Normally I don’t like to write about my disability here. In particular, I really don’t like writing about some of the negative things that happen. There are sometimes a lot of negatives. This conference had a lot of ups and downs, a lot of educating fitness pros about interpreters and hearing dogs and how to work with them within the industry. Unfortunately, there were quite a few clueless people, and they said and did things that were frustrating. By the end of the week, I was sick and tired of fighting the daily Deaf battle for my accommodations and my rights.
Today my second class at the IDEA World Fitness Conference was Jillian Michaels’ BODYSHRED class. It was only thirty minutes but we basically got our butts kicked.
So I really didn’t realize how famous or popular Jillian was (how could I?) before coming to this class. And I didn’t know how horribly people would behave just to get ‘thismuch’ closer to her and the stage.
We had a system going after the first day where one interpreter would stay and finish interpreting the class I was in, while the other one went and set up in the next class. If we hadn’t done that, we would have been far more disruptive. This way, it was all ready to go and I just walked in and took my spot.
The interpreters were consulting with Jillian’s camera crew to make sure that the spot we set up in wouldn’t be disruptive to them, or make it difficult to get footage.
So, we picked a spot, and marked off a big box in front of the interpreter that was a ‘no fly zone’ supposedly — funny how few people respect a white box of tape on the ground though.
People went crazy outside – getting all riled up for the workout. Finally they all filed in. There was a line of people right against the stage, and someone directly behind my interpreter. And then a line of five trainers behind me, trying to make sure that I still had enough room to move.
As the room filled up, a girl in a purple jacket came up and wedged herself in the ‘front row’ right ON the white box for my interpreter. So I asked her nicely to move, stating that I was Deaf and I needed to see both the interpreter and the stage, and that was why we had that box taped down on the floor.
Well, she moved an inch away from the box, but still blocking me from the stage. Then, Gilbert, my interpreter asked her to move – still nicely. And she moved back an inch. (UM — doh move means MOVE lady.) Finally, interpreter Kyla, getting frustrated came over and basically said, “We asked you twice, we really need you to move away from this space because the interpreter needs room and so does everyone else who was here before you.” This girl STILL doesn’t move.
The announcer comes out to get the crowd going — so we give it up. Jillian comes out and the group goes wild – cheering for jumping jacks and burpees. (I was all ???) lol. I asked my interpreter, “Where the heck do I have room to do burpees with that girl there?!” So we go through the workout. Occasionally the guy trainer behind me stops entirely and backs up because this girl is kicking HIM. And he moves to try and make sure I have enough room to do the workout. (This guy was a real champ.) When the workout is done, Jillian disappears. I don’t think a single person actually got a picture with her.
This girl who had been cussing me out to the girl next to her the whole time — comes up and says to my interpreter “Well, you need to tell her that if she had asked nicely the first time I would have moved. But she didn’t ask nicely and I don’t think she had the right to tell me where to go.” I”M SORRY WTF. So my response was, “Ok. Thanks a lot.” Which Kyla totally mimicked and I’m sure that didn’t help but I was so mad.
Then Gilbert comes over and we’re talking about what this girl said. Kyla says, “You know, you were completely right in asking her to move. You asked her just fine. AND there was a group of five trainers behind you nodding and trying to support you every time you did it!! You just couldn’t see them. The guy who high fived you at the end was the biggest supporter, trying to get her to move too – and then moving himself to make sure you had room to do the class.” And by then, I’m crying because I feel like a puppy that has been kicked. AGAIN.
I said, “ You know, it’s really hard to be treated like that EVERY single time I have to assert myself because I need that accommodation. I didn’t choose to be Deaf and half blind. I sure as hell would love to sit further back and be able to follow the class and not be crowded far more than I wanted to be in the front.”
Kyla says, “Yeah. But you have to remember, this wasn’t about you in any way. This was a girl who was here purely for selfish reasons. She was here for herself and she didn’t care who she crushed in the interim.”
Kyla goes, “Would you like to meet Jillian? I bet I can make that happen. I’m really good at that stuff.” to which I reply, “I don’t know.” thinking for a minute — “ Actually, I would like a picture. I don’t have a single picture of ME from this whole event”
So Kyla sneaks behind the curtain, and she talks to the guy who was running the camera. And then she pops back out, motioning me to come over…
I duck back behind the curtain. Jillian is walking up!! Obviously the exchange is nothing interesting. (My brain completely shut down at that point.) But we smile and laugh, get a few pictures, and she asks me the sign for ‘Fuck.” LOL. Of course. And then we are shooed back out and told to let the volunteers clean up the room.