Thursday, March 3, 2022


In February of 2022, my husband and I decided to open an Etsy Shop catering to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. This includes (but is not limited to) Deafies, Hard of Hearing, late-deafened, CODAs, SODAs, ASL Students and ASL Interpreters. We are currently in the process of making Deaf and Sign related crafts to sell. While we accumulate inventory, please visit our shop to see the other pieces we are selling. If you have an account on Etsy, please "FAVORITE" our shop (Deaf Expressions) and we will do the same for you. Keep checking back here for the latest arts and crafts as well as the skinny into the Deaf World. We look forward to "hearing" from you!

Friday, August 16, 2019

I'm Deaf -- Not Late Deafened

I'm Deaf. I'm proud to be Deaf, too But there are a ton of labels people put on me and it causes me to feel discomfort. 

I was born deaf in one ear and I lost all of my hearing in my other ear after I learned how to speak. Some people label me as being "Late Deafened," but it offends me to a point and challenges my Deaf identity.

I mean, I can understand their point, but I'm a firm believer that each Deaf person should be "labeled" with whatever terminology he or she prefers. I don't want to be labeled as "Late Deafened." When I think of a LD adult, I think of people who lipread and speak and use CIs and try to make themselves fit into the "hearing world." (I hate that term, by the way.) Yes, I know that I might be stereotyping but it still goes to show that LD adults often (not always) try to be/act as "hearing" as possible. I don't want to be hearing, so therefore I get offended by the LD label.

Yes, I know there are plenty of deaf people who are Late-Deafened. ALDA (Association of Late Deafened Adults) conducts a convention annually and, at the convention, they provide sign language interpreters as well as captioning. You will meet a hodgepodge of deafies at an ALDA convention, but the majority think of themselves as Late Deafened--not Deaf.

If you're not sure which terminology to use with your deaf acquaintance, please simply ask them what they prefer. It will save embarrassment and the possibility of offense. For me? Call me Deaf. I'm proud of that.

Thursday, February 8, 2018


I’m not the type of person to feel strongly about standing up for my rights. Well, I take that back. I do feel strongly, but I have a hard time insisting on my rights being taking care of. For example, many years ago I met with a therapist. He flat-out told me that he refused to pay for an interpreter and that, if I wanted him to see me, I would need to pay for my own. Instead of explaining the ADA to him and insisting that he accommodate my needs, I shrunk down in my seat and just started saying stuff like, “Oh, that’s OK. I’m sure there are agencies out there who will pay for an interpreter for me. You don’t have to pay a thing. I’ll be fine.” Which, just in case you don’t know, isn’t quite accurate.  It’s the therapist’s legal obligation to provide accommodations for me (an interpreter in my case) for his services. That doctor had me so intimidated that I’ve since found it hard to request accommodations with any doctor or group at any time. Pretty sad, eh?

My kids go to a charter school. I have had a few occasions when I’ve needed an interpreter. When I’ve asked, they have always – ALWAYS – said yes and gotten me an interpreter. Yet, it’s still scary for me to ask. Why is that? It’s not really fair for me to feel scared to ask for something that is rightfully mine. I do though. I shrink down like a little kid and beg for accommodations. One day, I hope to be able to stand up for myself with confidence and explain my needs and demand my rights be met. Until that day, I’ll sill request interpreters. I’ll just be scared doing so. Kind of pathetic, but that’s the way it is.

Friday, August 25, 2017


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


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


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.


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. 


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. 


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.