You may remember my "Low Vision Products for the Home" series I did previously, now I'm going to do one for those with hearing loss.
I do admit that this series is going to be much shorter as Deaf & HoH people don't need as many adaptations as those with vision loss, so I will also focus on various issues that the general public may be unaware of.
Areas I'll cover:
* In the Home
* While Driving
* On the Job
* Hearing & Listening (for deaf and hard of hearing who do depend on aural assistance)
If anyone has any topic they want to see covered, please let me know!
The week is almost over and you're probably flooded with videos and blogs about Deaf people, Deaf Culture, & ASL.
Maybe it perked your interest to learn more history or culture?
Maybe it perked your interest in learning to sign?
Now the question is Where? Who's reliable? I've put together a list of good resources to start off with.
Deaf Culture Books
These are a few of my recommended books to learn about Deaf Culture, Deaf Life, and more.
American Sign Language Books
A few ASL Books I trust, but please note you can't really learn to sign solely from books. ASL is a visual language and books "don't move". It's a good resource once you've learned to sign and want to look up a new word.
Now here's a list of my favorite websites for online classes, online dictionaries and social media groups to check out!
Even though I've given you a bunch of resources to check out and learn but the reality is to learn in person.
Take a class at a college, library, organization or even online. Teachers will be sure to show you much better than any book or app can. They can also give you feedback on your signing as well.
Then the next best thing is immersion, go out into the Deaf community and interact and practice your signing and your receptive skills (reading other signers). Look for Deaf Coffee chats, Silent Dinners, Deaf events and local Deaf agencies.
I really hope you decide to learn ASL, as many Deaf people have commented "any little bit helps".
Feel free to contact me with any questions, I'll be happy to answer!
I admit I had trouble coming up with something to focus on for Deaf Awareness Week.
I knew social media would be flooded with a multitude of different posts, vlogs, videos, and so on....all celebrating, educating, sharing, and more.
I didn't want to sound like a broken record, or get get skipped over because people "saw it already".
So, what do I do?
Discuss one major hangup between the Deaf and the "Hearing" or General Public:
Stop Pigeonholing the Deaf
Yep, stop pigeonholing those who are Deaf.
Stop assuming that "you've met one deaf person, you've met them all". We are as wide and varied as any other community with only one common link - we're Deaf. (And even that isn't common - there's s spectrum of hearing loss too).
I've heard so many stories among the Deaf community of different incidents that happened:
Those in the Deaf community come from different backgrounds, other cultures, different schooling, different experiences, have different talents, different jobs, and so on.
So, next time you meet a deaf person, it's just someone with hearing loss - first simply find out what communication method they'd like "how can we communicate better?" Text, pen & paper, lipreading, ASL interpreter, and so on. They'll be glad to tell you. Then just go about how you would treat anyone else!
Now Switching the Tables
Now I'm going to switch things up and address the Deaf community.
Stop pigeonholing the Hearing community!
Lately, I've seen a rash of posts and videos going around ranting about hearing people's audism against the Deaf community. Yes, sadly it happens frequently, but I'm not addressing that here. I've seen different wordings that are pigeonholing the hearing community. Such as:
See? "You hearies", "you as a hearing group"....you are also pigeonholing the general public that can hear.
Yes, there has been negative incidents on both sides but it's unfair to those who are innocent bystanders.
So, stop pigeonholing everyone and treat everyone as a first-timer into your world.
Continuing along the same theme as my Crab Theory post. I'll be sharing my feelings on an old phenomenon that happens in the Deaf community plus one recent one that has popped up.
What is Deaf Identity?
I know the Deaf Identity involves more than just the three I showed, but it is the simple explanation. So, let's take a quick look:
American Sign Language is our shared language in the United States and in some parts of the world.
It is NOT "English on the hands" or "gesturing" as the misconception goes.
It is its own valid language with grammar, syntax and all the linguistic rules. Deaf people use ASL not just to communicate but also to tell stories, poetry, jokes, visual vernacular, and SO much more. In short, we cherish our ASL.
Culture is "defined as patterns, traits, products, attitudes, and intellectual / artistic activity associated with a population".
Some Deaf Culture aspects are:
Deaf pride is calling ourselves Deaf - Capital D, as opposed to deaf - Little D.
We do not see ourselves as "broken", "disabled", or "handicapped".
As Dr. Bill Vicars of LifePrint puts it "So we renounce the label of disability and shun patronizing attempts to categorize us as having a "challenge." Not because we don't have a challenge, (we do), but rather because it is psychologically much more comfortable to avoid thinking about it and focus on other things. We go about our lives engaged in the process of "living" and are then confronted by certain Hearing people feel the inexplicable, irrational need to "help" us come to terms with and/or "realize" or "admit" that we have a "problem.""
Now, let's go to the phenomenons happening:
"Not Deaf Enough"
This has been happening for generations, where one feels "too deaf for the hearing world, not deaf enough for the Deaf world". Where one may have been mainstreamed, grew up orally (speaking not signing), late-deafened, deaf but don't sign, have a cochlear implant or whatever reason the Deaf "elitists" feel. (My word choice). These "outsiders" are then rejected, black-listed, or even attacked.
My personal opinion? It's bullshit! Everyone with a strong hearing loss struggle to communicate and participate in the outside "hearing" world. We face the same rejection, oppression and patronizing attitudes from ignorant people. We all face been left out and isolation in a busy crowd at one time or another.
New Labeling - DDBDDHH
Recently there's a "trend" that's going around stating that the word "Deaf" is not inclusive enough and "we" should be calling ourselves DDBDDHH. Which stands for Deaf, DeafBlind, Deaf Disabled, Hard of Hearing. Here's a captioned video explaining more:
First of all, that's a lot to memorize and fingerspell (and say). Look, I call myself DeafBlind because it's my identity as well as being a lot easier than saying "Deaf and legally blind", or to be more PC "I have a combined hearing loss and am visually challenged". Sheesh! Now you want me to say "I am DDBDDHH and have vision loss"? No. Just No.
Think the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) will now have to spend more on bigger business cards and letterheads to change it to National Association of the Deaf, DeafBlind, Deaf Disabled, and Hard of Hearing.
Let's stick with Deaf.
Cherish Who YOU Are!
No matter where you are in your Deaf identity search - still "d"eaf, learning ASL, have a hearing aid or a C.I., or already deeply involved in the Deaf community - whatever, be PROUD of who you are!
Never apologize for who you are as a Deaf person and never apologize for where you are in life. You're responsible for yourself (and your family).
Ignore the naysayers and other crabs (remember crab theory?) and keep learning, keep evolving and stay happy and productive.
In the Deaf community, there's usually some form of "Crab Theory" happening.
First, let me explain what that is:
"The crab theory is based on the metaphor of what happens when you put several crabs together in a bucket. The crabs crawl over each other, trying to get out of the bucket, and in the process, none of them escape because they keep pulling each other back down."
Deaf "Crab Theory" Examples
The "crab theory" is used in the Deaf community to describe the tendency of some Deaf people to criticize or put down the successes or achievements of other Deaf people. It may take several different forms: malicious and negative gossip, grudges, social rejection, etc.
Let me list some examples:
How to Fight "Crab Theory"
First, before you can break it, the Deaf community needs to be aware of it. Often this habit is learned and internalized and is "normal" to do. Others just go with the flow and believe and agree with their friends.
Dr. Jaime Wilson, a Deaf Psychologist explains that a good way to stop crab theory is Mindfulness Therapy.
"Mindfulness therapy will encourage you to have the experience and understand your own feelings...You learn the technical skill of recognizing the feeling before your action".
So, breaking the crab theory mentality starts with you. You need to break the habit of "pulling others down" or stop joining and encouraging others to do it.
Now, I know it's hard for organizations and clubs to arrange workshops on teaching mindfulness, much less find a qualified therapist who can sign. Instead I suggest:
Help Others Out of the Bucket
For those who have crawled out of the bucket - became successful in your life, do turn around and give a helping hand to those in your Deaf community. Offer them employment, internships, education opportunities and more.
Now, do be careful because there'll be a greedy few who will bleed you dry - energy, time, and resources. Do help, but with boundaries.
Successful Deaf people have turned around and helped their Deaf community, here are a few examples:
Now I want to give encouragement to those feeling the pinch (heh). If you're reaching for a goal, have reached your goal or are just being harrassed by others in the Deaf community.
That quote is the absolute truth! If your "group" constantly belittles you, tells you "you can't" or make you feel bad about yourself in any way - are NOT your group! There's a difference between negative critique and helpful advice. Some may try to offer advice how to improve yourself, but if your mindset is negative you'll see that as criticism, so learn the difference and see where you really need to look.
If this gets too much, you may need to find a different social circle. I know this is very hard in a Deaf community, but you got to think about yourself first.
Keep progressing in your life, improve yourself, your situation, your job, your life goals. Any progress is good progress! Think of it this way, while you're progressing slowly - you're still going faster than all the Deaf gossipers still sitting at the table complaining. Hmm?
Here's one last encouraging video:
I'm rooting for ya!
How many of you that have a friend or relative with a disability and when you introduce them to other people it goes like:
"This is Steve, he's [insert disability]".
Right off the bat you let a stranger know the other's person's "faults". (as it feels to us).
This was posted on Facebook a while back by J. Sims:
"Disempowerment by disclosing something personal like about an individual's disability without consent is a thorny source of feeling under-privileged!"
It's that individual's sole right to disclose their disability or not. Many are pro-active in telling the general public what they need for accommodations and we have done fine before you and will continue to be fine after you.
When you do that, it automatically changes the mental perspective of the other person before they've known you. Is that fair really? For example, friends and family would introduce me and go "she's Deaf", I can physically see the facial changes to awkwardness and other expressions and then they're "How....are....you". If you left out that part, they'll just greet you like everyone else and if I missed something I just simply say "sorry, can you look at me when you talk please" and the conversation continues without batting an eyelash. See the difference?
If you or I don't directly point my deafness out, it will become obvious to them, the ask to repeat, the deaf accent, and so on.
Let's turn the tables a bit:
"This is Joe, he's incontinent"
"This is Sue, she has 15 parking tickets due"
"This is Don, he has 3 mistresses"
See how freaking uncomfortable (and no one's business) it is now?
So, stop disclosing things about us without our consent. I know you want to help us, but I promise you, it doesn't.
Any People with Disabilities (PWD) have suggestions for alternate ways around this? Let me know in comments.