Friday, April 7, 2017

ASL as a Human Right

I just finished a short lecture on Youtube by Dr. Genie Gurtz. link... Were I to give an executive summary, it would be this... Deaf children have a right to ASL. When we withhold that, we deprive the world of genius possibilities.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Interesting discussion on a Fallacy: Deaf as Economic Burden. When Deaf people are looked upon as someone who needs to be fixed or not normal the cost is much greater. Money is diverted on trying to make them normal through the use of technology, "services", and education. Then trying to fix what the medical model messed up in the first place.

Hearing Aids are EXPENSIVE. Most insurance DOES NOT COVER 1 CENT towards hearing aids. They can be bought with 0% interest loans and you can take YEARS to pay them off and when you do, it's time for new ones. OK, vehicles are MORE expensive, but the idea is there.

It is time to remove the small 'd' from deaf. Why not give dignity to a group of people with common language and history the use of "D"? Check out Deafhood Foundation. I'll warn you, there are transcripts instead of captions, so if you don't know ASL navigation may be mildly trying, but be patient, Deaf people deal with trying videos that have information and no captions DAILY.

Saturday, February 25, 2017


So ASL HERE I'm going to put some thoughts down. This whole process has been a quite a learning experience for me. I've searched through a lot of material -- blogs, YouTube videos, and general chat with friends inside the Deaf community and outside. I know that to hearing people sound and audio is highly valued. It is interesting to me that when they are asked -- which would be MORE difficult -- loosing your vision or loosing your hearing -- it causes people to stop and think. Many agree that loosing your vision would be disabling but don't really don't comprehend Deafhood.

I see Deafhood as a fulfilling life, especially when ideals of the hearing world are not forced upon them. I've seen Deaf people who excel in so many different aspects of life. I've felt a privilege in being associated with them. I've marveled at how well my children have seen Deafhood as a natural part of life and have been influenced by some amazing people.

I understand how Audism can be very evil. When we try to isolate a "deaf" gene to eradicate it and "deafness" where do we stop? Because one group perceives that a variance in humans to be undesirable we choose to eradicate it and where do we stop? Height? Eye Color? Hair Color? SKIN color?

I'll admit that I watched a few of the cochlear implant activation videos. I saw a few commonalities with them.
  1. Very few if any had exposure to a visual language.
  2. The feeling of loneliness
  3. They were perceived as broken
  4. They are still perceived as "handicapped"
Many parents expressed how they were sad that their child had "failed" a hearing test. We set them up for failure because of a test as a newborn? UGH

I'd be curious to know how many of these people were made aware of the possible problems before implantation? Headaches, seizure, exaggerated claims, MRI incompatibility, or how about not being able to have your heart restarted? I've met people who have had their implants removed because of these complications. How about 12 children who died in the '80's because the risk outweighs the perceived "quality" of life? Dr. Petitto Discusses this.

I need to mention and pay tribute to a classy lady. This world is not the same without Ellen O'Hara. She was an advocate on the rights of Deaf children and an exceptional educator who was taken from this earthly life too early tragically. Her impact on me was just as life-altering as it was on others. Her life tribute was proof of this as I saw hearing people and Deaf alike gather to honor her name in the hundreds. One remark was that she was that she would have been almost overwhelmed to see so many people gathered just for her. It was through her tender prodding that I delved deeper into this journey. Thank you, Ellen.

My Second Tribute is to Rodney Wilson Walker. He was a man of integrity and a true hero. His love of Sign Language and of his family has blessed the lives of generations. He served others in the community right up until he was taken home in 2006. He too shaped my life with tenderness. I saw in him a compassion unlike any other.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Justice System?

I'm shocked and dismayed. We still have Deaf People who are kept in American's Prisons without access to basic rights-- communication with loved ones on the outside to protection from violence. I'm just as surprised that there are people who cannot even realize that Deaf people exist and feel offended or "disrespected" when they don't get a verbal reply from a Deaf person.

This is a great site. Be aware it discusses prison violence.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My Privilege

During ASL HERE a recent workshop, a question was posted for all the attendees. How can you use your privilege to benefit the Deaf Community?

I've done some online searching -- most of it is focused on racism.

Can a hearing person experience audism? When my wife and I go to restaurants or other places we quickly become attention-getters when people notice us Signing. We've even experienced loooong waits because of people being afraid of trying to communicate with us. I've had people make me out to be a "saint" for marrying a "disabled" woman. Um. She's a wonderful woman and much more of a "saint" than I am.

Here are some things I've thought of on how I can use my privilege. Let me know what you think.

1. Use your hearing privilege to call out audism. When you see a TV on in a public space, comment on how it would be nice if the captioning was on.

2. Use your economic privilege to support Deaf-owned businesses and organizations.

3. Use your hearing privilege to educate others when appropriate. The best scenario is that a Deaf person would be the one to educate.

4. Watch for jobs at your work place and recommend Deaf people for them. Cause HR to question if answering phones really is necessary for the job. Remind them that there are alternative forms of communication like texting.

5. Use Facebook to announce Deaf related information such as important laws being passed.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Workshop thoughts and an Interview

This ASL Here workshop was incredible! Not only did the presenter, Butch Zein, talk about Deaf History (I mean back to Ottoman Empire history) but he also explained other parts of Audism like Colonialism. That isn’t a word we use in English Vocabulary everyday. It has to do with one culture conquering or supplanting another. The example used was British Colonization of India. The presenter made a great point — that it is possible for one minority group to discriminate against other group. He also had us thinking about what privilege we have and how we can use that to combat audism. I guess I could say while I am Hearing — Audism is part of the system I belong to — but I am an ANTI-AUDIST.

WARNING: This post contains sensitive information about and a discussion of AUDISM and HUMAN SEXUALITY. My intent isn’t to offend only to contrast and compare a person with multiple types of discrimination in their life!
My next adventure was an interview. To protect the identity of this individual I will call him Mr. Incredible.
Forgive me, Disney, for the use of the pic. You put it on the internet. I'll remove if you ask me to. We spent quite a bit of time. He was gracious enough to be open and be honest with me in his experience growing up. I received permission from him to write some of those experiences. As stated above my intent is to contrast and compare experiences from a person who has experienced multiple types of discrimination in their life. I stepped way out of my comfort zone with this. What I learned is an affirmation of what I had learned earlier in the day — that it is possible for a person who is in an oppressed group to discriminate against others of their own group or others in a different oppressed group.

Mr. Incredible was born to incredible parents who love him and wanted the best in life for him. He has a twin brother and while his mom was pregnant she was exposed to Rubella (or German Measles). Because his parents or the physician didn’t know there would be twins, his mother wasn’t given enough vaccine to counter-act the effects of exposure, consequently he was born Deaf.

Mr. Incredible experienced taunting and teasing (we can read this as Audism) as a child and teen. He wore hearing aids and often other children who didn’t understand thought he had a personal radio!

Mr. Incredible’s family experienced a few moves while he was growning up. One of those moves included a chance to go to a Deaf School where Sign Language was used. His feeling was that he didn’t want to go there and learn Sign — this I’m sure had a lot to do with the prevailing negative perception of American Sign Language at the time.

Time went by and soon he found himself graduating high school and going on to college. This is where not only did he begin learning Sign Language he also he had his first homosexual experience. I was nearly reduced to tears as Mr. Incredible told me of the violence, heart-ache and discrimination he felt from the fledgling LGBT community and the growing scare of AIDS. He told me of the anger that is left over not having the appropriate health information when it should have been available. I sat and realized that he wasn’t the only person who had experienced violence and crime at such a young age. I knew of others who had been taken advantage of because the perpetrator thought they had the upper hand. They had stumbled on a “helpless” Deaf victim who was less capable of ensuring the law would punish a despicable human for such a horrible crime. He also described the joy of finding a place where he belonged — in both communities. I learned it can be difficult and rewarding to be a part of more than one community, and while both communities can embrace, they can all be the source of the discrimination and heart-ache. I had met a person who at this time of life was comfortable and confident. Time as it seemed had become wisdom.

I learned that he felt comfort in the Deaf community, it was also a source of discrimination and ugly hate. He spoke of a community that should be understanding and supportive sometimes instead spewed gossip and rumor. Mr. Incredible found himself in the center of it.

His question to me caused me to stop for a moment. “WHY?” his hands signed furiously, “are there no Deaf-Gay clubs? Why do we have no meetings for them? We have groups for Deaf-Blind, Deaf Seniors, Hard-of-Hearing, and support for those who are just entering the community because they are a loved-one are loosing their hearing. Why no Deaf-Gay Groups in a safe place?” I sat guilty that I didn’t know, nor had thought of anything like it myself. I thought of other groups who certainly could use a safe space to meet and find strength in numbers and common experience.

I posed a hypothetical question — suppose you must choose one community and give the other up. (It wasn’t a very fair question — one doesn’t just simply do that, especially when your identity belongs to both communities HEAVILY.) His answer was exactly what I thought — he is Deaf first. Just as I said, it was an unfair question since removing oneself in that manner would be like deciding which body part should be removed and discarded.

Thank you Mr. Incredible. You truly are incredible.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Camera doesn't add 10 lbs. It cuts off the Sign.

SO ASL Here.-- Audism: Understanding Its Meaning and Implications in the Deaf Community shows a panel of people who are Deaf. They talk about their experiences growing up. I like some of the points presented here --
  • We can't wait for people to ask -- the Deaf community must take action. Too many children don't meet Deaf adults who use Sign and are functioning individuals in society. Parents don't see this and often have a negative view or opinion of American Sign Language. This was a major source of frustration for many of the panel.
  • Deaf Spaces -- audism includes functionality -- when a space that is primarily used by Deaf people isn't designed around the needs of the individuals it is supposed to serve.
  • Great video talks about Deaf space at Gallaudet University.
  • Sacredness of deaf spaces. I'm just as guilty of this... When in a "deaf space" Sign Language should be used exclusively -- even between hearing people who know Sign. I need to improve in this area. My wife says "pick a language" either speak and use an interpreter or use Sign. Not both! Everyone knows that if you speak and Sign one of the languages gets inattention to the point that it really isn't intelligible. Often that is the Signed Language.
    Warning: Rant
    Too many times I have seen professional videographers attempt to video a conversation in Sign. It usually works if there is no voice-over. When there is voice over, it is usually a disaster. The producer will cut according to the voice instead of the Signing so you don't get to see the full sentences in SIGN! The NEWS is worse, since they often cut and only use the voice of the interpreter! GAW!! I experienced a little frustration with this video, because the moderator was Signing and speaking at the same time. When an interpreter was used because the hearing people were talking the video focused only on the person talking. Seriously? I was watching the video with the audio off. I had to rewind it, turn on the captioning, and listen. While I recommend this video for the content from the Deaf panel, expect some frustration with the intro. When you make a video about Audism -- teach the camera man and producer to focus on the Signing dialog not the voice over! Rant Over