what he said was very insulting. Tom became angry and stood up. I became frightening and ran out of the building to get away from him. On the bench, I cried hard and threw up as well. I really wanted to go home as soon as possible. With my sighted guide, we were ready to leave for me to go home. I saw Tom in his car. The view of him caused me some distress, so I threw up some more which made my illness an even more unpleasant one. So, my guide and I left instead of going with Tom because he was the original plan as my guide before the change other than dropping us off. I was still crying about what happened. My guide was quiet. I told my guide how horrible Tom was. My guide remained neutral about that. I was frigging ANGRY about that!!!
Anyway, when I returned to the residence hall, I told my roommate about the terrible recent incident. My mind was made up that I was finished with HKNC and was going to quit for once and all! That is end of my story with you all. It was an absolutely terrible experience for me.
Oh, I forgot to add one thing. My Case Manager gave me my schedule for July. In my mind that my request for more Braille class will be added; on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays with one hour extra. I was excited with an anticipation. To my shock, I learned that my classes are mostly cooking class which involved training me how to cook. I became very upset and angry about that one. The Case Manager asked me to hold on. I didn’t want to deal with that anymore, so I ran to a different female from Vocational Department, Peggy who have MD (muscular dystrophy). She has some problems with “MD” and she is hearing and signs well. I was crying in front of her. She asked me what happened. I showed her my schedule and she looked through it. She wasn’t happy. Peggy asked for my Case Manager (name sign: “S” tapping on middle of chin sideway in one direction repeatedly) and called for my Case Manager to come to see her. Peggy informed me that my Case Manager has arrived. I glanced around and found my Case Manager, then looked away. I wasn’t very happy to see my Case Manager. It meant to me that I may have to go with my Case Manager to discuss. I thanked Peggy for her time and had a side conversation asking her to keep to herself about our conversation. I said, “Good-bye, see you later” to Peggy. Then, I changed my mind wanting to say something more to Peggy. Then, Peggy saw the whole incident between my Case Manager and me. My Case Manager grabbed my wrist harshly to take my attention and wanted to speak with me via tactile signing. It frightened and shocked me by what my Case Manager did to me. My Case Manager tactile signed to me in angry and harsh way. I told my Case Manager, “Stop, what is wrong with you? You should not abuse me this way!” I became angry and cried at same time because I am sensitive person.
Also, an ophthalmologist’s recommendation for my eyeglasses, its quality was horrible and cheap. I complained that I cannot see well out of them. I told my doctor that the eyeglasses needed to be replaced. My doctor said it wasn’t possible at all. It was waste of money which was paid entirely for my eyeglasses coming from a state commission named Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, MCB. I shared my terrible experience with MCB and they didn’t believe me. I have to accept that. Thank you for taking your time to hear me out. That’s all for now. Hope you will support us protesting against HKNC. Thank you!
Woman 2: Thank you for sharing your story. I am curious if you will give us your permission to allow us to post your story on our website? (Josefa turned around to woman 2 and used two-hands tactile signing as a signal to clarify what woman 2 was saying.) Can we post your story what you just shared on website, deafblindpower.com?
Josefa: I am sorry, I do not understand clearly. (Turned around to get a better position with woman 2’s hands)
Woman 2: Ok, I will repeat. What you recently told us which you just finishing telling us. Is it ok if we put up your story on website?
Josefa: I absolutely do not mind at all!
Woman 2: Ok, all right!
Josefa: (nodding head)
Woman 2: I just wanted to make sure. Thank you and I appreciate that. Now, I need to press a button to stop recording. Hold on.