This was one of my very first posts on my old site, it still applies today and still a good lesson to learn.
Being a person with two disabilities I've grown up with "gawkers". You know the type, people that just have to stop what they're doing and stare at you.
It's a fact of life for people with different disabilities. Whether you're Deaf, Blind, in a wheelchair, a little person, missing a limb, or have scars - you've lived with being stared at.
The majority of them are children, with their natural curosity for life, stare at people who are different and "new" to them. But because their parents hush them and turn them away from us, they learn that "being different" must be "Bad and Awful". So begins the cycle of ignorance which sometimes leads to discrimination.
Why do we "gawk"? It's a natural response to look closer at something that we've rarely seen that we'd want to "burn it to memory" in case we'd never see it again. Oh come on! Don't tell me you've never stared at another human being before! Ever stared at some heavily tattooed person with 200 piercings walking by? How about the "well endowed" woman on the beach in a skinny bikini? Ever grumbled about why the traffic is so slow up ahead, approach the scene of the accident, then slow down yourself so you can look at the car wreck yourself??
Come-on! We've all done it!
The difference is what do you do about it? If you're curious then just approach the person and ask questions, I know I'll appreciate the opportunity to "educate" someone than tolerating the "lost deer in headlights look". If the individual is comfortable "in their skin" (meaning they've accepted themselves as differently-abled), they'll be willing to share their life story with you. Then you'll leave with better understanding of different people who are woven into the fabric of life.
But there are some individuals who a) have not accepted themselves; and/or b) believe that their "problems" are everyone elses' except their own. Sad but true. They will lash out at anyone staring at them. What do we do with these people? Ignore them? Scream at them? No, we just need to be patient. These people are still working out their "inner demons", whether they're angry at their disability or angry at others for causing their disability (real or imagined).
All things considered, it still isn't polite to stare! ASK! We'll both come away learning something new.
Don't forget to think your question through....or you'll end up in another edition of my "Are you THAT Clueless" blog post. :)
"One finds limits by pushing them" ~ Herbert Simon
Just got off after another long Relay Service call filled with the usual "irks" and misunderstandings...
First, what is a Relay Service? It's an operator service that allows Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deafblind, or Speech Impaired to make telephone calls to hearing users.
It's basically Deaf caller calls Relay Service - Operator calls Hearing Phone - Operator relays verbally what Deaf person says and then relays what the Hearing Person answers. It's done either by TTY (teletype), Internet Relay (IP-Relay), Mobile phone, or by Videophone where it's hooked to TV and camera shows operator and Deaf signing to each other.
Now back to the irks....
* Person addresses you in the 3rd person - "Tell her I said..." I've tried over and over to correct them "Please address me directly in first person" "Okay...tell her that..." *sigh*
* Make a call, Relay says "This is Operator #____ you have a relay call from" *CLICK* the other line hangs up. Call back and explain again "Oh I thought it was a telemarketer". Grrr...
* Gender mixups - Being addressed as Sir/Madam when you're not but the relay operator is. "We'll do that for you Sir" "It's Ma'am" *stammering* "Uh okay". Doesn't help when I have a "unisex" name either!
* Hearing Caller is uncomfortable with "same sex" operator calls. Back when I was dating my now hubby, we had a male operator, and I typed "I love you" and he's hearing a man say that..."UGH" *Cringe*
* Try calling someone numerous times to no answer. Then see that person and say "I tried calling several times" "Your number never showed on my Caller I.D." "It's going to be a Relay Service number!!" "Oh that who it was??" *facepalm*
* Calling a place of business such as a Bank, Hospital, etc and inquiring about your account or test results etc. "Sorry I cannot tell you that information because I'm not speaking directly to that person" "But you ARE!" "Well we can't go through third parties so if you would come in and fill out some paperwork (in triplicate) that will give us permission to share information with a third party...." ARGH!!!!!
* The Relay Operator will relay everything that is said or heard, so don't yawn, burp or fart, I do not wanna see it on my screen! Also you cannot ask the operator to emote for you "So did she sound/look mad?" that will just be relayed to me. I also get a lot of "(side conversation going on)" so don't have a second conversation with someone else in your house!
So here's how to make a Relay call:
1. Call 711 to get the access number for your State
2. Give the operator the Deaf person's phone number
3. Speak more slowly - remember everything's being typed
4. Speak directly to the other person not to the operator.
5. Say "Go Ahead" (GA) when you're done and it's the other person's turn to talk.
6. Say "Stop Keying" (SK) when you're done and ready to hang up.
7. In the case of a Videophone you don't need to say GA or SK
It's that simple! Now go reach out and touch someone Heh!
"One finds limits by pushing them" ~ Herbert Simon
The Walking Dead Season 4 starts this weekend! So I thought it would be a good time to repost this old post I did February 2012.
The other day, after explaining I was Deaf and legally Blind, I got the pitiful comment: "Oh I could never be Deaf or Blind.".
I've also heard:
"I wouldn't know what to do!"
"I would never survive..."
"I'd rather curl up and die..."
"I feel sorry for you..."
So let me put it into an analogy you might understand. How about in the context of the Zombie Apocalypse craze we're experiencing on TV and in Movies? Like "The Walking Dead" on AMC. A highly successful TV series (with over 5.3 million people watching Season One; and over 7 million watching Season 2). (yeah yeah I'm a fan shhh)
A) So what if tomorrow ya woke up in a Zombie Infested world? Hole yourself up in your house? Don't forget there won't be electricity so there's no Video Games, Texting, IM, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or Pinterest! Ok so after the Electronics Withdrawals have subsided, now what?
B) So what if you wake up one day and you were disabled? After you've gone through the 7 stages of Grief, you'll wonder what's next.
2. First Steps
A) "I wouldn't know what to do!" - Find a grocery store or restaurant and grab some food. "But that's stealing!" - Fine, starve. "I can't eat that!" - Like you have a choice? Shaddup and eat the Kitty Kabobs.
B) "I wouldn't know what to do!" - Then learn! Find out everything about your disability, it's cause and prognosis. Find an agency to teach you new skills. "I can't learn a new language (Sign Language/Braille)" - Then you'll be "holed up" in your little world with little outside interaction/communication. "I'll look stupid using this (wheelchair/white cane/prosthesis)" - Think of it as a tool and not a "label". Trust me, you'll look stupider trying to get around without.
A) "I would never survive" - The human spirit has a strong will to live, find other survivors and pool your resources and support. Learn from others skills you don't have. "I've never fired a gun before" - Just aim and squeeze the trigger. "I've never shot anyone" - First time for everything.
B) "I would never survive" - Find a local or online disability support group. Finding out others are going through the same struggles can uplift you and not feel so alone. Share experiences on what's working or not working for you, others might know a better way of doing things.
A) "I'd rather curl up and die" - Then you're Zombie Fodder, short and simple.
B) "I'd rather curl up and die" - Fine, be a burden on your loved ones, your friends, the system and everyone else.
Just like the characters in the show who didn't ask to be there but were forced into the situation. I didn't ask to be Deaf or Blind. It was just the "pokerhand I was dealt". I don't need you feeling sorry for me, being patronizing and condescending, assumptions of inferior intellect, or just plain rudeness! So next time you get the urge to blurt out a selfish comment, think about the person you're talking to. Besides, if this is the way you act and think all the time, then you'd be safe in a Zombie Apocalypse. Zombies only like brains - and you don't have one!
Comparison between Accessibilty Equipment for Deaf, Blind & Deafblind.
I hope this video dispels the common myths about "Blind" people.
I've got a summer cold, or allergies so I'm sniffly & sneezy.
Made me think of my old cough medicine episode!