December 28, 2009

Deaf Rapper

Music video I found, by Signmark (Deaf Finnish rapper). I don't really like the song, it is nothing new. But, the video is fun to watch.
Signmark (Marko Vuoriheimo), sounds like a really interesting person. Not only is he supposenly the first deaf rapper in the world, he holds a masters degree, published a book, and has a day job teaching sign language interpretation. Read more about him here. You can also visit his website.

I wonder why it seems as if other countries, than the US, are more Deaf friendly (at least Deaf Culture and sign language friendly). Is it just me? Maybe I am wrong.


December 27, 2009

I Got Bored. . .

I was drawing with a sharpie and then I looked at my hearing aid.
It was bound to happen sooner or later.

Looks like a cute little shrimp. I think I'll name her Nelly.

Ok, I obviously need to get out. I am going right now to see my friend; socialize.
Have a good night everyone.


December 23, 2009

I SAID. . . .

The other day my friend was talking to me from another room. Of course I couldn't understand her. When I asked her to repeat what she said, she jokingly wiggled her fingers around in the air and spoke in a slow and exaggerated voice, "I s-a-i-d . . ."
Before you write her off as a horrible insensitive person, she was only joking. She would be furious if she saw someone do this to me.

You probably have seen this in the movies, where someone moves his or her fingers around in the air supposedly mimicking sign language and speaks in an exaggerated "deaf voice" to someone else who did not hear the person. So not funny.

But, unbelievably, this has happened to me before with a complete stranger, not too long ago. I was at my school's computer lab where I stood in line to speak with the computer tech about getting a password to log into my student account. When it was my turn, I stepped into a crowded small office where the fan was whirring loudly. The man was looking down as he was talking to me. "Great, this is going to be fun," I thought to myself. I strained to listen and inched in as close as I could get to him without looking too creepy. "Excuse me?" "What?" I kept asking. I was going to tell him about my hearing problem and that he should shut off his fan, before he did something that stopped me in my tracks. He wiggled his fingers in the air producing the fake sign language and loudly asked, "W-H-A-T. . . I-S. . .Y-O-U-R . . . S-T-U-D-E-N-T. . . I-D. . . N-U-M-B-E-R!?"

 I was shocked. I had to say something.

"LOOK!" I said loudly, "I have a hearing loss." I pointed to my hearing aid. "I was going to suggest to you to turn off the fan. I don't appreciate you making fun of me!"
He started laughing nervously. Then came the apologies. But, he still did not turn off that horrible fan!

"Ok, whatever. Ask me the question again," I demanded.

We proceeded from there and I finally got my password.

I am surprised that I did not grab the stupid fan and hit him with it!    


December 20, 2009

The Day I Discovered That I am Hard of Hearing

I was probably 7 or 8 at the time. I was talking to a friend of mine about how to get the right consistency of sticky mud to make the best mud pies. We debated whether or not the mud pies should have a rustic appeal to them with the bits of twigs and rocks. My friend wanted a more clean look. During our heated discussion, my friend covered her mouth with her hand for a brief moment (I think she was wiping at her nose). All of the sudden it was as if she was speaking a foreign language. It was just gibberish!

"I like the twigs but blabbity blah wah buh wah wah wah...."

I realized right then and there that I did have a problem with hearing. I rely on lip reading! But, like any kid, I quickly put this aside and continued to focus on making the perfect mud pie. I never really thought about it again or spoke with anyone else about this. I did not think it was a big deal.

What I would like to know is, why didn't the so called experts and deaf and hard of hearing teachers tell me this? It would have been interesting to me and beneficial to understand how much we rely on lip reading. Then I can tell others not to cover their mouths. I did not know I could do this. I was not sure if it was rude to ask people not to turn around or not to cover their mouths as they talk. I did not really know how to deal with these awkward situations. Nobody told me (well my parents tried to tell me, but who listens to their parents?). I had to figure it out on my own.

I try to talk to my students about these issues. I hope that I am helping them in some way. I don't want them to later ask, "Why didn't anyone tell me?"


December 16, 2009

I Am Not Ignoring You!

I am always making others mad, confused, or annoyed because I like to "ignore" them (when really I did not hear them). This is something I have to accept. I have grown tired of looking around me all of the time, like a paranoid person, looking to see if there is anyone trying to talk to me or approach me about something. It is exhausting.

I know that there will be lots of times where someone will say, "Hi, how are you?"or they may say "Oh, you look nice." If I don't see them or if I am not approached directly, most likely I will not hear them. I hate for them to think that I ignored them or did not care about what they say. There is nothing worse than someone not responding to you. I must seem like a total snob.

This is why it is so important that I let as many people I know be aware that I do not hear very well and that I am deaf in my left ear. I don't want people to assume that I am ignoring them.

I have had plenty of embarrassing and even frightening experiences where people thought I was being rude and disregarding them.

One time, I was working in an art store. I was re-stocking some brushes on a shelf, slowly and carefully. I was trying to pass the time. There were hardly any customers in the store; it was a slow day. When I finished, I turned around and was startled to see a man standing close to me, red in the face, and looking at me.

"Can I help you sir?" I asked, slowly backing away towards the main area of the store.
"Miss, I have been standing here trying to get your attention! I have been practically yelling "Miss! Miss!" for the past five minutes! You just had to finish putting the brushes away, huh?!" he yelled.
I smirked and said, "I apologize sir, but I am partially deaf and I obviously did not hear you. You must have been yelling at my deaf ear."

His eyes grew big and then he slapped his hand against his forehead when he saw my hearing aid.
He cried, "Oh! I am so sorry! Geez." He blubbered something about how bad he felt and he kept apologizing. He was really embarrassed.

Another awkward experience, due to me 'ignoring' people, happened while I was in New York, not too long ago. I was trying to get on a crowded subway car after a long day of student teaching. A group of teenagers stood in front of the doors of the train. They would not move, even though they knew I was trying to get on (oh, there were plenty of room!). I shoved my way through to get on, right before the doors closed. Relieved to find an empty seat, I plunked down and closed my eyes for a second. When I opened them, I looked around the train as I always do (I love to people watch). I noticed to my left that there was an angry looking teenage girl staring at me. When my eyes met her eyes, she started screaming at me.

"You pushed my friend! You pushed my friend! Yeah, you sit there and ignore me as I talk to you! You think you can sit there and not listen to me! Oh you gonna listen to me!"

She just went on and on about what a horrible person I was and then she accused me of being a racist.

I looked at her and said loud enough for everyone on the train to hear, "Maybe because I am deaf in this ear, I did not hear you. OK. I accidentally pushed your friend as I was trying to get on the train. I apologize for that. But, I will NOT apologize for not hearing you. OK?"

She stopped talking.

Junior High was when I first realized that I should probably start letting others know about my hearing loss.

My art class had an end-of-the-year party that I participated in. As I munched on some snacks, a girl I did not know real well came up to me and said, "I did not realize that you have a hearing aid!"

I stood there chewing quickly and trying to swallow my food (don't you hate it when people talk to you as you just put a bunch of food in your mouth?). I wondered why she was bringing up my hearing aid. Before I could say anything, she told me that in the beginning of the year, when I was sitting at a table drawing, she commented on my drawing as she stood behind me. Of course, I did not hear her. She said that she commented a few more times and I still did not respond. She thought I was ignoring her and being rude. So from then on she avoided me, thinking I was this mean and unfriendly person. Me being shy and not taking the initiative to approach and talk to people did not help either.
"I thought you were weird and being snobby," she said.

I felt awful and I told her how sorry I was. She smiled and said that at least she knows now. I remember feeling kind of sad. Maybe we could have been friends. Who knows how many other people perceived me this way.

It took me a very long time to accept my deafness and to really acknowledge it out loud. The more I started talking about my hearing loss and letting others know about it, the easier life became. However, I do realize that I will continue to anger and confuse people, probably on a daily basis, and that's OK. It keeps things interesting, I suppose.


December 12, 2009

Advocating for Myself

A few nights ago, I had to attend a class for new and first year teachers. It was one of those classes where they ask you to participate in a "fun" activity with the other people in the class. I heard some groans as we were asked to gather together on one side of the room. I rolled my eyes. I really hate these things.

We had to line up side by side facing another group of people lined up side by side. Then one of the teachers said that she will ask a question and that the group I am in will 'listen' to the person's answer (the person in front of me). We were told to 'listen good'. I immediately became irritated and knew this was not going to work. You see, my hearing aid had stopped working moments ago.
 When the teacher asked the question and people reluctantly started answering, a cacophony of voices from at least 15 different people surrounded me. My partner, the one talking to me, did not make any sense. "Wa, Wa, Blah, Da, Da." She said something about religion and being a Christian. I tried to 'listen good' nodding my head and smiling. 
Fed up, I turned around and walked to one of the teachers and I explained my situation. She asked if it would help if I stood closer to my partner. After she understood that the problem was not so much the volume but the diarrhea of noise, she suggested that I walk away from the group, and one by one, people (as we continue the exercise, taking turns) will come to me to tell me their answers. Everyone started looking at me, wondering what was going on, and the teacher announced that I have a hearing loss and that my hearing aid was not working, so therefore I needed to be in a quiet part of the room. I got more looks. I started to regret my decision to advocate for myself. However, I was away from the noise and I could 'listen good' now.

It got me thinking about my students and how I am always encouraging them to advocate for themselves.

"You need to let others know when you are having trouble hearing." "You need to use the FM system." "You need to let the teacher know when your hearing aid doesn't work."

It has been a long time since I had to advocate for myself. After this experience, I remember what it is like. It can be a pain, really. I do not like attention and announcing to everyone the problems I am having. It can be awkward, and it must be worse when you are a kid or a teenager. They are self conscious enough already. So, this experience got me to remember what it was like, as a kid, to be asked to do something that will bring attention to yourself, especially when it is about something that makes you different from everyone else.

But, I am really glad I advocated for myself in that silly class. First, it helped me get away from a situation that made me uncomfortable. Second, the teachers of this class will be more thoughtful next time when asking others to do this exercise. Perhaps they will do away with it. Third, it made me be more aware of what my students may be going through.

At the end of the class, another teacher, who is a teacher of one of my students, came up to me and told me how happy she was that I advocated for myself. She said that she will tell our student about it. Typical teacher, she smiled and said, "Good for you!" I felt like a little kid again, but I smiled at this and it made me feel somewhat proud of myself. I can say that I practice what I preach.

I owe it to my students.


December 8, 2009

Little Old Lady Mistook Her Hearing Aid for a Milk Dud

Some old lady in Texas starts chewing on her hearing aid thinking its a Milk Dud. Somehow her hearing aid fell into the container of Milk Duds she was eating from. LOL. She noticed that one of the Milk Duds would not "soften up," yuck. Surprisingly, the hearing aid survived the whole ordeal. I am guessing it was a small in-the-ear hearing aid.

Are there other people out there who have done the same thing? I have only experienced toddlers chewing on their hearing aids, either from boredom or because they did not know any better.

Read more about it on Debbie Does Drivel. I love this Blog!


December 5, 2009

Gruesome Death Involving a Hearing Aid

I remember this scene from Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991). It scared me as a kid. Now looking at it, it's hilarious. But it still makes me cringe. It shows a guy, Carlos, being tormented by Freddy Kruger. Freddy uses Carlos' hearing aid to kill him in a horrible way. Poor Carlos.
Who came up with this idea?

Oddly enough, when I saw it as a kid, I thought it was cool that they included a hard of hearing person who wears a hearing aid. I was like, "Someone like me!" Sadly, this was the only hard of hearing person I remembered seeing on T.V. or in the movies at the time.

WARNING: This clip is pretty gory. It may be offensive to some.