Saturday, August 30, 2014

Goodbye to A Helpful Interpreter

Have you ever noticed how, sooner or later, everybody leaves? I'm serious. Sometimes I feel as if I have a swinging door in my life. For me, I'm talking about professionals--not family. I'm very grateful for that!

I can't even tell you how many therapists I've gone through. Just when we begin to dig into the dirt, they retire...or move out to Timbuktu. It kills me every time. But one set of professionals leave the most frequently--and that's interpreters.

I have to go to my community mental health clinic up to four days a week. Sometimes I see my psychiatrist on Tuesdays, my case manager on Wednesdays, get my bi-weekly injection on Thursdays, and see my therapist on Fridays. Whew! And mental health services depend on confidentiality, so, much to my appreciation, they do their very best to have the same interpreter for all of my visits. And, at least the same interpreter for all of my therapy sessions, so not everyone knows how crazy I am. ..except the 'terp scheduled and the therapist.

But, unfortunately, just when I'm used to seeing the same 'terp week after week, they always seem to find a more steady assignment and leave me. Then a new interpreter comes in and it takes them a little while to get used to the problems I talk about. And they are very shocking, I assure you!

Recently, very recently, I lost another interpreter's devotion. She found herself an assignment that proved more steady and dependable. One day I was in therapy and my therapist ended the session with, "We have something we need to discuss." That's never good. I replied, "Just as long as you don't say you're leaving." I meant the therapist and I was speaking from my heart.

"No, I'm not leaving," was his retort.

"I am," my interpreter chimed in. After a few seconds of confusion I realized I was losing one of my closest interpreters I've ever relied on. It was devastating and I began to cry.

"Why do they always leave me?" I asked. But I knew it was the right thing for her to do. And, after coming down from that devastation, I am very happy for her. But it is rough. Luckily, I have other interpreters with experience with my craziness that I can use and I like them a lot. I'm sure, with time, the trust will be there just as equally as it was with my former 'terp.

But I'll miss my previous interpreter and I'll always appreciate her loyalty to my "cause." Good luck to you and may everything in your life go smoothly from here on out. That includes getting all three cats to use the toilet all the time. (smile)

For me, it's onward and upward. Let's see who next I can suck into my sick world. Don't worry. I'll go easy on them. Maybe.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Signing Systems

There are several different kinds of sign languages used in the United States (in the world, too, for that matter). Let’s now go over the different systems so that you have a better idea of what they are.

AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE (ASL, also termed AMESLAN by the late Lou Fant) uses signs, gestures, specific facial expressions, non-manual movements, and the like to express feelings, ideas, and concepts visually. It uses no voice, but does have facial grammar (non-manual markers, mouth morphemes).  It uses a completely different grammar system and sentence structure as that of spoken English. The rules of grammar, which will be discussed in a different section of this site, are clear and developed.

SEEING ESSENTIAL ENGLISH (SEE 1) and SIGNED EXACT ENGLISH (SEE II) -- The ideas behind these systems is that Deaf children will learn English better if they are exposed, visually through signs, to the grammatical features of English. The base signs are borrowed from ASL, but the various inflections are not used. A lot of initialization is used. Additionally, a lot of “grammatical markers” for numbers, person, tense, etc., are added, and strict English word order is used. Every prefix, suffix, article, conjunction, auxiliary verb, etc., is signed. Also, English homophones are represented by identical signs (i.e. the same sign is used for the noun fish and the verb fish, which have different ASL signs). The difference between the two is minor--the principle one being that in SEE II, ASL signs for compound words (like butterfly) are used, where the two signs representing the separate English words are used in SEE I (To sign “butterfly,” you would sign BUTTER and FLY, which gives a bizarre visual to the deaf child!).

LINGUISTICS OF VISUAL ENGLISH -- (L.O.V.E.)  Developed by Dennis Wampler. It has similarities to SEE II and Signed English. It is a signing system rather than language on its own. Therefore some people claim that exposure to L.O.V.E. does not provide children with the complete linguistic access that is needed to internalize whole language.

SIGNED ENGLISH -  Developed by Harry Bornstein. Similar to SEE I and SEE II, but a little simpler. It uses English word order, but fewer grammatical markers than the SEE systems--it has fourteen, based on Brown’s fourteen grammatical morphemes (e.g., plural /s/, possessive /s/, /ed/, /ly/, /er/, and so on).

The problem with the English-based systems above are that they are very slow. They are easier to learn for hearing people than ASL, but they are slower to use, because, on average, signs take twice as long as words to produce.  So the average proposition takes twice as long to express. Also, you have to be grammatically very self-aware to use them. The research shows that most parents and many teachers who are trying to use these systems, end up leaving out many of the grammatical markers and that many children exposed to them end up modifying them to more ASL-like forms.

CONTACT SIGN (Formerly called PIDGIN SIGN ENGLISH or PSE) - Ranges on a continuum, from being more “Englishy” to being more like ASL. It is what happens when adults try to learn ASL, in many situations. It is ASL and some of its grammar (how much English versus how much ASL varies from signer to signer) in English word order. Children exposed to CSL will often produce grammatically perfect ASL.

AMELISH -- Term coined by Bernard Bragg. Uses lots of ASL and fingerspelling in English word order.

CONCEPTUALLY ACCURATE SIGNED ENGLISH --  (C.A.S.E.) A signing system rather than a language on its own.  Similar to “Englishy” PSE / Contact Sign.

MANUALLY CODED ENGLISH -- (M.C.E.) Not a particular method, but a general description of all the systems that attempt to reflect English grammar, etc., on the hands.

ROCHESTER METHOD -- Every word is fingerspelled except "AND."

Monday, August 11, 2014

New Restaurant in Toronto Caters to the Deaf and Signing Community
Did you hear? Well, maybe not hear, but did you know that there is a new restaurant called
Signs" that caters to the Deaf and Signing Community? Check out the above link or read a little about this new wonderful thing!
Also visit their page on Facebook:
The dining scene in Toronto is turning the tables on hearing clientele with Signs, a deaf restaurant and bar that encourages communication solely by sign language. The first of its kind in Canada, customers are asked to order their meals by signing and the restaurant will be mostly staffed by deaf servers.
Not fluent in sign language? No problem. Customers will be given a cheat book of sorts that will contain the most popular phrases used in restaurants and instructions on how to sign the various menu options.
The restaurant is the brainchild of owner Anjan Manikumar, who began learning American Sign Language (ASL) when working as a manager at a Boston Pizza in Markham.
“I had a deaf customer that would come around a lot,” Manikumar told ABC News. “He wasn’t getting the service he deserved.”
After attempts to communicate with a deaf regular customer consistently resorted to a series of pointing and nodding, Manikumar decided to learn to sign.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

When People Come A-Knockin'

When summer's over and school is back in session (which is coming up very soon), it seems that's when most people start walking up to my door and ringing the doorbell. I've got one of those fancy devices that throw off a strobe light whenever that happens. But I HATE it! From the moment it flashes till I actually open the door, all I can think is, "Darnit! Who is it this time?!?!?" That's because of my many experiences with answering a door while alone.

I'll be watching TV or doing the dishes and suddenly: FLASH! FLASH! FLASH! I try to peek out of the living room window first, but I can't tell who it is. I open my door and there are two people dressed in suits with huge smiles on their faces as they begin to speak.

I interrupt and point to my ears and shake my head--indicating that I'm Deaf. They begin to over-enunciate and point to their lips. "I can't lipread either," I slur. They laugh uncomfortably and start to talk to each other. "Are you Jehovah Witnesses?" I ask.

"Yes," they answer with a great amount of excitement and start talking to me again.

"I'm sorry, but I'm not interested," I say as I close the door. Whew! That was exhausting.

Sometimes people will write to me after I indicate I can't hear:

"Can you read?" No. What does this note say?
"Is there someone else I can talk to?" Nope. All alone and there will never be another person home.
"Do you read Braille?" Only in the dark.
"I can come back." Sorry, but I'll still be Deaf and uninterested.

I get all sorts of things happening after the house is empty of kids. It can be truly tiring. Some people just don't get it and I'm always amazed at the pantomime and facial expressions they'll spew off.

But I can't live in a bubble. I have to interact with other people at some points in my life. I guess that's just the way things go, but....FLASH! FLASH! FLASH! Oh, dear. Gotta run. Gotta go see what this next person has to say, sell, or perform. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Great Outdoors

One of my husband, Kenny's, favorite things to do is hunt. He doesn't get to do it often, but when he does, he often takes our oldest daughter. But one year, I wanted to go.

"You'll have to be really quiet. We can't talk to each other a lot. You can't move around and rustle the leaves. It might be hard. Not to mention it's freezing out there at 4 am." Kenny was trying to prepare me, I knew. But I was sure it'd be a cinch.

"No problemo," I said. "I can be quiet. I'll just sign instead of using my voice." And, with that, he agreed to let me tag along.

The next morning, around 2:30 am, Kenny shook me awake. "What??? I'm trying to sleep," I said as I rolled back over.

"I thought you wanted to go with me."

"Now?" I couldn't believe how tired I was. But I dragged myself out of bed and put on the coat Kenny had gotten for me. I grabbed a cup from the cabinet and closed the door. Kenny startled and looked at me with big eyes.

"What?" I asked.

"Nothing," he sighed. He didn't need to tell me I closed the cabinet door too hard, but I wasn't aware of it at the moment.

After a little coffee and a seemingly endless car ride, we arrived in the part of the woods Kenny had picked out for us. He climbed up in his tree stand and I stayed in a pile of leaves on the ground. "OK. Now we wait," Kenny explained. "I'll talk with you a little later."

And so we waited. I sat on the wet ground and the leaves were itchy, so I scratched. I felt a tickle in the back of my throat, so I quietly cleared my throat. After what seemed like hours, I decided I wanted to ask Kenny how much longer. Problem was, he was up there and I was down here. So, I waved to quietly get his attention. It didn't work. I then used both hands. Nothing doing. I stood up and tried it again. Nope. Finally I gave up that "quiet" business and barked, "Hey!"

"Shhh!" Kenny was not happy.

"What do you mean? I've been quiet for hours."

"You think so, huh?" Kenny asked with a smirk on his face. Looking at his watch, he shook his head. "We've been here an hour and half. You've scared away two deer while you were rustling the leaves, clearing your throat and whispering. I love you, but it's impossible for you to know how noisy you are, and I can't hunt with you here with me. I'm sorry."

I was dumbfounded. Was I really that loud? I guess it goes to show that when you can't hear anything (including yourself), you can be the loudest thing in the woods. Oh, well. Bed, here I come!