I say "assume" because I couldn't hear a word. Somehow i thought Canada was more progressive than the U.S. and that surely there would be looping or some kind of hearing assistance.
But no. The three day conference was held in a small lecture hall with terrible acoustics. I tried different spots around the auditorium, including sitting 10 feet in front of the speakers. But even there the miked voices were muffled.
And, paradoxically, every cough, every candy wrapper, every squeaky seat sounded deafeningly loud.
It was not a young group. The speakers were mostly senior in their field and clearly of a certain age. In the manner of academic conferences they read their papers, many of them looking down and mumbling.
How easy it would be, at a conference like this, to ask if any in the audience would like a copy of the talk (the paper) to read as the speaker read it aloud. I doubt that very many would have the nerve to public accept the offer, given the stigma of hearing loss, but it's just this kind of gesture to the ubiquity of hearing loss that may eventually help destigmatize it.
In the question and answer sessions ,speakers called out their questions from all over the audience, not getting up where at least they could be seen. No see, no hear for me. And probably for others. How about a little common courtesy.
The panelists lounged back in their chairs, far from the mikes, or walked around the auditorium, their backs to many of us.
So frustrating. But I seemed to be the only person with a problem. And to others even I probably didn't seem to have a problem.
Why didn't I speak up? Good question. I was a guest at the conference, not a participant.
But mostly I just didn't think of this easy solution until afterward. Scrambling to find copies at the last minute might be confusing. But how about offering the option during the registration process to opt for written copies for those with hearing loss. If the speakers don't want them floating around afterward, they can collect them at the end of the talk.
Still, it was a gorgeous weekend in Ottawa, cloudless blue skies, a light breeze. I finally gave up and took a long walk along the Rideau Canal, had lunch in an open air restaurant in the By Market, dropped into the spectacular but nevertheless architecturally cumbersome National Gallery. Drank some good Canadian beer.
I'd have liked to hear about Alice Munro though.