Sometimes I use a small amplifier called a SmartLink that works in conjunction with my hearing aids. It’s about half the size of a deck of cards and needs to be plugged into or placed near the source of sound to be effective. At work, the SmartLink sits unobtrusively on my desk, covertly amplifying my customers. If I need to walk my customers to a different location, I nonchalantly carry it with me. Customers that speak during our short walk suddenly get their personal space invaded by this shiny, silver device just inches from their lips.The three most common reactions are:

Gratitude – “Oh, thank you! I really need a nice mp3 player!”

Or  

Suspicion – “Why are you taking my picture?”

Or  

Hostility – “I don’t want to be recorded!”

I quickly became used to saying, “This device helps me hear you – it works with my hearing aids.“ People accept this explanation most graciously, and all is right with the world. But one day I was surprised with a completely new reaction that had never happened before or since:

The Local Government Building was deathly quiet (at least to me). A woman leisurely ambles up to my desk and requests assistance. My SmartLink was in the usual hiding place, but wasn’t amplifying her soft voice. I pick it up and point it toward her. Before I could blink my eyes, a deafening primal scream escapes her mouth and she flies backwards ten feet.

She hollers, “DON’T TASER ME! DON’T TASER ME!”

“What?!”

“I didn’t do anything! I swear! Please don’t taser me!”  

“Ma’am, I’m here to HELP you, not HURT you!”

Who knew adaptive equipment could be so entertaining!

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