Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Being an advocate, being a good neighbor -- Kasey Kelly

Being an advocate is the same as being a good neighbor

“’ You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” -Matthew 22:39b NRSV

To give love to your neighbor means to be an advocate for others in these uncertain times. The amount of self-love comes through an advocate’s work. I witnessed God’s love through an advocate.

During my spring break, I received the news about the transition to online from my seminary. Thoughts came up:

Am I going to get the accommodations that I need?

Do I have to teach my professors about Closed Captioning?

Will I pass all the courses?  

There are so many things that are outside of my letter of accommodations. The accessibility office reached out to me on the communications with professors. I was wary about professors’ follow-through. I have low expectations for my professors to meet my accommodations. In response, I must work with more effort or miss some parts of the sessions.

Then, the accessibility office shared the exchange between them and one of my professors with me. This professor went above and beyond by transcribing their videos and adding closed captioning. I could tell that this professor read the emails carefully to know that “automatic Closed Captioning” is not adequate. I watched the professor’s video, and the closed captioning played smoothly along with a speaker. I was in tears. It was unexpected. Then, I felt joy. 

I know that I am going to be okay. God comes through that professor.

Being a good neighbor means being an advocate who goes above and beyond in their work. This professor must have loved themselves fully to manifest their effort. Closed Captioning is not just helpful to me, but for other students. It is essential to love yourself so that you can be an advocating minister for marginalized persons. 

Kasey Kelley, a Deaf seminary student, grew up "in the mountains of North Carolina." She is pursuing a dual degree: M. Div. and M.S.W.

For more information about including captioning in your work, see the blog article by Leo Yates, Online and Virtual Gatherings: Inclusion for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Members.

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