Friday, August 25, 2017

SIGN WITH YOUR BABY? HOW?!?!?



Several years ago I decided to branch my Deaf Expressions business off to include Signing With Your Baby. I went through Sign2Me and became a certified teacher. I was really excited!

I received my initial package with a CD and a binder full of information and immediately started to prepare for a first class. Actually, I think I was going to start with a workshop and ease my way into it.

Problem: When I looked at the plans and curriculum, they were based on music and songs. Signing the songs. That’s what the CD was. Not exactly user-friendly to a Deaf person, now, is it?

I was completely frustrated! How do I do this if I can’t hear, let alone sing?

To this day, I still haven’t figured it out. My instructor’s manual remains on my book shelf and I continue to work on figuring out how to teach babies and their mom’s (together) how to sign. Oh, I could just teach the moms vocabulary, but that’s not what they’re interested in.


Don’t worry. It’ll happen eventually. Until then, I’ll work with my usual clientele and I’m happy doing that.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

INTROVERSION + DEAFNESS = SECLUSION



I lost the remaining of my hearing at the age of 27, and, boy, was it an eye opener! Having already grown up partially deaf, you would think this new condition wouldn’t have hit me so hard. You would be wrong.

In addition to learning how to be aware of my environment and stay hyper vigilante, I also needed to learn how to communicate, both with fellow deafies and hearing people.

I already knew much sign language, but ASL to a hearing/hard of hearing person and ASL to a Deaf person is quite different. But, boy, did I buckle down and study! ASL became my highest priority and it still is, in a way. Now, almost 18 years later, I am able to teach and share my knowledge—and that’s a true blessing. There’s only one problem: I’m a die-hard introvert. Scared to death of people in general. It’s not that I don’t want to socialize and have friends. I DO! But I’m terrified at the idea of interacting with others—especially those I don’t already know.

Oh, you won’t be able to tell from my first impression. I’m a great faker. Other than the fact that I have a hard core, evil, Resting Bitch Face (the face I make when I’m just sitting somewhere, resting), I’m quite personable. It’s the people closest to me who can appreciate my timidity.

So, becoming deaf was hard, yes, but the hardest part wasn’t/isn’t not hearing or even communication (I’m now fluent in sign language). No, the hardest part is lack of friends. The hearing friends I had before deafness all left when I lost my hearing. And trying to make new friends with the discrimination, the fear people feel toward the Deaf in general, on top of being scared of meeting new people—hearing or Deaf—That’s the hardest part. It can get quite lonely. Introversion + Deafness = Not such good results.


For now, I’ll rely on Facebook and the few friends I do have. If you have any other ideas, please comment, I’d love to hear your advice. Just be aware that if you ever see someone and realize they are deaf, they might be struggling with the same things I do. Go up to them. Befriend them. Get to know them. I promise you it will be well worth your time.

Friday, June 9, 2017

OFFEND THAT DEAFIE? IMPOSSIBLE!



As a youngster, most of us are taught what is considered rude and what is considered, shall we say, “politically correct.” But one question might be, do those rules apply for everyone in every situation? I high doubt that every single situation calls for the same response or behavior.

I was teaching a sign language course a week ago and the subject of “Deaf people being blunt” came up. One student spoke out, “So it’s impossible to offend a Deaf person?” Ha! I sincerely doubt there is anyone with normal emotions (Hearing, Deaf, Black, White, Female, Male, etc.),of whom it is impossible to offend. Tell a Deaf person they can’t do something because they’re deaf. I think that might rattle a few cages. In general Deaf people and Hearing people feel things the same way. We’ve just experienced life differently and respond in different ways. It doesn’t make us easy targets for rudeness or bullies.

At a Deaf gathering a while ago, I had a friend ask me how I felt about being so fat. I knew he wasn’t trying to be rude. So I told him, It sucks being fat. I’m working on it.” And let it go. What I wanted to say was,”How’s does it feel to be ugly?” But THAT would have definitely been rude…and politically incorrect (Whatever the heck that means).


Although Deaf and hard of hearing people may have a slight reputation for being blunt, that doesn’t make us a group of people who have no feelings. So, yes, you can offend a Deaf person. And yes, a Deaf person can offend a hearing person. That’s just how life goes. So the next time you feel like testing this theory out, take a moment and think, How would I feel if something asked or said the same thing to me? You might decide to push your OFF button and rethink what you have to say.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Face of Stone--Does It Work For You?


I love my language! Both of them, actually. I am more proficient at English (I was planning on majoring in English in college), but I love American Sign Language just as much. So, when I am told that a group is going to be performing in ASL, I'm definitely interested!

The thing is, sometimes I wonder who teaches and rehearses these groups, because more often than not, I've found that if a group is going to perform a song in ASL, at church or somewhere, there's a slight (or not so slight) discrepancy as to whether or not it's true ASL.

ASL has many components to it. Not the least of which is facial expressions. I mean, seriously, can you truly express yourself in ASL with a stone, cold, immovable face? Because that's what a lot of groups do. They want to look in sync with each other, so they dress all in black and keep their faces blank through the entire song. I don't know about others, but for me, it takes something away from the beauty of ASL. It's not as clear and doesn't express the vitality of sign language well.

Some groups would be really good if they acted as if they were actually alive. For me, though, give me ASL with all of it's expression. I want to see how you feel on your face. If you can do that, it would make all the difference in the world!! Sign on!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

How Can I "Eat Fresh" If You Won't Serve Me?



Everyone is different. No two people are 100% alike—no matter how hard you look. The same goes for deaf and hard of hearing people. We run the gamut from totally oral to totally ASL. Some use various types of aids, while others (like me) go au natural. Not only do we differ as people, the same person differs from day to day. At least I know I do. Some days you can’t shut me up. Other days I can hardly lift a finger or utter a sound.

I have to be honest and profess that life in general as a Deaf person can be “easier” when that person uses his or her voice while conversing with hearing people while out in public. That does depend, however, on how well they can speak. I personally see no trouble in carrying a notebook and jotting down my thoughts or needs. However, sadly, many hearing people look at the paper I show them with total confusion. “Why are you handing me paper? What am I supposed to do with this?” Uh…read it?

That’s exactly what happened to me the other day. I was having a no-voice kind of day. Didn’t want to be bothered by how loud or unclear I came off as. I happily toted my notebook with me and hadn’t run into any problems…until…

I was hungry, OK? I really needed something to eat and Subway was calling my name. As I sat in my car outside the restaurant, I happily jotted down—very precisely—the exact sandwich and toppings I wanted. Clear as a bell. Easy—peasy.

When I finally went inside, they were busy with the lunch rush, and, for some reason, I was nervous. I often get nervous communicating with hearing people. Actually, I have a social phobia, so I’m nervous with all people. But not being able to hear and hearing people who can’t sign, just increases my fear a hundred fold.

Anyway, I waited patiently, and when my turn came, I politely handed over the list of what I wanted.

“NO!” the girl behind the counter started mumbling and waved me off. I’m guessing she said something about not being willing to take the paper. I pointed to my ear and told her I was deaf and she just continued talking.

“I can’t understand you,” I gestured. After taking a minute, I realized she didn’t want to touch the paper with her gloves on. That it compromised her sanitary space.

“If you can’t just talk to me, then you need to go somewhere else,” she rudely waved me away. I indicated that I could hold the paper up and she could just read it. Obviously, she couldn’t read, because she refused to do that as well. I was very frustrated. It was clear that this woman, whose job is to serve the public, didn’t want to be bothered with anything “out of the ordinary.”

I didn’t get a sandwich that day. I because so flustered and annoyed that I just walked out. I should have asked to talk with the manager, but I admit that sometimes I simply don’t have the energy to bother.

Why must things be so complicated? Why do so many people freak out if something or someone needs something outside of the “norm?” Being deaf and the needs we have shouldn’t debilitate us. But I can’t look at it as me causing mayhem. It’s the other person making a fairly simple situation more chaotic than it needs to be. It was a piece of paper, for goodness sake! I guess you have to have all your senses and be able to accommodate the workers in order to “eat fresh.” Subway, say it isn’t so!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Top Three Colleges For Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students


Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C.
As the only liberal arts college for the deaf in the world, Gallaudet University has graduated more than 19,000 students and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The university offers a bilingual learning environment featuring American Sign Language and English with programs and services designed specifically to accommodate the deaf and hard of hearing student.
Undergraduate students can choose from a wide range of undergraduate degree programs, including Arts and Media, Business, Human Services, Humanities, Language/Culture, and Science/Math/Technology. Graduate degrees include ASL and Deaf Studies; Counseling; Education; Government and Public Affairs; Hearing, Speech and Language Sciences; History, Philosophy, Religion and Sociology; Interpretation; Linguistics; Psychology, and Social Work.
That’s more than 40 majors leading to Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees. A small number of hearing undergraduate students—up to five percent of an entering class—are also admitted to the University each year. Graduate programs at Gallaudet are open to Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing students and offer certificates and Master of Arts, Master of Science, doctoral, and specialist degrees in a variety of fields involving professional service to Deaf and hard of hearing people.
Close to 2,000 students are enrolled at Gallaudet, which boasts a robust campus life including a campus ministry and full athletic program. According to a recent alumni study, more than 98 percent of those who graduated December 2010 and August 2011 are employed; 99 percent of graduate students are employed or furthering their education.
Gallaudet was granted university status in October 1986. Two years later, in March 1988, the Deaf President Now (DPN) movement led to the appointment of the University's first Deaf president, Dr. I. King Jordan and the Board of Trustees' first Deaf chair, Philip Bravin. 

 Through the University Career center, students receive internships that provide a wealth of experiential learning opportunities. Recent internships were offered at Merrill Lynch, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Institutes of Health, and the World Bank. Students also benefit from an array of services provided by such campus units as the Burstein Leadership Institute, Language Planning Institute, Hearing and Speech Center, Cochlear Implant Education Center, and the Center for International Programs and Services.

Today, Gallaudet is viewed by Deaf and hearing people as a primary resource for all things related to Deaf people such as career opportunities, visual learning, Deaf history and culture and  American Sign Language.
 National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester, New York (NTID)
One of nine colleges of Rochester Institute of Technology. Of the more than 15,000 undergraduate students from around the world on campus, 1,200 are deaf or hard of hearing. The institute is the first and largest of its kind for deaf and hard of hearing students. Instructors use a variety of communication methods including ASL, spoken language, finger spelling, printed and visual aids, and online resources. FM systems are also available along with tutoring, note-taking, real-time captioning services and interpreting staff.
The National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) was formally established in 1965 and began operation in 1967 at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) with first students in 1968.The college is in Rochester, N.Y..  RIT was founded in 1829. The National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) is one of the nine colleges of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), a leading career-oriented, technological university recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of America's "Best College Values," and by The Princeton Review as one of the top 20 colleges nationwide for "Best Career Services." More than 15,000 undergraduate students from around the world, including more than 1,200 who are Deaf or hard of hearing are enrolled at RIT/NTID.

NTID prepares professionals to work in fields related to Deafness; undertakes a program of applied research designed to enhance the social, economic and educational accommodation of Deaf people; and shares its knowledge and expertise through outreach and other information dissemination programs.
The ACT score requirements are 24-31. Deaf and hard-of-hearing students at RIT/NTID receive private university education at a public college price.
 The Southwest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf (SWCID), Big Spring, Texas
SWCID is a state-supported college operating within the Howard County Junior College District, which offers associate degree and certification programs. American Sign Language is primary communication used in instruction. SWCID students are also able to participate in athletics, student organizations, class internships and other residential activities on the Howard College campus.
SWCID was the idea of a parent of a Deaf student in elementary school Mr. Fred Maddux, who wanted a vocational training program for his son. Mr. Maddux presented the idea to Dr. Burke, the Regional Superintendent for the West Texas Panhandle-Regional Day School programs for the Deaf in Texas. They contacted Big Spring, Texas leaders to see if they would communicate with Congressman Charles Stenholm about the need for a college for the Deaf at recently-closed Webb Air Force Base facilities. Congressman Charles Stenholm, Dr. Burke, Mr. Maddux and several other Big Spring officials met. Following the meeting, Congressman Stenholm was in full agreement of using the Webb Air Force base facilities as a college for the Deaf.  Howard College agreed to sponsor SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf in May of 1979 under the leadership of President Charles Hays, and on November 6, 1979, the Howard County Junior College District Board of Trustees officially established the SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Deaf Actors On Television

Here are just a few TV Shows I found that use Deaf actors/participants and/or Deaf issues. If there's more (and I'm sure there are, tell me in a comment! I'd love to know!)


Amazing Race



Luke Adams was a Deaf contestant on, “Amazing Race,” who was on a team with his mother, Margie O'Connell. He and his mother communicated mostly through American Sign Language and were said to have one of the best relationships of any team on the show. He was eliminated from the show and came back in another season as part of an All Stars season, but was also eliminated. 



Big Bang Theory: Season 5, Episode 4: The Wiggly Finger Catalyst


In this episode of Big Bang Theory, Katie Leclerc (also seen below playing on “Switched At Birth”) plays a love interest of Raj (Kunal Nayyar). Essentially, Leclerc as "Emily" is the perfect girlfriend for Raj because Raj has a problem speaking to women without being drunk. But with Emily, he doesn't have to worry about that and becomes much more confident. He becomes infuated with her, even giving her jewelry, leasing her a car, and paying off her credit cards so that she would stay with him. However, Raj's friends, led by Howard, who somehow knows sign language, are led to believe that Emily is a gold digger and is just using Raj for his money. When they confront her about it, she becomes angry and tells Raj about it. The friends then tell Raj's parents, who then threaten to cut him off if he doesn't break up with her. He chooses Emily over the money, but when Emily finds out he no longer has access to his family's wealth, she breaks up with him.


Chopped


Kurt Ramborger was a Deaf contestant on the cooking competition show, “Chopped.” Ramborger is a chef from Austin, Texas and gives an opportunity to teach the judges and his fellow competitors that a Deaf person can still compete on the show. He used an interpreter, but struggled in the show because he ran out of time because he couldn't hear the judges yelling that the clock was running down and didn't see his interpreter because he was focused on the food. Nevertheless, it was a great opportunity for him in that he made it past the first round. 



ER: Season 5, Episode 14: The Storm



In this episode of ER, Marlee Matlin portrays a sign language instructor who is trying to teach one of the doctors sign language after the doctor found out that his son was deaf. The doctor had previously looked into getting his son a cochlear implant, but decided against it.



Project Runway


Justin LeBlanc is a Deaf competitor on Project Runway. He introduces himself as Deaf and that he uses a cochlear implant, but is still very limited in hearing. As a result, he uses an interpreter on the show to understand the judges and other contestants when they speak. He uses his experience on the show to express to the other contestants and judges how deafness can be very unique and how he is not just "an inspirational figure" as many people see deaf people. He even made an outfit that resembles the ASL sign for "I love you". 


Scrubs: Season 6, Episode 16: My Words of Wisdom


This episode of “Scrubs,” a popular hospital comedy show, features a deaf child who is brought into the hospital for an illness. His dad is also deaf, and they do not speak and cannot hear. Strangely, the Janitor knows sign language (although it is not clear how he knows it), and can act as an interpreter between the doctors and the father and son. The hearing doctors, J.D. and Chris Turk (the main characters) find out about cochlear implants and suggest that the father get his son a cochlear implant. The father strongly refuses, and J.D. and Turk are left mesmerized as to why this father wouldn't want to help his son hear, even going so far as to say that the father is being abusive towards his son. The doctors go around the father to get permission to do the cochlear implant surgery on the son, but what they don't realize is that the father fears that if his son got a cochlear implant, he would lose his relationship with his son, since being deaf was how they most connected. This shows a real debate in the deaf community, where cochlear implants are presented as a perfect, life changing option, but deaf people oppose it because they fear that they will lose their relationships with their loved ones and lose their culture, much like forcing a foreign immigrant to learn English and abandon their homeland's culture, language, and traditions. Very frustrating!



Seinfeld: Season 5, Episode 6: The Lip Reader



Marlee Matlin appears as a deaf woman who Jerry Seinfeld dates. The group of friends suddenly begin using Matlin to read lips of other people around them. Elaine also pretends to use deafness in the episode, pretending not to hear a cab driver, but reacting to a message over the radio and subsequently offending the cab driver. 



Sesame Street


Linda Bove was one of the first Deaf characters to appear on TV. In Sesame Street, she appears as Linda the Librarian, who teaches children about sign language and the deaf community. She also taught them that being deaf was not a bad or shameful thing. 



Survivor


Christy Smith was the first Deaf contestant on the show "Survivor". She competed in order to raise awareness of Deafness and Deaf culture, but unfortunately her competitors took advantage of her deafness by whispering to each other, knowing that she couldn't hear them. Unable to form an alliance, she was voted out, but was able to remain on the jury as a voter for the remainder of the show. 


Switched at Birth



“Switched at Birth” is a popular television drama that airs on ABC Family. The show focuses on two teenagers who were switched at birth and how their families ended up reuniting. However, one of the main characters (Katie Leclerc) is deaf and goes to a school for the deaf called "Carlton". Marlee Matlin also makes an appearance on the show as the mother of Sean Berdy, who plays another character, as well as the guidance counselor for Deaf students at Carlton. The show does a great job of looking at the relationships between deaf and hearing people, and accurately depicts the challenges of hearing people having to learn how to sign and how to become used to communicating with deaf people, while the deaf characters frequently struggle with feeling like the hearing people are "invading" their space, especially at their school for the deaf. The most interesting episode that takes place is one in which the entire episode is done in ASL with no sounds. The show features quite a bit of ASL, which is usually subtitled for those who do not know how to sign. While the show can veer into typical "ABC Family Drama" at times, it really does do a great job of showing an accurate depiction of life for a deaf person in a hearing world, and vice versa. 


Weeds


In “Weeds”, Shoshannah Stern plays Megan, the high school girlfriend of one of the sons, Silas (played by Hunter Parrish), of the main character, Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker). Throughout the show, Stern teaches him about sign language, deaf culture, and communication. 



The West Wing



Marlee Matlin plays "Joey Lucas", a pollster who is not a main character, but does appear in all seven seasons of the show. She is deaf and is usually accompanied by an interpreter on the show. Lucas also had a love interest with one of the other characters on the show, White House Chief of Staff Josh Lyman. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Five Tips To Make Lipreading Easier


I’m deaf. It’s true. I’m stone deaf and sign language is my main mode of communicating. Of course, it can’t be only mode though. There are too many people out there who don’t know sign language to expect to be able to get around in the world only using that method. No. Another way I communicate is via the written word. If I’m lucky enough to encounter a hearing person with patience, writing back and forth is a really good way to go.

But that doesn’t happen all the time. I wouldn’t say it’s rare, but it certainly doesn’t happen often. Usually, people are in too much of a hurry to put their stuff down and write to me. What tends to happen, regardless of if I announce I can’t lipread, is people discover I’m deaf and then they tend to just speed off with their mouths, expecting me to lipread them with ease.

Truth is, I’m more than willing to try to lipread people. But they have to put forth some effort as well. That brings me to these five ways to make lipreading easier for the lipreader…

Tip #1: Beware of facial hair.

As anyone who has ever tried to lipread can attest, pseudo-Santas and other men with Frito catchers around their mouth can prove a great challenge. If you’re a man with a mustache (or a woman, for that matter), please make sure it is trimmed around the lips. It can be downright impossible to lipread someone with hair all over the place.

Tip #2: Don’t stand in front of a window or light.

One of the biggest problems I run into is trying to read the face of someone standing in front of a window or light. This puts a shadow on their face and makes it nearly impossible to tell what they’re saying. While we’re talking about it, don’t stand in front of a window or light even when you’re signing. The shadow makes it impossible to even see facial expressions—something crucial in a signed conversation.

Tip #3: Watch your hands.

Something many people don’t realize is how much they use their hands when they talk. It’s true! You have no idea how often I’ll look over and think two people are signing to each other until I realize it’s just hearing people using their hands. It might not be practical to tell you not to use your hands at all (in fact, sometimes it really does help give clues to what’s being said), but mind yourself when you go to put your hands to your mouth. This happens a lot. We cannot lipread you if your hands are on your lips.

Tip #4: Speak naturally and at a SLIGHTLY slower pace. Do not over-enunciate.

I am a lot of things. But one thing I am not is a dentist. I do not need to see your fillings and cavities, One thing a lot of people do when they find out I’m deaf is start to over-enunciate, saying each word overly clearly and with big lip movements. It’s scary! It’s true that speaking a little slower, a little more clearly, may help. But not so much that it changes the look of the words. Speak clearly, but at a normal rate. And, for Pete’s sake, keep your dental work to yourself!

Tip #5: Don’t chew gum or talk with your mouth full.

Finally, there’s one thing you would think wouldn’t need to be included on this list, but sadly does. Please do not talk with your mouth full of food…even stuffing it to the side. It’s downright nasty! It’s difficult enough to try to decipher what you’re saying. But when you add gobs of mushy egg salad to the mix, it’s gross! Even chewing gum while you speak can make it impossible to know what you’re saying. So swallow before speaking, please.

So, there you have it. Lipreading is not an easy skill to acquire. Only 35% of what is said can be lipread by even the best of lipreaders – 65% is guesswork. But you can make it a bit easier on the deaf or hard of hearing person by following these five tips. Put them to use if the deaf person says he or she can lipread. But if they tell you they can’t, even these five tips might not work. Written communication may be best. Good luck!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Guest Blog: Deafness Compared With Other Disabilities

Deafness is just another disability, right? A disability is just a wide term for any type of problem that sets someone apart from the masses. Everybody has their faults--stage fright, fear of deep water, relationship commitment issues, etc.--but disabilities limit essential faculties. By definition, they imply that the disabled are capable of less.

Of course, deaf people, like all disabled people, are able to live and work just as other people do, but that doesn't mean that they can live and work exactly like them. With certain help, though, they get by.

Here is where things start to branch out and instead of seeing the disabled as a single, large, unfortunate group, you start to see real individuals with actual problems, dreams, ambitions, loves, and much more.

All disabled people have their troubles. Of course, they do not define the disabled, only characterize them. Like someone with ordinary anxiety who must undergo breathing exercises before speaking up in class or giving a presentation at work, the disabled just need a little help to produce the same results as other people.

The best path to sympathizing and also accepting a disabled person is to distinguish their specific disability, understand their individual struggles, and relate to them as a person who, like you, has
trouble doing regular human things sometimes. While the 2 latter steps occur as a personal task,
something of a homework assignment for you to tackle with disabled friends, coworkers, and
acquaintances, the former is actually quite easy. Just remember that being deaf, for example, is
different from other disabilities.

First of all, deaf people are often not given sympathy. Because the blind and people with certain
mental disorders are able to communicate clearly and someone in a wheelchair or crutches can place a coffee order just like anyone else, a human connection happens and opens a pathway for sympathy to occur. However, deaf people are met with frustrated sighs--which they cannot hear, but can definitely see and interpret--shrugs, and cold shoulders as people refuse to step out of their comfort zones to communicate with someone who cannot hear.

Second, deaf people do not face the same everyday dangers that other disabled individuals face. The paralyzed cannot bathe themselves and need help ingesting food, as choking is a huge hazard; many disabled people have trouble crossing the street or entering a building; and the blind should rarely be left alone in their homes. However, deaf people can take in and deal with most ordinary situations without significant risks. However, they should be careful around vehicle traffic because of their inability to hear sirens and horns honking. Of course, technology exists to minimize risks of harm for disabled people, like alarms for the deaf that expel light or vibrations and safety equipment that allows the blind to move through their homes without fall risks.

Third, a person who is deaf can "pass" for a non-disabled person. If you were to look at a crowd of people going about their own personal business in a public square, you would be able to identify those that have cerebral palsy or another movement-limiting disorder, are blind, or are in a wheelchair. However, you could not "see" that someone was deaf. This allows for a sense of normalcy and blending in.

Fourth, deaf people often have serious trouble finding employment. While employment discrimination against the disabled is technically illegal, plenty of employers get away with dismissive statements like, "Why would I hire someone who cannot answer a telephone?" or "They would be so hard to train if I can't speak to them!" Unlike the blind or those with disabled movements, deaf people are frequently unemployed and even homeless. While this certainly happens to people of all walks of life, the deaf are at significant risk of being ignored by employers, or really anyone who is held responsible for judging another person's capabilities with a business mindset.

While all individuals--deaf or hearing-capable, disabled or physically average--have problems that make everyday life hard, it is important to understand how exactly the person near you is struggling with their day. Is your loved one stressed? Is a deaf person at a restaurant facing discrimination? Everyone has struggles and everyone can use the help. Knowing what type of problems people routinely face and how they affect their everyday lives can help you step in to help them, or at least say hello and try to relate. Everyone would feel a little more capable and accepted if we made this a rule.

BIO: Heather Jensen is an Audiologist and Clinical Assistant Professor for Utah state University. She received her Doctorate of Audiology from Arizona School of Health Sciences in 2004. She has been an adviser for the student academy of audiology organization at USU for 11 years. Before coming to USU, she owned her own private practice, but decided she wanted to give back to the field of audiology by teaching students. When she's not working she spends time with her four children, she also enjoys doing hearing related humanitarian missions.

Thank you to our guest blogger! For more information about Deaf Education, please visit: http://comd.usu.edu/htm/campus-programs/deaf-education

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

ASK THE KIDS....AGAIN

It wasn’t very long ago that I asked my kids some questions about having a deafie for a mom. But it’s been long enough that I thought I should ask again. Here’s the information they shared with me:

  1. Are you ever embarrassed that your mom is Deaf?
NATALIE: No. I don’t see why anyone would be. I find it a good opportunity and a cool experience (Isn’t she the greatest?)
JACOB: No.
MOLLIE: No. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. (I’m so happy they feel this way!)

  1. Have you ever had a time when having a Deaf mom helped you?
NATALIE: It helped to know who is who at Silent Celebration. (Silent Celebration is a big Deaf/HOH get together each summer with dozens of deafies, lots of conversation and games.)
JACOB: Yes. My ASL Class. My mom helped me with ASL grammar, new signs, and doing a song for my end-of-class project (Which he was great at).
MOLLIE: I have met and talked to many deaf people and helped with sign language. It also helped in getting a job.

  1. What do your friends say when they meet your deaf mom? Are they intimidated?
NATALIE: At first, they’re scared and nervous, but they think it’s really cool and eventually it doesn’t phase them.
JACOB: Not to my knowledge, but I’m not in their head. Most of them don’t have a problem as long as I am there to interpret.
MOLLIE: Everyone is intimidated by coming into contact with something they don’t know…someone from a different way of life. But, after a while, they like you and get used to it.

  1. Name a time knowing sign language helped you.
NATALIE: When I’m able to communicate with people like you, the family and deaf and hard of hearing people.
JACOB: It helped me communicate with other deaf people at Silent Celebration (See above for an explanation of what that is).
MOLLIE: When I come into contact with Deaf people who need help, I can voice for them or sign with them.

  1. Do you consider yourself bilingual?
NATALIE: Yes, because I learned ASL before I learned to speak.
JACOB: Yes, because ASL is now being recognized as a real language.
MOLLIE: Yes.

  1. How will you use your sign language skills in the future or with your future career?
NATALIE: I want to be a therapist and id a parent or kid is deaf, I can help them.
JACOB: To communicate with other people.
MOLLIE: In art, it helps to have knowledge of different cultures to draw from. It’s inspiring.

  1. What would you say to kids who have a deaf relative and are embarrassed?
NATALIE: It’s a good experience and in this society with friends, they’ll find it really cool. Embrace it with an open mind. You shouldn’t disown them for things they can’t help. Be proud.
JACOB: Don’t be. They’re just like you and me. Nothing to be embarrassed about.
MOLLIE: Why be embarrassed. That’s stupid. (LOL Her words,,,not mine.)

  1. Have you ever used ASL in class when the teacher wasn’t looking?
NATALIE: Yes. In math class I taught my friend, Anna, a few words and the ABCs. We could spell to each other across the room. We talked in History class all the time.
JACOB: I’ve shown my friends signs, but I don’t use them in class.
MOLLIE: Nope. (She’s just being difficult.)


So, as you can see, being a Deaf mom doesn’t necessarily have to have reprocutions for the kids. Just help them keep an open mind and embrace your language and culture and all will be OK.