I was pretty nervous about the whole thing. Only two people were going to be on the discussion panel (excluding the interpreter): Katie Prins (director of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services) and myself (director of Deaf Expressions). It wasn't so much that I was going to be on TV. It was the fact that I would be representing a community so vast and diverse that I wanted to make sure it was fairly, objectively, and rightfully displayed as a culture and not just a bunch of people who can't accomplish anything in life because they can't hear. I knew that Katie wanted the same thing, so I was very relieved to find she'd be the second one on the panel.
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.