Saturday, May 16, 2015

And Then You Are Summoned

Jury duty.

It's the bane of our American judicial system. That damned jury summons.
I know there are some people who actually love it. But I'm not one of those people. And the fact that my hearing is so pathetic causes that panicky taste of bile to rise in the back of my throat.

I can't even understand half of my husband's conversation across the room. How can I possibly understand the barrage of words and sounds in the courtroom?

I'm not even sure I can request an excuse from my doctor -- he believes the CI removes all communication barriers, silly hearing man who doesn't really know what it's like to hear with a CI...

So I call the number on the back of the summons to ask if hearing accommodations are available.

"Please enter (inaudible-inaudible-inaudible) now." What? I'm speaking to an autobot? Really?
"Please enter (inaudible-inaudible-inaudible) now." It repeats.
I take the chance that it is asking for my juror ID, and input the 12 digits carefully.

"You entered zero (inaudible-inaudible-inaudible). Is this right? Please enter (inaudible-inaudible) now." I press zero hoping to get an operator. It disconnects me. I redial the number and get the same response. Only this time, I don't press zero. I decide to wait. Surely the automated voice response system will transfer me to a real person if I don't respond. Waiting-waiting-waiting...
"I do not understand your response," it says. Welcome to my world, I muse. "This call will now be disconnected."

WHAT?!!!! I try the number again -- this time intent on listening as hard as I possibly can. Still no success. I just cannot understand the autobot. My only option is to call the courthouse directly and try to speak with a real person.

After being transferred to a number of departments, I finally arrive at my destination and speak with a clerk in the "juror department." She's just a clerk, and cannot answer any questions about hearing accommodations for the hearing impaired. "We can provide sign language interpreters for you," she says. "I don't know sign language," I explain. "I am hearing impaired. I have a cochlear implant and a hearing aid. I will need real-time captioning services or a telecoil neck loop system to use with my hearing devices."

She tells me she doesn't know what those things are and transfers me to someone else. It's another clerk. "We can provide a sign language interpreter for you," she says. Here we go again.

I am finally directed to a middle-manager. After telling her what I am requesting, she tells me that she doesn't know if those things are available. "We can give you a sign language interpreter," she says. Sigh. "I think you can be excused," she tells me, "but you'll need to call the number on the back of your summons to get that done."

Seriously. It's a vicious cycle.


  1. the combination of fools and robots is bringing our system to a grinding halt

    1. I think people have no clue about hearing loss. They assume all of us know sign language. That's an irritating assumption. And the automated voice answering things are just wrong.

  2. A free CaptionCall phone is a godsend for just this type of situation!!