I generally read Scott Andrews' Officer's Quarters over at wow.com because I generally find him interesting, helpful and clear. This week, however, I read one of his posts that resonated with me quite a bit and, truth be told, it's something I can relate to.
The post in question relates to a guild officer who had to deal with a player who was deaf, where the guild raid rules stipulated that everyone had to be on Ventrilo during a raid. No exceptions were to be made, so the deaf player logged into Ventrilo but, naturally, couldn't listen to the discussions. A few wipes later, something of a lynch mob developed and the player in question (a Restoration druid) was essentially blamed for the failures and chased out of the guild due to not being able to perform in a way that, to him, was physiologically impossible.
First of all, hold back the vomit.
The treatment of any person in such a shabby way (not withstanding the officer who contributed the letter to Scott explicitly stating that the druid was a very good player) is doubtlessly making people gag, but there is something else going on here and this is why I could relate to the problem. Basically, it is the projection of blame onto someone who was not in a position to deflect it and it occurs to me that this actually happens in my guild.
No, there are no deaf members. But we do have a Russian in the guild who have such a flimsy grasp of English, that it can often be extremely difficult to accurately convey what is required of him prior to a pull and, worse, getting him to switch during an encounter is close to impossible. On many occasions, this has seen wipes occur that could have been avoided and otherwise put more pressure on other players in the raid to cover what I can't request of our Russian.
Now, the more "hardcore" amongst us would likely say he's a liability and shouldn't be brought along for difficult content. But as soon as the penny drops and he does understand what's going on, he is absolutely on top of it and is far more reliable than others who can understand English perfectly. This has become apparent throughout the content, but never more clearly than when we were working on Firefighter. After a few mishaps, he got to grips with what was happening in each phase and knew exactly what he should be doing in order to complete the encounter successfully. After that, not a single shock blast, spin up, void zone, flame patch or frost bomb got anywhere near killing him. Heck, he even uses potions and health stones liberally when others are forgetting them.
In short, he is a very capable raider who can have serious problems with language.
The point here isn't how good a player is or isn't; it often boils down to how far the guild should go to accommodate someone. In the case of the Restoration druid, the guild had originally allowed for his inability to hear by typing the instructions in raid chat and he followed them no problem. As soon as he was asked to join Ventrilo, I'm guessing nobody told him what he should be doing prior to the pull because "he was on vent", thus leading to failures that were no fault of his own. Ostracism then ensued and the poor fellow, despite being talented, was chased away.
In our case, we're dealing with a player who puts in every scrap of effort to be the best he can be. Gear, enchants, gems and rotations are all paid attention to and he's continually available for raids. He is always fun to raid with as well, as he's a character on Ventrilo (yes, he enjoys being on) and never whines or bitches about loot - he's grateful for what he gets and is only really interested in playing with friends.
But due to language, he often holds up progression.
Here's the crux, though; how far should the guild go? I say:
The raid leader should understand the specific difficulty and attempt to work around it for the best net result. The guild should make every reasonable allowance for members with difficulties to be a part of the raid set up, but no unreasonable allowances.
What I'm saying here is that you should always try your hardest to get members playing to the best of their ability and not judge them on something that isn't necessarily their fault; this is especially true if they're otherwise a good raider and/or good member. If after you've gone that extra mile you still can't get the desired result, you should feel secure in asking that player to sit out so that someone else can help the raid progress.
I've opted to do this many times, and the individual concerned has understood perfectly why I've made the choice and has happily accepted it. The fact that he does so, because he believes in the guild and desires its success as a whole, makes me all the more determined to break my back and get him through the content he wants to play.
In truth, every guild would be a better place if it had more members like him.