Winebow DEI Uncorked Podcast

DEI Uncorked Podcast S1/Ep9 – An Interview for Deaf Awareness Month

October 04, 2023 Winebow DEI Education & Awareness Committee Season 1 Episode 9
DEI Uncorked Podcast S1/Ep9 – An Interview for Deaf Awareness Month
Winebow DEI Uncorked Podcast
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Winebow DEI Uncorked Podcast
DEI Uncorked Podcast S1/Ep9 – An Interview for Deaf Awareness Month
Oct 04, 2023 Season 1 Episode 9
Winebow DEI Education & Awareness Committee

On this episode we interview Dr. Michelle Ludwig, a deaf individual who shares with us how she navigates both her home and professional life.  A truly educational podcast to broaden your knowledge on DEI and the deaf community.
 **This episode also has a transcript attached.

Email for more info

Show Notes Transcript

On this episode we interview Dr. Michelle Ludwig, a deaf individual who shares with us how she navigates both her home and professional life.  A truly educational podcast to broaden your knowledge on DEI and the deaf community.
 **This episode also has a transcript attached.

Email for more info

DEI Podcast  

Deaf Awareness w/Dr Michelle Ludwig 

Sept 2023 

Final Transcript 


Nisa:  Welcome to the Dei Uncorked Podcast where we will look inside the bottle and inside Winebow at its diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are going to get curious, ask questions and learn from each other.  So let's get started. 

Bryan:  Hello, everyone. My name is Bryan Cole. I am the Director of Fleet Services based out of Illinois. I'm excited for today's Uncorked show as we honor and educate ourselves on September's Deaf Awareness Month.  I'm here today with my cohost, Nisa Anderson. 
Hello, Nisa. 



Nisa:  Hello, Bryan. 

Bryan:  Hope you're doing well today. 

Nisa:  Thanks! My name is Nisa Anderson. I'm the Sales Administrator from California.  I'm actually going to hand off today's cohosting duties to the Winebow team member that brought us this great topic, as well as introduce today's guest, Jennifer Breedlove. Jennifer, please tell us a little bit about yourself and introduce our fantastic guest. 

Jennifer:  Hi, everyone. I'm Jennifer Breedlove, very happy to be here.  I'm a Portfolio Manager in Atlanta, GA. I'm honored to introduce my very dear friend, Doctor Michelle Ludwig.  Michelle, we really appreciate you making the time for us in your busy schedule. Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Dr. Michelle Ludwig: Thanks so much, Jennifer, for having me on today. I'm really excited to share a little bit about some topics that are very important to me.  

I am a Radiation Oncologist, which is the oncologist that treats cancer with radiation treatment, my focuses include, breast cancer, and gynecologic cancer. I have been profoundly deaf since the age of two when I had meningitis and I lost both my hearing (about 90% of my hearing) and my vestibular system, which is the system that helps you balance.  So I had to learn how to lip-read, how to speak again and how to walk again. 

It's been kind of an interesting course navigating the medical field and especially COVID related challenges with my hearing impairment.  So I’m looking forward to being able to share a little bit about that today. 

Jennifer:  Thank you so much, Michelle. I've learned so much from you.  When talking about hearing about your deaf, profoundly deaf experience, what are appropriate terms in the deaf community and how do you personally identify? 

Michelle: That’s a great question.  There is deaf with an uppercase (or capital D) that is used to describe people who identify as what we call “culturally deaf”, meaning they are actively engaged with the deaf community.  They share a common culture and usually have a shared sign language, American Sign Language.  They typically prefer to use sign language, and that might actually be their first language, Deaf with the capital D people usually attend schools and programs for the deaf community. 

Deaf with the lowercase D refers just to the physical condition of having a hearing loss. 

So people that are deaf with the lowercase D perhaps don't use sign language, communicate with speech and do not identify as culturally deaf. 

Hard of hearing is usually used to describe people that have kind of a mild to moderate hearing loss and most of these individuals do not typically use sign language as their primary communication. 

Hearing impaired is another term that is often used but a lot of people either deaf with either lower case or capital D community find the term offensive because of the term “impairment” in there. 

So I think most of the most people prefer the terms deaf with a lower case D, deaf capital D or hard of hearing. 

Bryan:  Thank you, Michelle. I've learned some things.  I didn't know that there was a difference between uppercase d and lowercase deaf based off of what people identify as their first language or their second language or the ability to use sign language.  I appreciate you educating us and anybody who's listening on this podcast as well. 

Bryan:  Our next question I have regarding ableist language is, what are some of the terms that we should avoid and can you explain why? 

Michelle:  So I think there are a lot of ableist language descriptions that just kind of sneak into our normal conversation and I have actually started speaking up about this.  I read the newspaper every day, the Houston Chronicle and I've actually emailed the journalism team and the Washington Post a number of times for using ableist language to encourage them to rethink that. 

Michelle:  The one that I usually pick up on is the term falling on deaf ears, which implies that a person that is hard of hearing or deaf or deaf is a capital D would be intentionally ignoring somebody.  But there are a lot of other terms that we use such as “the blind leading the blind” or “lame”, like, “Oh that's so lame” or anything along those lines.  Like crazy or psycho or OCD because those are medical conditions. So I think it's something that's not really talked about. 

Michelle:  But now that I've mentioned that you'll probably start hearing terms like that used and just kind of think, hey, maybe we should use another term that of that could be more thoughtful about individuals with disabilities. 

Bryan:  You know, there's a great points and I think that some individuals may say some of these things in their daily conversation and not realize how this could be hurtful language and how could it affect some individuals. 

Jennifer:  I appreciate you, Michelle, mentioning things other than what you actually deal with as a deaf person that you can call to our attention. 

Jennifer:  So at Winebow, as we're striving to be inclusive, interviewing you for a podcast that may not be accessible to the deaf community brings to mind accessibility and other mediums that hearing able people may not consider.  For example, is your personal world, how do you find yourself navigating differently than, say, your friends or your husbands do? 

Michelle:  Well, I think I'll answer that question kind of from a workplace and then from personal world.  But so right now we're on Teams, and Teams has open captioning as part of the platform.  So I usually prefer that my meeting be held on Teams rather than Zoom.  Depending on who hosts the Zoom meeting, it may or may not have captioning, but unfortunately, my institution has chosen not to enable the captioning features for Zoom meetings because of potential concern that it could violate patient confidentiality by the way that it does the captioning.  I don't really understand why that's the case because I know other academic institutions have enabled captioning for Zoom.  But what that means is if I have a Zoom meeting that I have to log in and then I have to be sitting by my caption phone and then I have to have it call my phone. 

Michelle:  For example, a couple of weeks ago I was supposed to lead a meeting.  I thought it was going to be on Teams.  I found out at last minute it was on Zoom and I was actually about 5 minutes late.  And because I was late with having to log in, my boss ended up just leading it for me.  So I lost that opportunity for leadership and I was unprepared for the meeting.   

When I had another meeting that was the same scenario, even though I've requested multiple times that it be on Teams, somebody also expected me to be taking notes. 
And now I don't know if you've ever tried to write and read at the same time, but if I look down to write my notes, then I missed the next line of captioning because the captioning is only like 1 line at a time.  So because of that I was late turning in something after a deadline because I didn't have the notes and somebody else expected that I was going to take the notes even though I said in the meeting, hey, I can't take notes.  So you know, just little things that make it a lot more complicated. 

Michelle:  I can't drive and be on a zoom meeting or a team meeting because I have to read it. 
So things like multitasking is a lot more challenging.  I have to have a morning nanny come and help because I have board meeting from 7:00 to 8:00 every morning.  But I can't do that while I'm, you know, driving my kids to school and read what's going on in the caption.  Things like that require a lot more effort to be able to participate in than other people in my same job. 

Bryan:  You talked a little bit about your career and kind of the difficulties that you have with not being able to have the right programs to be able to see the dialogue that's going on through the conversations.  That was my next question, so maybe I might switch it a little bit and ask you how it has affected you in your path to becoming a doctor in school and other things you've gone through.  What are some of the difficulties that you may have encountered that somebody else may not have, maybe some of your fellow students or fellow peers? 

Michelle:  Well, when I went to college, I didn't think I was going to be able to get into medical school because everyone said, well, you can't do the heart and lung exam, you're not going to be able to listen to the heart, listen to the lungs, etc. And so I went to pharmacy school instead and I thought, well, you know, I'd be able to do most of what I would have wanted to do in medicine.  And then I decided to apply to medical school and actually was able to get a special stethoscope made that would work with my hearing aids and allow me to hear the heart and lung sounds.  I had a couple of people when I interviewed at different medical schools that expressed concern and I brought up my disability and my personal statement talking about how it's helped me learn resilience and things like that. so overall I was able to kind of navigate through that. 

Michelle: The biggest challenge in medical school and then during COVID was in the operating room.  When people wear masks, that makes it impossible to read lips.  Now they have clear plastic masks.  But when I was in medical school, they didn't.  During COVID when I was at work, it made it really hard and I would have to say you know multiple times a day you're going to have to pull down your mask so I can understand what you're saying.  And after saying that about the 80 time a day, every single day for three years, it's just gets hard.  COVID was a lot of things for a lot of people.  But it was particularly challenging for me because typically after I explain, hey, you have to put down your mask so I can hear you people try to just yell, but does nothing except stress me out more.   

Michelle: But now in the operating room we use the clear masks and I guess now that I'm in charge, I'm the one that's doing most of the talking instead of most of the listening. (Smile).  So that's a little bit easier.  And then in my clinic my patients are still masking because I'm an oncologist and my patients are all immunocompromised.   

Jennifer: Michelle, one of the reasons why I wanted you to be on this podcast is because you have such an amazing way of illustrating things with stories and providing visuals. And one of the examples that you shared with me before is the Spoon example. So talking about having to tell someone 80 times a day to remove their mask, also not being able to multitask like in a car with during a meeting, things that so many of us are able to do, can you use the spoon example to tell us how that how that affects you, your energy level, your daily life? 

Michelle:  Yeah, so the spoon theory is a really, really good metaphor that talks about the amount of physical or mental energy that a person with a disability has available for daily activities and task.  So let's say you are given 12 spoons a day and as you complete each activity, you get a spoon taken away.  So, you know, for example, let's say I go to a conference. So I went to a conference during COVID because I had to present something and spent quite a bit of time, you know, trying to make sure I sit in the front of the room.  And then a lot of the speakers were still wearing their masks and people were trying to talk to me and so it took away more spoons so that by the end of the day when I still had, you know, dinner, and other evening activities, I would just be out of spoons. 

Michelle: And so you have two choices.  You can either be done with your day then or you can borrow a spoon from the next day, but then that leaves you short the next day. And so as an example so I'm getting ready to go to a conference next week in San Diego and it's a it's a big conference and I have to go present. But the spoon theory is something that I really have to be thoughtful about and be gentle with myself because by about day three of the conference I'm done. I get migraines, I'm tired and I'm cranky because it takes so much effort for me to go through the daily activities of going to that conference that somebody else might be able to, to kind of get through a little more effortlessly. 

Bryan:  So Michelle, the best way for other able people to be inclusive to people in the deaf community both personally and professionally, what is that best way? 

Michelle:  That is a good question. I think deafness is a little more common than we think it is. So about 13% of the population in the US have a hearing impairment and only one in five people that have a hearing impairment are adequately aided, meaning they have adequate hearing aids in order to help. So I think just recognizing that this is a little more common than we think and doing things like if you have a meeting, sending an e-mail summary of the meeting with action items in case somebody didn't catch everything on the meeting.  Making sure training videos for a company have closed captioning, making sure that captions are available for all platforms.  From a company perspective those are some things to focus on.  But really, again, just being thoughtful that it is a lot more common than we think it is. 

Michelle: And very often for older adults, it's such a gradual loss that they don't actually notice it. 
I'm sure all of you have older relatives that you've gone into their house and noticed that the TV's on for blast and you know, maybe they didn't notice it and things like putting the caption on their TV for them or being thoughtful about facing somebody when speaking when you talk to them because a lot of people really live with hearing loss more than you think they do.  Probably a lot of people thought about this during COVID when you realize it's a little bit hard to understand people when you can't see the their face.  And so I guess that would be my thoughts. 

Bryan:  I like the example you gave a couple questions ago when you were talking about how COVID has impacted you and the fact that everybody was wearing masks and that kind of took away the ability to read people's lips. And I kind of felt the same way too.  And in building that personal interaction with people during the time of COVID, you're not seeing their face, you're not seeing their facial expressions and you're not able to read the lips to kind of supplement the conversation that you're have with them when they're speaking at the same time.  It's really interesting you bring that up as a point because it's crazy how COVID has impacted people in many more ways than just the common things that we are seeing with the illness that happens for 14 days is a lot more impactful than just that. 

Bryan: I have one more question. Is there anything else that you would like to share with the World of Winebow? Any takeaways or any questions that you had wished that we had asked you during this podcast? 

Michelle: I would be remiss if I didn't mention my hearing service dog.  I have my second hearing service dog. Her name is Pam. My first hearing service dog was named Marguerite.  Most people probably haven't heard of hearing service dogs but what they do is alert to sounds. So the dog is trained to have a formal alert which means they tap you on the leg and take you to the sound They are trained to which specific sounds you want them to alert you to. So for example I want Pam to tell me when my phone rings but not when my husband’s phone rings. I want her to tell me when my alarm clock goes off but not his. And so there's a lot of kind of work at home. 

Michelle: Before I had my first turn service dog, I would be working. I would be on call for a week at a time and I wouldn't sleep at night because I'd be afraid I'd miss a call on my pager.  I'd sleep a little, but you know would be just kind of like dozing off but it wouldn't be like real sleep.  So by the end of the week, I didn't feel so good.  And so when I finally got a dog, it was like, oh, you know, I can relax. 

Michelle: Now I know if I'm that I'm not going to miss if somebody knocks on my door, like my package delivery. I I couldn't join a wine club before I had a service dog because you have to sign for the delivery and I would miss it.  So that was one of the first things I did after I got Marguerite was join a wine club. But you know being able to wake up at night and not miss that phone call, it's really critical.   


Michelle: So I'm really grateful for Canine Companions.  I'm actually on the national board of the organization and they have been providing service dogs for individuals with disabilities for over 40 years.  So I'm really excited to be a part of that organization and am grateful for what they've provided me. 

Jennifer: Thank you Michelle. I do have one more question for you. What is your favorite varietal of wine? 

Michelle: Favorite varietal?  I do like a Sancerre.  I'm a huge fan of Saint Francis because they are partners with Canine Companions and they do a lot to help support Canine Companions. And I'm also a big fan of Gary Farrell, the winemaker there. The woman is named Teresa Heredia and she became a winemaker at a time when I think they’re weren’t very many female wine makers and have been a big fan of her work. 

Bryan: That's awesome. I think one of those brands may have may be one of ours that we distribute currently, at least one of those. Well, Michelle, I appreciate you joining us. 

Michelle: Thank you so much. 

Bryan: It's been a pleasure to have you on our Uncorked podcast. 

Michelle: Thank you so much for having me. 

Bryan: And Jennifer, of course, also thank you for joining me as our guest cohost today. 

Jennifer: Thank you.  I've really enjoyed being here. 

Jennifer: I do want to say that we've learned from this and this podcast will be transcribed and going forward, all the podcasts will be transcribed and available to you. And we'll be going back and transcribing the previous podcasts as well. Thanks so much for having me, and thank you, Michelle for joining us. 

Bryan: Thank you both. Well, we've really enjoyed this discussion. I appreciate you representing and informing the world of Winebow more about deaf awareness. We've learned so much from our guest speakers and always enjoy of course learning from others. I hope we can continue to educate ourselves and others on all things DEI. 

Nisa: Remember Winebow, your voice matters. This is your platform for the World of Winebow. Who do you want to hear from and what topic would you like us to discuss next? Reach out to any of the DEI members and let us know. This is the DEI Uncorked Podcast. Let's continue to look inside.