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.