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Nida’s Story: Access in Classroom” video

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Access in Classroom, Nida Din. Nita signs in American Sign Language

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At law school, it was more challenging because I was living in a different city. So I wasn't sure if we were going to email, call, or talk through Relay. I wanted to discuss my intake through the phone or email, but they refused and said, I had to come in person.

I had strong documentation of my K-12 education and undergrad history, as well as two visits with two separate psychologists, so I was very prepared. I had everything ready to send electronically, no problem. But then, I was told I had to drive four hours to appear in person, and that was not easy for me, so that was frustrating. I had other situations arise that prevented me from getting up there quickly. So I had to go right before school started, which was very stressful.

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Nida stands in a classroom and signs

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I had a lot of accommodation needs, and I needed to communicate that to this hearing person, who not only didn't know sign language but also didn't understand deaf culture or ASL or interpreters. So I had to do a lot more work, justifying the accommodations I was requesting. It was so much easier when communicating with a deaf person.

Over at the law school, that person was unfamiliar with ASL and accommodations, as well as being unfamiliar with the law school system and procedures, so that was more of a challenge. Plus, I had asked for something very unique, which was both an interpreter and CART. Typically, a student will choose either one or the other. I said I must have both.

And so that was a whole other struggle and fight I had to take on. I was initially told, no, so I had to push back. There was a lot of back and forth. I had to have both an interpreter and CART because in law school, I need exposure to the legal terminology. CART would give me the opportunity to see that in English language, while the interpreter was great because I was able to easily access the communication.

And because I don't use speech, the interpreter was able to voice for me. Law school is a very interactive system, and it forced us to participate since we are often called on in class. So the interpreter helped the communication access while in the class.

Additionally, ASL is my native language, so it's more comfortable for me to receive information through ASL and then use CART as clarification and English terminology. I also use the CART transcript for my notes, which helps a lot. That's why I needed both. But the accommodation specialist just did not understand, and so I had to reach out to an organization that helped me compose a legal argument to validate the accommodations I was asking for.

That was so frustrating, and it was all approved late in the afternoon the Friday before school started on Monday, so I was able to get CART approved at the last minute. But that was a very stressful experience. I was already exhausted, and school had not even started, so that was one frustrating experience.

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