Monday, December 24, 2007

We're not too disabled to work?

Back in July, I posted about this same issue, "ADA Updates? Should I Hold my Breath?" I had to deal with college classes before coming back to this, so I'm behind a bit. Reunify Gally posted this earlier;

Qualifed to Work = Disqualification from ADA Protection

Today, I'm wondering what's going on with the ADA updates. Are they stuck in a rut, going into continuous arguments and putting it off as they're known to do with certain bills? Back in the 90s, many people were at least hoping to find a good job, but it seems there wasn't much happening back then and still even less today. Again, there's the quibbling over the definition of the words 'disabled' and 'functional.' Despite some aids like drugs and assistive devices, we're denied ADA coverage.

Say what? Illogical.

You basically still have the same disability even without the drugs and devices. If you have a cochlear implant, and remove your processor, you're still deaf. Same when you remove your hearing aids. If you have a walking disability, and use a cane or wheelchair to help get around, you still have it even without them. Same with the drugs. They all do the same thing, of helping you get around without being too limited and dependent. They help you be independent to an extent.

So why aren't employers giving us a fair shake? Check the second paragraph. Are you seeing certain words pop out, namely, assuming and stereotyping? Now with the Internet and online applications, it's possibly made much worse and harder due to computer screenings and those who have to look through many resumes.

So what's the way to deal with it? More loophole-ridden laws without teeth? More of the different ways that the courts interpret things? More Deaf Awareness Days? More educational programs? Will employers/hiring authorities just bypass or ignore them? Would it be possible to mix a disabilities job fair into a regular job fair and hope for the best? There's still those who just flat out refuse to use anything, other than use voice to voice with applicants. There's still even those who when they find that they've called a relay number, refuse to even use it, much less accept the call. They're attempting to put, as Pink Floyd says, another brick in the wall, while we try to remove them as fast as they're placed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bringing Down the House

Anyone just about bring down the house in class, that is, cause the entire class to fall over laughing? Seems I did it unintentionally a few years ago.

I was still going to the local community college, and I think it was my second semester there. I borrowed a fiber optic cable from a friend and put it in my jacket pocket with a flashlight and went to class. I pulled out both and the entire classroom promptly went to pieces.

I was told later by a classmate that right at the same time I was pulling them out, the instructor said; "...we don't have fiber optic cable so I can't demo it..." I had also completely missed my interpreter telling me what the instructor said. The instructor just kept talking like normal.

Anyone do something like this unintentionally?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Life Eggs You

We were doing wraps for dinner. Someone wanted Subway, but Jamie picked up some stuff from the local grocery store to make our own. So, we cut things up, me doing most of the work. Only thing is, I did the eggs a bit wrong. I let the water boil, then dropped two eggs in there, and they cracked a bit. I dropped in two more, this time putting them deeper in the water before letting go. No cracks. Then I take the two cracked ones out, but they're not quite done yet, runny yolk.

So I put the yolks in the microwave for 30 seconds. Almost done. Tried another 30 seconds.

20 seconds later... *BOOM!*

wow... My hearing aids were off, yet that was loud enough for me to hear since I was so close by and was watching it.

What a mess. Easy cleanup, fortunately.

The other two I left in the pot to cook a bit longer cracked also, but not as bad. They came out better.

Jamie looked at me like "WHAT?!" when I told her about the microwave.

Either way, good dinner.

Next time I want to blow up eggs, I'll use an M80.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Final

Looking to the future

Post-college, there are times that it seems that old friends have disconnected. Those who mistreated you have apologized or don't seem to care. While you tend to keep in touch with those you met back in college over time, it's too easy to lose contact with those you grew up with. I was never able to keep in contact with the other old friends from before high school due to all the moving we did. I've found some from high school and before via Internet searches. I would like to hear from my previous teachers if I can find them again.

After high school, I started finding out about the social stuff that I had missed. After college, I found I had missed much more. Almost no one invited me over for birthday parties, dinners, overnights, the usual things of growing up. That included missing the prom and finding out what it was all about.

Here's a message I posted to an email list in response to a low-vision friend who has a guide dog when she was complaining about some things related to the church she was attending;

> I'd bail. Start looking for some place that's closer and easier to get
> to. Two hours away, two hours back -- that's four hours a night just to
> be rejected. And that far away, there's little or no chance of
> outside-of-Tues-night contact if you do connect with anyone.

Yep... Kinda the story of our lives. If you're the only one at the church with a vision problem, and people aren't talking or interacting with you, then you know something's wrong.

How many times have I heard the stories of deaf kids and others who have never been invited to a sleepover, never been invited to a birthday party, never been called by their friends, never been visited by them, none of them ever gone out of their way to be on the kid's side after they're going through teasing, always being picked last, always eating alone at lunch, no one talking with you at lunch...

That flippin' *HURTS!* It gets worse when adults are doing it and they start creating cliques or reject you due to your disability. Even worse when they ignore you or refuse to interact with you...

We can't always dwell on the past. Neither can we change it. The future can have better things in store for us. If we move on with our lives, then we have become better for it.

Thanks for reading the serial.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 24

Attending Summer camps

I had my share of summer camps including the day camps. One was a church thing that went for a few weeks. I had one counselor who kept accusing me of being able to hear. I don't remember what someone told him that made him quit saying that.

Another one was in Illinois with my church group and I was the only deaf person there. I did sign a song at one point. They allowed only clean graffiti in the cabins. The high point of my time there was this mudfight. It was rather fun being the last to leave and a mud man on the way to the showers.

One was a deaf church camp in Louisiana. It was the first time I was around this many other deaf, and my signing skills weren't that great. I had some people be my voice interpreter in a class or elsewhere as needed. Interestingly enough, one of the former counselors lives near me today. The pastor mentioned previously in Part 7 was Clifford Bruffey. He will be missed. He passed away in 2001, I believe.

Next - Final Growing Up Deaf post - Looking to the Future

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 23

Intro to captioning in theatres

When I lived in Illinois, sometimes I watched movies at the theatre, reading the book first. With "Back To The Future" and some other movies, I didn't need to read the book.

In 1996, I was in Michigan with someone and watched Schindler's List. Later on, I watched Titanic in Cincinnati, Ohio. Fortunately, captioned movies became more common, meaning I didn't have to travel so far to see one.

It wasn't often that I would go out to see a movie with friends since I'd usually be seeing them alone. Much of the time, I'd see a movie at their home. My family sometimes rented videos, and sometimes we'd all watch. Not all VHS, Beta, and laserdisc movies had captions. Now, with the new DVD releases, they're either captioned, subtitled, both, or in some cases, none at all.

Next - Summer camps

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 22

Intro to captioning at home

It wasn't til about 1977 or '78 when I lived in Louisiana when I was given a Sears Telecaptioner as a birthday gift. It was hard if not impossible to understand a lot of the dialogue, but the action wasn't a problem. Many a game show were easy to follow like the The Price Is Right and the $64,000 Pyramid, despite the dialogue.

Sesame Street and Electric Company were fun to watch, though not captioned til maybe 10 years later. I enjoyed Zoom as well as the Mickey Mouse Club and watched Batman with my brother. It was probably every boy's fantasy to meet Julie Newmar's Catwoman character. What a catsuit!

Little House on the Prairie was one of the better shows back then. Nothing is like it today.

I ordered the Telecaption 4000 in 1990 to replace the old captioner. I still have both today. In 1992, the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act mandated TVs larger than a certain size to have the caption circuit built in.

Seems the more modern shows put more emphasis on dialogue than action with some exceptions. Mom would sometimes go out to a movie and tell me if I could understand it or not.

Next - Intro to Captioning in Theatres

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 21

Teasing and Mistreatment - Part 4 of 4

It's been around the last 10 years that we're seeing the effects of bullying and mistreatment. The spate of school violence has proved what the kids have been telling the adults all these years. It causes a lot of emotional and physical harm. I was probably fortunate it didn't get to the point where I was sent to a doctor and/or hospital. Even then, a few adults listened to us and just about took on the bullies/tormentors to the point of going one on one with them to show them that their actions weren't tolerated. The parents of these bullies/tormentors can have just as much fault. In some of the cases I've heard about, it's taken hidden video and court.

In the second greatschools URL, there's the Four Myths of Bullying. The third and the fourth I heard constantly. Ignoring them didn't do a thing. Going elsewhere or ignoring would cause them to step up attacks. Stand up for ourselves? Fight back? Damned if I did, damned if I didn't.

Jamie Berke, Deafness guide at About, had a response to her from someone related to this about her own experiences. They said that when people were uncomfortable around those they see as different, they didn't know what to do and may treat them in a mean way. Meaning that today, what we thought of as teasing and mistreatment, could easily have been bullying.

There's some good videos on YouTube and many other places with a bit of looking.

Next - Intro to Captioning at Home

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 20

Teasing and Mistreatment - Part 3 of 4

With late high school, it got less. Some hurled pennies at me. They're pretty much lucky that they didn't nail my eyes in the wrong way. Remember my electronics class? Charged capacitors can be electrifying. However revenge-bent the mindset some of these kids were, I'd most likely be beaten up or something. I should have just told the coach or teacher what was going on and then gone on to the library, regardless of the consequences.

During art class in the School from Hell, I did manage to do something. This class had three groups of long tables put together. I sneaked under the table with a long piece of roping to attach to a chair leg at another table. I pulled when someone sat down. The entire class died including the teacher. Then I sneaked back to get the rope and back to my seat.

The rope and I were right within view of around 4 or 5 people including the teacher, and all they had to do was look down. *ONE* person saw me, and he never told anyone. The kid that hit the floor was one of my tormentors.

In college, there were always the dorm pranks, which most of us knew enough to never be destructive. I heard about a residence advisor who had a large water-filled trashcan tilted against their door. Some things under the beds were destroyed, they had to deal with the mildew. A similar thing happened to an RA across the hall from me.

Next - Final Part of Teasing and Mistreatment

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 19

Teasing and Mistreatment - Part 2 of 4

At the end of eighth or ninth grade, someone broke into my locker and took everything. I had a few things at home, but the major stuff I needed for studies were gone. That meant I couldn't study for my finals or get homework done after the theft. I told my teachers and they said that what my grade average was before the finals, that would be my final exam grade. When classmates heard this conversation, some were pretty upset. However, those responsible didn't even try to return my stuff. Did they destroy it, toss it in remote trashcans, what?

A couple things stand out in mind. I don't remember if the combination locks were school-provided or they were my own. They used top and a bottom lockers with mine being the top. At one point, I found my lock upside down facing the locker rather than the other way. It wasn't til shortly afterwards one girl admitted to doing that while watching over my shoulder. She and a couple other girls were known to give me trouble at times. If she did the locker theft, she put up quite an act when I talked with the teachers.

Why didn't they bother with my hearing aids, lock me into a locker or locked area in the locker room, duct tape me up, that kind of thing? I tended to gravitate towards the adults at times.

I don't think I had much of a chance to make friends at the School From Hell. The mistreatment started not long after I arrived; just about blowing any chance I had with making friends. Whatever label they stuck on me, most likely stuck til I left. There was this counselor who actually compared me to a deaf girl who they claimed to be popular there or somewhere else. I don't think anyone really understood my hearing loss back then, much less tried. I heard from a former classmate that like her, we weren't quite accepted there.

Next - Part 3 of Teasing and Mistreatment

Friday, October 5, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 18

Teasing and Mistreatment - Part 1 of 4

We've known that younger kids with some sort of disability go through this type of thing to a degree in grade school. Some will experience virtually none, while others will just plain be rejected outright and worse. Sometimes it's moving to a new school that can help or make it much worse.

Those who didn't quite understand those who were different mistreated them in some way. There always were some who did and some who didn't care what your disability was. Sometimes it seemed they weren't around when you needed them most, or in some cases, didn't stick up for you. In other cases, they acted as if they were your friend when they were just putting on a front or an act.

In elementary, they didn't mistreat me at all, or so it seemed.

However, come the sixth through ninth grades, those were the worst years. I was always last to be picked for anything, no matter what. One kid was hurling stuff at my back. I came rather close to hurling my desk at him. I lived near several students from the same school. Some others knew where I lived and my phone number, so why didn't they bother me there?

If I tried to tell a teacher about what was going on, they'd attack me even more. What else was I to do? Should I have brought along something to defend myself? Should I fight? Damned if I did, damned if I didn't. I had enough of it with my own brother.

Next - Part 2 of Teasing and Mistreatment

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 17

Extracurricular Activities/outside of school

I was usually doing some sort of activity over time with someone if not by myself. I spent time reading books. It wasn't unusual for me to zip through a The Hardy Boys book in less than two hours in one sitting. I went through the classics, fiction, and mystery. Alfred Hitchcock, Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, and many more authors' books I read, much of the time just once. It wasn't unusual for me to read the book and then watch the movie, as it would make the movie more understandable despite the differences with the movie and book.

I searched for all ten books in Ron Hubbard's Mission Earth series and finished reading through them in two months after taking time off work due to a knee arthroscopy. Stephen King's IT took a bit of time to read due to all the flashbacks and sudden returns to the present, which sometimes had me go back a chapter or a few pages. I've also got just about all of Zane Grey's books, but haven't quite been able to read them all. I've also read the first four Harry Potter books, and have noticed that Rowling wrote it in such a way, that even the late elementary school readers would understand it. But of course, since they kept getting longer and longer, it was getting a little harder to remember little details here and there at times. Not only that, but hard to put down once the real action started!

Now and then mom would say "...that book can't be *THAT* interesting!" when I didn't put it down to do something she wanted me to do. My brother would sometimes put his hands out like he'd be reading a book and put it close to his face and give it the 'up and down' reading look. I think I can make him do that again sometime...

All this reading is pretty much the reason why my English skills have been good. All through school through twelfth grade, I had English classes, never skipping a year. After school, I was home a lot since I was almost never invited places by kids in my classes, not even parties or anything like that. If I wasn't doing homework, I could be out playing some when I was younger, reading, watching TV, watching a movie, or some other thing.

Out at GMU, I took my hopefully-final English course, which was online. One assignment used a team of five people writing up something and then submit it to the leader to put together in the final report. I was the team leader. We did well, getting an A in our report.

A couple booksellers in Illinois and a librarian in Kentucky knew me well. Now to see if I can do it with one around the DC area.

Next - Teasing and Mistreatment

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 16

Attending College - Part 3

I was most likely one of the few deaf people at NTID who didn't have a TTY. My family didn't need it, as I could use voice on the phone and I had hearing aids on. I was able to keep using voice on the phone for a little time til shortly after graduation, then gave up trying as amplified phones were too expensive. I tried a couple things from Radio Shack, but they didn't always help. Speakerphones did nicely for me. Later, I quit trying to use the phone and had a hearing person help out til the relay came along. That meant dialing an 800 number. Cheers of joy were most likely heard when we could use the relay via instant messaging and the web.

Paintball was introduced to me, and I found it to be a rather fun game to play on some weekends. Sure, I had my share of hitting the other team, including being shot in a few spectacular or interesting ways. Another friend was on the other team, and I somehow came across him maybe 100 feet away in the thin trees and despite all our shooting at each other, we never hit each other though his ball bounced off me. My gun jammed halfway through our shooting match when a paintball broke inside. I ran down the hill to a path and I came across the judge who told me that it was the end of the game. Another game I hid behind a dirt 'wall' and kept shooting at this other person, but he managed to nail me first with the paintball bruising the side of my neck before breaking on my arm.

One particular game had us get close up to each other and I was on my stomach on the ground shooting the other team. I was hit, but even after putting my head down quickly after taking a second shot, they were still shooting at me and it took a judge to get them to stop.

Years later, I attended a community college in northern VA, going into their network security program. I was required to take an elective in english or theatre. You can guess what I chose. The class had 3-4 other course sections within, all of whom were studying various aspects of stage. We decided to do Macbeth. Another person and I did some of the lighting and other stage setups. We captioned two of the performances, something the instructor wanted to do. This will be the subject of another blog post, an update of my Poor Man's Captioning (or Subtitling) Device located on

I graduated in 2005 with honors. The ceremony was at George Mason University. Halfway through the ceremony, the noise started drowning out the master of ceremonies.

Next - Extracurricular/outside of school.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 15

Attending College - Part 2

Since my family lived in southeastern Illinois at the time, I was able to take Amtrak home and back to college. It would take about 23-25 hours. The layover in Chicago would be around 8-10 hours. I managed to pass it by walking around the area including going up Sears Tower, putting my stuff in the station's lockers.

While on Amtrak from home back to Rochester, it wasn't unusual to have around a few other deaf going the same way. At one point, we took over two tables in the food car. When we got to Rochester, it wasn't unusual for us to pile into two or three taxis back to the campus. Either that or someone on the campus gave us rides. Once it was my roommate and I on the same train!

Another roomie I had was from southern Florida, and at one point, he turned up the heat so high, that even though the weather outside wasn't that cold, it turned the room into a sauna. No amount of begging or talking to him from anyone would get him to turn it down or off or open the window. At the time, I had an Atari 130XE with multiple floppy drives attached, and the heat caused some problems to occur, even causing one drive to fail.

It was also here that I started to get involved in theatre. I was in a couple performances, one of the characters being a dumb idiotic waiter, which I played pretty well. There were many good directors and instructors around the Theatre Department, some of whom are still there. I didn't just perform on stage, I was an usher, did prop and stage work, a little lighting, and then some. I still do a little performing today.

Next - College - final part.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bad Big Oil!

When I was reading through roblog's Gas Prices Rising on Refineries' Failures blog entry, I got to looking back. The oil industry has had plenty of chances despite all the mergers and plant closings over the years to either build new plants or modify/modernize their current ones. Will we see a recurrence of the 1974 gas shortages all over again?

We have the abilities and technologies to have cars with higher MPGs, maybe 50+, not the hybrids. Heck, by now, we could have had better ways of burning that gas so it burns more completely with less toxic and lethal exhausts.

If they modernized or built new plants, they'd be taking advantage of various things available today that weren't 25+ years ago. The plants could use less electricity, be computerized more or less than they are now, maybe fewer personnel, backup processing areas in case of failures, and a few other things, which could easily add up to less expenses. All that can translate to lower pump prices. It can be done.

So why aren't we there? Is greed rearing its ugly head again? It's not just the events in the Mideast, the weather, or plant issues. It could be a matter of time before we see another Enron or Worldcom meltdown, a rather oily way to go. The failures we're seeing now will only accelerate given enough time and inactivity. Until then, we'll be paying an arm and a leg to fill up our gas hogs. Do your part by swapping to a higher MPG vehicle or keeping your current one in good shape with tuneups, tire checks, that sort of thing.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 14

Attending College

I was accepted by NTID and I went into SVP 1983 (Summer Vestibule Program). It marked the first time I was going to be on my own in the dorms on campus away from home. That plus I was finally with other deaf people, more time spent with them than other times combined. This is where I was finally able to make and keep friends for much longer than my previous school years. I have at times found some from way back then. I knew no one at NTID when I first started there. Thus, like in previous years after a move, I started all over again in finding and making friends.

I was in Peterson Hall on the third floor all during SVP. It was during this time someone tossed a military smoke bomb on the opposite side of the fire door of where I was. Everyone on that side thought it was a fire and didn't leave their rooms, though there were a couple who did. It wasn't til much later when we found out more about the smoke bomb, which burned a crater in the carpeting and the floor. I still have the picture somewhere. They didn't get the person til about a year or two later.

My first year, I tried going into Computer Science, but had so much trouble with it, that after the third quarter, I went to NTID's Data Processing major. I was in the first floor of Bell Hall, which is now a childcare center. My roommate joined a fraternity and moved out, leaving me as the lone occupant in the spring quarter. I found later that it wasn't just me who had problems with RIT's course pace. I did pretty well in the Data Processing program. I even had accounting again, made easier by my having taken it in high school and was a tutor to some at times.

I had the same room on 10th floor Ellingson Hall for three years straight. Few people were able to do this, though I heard about a couple people who had the same room for four years. That may have been a rumor.

It was this time when I started socializing with other deaf more than in previous years. My signing skills greatly improved within the first year, and improved even more the next. I also managed to run a BBS (bulletin board system) on my computer in the dorms on the weekdays. This allowed me to meet other friends in the Rochester area, a few of whom I still keep contact with. I was also able to get out into the city now and then using the local bus service to go to the mall, a local Wegmans, the downtown area, and a few other places.

Next - College part 2.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 13

Going to School - Grades 10-12 - Part 2

Some classes in high school have pretty much stuck with me no matter what over the years.

I had a Photography class where we did black and white photography and developing. I'm still doing photography today. Even though I bought a used manual camera back in college and digital camera years later, I still prefer the manual camera. It's been used for special effects photography like fireworks and dance floor shots using laser light and/or glow lights.

Electronics class was just as interesting. The teacher was a funny person and sometimes had a little laugh with me about my squeaky ear molds. He would sometimes have demos of things and frequent handouts, which helped me out quite a bit. At one point, he had this capacitor charged up to about less than 100 volts, less than its rated maximum. I started going a little nutty when he gave me the leads. "Ah, just hook them up to my hearing aids or my ears and watch them go poof." Then I hold the leads and *POW*. Whoo... We're talking instant body contraction here. I'm fine here, but my heart's going a little nutty as well as my stomach for a bit.

At one point, we have a project to do and I chose to build an electronic organ. Our project tables had power supplies where you adjusted the voltage from around 1.5v to maybe 18v or around that. I kept increasing the voltage on my little organ, making it louder til it pissed off the instructor. I'm wondering how much voltage would have made the circuit pop...

I think it was around my final year when I took accounting. That's pretty much stuck with me as well, as I've found it makes filling out the tax forms easier. At the high school, driver's education may have been a required course, with one of the PE coaches teaching it. With anther instructor, we had behind the wheel practice. I had two other deaf with me, and this instructor didn't point to where should go. He made up flash cards saying "turn left," "turn right," "park," "back to school," and a few more. I passed the DMV's driving test and then the road test on the first try.

Next - Going to College.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 12

Going to School - Grades 10-12

Then with tenth grade, my parents transferred me to a small Christian school. This showed that they were aware of the problems I had in the School From Hell. With this school, everyone treated each other better. I had one instructor that went to the hospital for a heart valve replacement and was out for a couple months. The principal was also the teacher in a couple classes. The interesting thing was finding that he lived right up the road from me. I'm pretty much thankful I went. How much worse would the harassment have been had I gone with the others from the School From Hell to a high school they were going to attend as well?

Then we moved to Illinois, and the last two years of high school had some interesting times every so often. I had this history class where the teacher had this habit of walking around the room. I was taking notes on my own, and someone was getting theirs copied at the end of class, so that worked. I was just about on swivels trying to follow the teacher. I had gotten this new watch earlier, and was trying to tame it. Just when I thought I had the alarm off, it would go off. It went off twice in the history class. "If that thing goes off again, you go off too." I finally got the danged thing quit going off. I still have that watch today.

One interesting thing is that I lived close to the school, and could easily run home for lunch and study hall.

The graduation ceremony filled the entire high school gym. Two other deaf girls were in my class as well.

All those moves we had were due to my dad's being a social worker with the children's homes. That meant I wasn't able to make and keep friends for long. He was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma before Christmas 1989, and we all had a wonderful Christmas and final birthday in March 1990 before he passed away in May 1990. It was painful enough watching him go downhill that fast despite medical treatment. He lost his hair, became weak at times, mom had to help him with some things, he couldn't sleep in bed but was able to do so in a recliner, and in his last days, he was on a painkiller drug. Where he worked as executive director at the childrens home, they flew the flag at half-staff and installed a plaque on a little brick wall around the flagpole.

Next - High School part 2

Update: That watch mentioned above I finally retired after 28 years. It still works but it was getting more difficult to open the back to replace the battery. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 11

Going to School - Grades 6-9

From sixth to mid-seventh grades after a move to another city in Florida, was the beginning of the teasing stage, though it wasn't too bad. It was here that I was beginning to get some more socialization with other deaf outside the classroom. There was this interpreter in church, but my signing skills were still not that great at the time> An adult friend and I managed to learn together sometimes by watching the interpreter.

This was also the time when I started having class schedules and changed classrooms. One of the classes that stuck with me even years later was Home Economics. In this class, we did some sewing, cooking, that sort of thing. I'm still doing some of that stuff today, even hand- and machine-sewing. I think I still have a recipe or two from back then. One English teacher was a fast talker, so it wasn't easy for me to keep up with her at times. Another was a science teacher that had laryngitis for a week. I understood her pretty well.

The School From Hell starts in mid seventh til ninth grades when we move to Louisiana. This was also when my brother was literally dragged, kicking and screaming, from home to school now and then. Maybe I should have denied knowing him when people brought him up at school.

Since I was just a little older than they were due to my going to kindergarten for two years, some of these kids seemed to be a bit resentful due to that. Most likely, it was a good thing I didn't tell them about that little kindergarten fact as I'd probably never hear the end of it. One of the habitually overly rude kids said in one class, "He doesn't have a tan" after summer break. The teacher ordered him away from me.

So I didn't, smartass. I didn't tan, I burned. Shall I apply a hot torch to your backside where the sun doesn't shine?

At these two particular schools, they had announcements over the loudspeakers. The good thing is that they printed them out beforehand, and I was able to read them. The PE coach lived up the road from me, so it was an opportunity at times to talk with him outside school.

It was also around this time that I heard about MSSD. I had some printed information about it, but do not remember why I never went.

Next - Attending high school.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 10

Going to School - Grades 1-5

In first grade, I had this deaf oral classroom, and at the end of the year they told mom and dad that I didn't need to attend deaf classes at all. For the next few years, I'd be tested in my English skills, and was always reading and writing at or above my grade level. I had the hearing tests as well.

In second and third grades in Florida, I attended this small Christian school. I did pretty well there and everyone pretty much accepted me it seemed. But this is where some things ended. It was the beginning of my being picked last for anything. The kids would kick the ball high into the air, and we'd compete to catch it. Many times, someone would go in front of me and interfere with my catching.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my parents were told not to use sign/ASL, but to keep me talking as they were afraid that if I was to learn sign, I would quit talking. It seems no one thought of total communications long ago. It was either oral or sign. I didn't learn sign til starting around fifth grade.

Adoptive mom and I can't seem to talk much about it or go into it too much without us breaking down. It's still an emotional issue with us even today seeing how much I missed while being mainstreamed and not gone to a deaf school. Even though I did have deaf classes, it was only in the first and fifth grades, and even then, they were oral classes and didn't allow any sign to be used. It was also around sixth and seventh when I was in a deaf class with total/simultaneous communications, despite my other classes being with hearing classmates. My last two years of high school had a homeroom with other deaf.

I'd always be sitting at the head of the class, first desk in front. The good thing is that I'd usually be taking part in other classroom activities. That particular seating arrangement would never change all through my school years.

Then we moved again, staying in Florida. Fourth and fifth grades were with a deaf-oral class. There was still no socialization with other deaf except here. I had a second class with some other hearing students. It wasn't unusual for me to go to lunch before those in the deaf class and then go to the hearing class. It was here in this class that I didn't miss things and was able to communicate well with the others.

Next - Attending middle school.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 9

Speech therapy

Around the second year of kindergarten in Kentucky and/or first grade, I had speech therapy. I believe I did quite well, so I never went for a long time. It was, if I remember right, an Easter Seal Society thing in the downtown area. I'm hoping that next time I'm back I'm back in KY, I can go visit them again and see if by chance they'll still have my records.

They had all kinds of methods to help out in the therapy. One method that seems to have stuck with me today, even though I almost never used it, having used it twice in about 10 years, is when you feel someone's throat and lipread them. Then there was the requisite mirror on the wall. That "throat feel" method I used in a couple interesting ways. Once it was at a computer show on a friend's computer running a game, which had a narrator talking in demo mode. While watching the narrator, I put my hand on the speaker, and listened to the narrator talk. I understood just about everything. For a training video one time using the same method, I understood everything. Doing it on a human is the same process. It takes practice, but in some cases, will wear you out quickly. However, it's not for everyone.

Then for fifth grade, we had the occasional speech thing. The therapist would have us sit in a line of chairs and go from there. At one point, she had us "flicker" a candle with our breath without blowing it out, saying certain words. I blew it out just for the heck of it with an overly-pronounced "P" sound. It was around this time when I started learning sign.

Even today, while I talk well and am understandable, I still manage to mangle or mispronounce words at times. Even hearing people think I'm hearing when I talk. Again, in these times, there was no encouragement to learn sign and use it. My parents were told not to learn sign, but to keep me talking as they were afraid that if I was to learn sign, I would quit talking. It seems no one thought of total or simultaneous communications long ago. It was either oral or sign. This would later become an emotional sticking point with adoptive mom and I, seeing how much I missed over time.

However, who am I blaming for this issue of not signing? I'm not blaming my parents for that, even though they listened to the so-called "experts" at the time. The issue back then and still going today as I've said before is not to force a deaf or late-deafened person to become "hearing." The hearing loss is still there.

Best thing to do is to give them the tools they need for effective communications, which is total and/or simultaneous communications. Learning to talk and using your voice is one way to 'please' the hearies out there. Adding on sign language 'rebels' against the hearing people in a way, and still allows you to communicate. I will also repeat one thing I've said before... Hearing and understanding can easily be two different things for those with hearing losses. Just because something is heard, if at all, doesn't mean that it will be understood and known.

Next - Attending elementary school.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 8

Learning and Using Sign

I never quite knew what sign language was, even when one time I was with my family visiting a family friend. We went to church with them and then to their house afterwards. The husband's wife's parents were deaf, didn't speak, and only signed.

I never learned sign up til I was on a school bus with some others who signed, much less understood what it was. That wasn't til about fourth or fifth grade when I was taking two school buses to school. The first one took me to a school that used sign and voice, and the second took me to my school. My own school was oral, and never allowed us to use sign. I've mentioned before that the no signing part was an emotional issue with mom and I. John Egbert-Mindfield's The Speech Therapist Says ASL is Too Hard to Learn article reminds me of what I went through. I'm sure at least some deaf readers here identify with that posting. It's not that it "was going to be hard to learn," rather, they were afraid I was going to lose my voice if I learned sign and just used it.

It was on the first bus that I started to learn from watching the other kids. But even then, they kept giving me trouble when I watched them, and I got in trouble for doing just that. "AHH! *NOSEY!*" Can't I just learn from watching you guys?! I started learning on my own the manual alphabet, which took a week, then picked up some here and there. Up to seventh grade, I was able to learn some here and there due to some others that were in my homeroom.

Then from the middle of seventh til tenth grades, there wasn't much. Nevertheless, after that til I graduated from college, my learning and use of sign took off since I was always around other deaf who used sign. Around eighth and ninth grades, I went to this deaf camp in Louisiana. This was the first real exposure to those who didn't talk and used mostly sign. I did manage to keep in touch with a couple other people, and occasionally saw this deaf pastor who I previously couldn't communicate with since I didn't know sign. I could finally communicate with him as we I bumped into each other in different places over the years.

Then with high school in Illinois, I was picking up on sign all the time as my homeroom was a deaf special ed classroom and we had our own little deaf group that talked and had lunch together at times. Where they are today, I don't know.

With attending NTID in Rochester, NY, my learning sign had taken off just from my constant interactions with other deaf out there. But of course, there was a certain trio of ladies who helped out a little, two of whom didn't talk, the other did.

Next - Speech therapy

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 7

Getting hearing aids - Part 2

About ten years later, I finally get behind the ear hearing aids. They were better than the body aids, less showy, and you could hide them with hair. I couldn't always, since I've kept my hair short. I heard from someone who had longer hair who accidentally jumped into a pool with his hearing aids on. The aids were fine. He said all he heard were water sounds.

Even the BTEs had their hazards. I had the problem of the ear hook's threads getting stripped after being unscrewed and screwed back on once too many times. I was going to the bathroom and the thing picked that exact moment to fall in the toilet. Dad heard me exclaim, watched me pull it out of the toilet, and told mom what happened. When I flushed, she thought I'd flushed it away. No such luck, mom, but her reaction was priceless.

I had one pair somehow last me 16 years instead of the usual lifespan of 5 years, despite the abuse they got. This particular pair I got from when I was at NTID. I had one BTE fall into the water in the boarding area of a log flume ride. Despite the dunking, they worked the next day. The park closed the ride for about 5 minutes to retrieve it. In the same park, another time while on a roller coaster, one flew off my ears. It was found and was still working.

I had new ear molds done once or twice a year. You knew it was time to get new ear molds when they would cause feedback or you had to push them in often. It got to the point where I'd just delay getting new ones, and every time I'd laugh, they'd squeal, and I'd hold the ear mold in my ear. That little act was the target of frequent jokes, especially with a high school electronics teacher and a girl who went to the same school with me and lived on the same street I did.

Sometimes if someone wanted to find me, they'd just listen for the noisy hearing aids. If they were in a particularly rude mood, and it happened at times, they'd just put their open hand near my hearing aid just to make it feedback.

I'm still using BTEs today, and replace the ear hook and tube myself. What's your funny/horror story about your BTEs?

Next - Learning and using sign.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Computers in the Trash

One thing that's troubled me in recent years is not how many computers are in the trash. It's what's on them that can get you in trouble. I'm not saying this just because I'm a network security student. I'm saying this because there are too many reports of identity theft out there. I work for a nonprofit as a volunteer computer refurbisher which gives the refurbished computers to their students. Fortunately, the hard drives in the computers are wiped before we reinstall the operating system and other software.

I come across around several computers a year in the trash piles and in every case, they have problems. The operating system isn't updated enough, they're infected with spyware, enough personal information for a case of identity theft, imprisonment if the wrong person finds info on there and reports it to law enforcement, or a combination of the four. The best thing to do is to not just repartition and format, which leaves some info on the drive for recovery, but to do a complete wipe. You can format the hard drive around 3-5 times, which scrambles enough of the data to prevent much recovery. Best thing to use is Darik's Boot and Nuke.

One computer had an immigrant's financial aid info for attending a local college plus his green card info. Another had a few home movies of a man and woman displaying rifles together, had password info to get into his airline reservations account, and the owner's resumes, to name a few.

Look up Department of Defense 5220.22-M. This tells something about it.

Sometimes even the government overdoes things. Someone who worked briefly on a military base said that hard drives were routinely shredded since they had secret info or similar on them. Industrial shredders are great for this. Ever seen one shred a car, boat, or other stuff? Do a search on YouTube.

Identity theft can be harder for deaf people to deal with due to the amount of time on the phone and so on. There's been stories of those who have been through it at least twice as well as from someone who had to be reissued a new SSN. What are your experiences in this?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 6

Getting hearing aids - Part 1

My first hearing aids were body aids, which I got shortly after my hearing loss diagnosis. Mine was a single body aid with a splitter cord, held in a pocket or under the shirt via harness. It got annoying after some years of receiving stares from people who were wondering what that thing was. Was it a radio or something else? Mish's hilarious A Peek into My Childhood: 'Portable Radio' blogpost makes me wonder why I didn't think of doing the radio trick.

There were those who didn't know any better, and thankfully were few, who just yanked the things from my ears. "What's this? *YANK* *squealing from earpiece*"

You often had to make sure you weren't dribbling liquids the wrong way when drinking or eating. Did they ever make protective shields for this kind of thing? The alternative was usually to take them off and put them elsewhere, put it upside down in a shirt pocket, clip it upside down on your shirt, or something else. If you did get something in there, you'd be blowing and sucking on the microphone or something else. How would it look and sound if you did just that to a regular microphone out there just to demo on? Then there'd be the times I'd gross out some people by putting the cord in my mouth.

Back in first grade, all the kids had their body aids replaced by FM aids, which were used only in the classroom. For some strange reason, I went nuts, refusing to let the teacher swap them out, crying and acting up. She finally got it on me. About the only song I remember them playing through the system was something called "P. Mooney". It went something like this...

"I'm a whee, I'm a whoo, I'm P. Mooney."

Has anyone out there heard of this song? How did you deal with rude people about your hearing aids including those who threatened to or actually did cut the cords?

Next - part 2 of Hearing Aids.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 5

Hearing loss diagnosis

However, the first five parts of this serial don't quite answer the question of how I was found to have a hearing loss. As I said in part 1, I was born hearing, then it started going downhill when I was age 5, learning to talk before then. A doctor's letter mentioned the mumps, and a blood titer test indicated the mumps as well, essentially my proof.

Mom would call for me, and I would be looking around for the source of the voice. The funny part was that I had learned to lipread to an extent before they found out about my hearing loss. This was around the time I was going to kindergarten. Then I find out years later that I went to kindergarten for not one, but two years. Mom told me it was due to their thinking I had missed a lot of stuff due to my declining hearing. The good part about kindergarten was that it was within the apartment complex where we lived, so it was a short 5-10 minute walk by myself.

Today, that same kindergarten is now a community center and the playground is still standing. The only thing that's stayed the same is the high fence, while the play equipment has changed.

I'm not sure when it stabilized around a profound loss, probably around my teens or a bit later before college. It's not changed much over the last 20 years despite getting new BTEs. But I do know that it will happen sometime when my hearing loss will worsen.

But of course, the hearing tests that came two, three, maybe more times in a year could easily drive some kids to not want to have them. I know I'm not the only one who knows most of the spondee words, words that audiologists commonly say and have the tested person repeat after them. All of this in a soundproof booth of some sort, with the audiologist being in the other room behind one-way glass. If you were one of those kids like me, you were able to watch the audiologist carefully, somehow, and fake them out with a well-timed raise of the hand to claim you 'heard' the sound. Depending on the audiologist's skill level, they may be able to tell that you tried to fake them out.

"Say the word hotdog." "Hotdog" Lower volume some. "Say the word cowboy." "Cowboy." Lower the volume some. "Say the word baseball." "Hotdog." "Say the word ice cream." "You scream."

What are your experiences with this kind of thing while growing up?

Next - Getting Hearing Aids.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Article: "Sound and the Fury"

No, it's not something about the classic show "Sound and Fury." It's about a deaf football team.

It's about Coach Hottle and when he started with Gallaudet University. Teams thought they could easily beat Gally. With Hottle as coach, it was the other way around. Gally beat them.

Read Washington Post article

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 4

Adoption part 3 - Birth mom and I meet

We met up at her place in Arizona a few months later. The reunion was nice and quiet, one long hug in the baggage claim in the airport. Her husband has said I'm like a son to him. He's taken me on buggy rides through off-road trails in the Arizona desert.

Shortly after our second or third visit, her previous husband, my birth dad, called her and they talked for awhile. I'd still like to get together with him sometime, somehow. Through her current marriage, I have three stepsisters, and a few others that I've not yet met. Unfortunately, due to other circumstances, she and her husband are now divorced.

Through all this, adoptive mom has been very supportive.

A couple interesting things I found since moving to the DC area. When adoptive mom was in DC a few years ago, she mentioned that my first adoptive dad, the California highway patrol officer, has his name listed in the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial. He's buried in another state. I looked around and found a brochure on the Memorial and found it was on top of the Washington Metro's Judicial Square stop. She hasn't been there with me yet. When birth mom was in DC for a conference, we went to where her parents, who would have been my grandparents, are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

I've been to both places. The first time I visited, I wasn't able to leave either place with dry eyes.

I know many other deaf people have tried finding their birthparents. What were your experiences when you found them or they found you?

Next - Hearing loss diagnosis.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 3

Adoption part 2 - Birth mom finds me.

My birth mom beat me to the punch by finding me first, shortly after 9/11. Shortly after that, my Geo Metro was totalled after returning from an event in the late evening. It had 166,500 miles on it. Someone went in front of me at an intersection and I hit their rear passenger door. I wasn't injured, thankfully, despite the 35mph hit and things from the back coming forward. I managed to stop at the intersection's corner, engine fluids leaking a path. As I got out of the car, someone asked me how I was. "I'm fine. The car ain't." Exiting the car, I found my fire extinguisher got stopped by a few things, resting between my headrest and side of car. It could have been painfully worse.

As it turns out, I wasn't at fault, since I had the green light. I had no chance to avoid them. For some strange reason, they were parallel to and just about on the white stop lines in my travel lanes. Going into the median or or down a hill on the intersection's corner probably would have been worse.

The accident was a major factor that got me deciding what I was going to be doing next. Was I going to attend two local training programs, the local community college, or Gallaudet? The local community college won out since my applications to the training programs were lost in the mail when the anthrax attacks hit DC. One could say it was an interesting time for me.

I received something in the mail forwarded to me from adoptive mom in KY, since I had moved to VA a year earlier. It was from an investigative agency in Texas that said my birth mom had been searching for me and had certain pieces of information about me at birth. Responding to it via email, the investigator put me in touch with her.

After a couple emails, I asked her a few questions that only she would know. She answered them accurately. When I told adoptive mom about it, she said she nearly threw away that piece of mail. Had she done so, birth mom and I most likely would never have found each other, or we would have given more time. When I mentioned my hearing loss, it didn't matter to her. All she wanted to do was find her long-lost son and she did.

(Note: Rather than weekly serial posts, I'll be posting twice a week. If I get enough requests, three a week.)

Next - Birthmom and I meet.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Deaf Actors on Star Trek (Part 2)

My Deaf Actors on Star Trek post got good comments, and yes, I'm familiar with how the show is fantasy and sci-fi. Some of the storylines have reflected real life to an extent. Some things have become reality, as their communicators have become today's cell phones and PDAs to name a few things.

However, even though it's set in the future, with the the occasional mention over time of how the common cold was eliminated as well as a few diseases, there's always the subject of disabilities that you almost never see. In the original series, Captain Pike is in a wheelchair-like device after an accident in "The Menagerie, Part I" (first season, episode 15) in November 1966.

We also see Bill Cobb as Emory Erickson in a wheelchair in Star Trek: Enterprise in the fourth season, tenth episode, due to a transporter accident.

Consider for a bit that if certain disabilities were not quite eliminated, but helped to an extent. How would other deaf communicate with the computer and other people? Would they type and read the responses? Would they have duties on the bridge as well as other key areas on the ship? One might also have an interest in the subject of bionics, which could be used on those with hearing losses. They could be used in the Star Trek time frames, and they have.

One interesting thing... A commenter in that previous post mentioned a beautiful empathic woman with incredible healing powers. That would be The Empath on the original series (season 3, episode 8) in December 1968.

Kathryn Hays played the empathic character and is still performing today in her 70s.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Growing up Deaf - Part 2

My Adoption

Up to my birth, birth mom was, in her words, a recluse in her home, going out for her classes and meals. She took vitamins and that kind of thing. All this most likely kept her healthy enough to keep us from having rubella. Unfortunately, she gave me up for adoption right after birth. Even worse, her mother, who would have been my grandmother, never approved of her marriage to my birthdad. Birth mom and dad were students at a local community college.

It was two months later when my adoptive parents took me home. Adoptive dad was a California highway patrol officer who passed away in the line of duty a year later and it made front-page news. Then adoptive mom married my second dad and they were married for nearly 25 years until his passing in 1990 in Kentucky. She attended a grief support group, and met someone there. They were married for nearly two years til he passed away of a recurring illness.

I'm wondering how my life would have been different had birth mom not given me up for adoption. Would my health have been better? Would I have been hearing rather than deaf? What would I be doing now?

Adoptive mom had told me around a younger age about my adoption. Fortunately, she had all the papers and I went through them many times over the years. I didn't start searching til much later. I spent a little time at the library and the bookstore doing some searches including online searches. That plus some via email, but this one person wanted a bit too much money to check some things. Every time I searched, I went a little further than last time since there was more information available.

Fast forward to right after 9/11. Birth mom found me.

Next - How birth mom found me.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Trashing Your Work Computer

The Deaf Sherlock's Safety with your office computer! has some good points in there. It's not too hard to find articles on this subject as well. This will tie in with my next article, Computers in the Trash. Fortunately, most systems can be cleaned up with a little effort and time if you know what to do and use. I've often used these four basic tools to do the major cleanup including Windows' other tools and others as needed;

Spybot -
AdAware -
CWShredder -

Then other tools to finish up can be used as needed. I repaired Sherlock's friend's computer awhile ago. He got so frustrated with it that he actually kicked the thing. When I looked at it, the CPU was out of the socket, meaning he kicked it pretty hard. Amazingly, it still powered up after I put the CPU back in. After a few hours of cleaning using the above four and msconfig, we got it mostly cleaned up with a somewhat faster bootup.

I intentionally infected a second computer I have, and it predictably started having strange behaviors. A registry editor and the malware cleaners above plus another tool got it cleaned. Unfortunately, in some cases I've seen, the OS is so hosed, that it requires a format and reinstall.

I'm continually amazed at all the stories I'm hearing about people who go where and do what they aren't supposed to while at work even while the workplace may use access control systems and maybe surveillance utilities. Too many people say yes to anything presented to them without reading them as well as downloading and running anything out there. That's a sure-fire way to a trashed operating system, zombied computers, and badly-infected computers.

Just be careful where you go while at work. Sherlock's not the only techno geek out there...

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Growing Up Deaf - Part 1

One of the things about growing up deaf is that you learn to come up with little coping mechanisms to deal with various things as you grow up. You still use them even in adulthood up til your passing. In my case, I was born hearing, then it started going downhill when I was age 5. I learned to talk before then.

Over time, I never quite found out the cause of my hearing loss. Mom told me it was nerve deafness, also known as sensori-neural. Over time, I heard my generation in the early 60s had an epidemic of German measles/rubella.

Fast forward to around summer 2006 when I was preparing to attend classes at George Mason University. I had to get together my health records, but for some reason, seems some may have gotten lost and mom couldn't find them, though she sent me what she had. I talked with a couple people at the local health department who mentioned that I could get my blood titers checked for immunity to certain diseases, namely mumps and rubella.

As it turns out, I have immunity to the mumps, which is the reason why I lost my hearing. Interestingly enough, in my files, I have a letter from a doctor who thought the mumps caused my hearing loss. However, what of the rubella part? It seems I never had an MMR (Measles Mumps Rubella) immunization when I was younger. I had to go to the health department for just that. I beat the deadline by a few days to get in all my immunization info GMU's Student Health Services office. GMU said it was mandatory that I go through Orientation, which gave me all the info I needed for post-admissions requirements and class registration.

What of the time of my birth? I had to ask my birthmom about that. Adoptive mom was always supportive of me finding my birthmom. More on that later.

Has anyone had their blood titers drawn and checked for any kind of immunity? Was the information for personal use or something else?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Defining Total/Simultaneous Communications

This is a response to Patti Raswant's blog post as well as the DBC requests.

There seems to be some confusion about what total communications and simultaneous are. I was brought up via the oral method as a child, but then started using simultaneous communications later on. I often use sim comm when I'm with other deaf and with those who don't use or don't know sign language.

Observe these URLs;

Simultaneous communications, according to what I was told and experienced multiple times, is the use of speech/lipreading and sign at the same time. Total Communications is the use of all means of communications whenever. Meaning, in the course of the day, someone goes through speech therapy, and then at home, uses sign language. It's not time-sensitive.

Monday, July 30, 2007

ADA Updates? Should I Hold My Breath?

I was reading the ADA Restoration Act of 2007 post by Roblog, Jamie Berke, and a couple other places. True, we can use today's technologies and devices to keep in touch with people, but we're still missing things in vocal/spoken communications, especially in some critical places like airports and other loudspeaker-using locations that don't use visual alerts as well. Is there anything out there that can turn the spoken word into the written readable word? Sure, there's plenty of them out there, but some have to be 'trained' to the voice(s) that will use it while others don't need that. Observe the many accents out there that people have and the various ways people will pronounce and/or sign a single sentence.

But what's troubled me is the erosion of the original ADA in the courts. We're quibbling over the legal definition of the words 'disabled' and 'functional' at the expense of those who need and want to have good employment, housing, and other things. Read the background section on this;

Sometimes I'm wondering if the courts and employers understand that for most of those with hearing losses out there, that hearing and understanding can be two different things. Just because something is heard, if at all, doesn't mean that it will be understood and known, if identified. Just because someone has hearing aids doesn't mean they can use the phone effectively.

Will this finally assist those who have been trying to find a good job despite a good college education? Will it help those on SSI to actually get off and stay off, even with that education? Will a job be guaranteed after college graduation?

Personally, I'm not holding my breath. Congress, employers, and the courts will be making that important first step, the step that will decide the direction of things.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Affected Emotionally by the AG Bell Protests?

I find I'm not alone when I read back on the protest blogs, old emotional feelings like anger and sadness come up. I was going to put this in my Growing Up Deaf serial, but I felt it may be of interest to others out there. This was after reading Jamie Berke's Deaf Protestors at Alexander Graham Bell Convention on Deafness and The Deaf Sherlock's Protest 2007: Against A.G. Bell post.

Back when I was in first grade or a little after that when living in northern Florida, I was going through some testing of my hearing as well as, if I remember right, my English and reading skills. They told my parents not to learn sign, but to keep me talking as they were afraid that if I was to learn sign, I would quit talking. It seems no one thought of total communications long ago. It was either oral or sign. I didn't learn sign til starting around 5th grade.

Mom and I can't seem to talk much about it or go into it too much without us breaking down. It's still an emotional issue with us even today seeing how much I missed while being mainstreamed and not gone to a deaf school. Even though I did have deaf classes, it was only in the first and fifth grades, and even then, they were oral classes and didn't allow any sign to be used. It was also around 6th and 7th when I was in a deaf class with total communications, despite my other classes being with hearing classmates. My last two years of high school had a homeroom with other deaf.

At one point, MSSD was considered and I had the printed information. I do not remember why I never went. It's possible I would have met Sherlock there. Would I have gone on to Gallaudet or NTID?

I wrote something about the Gallaudet protests earlier, namely about the "not deaf enough" issue that Jane Fernandes brought up multiple times. At the moment, this four-part essay titled Whaddayamean not deaf enough?! applies to the protest, though the first three are relevant to this. Rather than repost it, I'm linking it due to its length.

It's the future of the deaf community at stake, I have to agree this much. One has to change the methodology first in at least some way, but not at the expense of their growing up. Forcing a deaf kid into the hearing world isn't the way to do it. The hearing world has to learn to accept things rather than force them where they may harm more than help.

How much did I miss way back then? A bit too much, but the damage is done. However, it's time for us to move forward and educate/inform parents that there are other ways.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Growing up Deaf serial

I'm going to be doing a weekly posting of my Growing Up Deaf serial. Jamie Berke did this on her Deafness site, and this gave me the idea of writing my own. Others have done the same as well. I showed my own family what I had so far, but no one's sent me any corrections, updates, additions, whatever, except for a few minor things.

Comments are welcome. I may have left out some things and they may help me remember more.

Monday, July 23, 2007

SSI and Volunteering

After reading the blog post "SSI + Volunteering a job = Perfect for Resume!" by Here I Am, it got me to thinking of some other volunteer jobs I had. Currently, I'm a volunteer computer refurbisher for a nonprofit. They then give the computers to their students.

Back when I lived in KY, I was a volunteer with the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival. I was with them for about 5-6 years, doing some office work at first, and then moved on to their outdoor Shakespeare performances as a volunteer floating usher. By a floating usher, I wasn't in one place all the time, but was all over the place. When we passed out the programs before the performances started, I'm usually midway down one aisle on one side. Then during the last two weeks of the performances, they added on shadow signers, who move along with the performers. When we did a short comedy before the actual performance, sometimes the actors would interact with the signer or sign themselves. Sometimes I'd be an interpreter for the deaf attendees at the gift shop in back or the snack shop. They even had me do a signing commercial about the performances.

I was also a museum volunteer with the local science museum. That allowed me to interact quite a bit with the visitors out there and sometimes do a science demo. To this day, the liquid nitrogen demos were my favorite, and I can still do them with the appropriate equipment. There were a few others I did, one being static electricity, but can't remember them all. I think I can be the mad scientist again. I got the lab coat and just gotta find the frizzy-haired wig...

I definitely gotta agree that volunteering is a great way to pad out your resume when not doing paid work as well as when you're on SSI and jobsearching/unemployed or going back to school. Heck, your foot's already in the door so to speak when you're going back to college.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ridor on "Perseverance or Persistence?"

I should have mentioned this earlier, but I've followed a lot of theatre chains on their odyssey of making themselves accessible to everyone. Some places go all out. Some places need a bit of encouraging and pounding to include a bit more accessibility. What Ridor did in his "Perseverance … or Persistence?" post last week got me thinking and looking back.

Sometimes too many nondisabled people think only of themselves when they build something and include things like captions or other related accessibilities as an afterthought. Building it into the current construction is cheaper than doing it after it's done. Observe curb cuts for wheelchairs and related. Sure, we passed the ADA for a reason, but this kind of thing should be common sense as we're leveling the playing field for everyone and not excluding anyone.

Of interest to Jamie Berke and I was a theatre being built not too far from us that opened about a year ago after about a year of construction. Every now and then, I would sometimes go out to the area just to see how far they had gotten. Currently, this theatre has 2-3 levels of parking below it with an elevator leading just outside the theatre entrance. There are some offices and a couple restaurants as part of the building, and the entire area around it has various retail shops, two grocery stores, a post office, a weekly seasonal farmers market, and is a short bus ride from a metro stop. We've both been there to watch captioned movies. Last time we were there, I observed a man with his wife who used a wheelchair, and they did pretty well getting around.

Another theatre further south of us in an outlet mall also has open captions and/or rear window and was completed about 2-3 years ago.

If theatres think it's too expensive to add on rear window or show open captioned movies, then they should think of how much money they're losing since many deaf only go to captioned/subtitled movies. It's also location, location, location.

Good job, Ridor! You've probably made at least an impression somewhere. Looks like he did in his WFD Conference post and the one before when he and the manager talked.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Deaf Actors on Star Trek

Have many deaf actors been on Star Trek, not just as a brief walkon, but as part of the storyline interacting with the crew? So far, we've had Howie Seago in Next Generation's Loud as a Whisper episode.

We've seen LeVar Burton's blind character Lieutenant Commander Geordi LaForge. LaForge used a vision enhancement device that went across his eyes to allow him to see. In reality, that device was a hair barrette. In the Star Trek: First Contact movie, he had an implant that allowed him to see better including some extra vision enhancements. You may remember seeing it in the scene where Zephram Cochrane is trying to avoid the Enterprise group by running from them and LaForge uses his vision ability and the camera zooms in on his eyes.

If a deaf person was part of the main crew and was on the show regularly, how would they restore this person's hearing? Would they use a hearing aid of sorts, maybe Borg-ish in a way?

Next post - Deaf Actors on Star Trek (Part 2)

Monday, July 9, 2007

Day Of 7s, Camping, and Wedding Pranks

What does one do on a day where it's all one number, namely the number 7? People get married, play bingo, visit their local casino, whatever tickles their fancy. There's this bingo place near me, and I still haven't gone there yet. All I did was sleep late, see a couple friends about something, then run for some gas, Sam's Club, and a hardware store. I probably should have played something today. When it was 6/6/06, I was getting things together and done for my attending GMU.

The Deaf Sherlock mentioned the last time he went camping. If I'm remembering right, he went to Knoebel's Grove in Allentown, PA, and he camped alone. I'm not sure what year that was. I went with him one year and it was a great time. I have my own tent, one that can sleep 3-6 people with two doors, but we didn't use it. Seems we were using this wooden platform and we were having trouble trying to get it set up. Out of frustration, he left to get a hammer and some nails. When he got back, the tent was up. The people near us and Sherlock himself had their jaws on the ground. That nearly started be being called "MacGyver." And no, I'm not the MacGyver Bond blogger. Personally, I've not been camping in a long while myself. I still got the tent, but it may most likely need a few repairs. We definitely gotta go again.

And, to Jay and Casey, hope your wedding journey be good. Maybe later on I can get you two a nice wedding gift, something I usually give newlyweds that they can use. That reminds me... I nearly pulled off a wedding prank back in 1997 and posted it somewhere on a forum;

"I came back from a wedding of my sister, and nearly did a Men In Black parody, after my brother and I lit the candles in the beginning. That is, put on dark sunglasses and flip the brass candle lighters upside down, like the way Jones' character used that flashing rod device. Unfortunately, my mother heard about the plan and forbade it to be done. [sigh] The idea went over well in the post-wedding chats...

"Had it been done by my brother and I, we would have had an annoyed sister, one house that came down, as well as an upset mother."

Well, heck, they did it to my brother by spelling "FREAK" on the bottom of five groomsmen's shoes, one letter on the right shoe. Or was it the left shoe?

But whoa... Suppose Sherlock, Paul Ealy, and I got together for a cookout at a campground? I'm sure we'll get people from all over asking for samples of what we're making. It could definitely happen.

And... Happy 231st birthday, America!

Friday, July 6, 2007

The 4th, NTID, Gally, and Adulthood

Gotta give the Deaf Sherlock a big hand at his style of making Shrimp BBQ Kabob. As it turns out Jamie and I were at the local Costco picking up a few things, and I had to make a fast run to the seafood kiosk to pick up something there. Seems the guy was towing away the first of several pieces of large ice coolers with various seafoods to the freezer in back. I nailed down a bag of tiger prawns when he came back. I didn't realize how much it was til later on after we looked at the receipt back home.


...and then I looked at the bag itself...

*FOUR* pounds!

Can two people eat that much for dinner? Maybe if you're two or three hungry teens... Have you seen how *BIG* tiger prawns are?! Fortunately, Sherlock was to the rescue.

We got the usual thing of hamburgers, veggieburgers, and hotdogs, but didn't use up everything. That kabob was a hit. Now if I can remember everything he used... Olive oil, soy sauce, big dash of something, red wine, garlic, chopped onions, and a few other spices. Stir, marinate, and two prawns per skewer with onions, green pepper, mushroom, and carrots. Then a few veggie-only skewers. All the kabobs were eaten. Yummers.

But of course, it was a good time having a round table with discussions going back and forth, including back and forth between our time out there and the present time. I'm wondering why NTID still has their AAS programs while Gallaudet offers that including Bachelors and more. But personally, I like the idea of going to NTID for two years, and finish the last two at RIT. Thus the "2 + 2" program. Some of us back then tried to go on to RIT, but never went far due to various problems with RIT's courses and other things.

Then some of us went in and out for marshmallow roasting, after what looked like a big poof of flame after Sherlock and Daniel started another fire with a little more than enough starter fluid. Reminds me of years ago, when I was trying to light a grill at a park, I used way too much starter fluid on the charcoal. I lit the stuff, and *POOF*, was right in the middle of a brief fireball. My grandmother and her two grandkids nearby were looking at me with wide eyes. I was fine, though slightly singed, now holding onto a burned-out match.

Despite NTID's age, it still troubles me to know that even though they offer an AAS, they at least have the capability to offer more advanced degrees. It may be harder to find a job with an AAS, but it should at least get your foot in the door to start the job you want, then take classes over time to get your Bachelors. I went to a local community college and graduated with honors, but after around 500 resumes sent out and 12 interviews in a year's time, all I got was a volunteer job as a computer refurbisher. This can at least get me somewhere when I graduate from GMU.

The major reason why I'm going to GMU is that I needed something technical, plus it wasn't too expensive. Another plus is that it was close to home. The downsides is that it doesn't have the underground tunnels that some of RIT's class buildings do, and the food court is not an "all you can eat" kind of thing like Grace Watson or the Shumway Dining Commons.

Next time I'm back at RIT, I'll be taking pics, more than I did at the last reunion and when I was there for classes. I will again be taking shots of all the wall paintings in the tunnels below the dorms. Some of the best paintings they had back then are now gone. They can paint the ceiling as well. We did this with the ceiling tiles back in art class in middle school long ago.

Daniel Berke, may your time at NTID/RIT go smoothly.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Lost and Found Pagers

Shortly before Berke Outspoken posted "Data Only Plan? Not Quite!" on her lost Sidekick, I managed to restrain myself rather well from killing her due to her nearly going overboard bonkers about it. I got plans for her next time that happens. Not to worry... I won't hurt her.

Since The Deaf Sherlock posted on this as well, I started wondering about a few things.

The local Washington Post had an article posted June 27 called "The Golden Rule, Slightly Tarnished."

While the article posts in a hearing slant, this got me wondering... What about other deaf people who lost their Sidekick, Blackberry, Ogo, or other pager? How did you get yours back? Did someone try to call you, IM you, what? Jamie's asked me the "what if" question a few times of what if the person finds, or at least has, her lost/stolen Sidekick, sees her IM name, IMs her, and tries to wheedle a reward out of her?

What sort of settings do you have on your pagers? Is it loaded down with private and personal info, enough for someone to imitate you? I currently have my Sidekick's mobile number forwarded to my IP Relay number.

What did you do in terms of getting it back, the reward if there was one, dealing with your provider, and getting a new pager?

Welcome to the new blog.

I've had a few people ask me why I don't have a blog. I've sometimes replied to them that I'm afraid that I'd turn it into a glowing nuclear slagheap one of these days once I started ripping into too many employers and other people. So, I figured I'd hop in and see what I can do without turning on the flamethrower to its highest setting of sun/nuclear. That's hot.

I'll see if I can post a little about myself here and there as time goes by.

I'm currently a student at George Mason University in Northern Virginia.

If you're wondering why the weird blog name, it's rather simple. My initials are RSG, I used to have a Geo Metro, now totalled, and I enjoy James Bond. But of course, there's another blogger out there called SeekGeo. I am not him, neither am I seeking to imitate him. We are two separate people and two separate blogs. Please don't confuse one for the other.

On to posting...