Monday, September 23, 2013

If Not In Name, Then In Deed

I've been teaching sign language for over a decade, but recently decided last month to stop for now. Actually, my thoughts were to give it up all together and retire. I have things in my life happening that just made my doing more than, say, existing, stressful. So, I packed up all my folders and paraphernalia into the back storage room and changed some information on my website and thought that was all I needed to do. 

Some don't know, but at the end, there wasn't a lot of interest in my classes (at that time) and tutoring students were scarce if not non-existent. Of course, the minute I announced my hiatus, I received emails specifically asking about my classes. Figures. Isn't that always the way?

What I found though is, even though I'm not having formal classes or meeting students around the city for tutoring, teaching is still taking place. Every day that I leave my house there is a at least one person who asks me a question about a sign, a class, a greeting, or whatever. Teaching didn't stop for me and I'm secretly happy about that (well, not so secretly now, huh?). Oh, sure there's times when I feel like dressing up like a ninja so no one will approach me. So far I've been lucky and no other ninja has challenged me. But even running to the gas station for my daily dose of sweet tea warrants conversation however brief (thank you, Speedway). Almost everyone there signs THANK YOU to me when I'm there and it's a great feeling. I feel welcomed. And, if anyone requested ASL tutoring at my home I'd welcome them in a second. But for now I'm on a hiatus/potential retirement. 

Doesn't matter that I say that though. If I sign in public, people watch and I know I'm teaching some of them--even if minutely.Teaching ruled! Most of the time.....more about that at another time. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Which Way Do I Look?

For those of you familiar with or living in the Deaf culture, you must already know the rules of eye contact during communication. The basic rules is to keep close eye contact with the person who is signing to you. One look away can cost you an entire conversation or, even worse, a friend.

It’s one of the rules that many hearing people break—usually unknowingly. However, it does happen when the hearing person knows the rules but doesn’t respect them closely enough. And when I first decided to use interpreters practically on a daily basis, it was very confusing to even me.

I mean, I’m suppose to remain my eye contact towards the person signing to me. That would obviously be my interpreter. At the same time, I felt rude to the person doing the talking. So, who do I look at?

I started going back and forth. When the person talking stopped moving his lips, I would watch the interpreter till she was done and then go back to staring at the talker. Is this so wrong? What exactly do you guys do or what do you experience?