There are some horror stories circulating about dealing with your LAC during an NDIS meeting. While some LAC’s are wonderful, others are finding their LAC’s are incompetent and unaware of basic challenges we face.
We need to be heard and we need to be offered the right assistance. It can be a frustrating and exhausting meeting with people who don’t get it, so here are a few tips to help you get organised and control the meeting more.
Tips To Prepare You For Your NDIS Meeting
Prior To The Meeting
Request for a LAC who has a good understanding of deaf issues and is deaf aware. They may not always be able to accommodate your request, however should there be someone available it will be a smoother meeting
NDIS meetings can take anywhere from 1-2 hours. What’s frustrating is when your LAC is running late, and comes in rushed and flustered from his/her busy schedule.
This will automatically put you on the back foot, and you may find that your allocated time is cut short because of their poor time management.
Here are our tips to remain calm and in control should this happen to you:
- Write a priority list prior to the meeting, highlighting everything you want to cover. Then if your meeting gets side-tracked, at least you can walk away with your priorities covered off.
- Request an interpreter to facilitate the meeting (deaf or Auslan)
- If possible, bring a hearing person to the meeting with you, to help support your goals for being there
- Write down a simple “day in the life of me” story to share with your LAC should they not be aware of daily issues you face. Focus on the worst possible day (ie batteries die, nothing works etc).
In terms of the NDIS plan itself, if you’re looking for tips on what to expect, questions asked and how to use the plan, check out the NDIS website for fact sheets and booklets.
During The Meeting
When your meeting starts, ask your LAC what experience they have in dealing with deafness. This will give you an idea of how detailed you need to be with your answers. If you get the feeling that your LAC has no idea about deaf challenges, you’ll need to be more specific in your approach.
If you’re feeling rushed through the meeting, push back. Be direct and say you had cleared your schedule for this meeting and you have these items to be covered off before you finish.
Try to answer all questions from the LAC as if you were not wearing hearing aids/cochlear implants and have no support. This allows the LAC to witness your daily challenges firsthand.
If possible, sit next to the LAC so you can what is being typed. A good written report leads to a better outcome, so you can control the narrative. A good LAC will allow this, however if your LAC hesitates you can say that you want to work together to make sure you’re both understanding the requirements. If you also have an interpreter in the room they can be sitting opposite you so that you’re not overcrowding the LAC!
It is also worth asking if you can be emailed the plan before it is submitted so that you have a chance to review and edit before it’s lodged. We’ve heard stories that some LACs happily do this, some do not. Try it and see how you go.
After The Meeting
Don’t trust everything you hear! It’s awful but if something comes up in the meeting that you’re not sure about then investigate it further. Use Google searches, or support groups or chat to peers to float ideas around and gather information.
If you’re not happy with the way your meeting went, try not to feel discouraged. Take control and speak to a NDIS manager about your concerns. A lot of people feel intimidated speaking out, but you have every right and must do so in order to control the situation. There’s an old term the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Be the squeaky wheel! You can speak out, armed with facts and specifics which shows you are in control and being proactive and not willing to accept poor service.
If you speak out, be specific with your concerns. For example; the LAC is not deaf aware, the LAC does not return my emails, the LAC provided incorrect information on XYZ, the LAC always calls me even though she knows I am deaf and cannot speak on the phone. It’s infuriating when the person you are dealing with doesn’t even realise how unprofessional they are being. This is where specific examples help to enlighten LAC’s to identify with deaf and hard of hearing challenges.
You have the right to a new LAC if you are not happy and they are required to give you a new one when requested.
While these tips provide a pathway for you to consider when dealing with NDIS meetings, we understand it is emotionally and mentally exhausting to do so. Rest and recover, find a good day to speak up and advocate for the health rights. We need to work together to educate those around us and make the process easier.
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John’s Story: How I Learned To Accept My Deafness
Dispelling Myths About Deaf Teenagers