Although a wide range of topics were discussed in the entire interview, including crime, inflation, and the right to an abortion, Fetterman’s health problems since his stroke on May 13 dominated the discussion.
Sharp criticism has been leveled at an NBC News report with John Fetterman that mostly focused on the stroke survivor’s health for how it characterized the reporter’s conversation with the Pennsylvania Senate candidate.
The complete debate covered a wide range of topics, including crime, inflation, and abortion rights, but Fetterman’s health problems since his stroke on May 13 dominated the narrative.
Since having his stroke, Fetterman has struggled with auditory processing and word retrieval problems. He has been transparent about how he needs closed captions to make sure he understands the questions during interviews.
Even though it was later discovered that Fetterman only “occasionally stuttered” during the interview, which was filmed with reporter Dasha Burns at Fetterman’s home on Friday, NBC News’ story on Tuesday night claimed the lieutenant governor “still struggles to understand what he hears and to speak clearly.”
Hearing is not the problem; rather, auditory processing refers to how the brain interprets sounds.
“I use captions,” Fetterman said to Burns, “that auditory processing where I’ll hear someone speaking but occasionally, I won’t be specific on what precisely they’re saying.”
Although Fetterman has not specifically addressed the interview on social media, he did note in a tweet sent out early on Wednesday that recovering from a stroke in public is difficult. He continued by stating that he will “be much better in January,” when new senators will be sworn in.
While Fetterman has conducted numerous interviews with media organizations since his return to the campaign trail, this is the first that extensively emphasizes his speech challenges, despite the fact that NBC News advertised the sit-down as an exclusive.
Other journalists who have spoken with Fetterman have challenged the account, pointing out that when they spoke with him, he had neither extensive concerns nor severe speaking difficulties.
According to the National Center on Disability and Journalism, making accommodations for interview subjects is recommended practice. According to a manual on writing about individuals with disabilities produced by the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas, another excellent practice is to “highlight abilities, not limits.”
The fact that the sample video included closed captioning thrilled journalist and We’re Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation author Eric Garcia. When accommodations are used to promote equality, they are far too frequently mistaken for special treatment, according to Garcia.
He declared, “Fetterman is a public officer, and he should be held accountable and answer the questions that are posed. To hold him responsible, use closed captioning.
Garcia, however, found some of the online responses and the way the entire episode was presented to be disappointing.
What Fetterman says while campaigning Fetterman has recently stepped up his campaigning, frequently holding several sizable rallies per week in addition to a few smaller talks with neighborhood residents. He talks at the rallies without a teleprompter, and he’s gotten into the habit of warning the crowd that his opponent, the Republican Mehmet Oz, intends to exploit any verbal slip-ups against him in order to deflect criticism.
At a rally in Bucks on Sunday, he asserted, “I guarantee it, there’s at least one person here photographing me, hoping to capture me missing some words.”
While it is obvious that he has difficulty speaking at times, his stump speeches have been more fluent since August, when he first started back on the trail.
At smaller gatherings, like one on Monday in Southwest Philadelphia, Fetterman posed for photos, shook hands with attendees, and then delivered remarks to a crowd crammed into a noisy, crowded restaurant. A reporter present asked him a few questions, but he declined.
Fetterman stated in the NBC interview that he is on the way to a full recovery and that his health would not affect his capacity to serve in the Senate.
In September, the Fetterman campaign presented certain findings from a cognitive test, claiming they demonstrated his brain’s typical age-appropriate functioning.
How important accommodations are
According to Garcia, Fetterman should be evaluated based on the merits of his platform and campaign. However, he claimed that because reasonable accommodations are so uncommon in daily life, people are quick to criticize when someone like Fetterman need them. These unfavorable opinions might have effects that go beyond the Senate campaign.
People will be less inclined to request accommodations if you make them appear to be a drawback, he claimed.
Dani Stanford, a 31-year-old Temple University PhD candidate in criminal justice, is presently on leave owing to illness and disability. Although the school had authorized her accommodations before she arrived, she was first hesitant to use them in her classes. She claimed that she was terrified of rejection because of prior experiences.
People frequently assume that you are receiving preferential treatment or that you are not putting in as much effort, she claimed.
She has difficulties with auditory processing, thus she prefers writing. She saw Fetterman conduct an interview with closed captions, and it encouraged her that these adjustments are moving toward more widespread acceptance.
It’s uncommon to encounter depictions of people who experience the same difficulties or disabilities as you, according to Stanford.
However, she anticipated ableist remarks—prejudicial remarks made towards people with disabilities—from the moment Fetterman had his stroke.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania has around 1 in 4 of the nation’s 2.6 million adult residents with disabilities.
Some people with disabilities are hesitant to request modifications because they are afraid of the response, according to Sherri Landis, executive director of The Arc of Pennsylvania, an advocacy group for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Due of how you are perceived because of your impairment, she said, it is challenging to reveal.
Landis hopes that Fetterman’s high-profile use of basic accommodations can serve as an instructional moment about how basic accommodations are simple to provide rather than ingraining these beliefs. Companies, groups, and government organizations should start by examining how they disseminate information and making sure that it is comprehensible to those who communicate differently.
She claimed that if you can accommodate persons with disabilities, you can accommodate everyone.
Photo Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/