Saturday, September 26, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
The workshop started off with Michele talking about Deaf Culture and building a Deaf Ministry in your church. Lots of information about the do's and dont's of signing in church.
OK. OK. I realize that there's a SMALL possibility that I wouldn't know the answer, but it's so minute and it really doesn't matter, now, does it. I'm deaf. That means I'm excluded. I'm excluded from many things and, man, it ticks me off. I want to prance around their broadcasting station with a shirt on that reads, "I count, too!"
Alas, it will probably never happen. But just think of all the things you miss out on in the vast majority of life just because you can't hear something. Doesn't make us dumber or slower or more insignificant. No way! We're smarter than the average bear, as the cartoon character would say. So I slam my hand down on the table and flick the lights 70 times. Damn you! Include the deaf and hard of hearing. WE COUNT.
OK. I feel better. Getting off my soapbox.............
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Some people think lipreading is the way to go. I, personally tried that route once as a kid and ended up being smacked. It’s amazing how much, “The layers are really fine,” looks like, “That lady is really fat!” After months of classes and studying, I feel it’s safe to say that I cannot lipread. Even now, years later, we have a game where my husband, Kenny, or one of the kids will say something without signing and I have to guess what they’re saying. It provides plenty of comic relief!
Amidst all the communication choices, only one seemed to match my skill level and aptitude, and that was sign language.
I was comfortable with signing. It came naturally to me. I started off with Contact Sign (formerly Pidgin Sign English or PSE) and later switched over to American Sign Language. As an adult, of my three children, only one learned to speak before they learned sign language. Mollie was only three-years-old though, so it came easily to her. My husband? Not so much. But we’ll discuss that later.
Although becoming deaf isn’t funny, if you look close enough, three’s humor in everything. Take my grandmother’s funeral for example. My family never really took the time to learn to sign for me. Anyway, I’m sitting, waiting for the service to begin when my younger sister abruptly sits down next to me, wide-eyed, and slowly signs “I’m Satan!” Well, let me tell you that Satan is one being I do not want at a funeral. She’d actually meant to sign, “I’m paranoid,” referring to her weight, but it was too late. The fear had already set in.
After the eulogy, I was in tears, having lost someone near and dear to my heart. My mother came up to me, embraced me, and then lovingly signed, “It’s OK, Sweetie. Grandma’s with the queen.” Ah! I can see her even now, in the back of a chariot, waving to the crowd in all of her glory.
As I mentioned earlier, it took a little longer for my husband to get out of the habit of improvising or even creating new signs. If it’s just the two of us, I laugh and let it go. But sometimes, well, let’s just say it doesn’t work out.
Picture this; we’re at an important meeting, surrounded by ten other Deaf people, when Kenny decides to chime in. Great, I think. It’ll be nice to see his input into the conversation. So he starts signing and all is going well until he signs (or should I say, means to sign) “That’s perfect! I can make a deposit!” But that’s not what he signed. Oh, no. Not even close. Between his “perfect” being a “P” on his nose (penis) and his “deposit” showing what that “P” does (ejaculate), all I could do was blush and try to keep my eyes on the floor. Everyone else in the room stared at him in disbelief…with a few chuckles to boot. But everyone seemed to have a good sense of humor and it was quickly forgotten as we moved on. I, however, continue to this day to tease him about his imaginative choice of signs.
So, as you can see, sign language is useful, but you’d better beware—there’s always someone watching. Suffice it to say that Kenny’s signing has dramatically improved and he’s very good now. Me? I used sign language to open my own business and to possibly become a Certified Deaf Interpreter.
Will signing make your life easier? Perhaps. Especially if you have friends and family willing to learn, too. Will it solve all of your problems? Nothing can do that. But if you do decide to go the signing route, just be careful to mind your P’s and, uh, bodily functions.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I was recently introduced to the No Worker Left Behind program in Michigan, where they will pay up to $5,000 a year for 2 years to help you go back to school. I thought, "This is great!" But then I started thinking of the jobs that interest me. One of them is a dog groomer. I mean, just write down what you want and I'll do it. Problem? I need school. I'm afraid the Paragon School of Pet Grooming (located near my home) will say that providing an interpreter for my schooling is an accommodation they can't afford. Then what?
There's online classes. I could get a degree online and not need an interpreter. But what kind of job? I know that we can do anything hearing people can for the most part, but how do I figure out what job that is? What are some of the jobs you've had or have that you didn't need to hear in (and assume you can't lipread, which I cannot)?
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
If you're Deaf, like I am, you've experienced it. Maybe you've been trying to talt with a hearing person and they can't understand your voice. Maybe you're trying to sign with a new ASL student and they can't keep up with your signing. There's a million reasons a hearing person would use the "Nod of Comprehension" to deaf people.
But deaf people aren't immune to this either. Say you're trying to have a conversation with a sign language student and you can't understand their signs, but you don't want to hurt their feelings. Or maybe they're talking to you and you've told them numerous times that you can't lipread, so you finally just give up and start acting like you understand everything. This, by the way, can get a person in a LOT of trouble!
I remember several years ago, when I, too, was guilty of bluffing, that I decided not to smile and nod. I thought, "I think I understand what he's saying." So, after watching him closely (and, by the way, I am NOT a lipreader), I replied, "Well, it would save us on braces." I thought this person was talking about my son's teeth being knocked out. I made a joke. Problem was, the joke was on me. He turned and looked at me, completely baffled. "I just said that I think Jacob is an alcoholic." He'd been joking, too, but, with my reply to his joke, it made us laugh so hard we couldn't see straight.
Case in point? Don't bluff. If you're hearing and you can't understand the deaf person, ask for a slower repeat or find pen and paper. If you're deaf and you can't understand the hearing person, do the same.
So now I ask you, tell me about a time when you bluffed and were called on it!
Monday, June 22, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
It happens often. All too often. I'll get a message that someone desperately wants to learn sign language. Perhaps they have a family member who is losing their hearing, but most want to learn to see if interpreting might be a career they would be interested in pursueing. So we set up a time and day and they come and they start to learn. I mention the social opportunities of the deaf and hard of hearing population around Grand Rapids and encourage my students to go to as many of them as possible. But what inevitably comes out as a response is almost always the same: "Oh, I'm not ready to meet deaf people."
Sometimes they're scared and other times they're just not confident enough in their signing to go, but rare is the student who writes down the information and shows up at the actual event.
What I wonder is, if they're wanting to be an interpreter, shouldn't they at least MEET a deaf person first? LOL I understand that we can be very scary (file those fangs down, now), but how can a person even study to work with another culture and another language if they don't want to meet such a person?
Now, if this only happened once in a while or at the beginning of tutoring, I would surely understand. It is intimidating. I do know this. But I'm talking about people I've worked with for six months to a year and still I'm the only Deaf person they've met. It's mind-boggling.
But, perhaps, if the deaf and hard of hearing people could put their weapons and intention to destroy aside, we're a very open group. Come meet us. Talk with us. Write with us. Whatever you need to do, but BE with us. At least that's my opinion. What's yours? Are you a hearing person who is scared to meet Deaf people? If so, why? Are you a Deaf or hard of hearing person who has experienced this? Tell us about it.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
I was really excited last Monday when I was contacted by DODHH about becoming a QA Rater for the state of Michigan. It seemed it might be a great opportunity to assure that qualified interpreters were properly certified as were unqualified attempters.
The interview was going to be by Video Phone on Wednesday morning at 11:30. I got up early and drove my kids to camp so I could come home and relax a little before the interview. I tend to become very nervous, so I needed time to take a pill and vegetate.
I was all set and ready at the appropriate time. No worries...feeling pretty confident. That is, until the phone rang and I answered it. What I wasn't ready for was that it was a panel of judges/interviewers. That in itself is not a big deal, but the fact that my VP is set up on a portable television didn't help. I couldn't see these people no matter how hard I squinted. I must have looked completely inept and incapable. All I could do was ask them to repeat, again and again, until I could see it clear enough to answer all their questions.
The problem is, if they're looking for fluency and the interviewee needs repetitious questioning, it doesn't look too good for the interviewee, now, does it? LOL
Needless to say, I wasn't picked for being a QA Rater. Probably for the best. But, man, do I need a bigger VP for next time!!!! Oy vey!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Anyway, I went into the appointment without knowing who would be interpreting. This happens often in the Deaf world. As I entered the room, I saw an older woman sitting in a chair and she smiled and signed, "I'm Candy." (a pseudonym) I responded and we sat and waited for the doctor to arrive.
As we sat, we started chatting and I noticed that she looked quite confused when I tried to interact with her. I asked if she was OK and she nodded yes, so I didn't really worry about it.
When the doctor finally came in with his nurse, they both proceeded to ask me questions and my interpreter stumbled. She continuously asked them to repeat or slow down. And when I say "continuously," I don't mean five times. I mean almost every sentence! What's worse is when I signed back to them, she couldn't understand me. I watched her lips and, from what I could tell, they were not flapping in the right direction, if you know what I mean. I got so bad that, finally, we had to resort to actually writing back and forth with the interpreter just sitting there! I was so upset! I couldn't believe that this woman not only was certified, but that she, a QA 1, was sent to this kind of appointment to begin with!
Oh, my gosh! It was truly hell. And as we closed the appointment, I was quick to write the nurse to make sure to tell the interpreting agency to never schedule that woman to interpret for me again! Awful! Awful, awful, awful! I'm still traumatized by this and may never heal. I am victim of bad interpreting. And anyone who knows anything about the Deaf community, knows that this could very well end in years and years of laying on my back on a couch, talking about my childhood to a man who sits in a chair, smoking a pipe. My life has now been drastically changed and I will forever live in it's doom. Melodramatic? Maybe. But doesn't it make the story that much more interesting?
Monday, June 15, 2009
I arrived early. I was the first guest there. Kenny came with me to help me feel more comfortable. That was good, because I was nervous. Soon after discussing the format with the host of the show, Katie showed up and then, finally, Mark Hall, the man who would be interpreting arrived. For a few minutes there, we were a little concerned because Mark hadn't shown up and it was five minutes till show time. But the worries were unnecessary. He was there, dressed and ready, just like the rest of us.
What was suppose to happen was that they were showing a documentary called, "Through Deaf Eyes." Every 20 minutes or so, they would stop the show and have a 15 minute panel discussion about deaf-related issues. People could call in with questions or even email them and we would answer to the best of our knowledge.
I was pleasantly relieved at how easy it was. Some of the questions were a bit odd ("How does a deaf person have a dog or cat and let them know they're deaf?") Huh??? Katie took that one. I was too boggled by the fact that it didn't seem to make sense. I mean, hey, people wonder all the time if deaf people can drive or work or communicate in other ways, but can a deaf person own a pet? Hmmmm.
But suffice it to say that that was probably the only "odd" question. The other ones were good leads into a conversation to teach those in the area all about the large deaf and hard of hearing community here in Grand Rapids.
All in all, it went well. Of course, when I got home and watched the show myself, all I could think of was "Stop babbling," "Sit up straight," "Smile, Bozo", "Dude, you look fat," and other things most people think to themselves when they see themselves on television. I'm glad I did the show. I hope you were able to watch. Which leads me with two questions:
- If you saw the show, what did you think?
- Were there any questions you have about deaf and hard of hearing people that went unanswered? I'd be happy to help answer in the best way I can.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
This video talks about how American Sign Language is not simply "English on the hands." ASL has its own sentence structure, grammar, syntax and register. Don't get them confused!
This video explains that American Sign Language is used in America and most of Canada, but that every country, in general, has their own unique sign language. If you know ASL and you travel to, say, Britain, you will not understand their sign language, because they use British Sign Language. As such, there is Mexican Sign Language, Australian Sign Language, French Sign Language, Japanese Sign Language, etc. All are different. Thus, ASL is not universal.