June 30, 2010

Funny Widex Commercial

This commercial for Widex is both funny and sad, but so true!

Video is not captioned (I know! Ugh). So, I provided a transcript below the video: 

(Music and various background noises)

Woman: Richard, I can't go on like this. I feel trapped, like I'm in a prison. Richard, I have to tell you. There's someone else.

Richard: Right, right!

I am sure most of you have been in awkward situations like this, because either you pretended that you heard what was said (tsk, tsk) or you really thought they were talking about something else.

When a friend of mine told me that she ran over a puppy on the road with her car, I asked, "Oh, really? Aaaw, was it cute?" I thought she said, "I saw over there on the road, a puppy."

I was wondering why she seemed a little upset.


June 28, 2010

My Experiences and Journey with ASL And Deaf Culture

I remember when I first started taking ASL courses over 6 years ago. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it! Sign language is such a cool language to learn. There are so many things you can do with sign language that you can never do with spoken language. I wanted to tell everyone and I wanted everyone to learn sign language.

I also started learning about the concept of Deaf Culture. I was truly fascinated by this idea and never really thought that people would view being deaf as more of a "difference" as oppose to a "disability." I started really thinking about deafness, how I view it, how others view it, how I dealt with it up until then.

To be honest, I never really thought about my not hearing too well and wearing hearing aids ever since I was two. I never thought about being hard of hearing. It was not anything that people teased me about or made a big deal about. When my mother found out that I had a hearing loss, she was fine with it and did what she had to do to help me. She got me hearing aids and tried to help me advocate for myself in letting others know so they can better accommodate me in certain situations. I was not a shy kid, I did extremely well in school and got along fine with others. I was never embarrassed about my hearing loss or my hearing aids. It was not a big deal to me at the time. There were no concerns or discussions about my hearing loss. My family just let me be.

When I first started taking ASL and deaf awareness classes, I was forced to really think about my hearing loss for the first time. I was 23 years old. It was an exhilarating experience, claiming my deafness and finally understanding certain things about myself (why I tend to avoid large groups of people, why I prefer one on one, why I was really good at tuning things out, why I was always so tired after certain classes where heavy discussions took place, etc.). I began to understand how I was constantly not acknowledging my hearing loss by pretending to listen and by giving up listening in large group settings, laughing on cue.

It was as if I was awake for the first time. I finally starting to understand. "Oh, that's why I did that!" Or "Why didn't I tell other people I couldn't hear them very well?"

I realized that my hearing loss should have been a big deal. I should have been taught by deaf and hard of hearing teachers how to advocate for myself, what my hearing loss means, what it means to others, and how to deal with it. I was always told that I was fine and doing great. And I was doing extremely well academically and pretty well socially. But, I could have saved a lot of trouble and pain by learning how to own up to my hearing loss, learn more about it, and let others be more aware of it. It would have been nice to have been taught how to deal with certain situations (like conversing with a large group of people).

All of this realization came crashing down on me. I never understood myself so well before.

I am really glad I took up ASL. I highly recommend it.

I became super passionate about Deaf Culture, ASL, and deaf and hard of hearing issues. I would talk about it all of the time with my hearing friends. After a while, I could tell they became tired of hearing about it and being shown signs all of the time. I reached out to the deaf community and constantly went to different events, hungry for sign language. I was upset with how people viewed signing deaf people as "disabled" and I would be upset when I heard about people "pitying" deaf people. I thought the Oral/Aural method was plain wrong, and could not believe that parents and schools would often not provide access to fluent language via signs to profoundly deaf children. I felt really bad for those who went to the Oral schools for the deaf and were forbidden to sign. I felt awful for some of my friends who sat at the dinner table with their families constantly being left out. I knew one person who would bring a book to the dinner table. They were being excluded constantly, because of the lack of sign language and awareness. I could not understand why many parents would not learn sign language for their profoundly deaf children. I was highly opinionated about various issues and I let everyone know.

Then I went to graduate school. I was still very pro sign language and deaf culture. But, slowly I started to change my views again.

Just about everyone at school were focused on sign language and Deaf culture. Virtually all of my classes were about educating severely-profoundly deaf children who use sign language. I was attending several 'deaf events' where everyone signed. I was all for ASL and viewing deafness in a more cultural light. I even opposed cochlear implants.We do not need to 'fix' deafness, we need to embrace it. Although, there were times that I was told that I was not 'deaf enough' and never will be and that I will never understand---I just ignored those jerks.

Then during the summer, I took a cued speech course. I loved it. I really benefited from the class and learned how I was incorrectly saying some words. I could automatically visually see how words are spoken. It was so cool! I then realized that it does not have to only be about ASL. There are many other ways we can educate and communicate with deaf and hard of hearing people. There are many ways to be deaf and hard of hearing.

Then I started to thinking about hard of hearing people like myself. What about people who do not use sign language or who prefer to communicate orally/aurally? What about those who have mild-moderate hearing losses? Why aren't we learning about this population at my school? Why does it always have to be sign, sign, sign? I did not want to be so close minded anymore about deaf education. I wanted to open up my mind and explore other areas.

I started to learn about oral/aural methods, cued speech, visual phonics, cochlear implants, etc. I became more interested in diversity. Being a teacher today has gotten me more aware of how there are many different ways of being deaf.

So, that's where I am at right now. I am open to all ideas and I try to understand where everyone is coming from. I do not like to tell other people what to do or what I think they should do. I can only provide what information I have and leave it up to the person to decide what to do with it.

I feel bad about how I would force my ideals on others in the past, especially when I was super passionate about ASL and Deaf culture. I now realize that this is not a nice thing to do, especially when others did not ask for my opinions.


June 26, 2010

McDonald's Commercial Using Sign Language

I like this commercial by McDonald's. It is simple; just kids signing to each other using what may be Mexican Sign Language. Does anyone know what they are using? It does not look like ASL.


June 22, 2010

The Super Devoted Guard

There was this guard who stood in one place by the entrance of where the HLAA convention was held. He was completely still and I swore he was asleep, but his eyes were open. I did not really look at him, I did not want to stare. He stood there for a really long time. A few hours would pass when I would leave to get lunch and he was still there standing. What a boring job.

I never noticed that he was standing behind these ropes, as if he was an art exhibit. After a few more times passing the guard (after hours each time) I realized that he was a fake.

I believe this piece is by a Milwaukee-based artist, Marc Sijan. His figures look so real. They are incredible. I would like one for my house, to keep the burglars away. 


Surprised By Lack of Captions!

During some presentations at the HLAA convention in Milwaukee, I was really surprised and disappointed by how a lot of videos were not captioned or subtitled. Even though they provided captions on another screen (typed by captionist in the room) it was not fun to look back and forth at the captions and then the video. It was like watching a tennis match. "Wait, what did she say?" (Look to the right at the captions). "Oh." "Wait, what?" (Look to the right again, then back to the video). I felt bad for those in the audience who were severely or profoundly deaf in both ears.

Some hearing aid professionals showed a commercial about a new hearing device. A commercial made for deaf and hard of hearing consumers, its target audience, yet it was not captioned. It looked really cool and all, but most of us with a hearing loss could not hear what was being said, of course. The captions appeared on another screen on the other side of the room. It was hard to look back and forth from the advertisement to the captions.

A lot of clips from news and films that were shown for other presentations were not captioned.

I was surprised at the lack of captioning. You would think that they would try to add captions or subtitles before showing it to hundreds of people who have trouble hearing. It can't be hard to do, or is it?

I wondered what happened. Did they forget? Were they being thoughtless? Were they not able to caption the videos? 

This should be something future presenters should keep in mind for the next convention. Please don't forget to add captions to whatever videos you decide to show!


Describing My Hearing Loss

While at the HLAA conference in Milwaukee, I was struck by how varied the hearing losses were among the hundreds who attended the conference. They utilized different amplification devices, lost their hearing or acquired deafness at different times in different ways (some from birth, some were hereditary, some from illness, some lost their hearing during their adult years, etc.). Everyone communicated in different ways and/or spoke in different ways.

It was so interesting to see the different ways there are to be deaf and hard of hearing.

I am profoundly deaf in my left ear and I have a moderate-severe hearing loss in my left ear--but only in the higher tones or frequencies. The loss is not so significant in the lower frequencies (normal-mild). Depending on the situation, as in a crowded restaurant, or a quiet carpeted room, my hearing loss varies. Without my hearing aid, I have a harder time with speech and high tones or frequencies. I always have a difficult time describing to someone what exactly my hearing loss is when I am asked. Even my previous audiologist said that it depends and that she cannot describe my hearing loss using one term. My hearing loss can be severe-profound or moderate depending on the situation, she said. It is complicated.

Would I say that I have a moderate loss, overall?

I prefer to go into detail about my hearing loss if someone asks.  And if they don't want to hear all the details, I will just say I have a hard time hearing, end of story.


June 19, 2010

Hearing Loss Association of America Convention in Milwaukee!

I am currently at the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) Convention in Milwaukee! I am having a very good time and have been learning a lot. I am seeing hundreds of hearing aids, cochlear implants, and different kinds of listening devices. I hear a lot of, "Eh?" "What?" "Huh?" "Come again?" "What was that?" LOL. It is kind of overwhelming at times.

The best thing about it for me so far, is the support and camaraderie. I have met several people from my neck of the woods and I am excited about getting involved with them in starting more HLAA chapters and support groups for deaf and hard of hearing people. 

I highly recommend to others who are interested in finding more information about hearing loss to attend an HLAA convention. Not only do you have access to so many wonderful workshops and resources, you meet many different people from all over, who can be excellent resources and really good friends and support. I told someone it was as if mirrors were put in front of me as I spoke with others who shared similar stories of dealing with their hearing loss. There's a lot of, "Me too!" "Yes, I know!" "Isn't that annoying?!" 

It is nice to know that you are not alone and to have others truly understand you.

AND I met Speak Up Librarian! That was awesome. She is a very nice and wonderful person who looks sooo much younger than she really is. We had a great time. I am so happy I got to meet her!

I will write more about my experiences at the convention. I don't have much time now and I would really like to try to squeeze in a nap before the next workshop! To tell you the truth, I think I am getting a little burnt out on hearing aids and hearing loss issues!!


June 9, 2010

Get Up, Breathe, Learn From It, And Move On

A few years ago, there was a moment where I completely flipped out due to an annoying situation that happened because of my partial deafness. I was sitting in the back of a moving car with my older brother. My dad and my younger brother were sitting in the front. As always, I could never really understand what was being said in the front. To make things worse, the windows were down. They were talking about something that seemed important. All I heard was something about an airplane. My brother bursted out laughing. Naturally, I wanted to know what they were talking about. I asked my brother, "What are you guys talking about?" He did not respond and continued listening to them talking. I asked again. Again, he did not respond, but motioned for me to wait. I became very angry. I was incensed.

I suddenly screamed and hit the seat in front of me,

"What the hell are you all yammering on about?! What did they say?! Why can't you tell me?!!! I HATE THIS!!"

My brother calmly turned to me and told me that he wanted to get the whole story first and then tell me. He gave me that look where he knows that I am pissed and that I need to calm down and not be ugly. I took a deep breath and let him tell me what they were talking about. It turned out to be nothing that I would have found interesting. All that huffing and anger for nothing.

All those years of pent up frustration and anger suddenly came out from not ever being able to follow completely what is being said in certain situations. In group or noisy situations I usually have to hear it from a second source, not from the original. I am not able to be in the moment, to fully participate in it, and to enjoy it. I have to wait. I hate waiting. By the time I find out what the joke was or what they were talking about, the moment has passed.

I wasn't angry at my brother. He did nothing wrong. I was reminded of what I have to put up with in certain situations. I was just angry in general, and the annoying situation pushed me over the edge.

After my blow up, I realize that I never want that to happen again. I need to accept that this will happen again. It is a challenge, and it is up to me to figure out how best to deal with it. I cannot get angry at others (unless they are intentionally excluding or hurting me). I cannot let myself blow up like that again. If I am upset about something, I'll have to let others be aware of my frustrations and we will have to figure out how we can best solve this problem. Then I will need to let myself get angry and cry about it at home or in the comfort of my friends and family. I can't keep it all in to myself.

So, I know what it is like to be excluded. I understand the frustrations. But, I will never understand the need to constantly blow up and accuse others of 'audism' or performing 'deaf hate crime' over every little thing without giving a good explanation or dealing with it in a clear and rational manner. What good would it have done if I continued to be angry at my brother and to sit and fume about how my deafness keeps me from being 100% included in certain situations? I cannot expect everyone to bow down to me and make sure "poor little deaf Elizabeth is all right." I am a big girl and I can try to figure out how to deal with it.

Those who are new to deafness or who are very young, it may be a while until you reach the point of fully accepting who you are and how things will be. It is up to you to attempt to find ways to learn how to deal with certain obstacles thrown in your way. You will need to talk about it more and know when to ask for help. It is OK to get angry and sad about your deafness. But, don't let it get the best of you. Get up, breathe, learn from it, and move on.


June 8, 2010

Rabbits and Monkeys + Hearing Aid = Adorable!

Te amo conejo,



June 6, 2010

If You Are Deaf Or Hard Of Hearing, Mirrors Can Be Your Best Friends: Advocate For Yourself At The Salon, Spa, Or Barber

If you are a person with deafness and you get your hair cut or receive a back massage from someone who wants to have a conversation with you, it can be an uncomfortable experience. Especially when you are getting your hair done or cut, and you have to take off your hearing aid or cochlear implant. It is uncomfortable because you will have trouble hearing the person behind you or not within your eye sight, if you rely on lip reading. Most deaf and hard of hearing people rely on lip reading whether they realize it or not. So you may nod and smile your way through it, laughing on cue. Or you may simply say that you will be unable to participate in the conversation because of your hearing loss and the person servicing you will be quiet and will make sure to shout when he or she has a question or an important comment. Or they may continue to blab away.

Here are some tips for those in these types of situations wanting to engage and interact with the person who has to stand behind you or out of your eye sight:
  • First, tell the person that you have a hearing loss or that you are deaf. 
  • Explain to them that it is not volume, but clarity that is important. Tell them that you need to see their face. 
  • Teach them some signs or visual cues if you know any. 
  • Then take advantage of the mirrors that are available. Make sure you face the mirror and have the person be in the mirror. Now you can see the person and you may be able to converse with them or at least understand more of what they are saying.
These are simple ways one can advocate for themselves when they find themselves in these types of situations and want to engage in conversations with the person working with them. 

If someone refuses to comply or make the adjustments you need, go somewhere else and be sure to file a complaint with the manager.


June 5, 2010

'Enuf is Enuf' The Spelling Bee Protesters

Have you heard about the spelling bee protesters? A group of people, dressed in bee outfits, stood outside of where the Scripps National Spelling Bee competition was held. Their message? Keep it really simple with how we spell certain words. For example, instead of enough it would be be better to spell it enuf. The point is that when you look at a word it should be spelled in a way so that you can phonetically read it with ease. Basically, what you see is what you get.

Should I give more examples?  Instead of more it would be moor. Instead of instead it would be insted. But what about the past tense of read? (Which sounds like red). Would we spell it red? What would we do with the word red, as in the color red? It would be a bit confusing.

I see where they are getting at. And I think dressing up as bees is both brilliant and hil-lare-ee-us. However, simplifying how we spell words would be rather confusing. Maybe if we did this with certain words, sure. But not all the words in the English language can be simplified without it getting a little complicated. 

With some of my deaf and hard of hearing students who are learning how to read and sound out the words, when it comes to the complicated words, what I will do is write down the word as it should be spelled and then write it out in a way that it is simplified, which is what the Spelling Bee protesters are proposing. With the simplified version, they can read it how it is supposed to sound like. For example, the past tense of read sounds like red and the present tense of read is reed. And then I'll tell them that the word reed is a word that describes a type of plant and a musical instrument. Huh?

Yes, English is a bitch to learn. I feel really bad for those who are trying to learn English.

When one of my students was learning to read, I asked her how she determines how some words are supposed to be read. How does she know that the word enough sounds like enuf'? She told me, "You just know. You see them and hear them over and over again and you just know they are supposed to be read in a certain way."

It is pretty simple. The constant exposure to language is what helps many of us learn how to read. (Now, not everyone can learn to read in this way, hearing or deaf), some have to be taught in a different way. Or some will take longer than others, even if they are constantly exposed to good fluent language. Reading is not natural. We are not born with the understanding of how to read. We have to be taught it. I can go on and on about how just because someone has trouble reading does not mean that they are not intelligent. This will be saved for another post for another day.

Anyway. . .

This is why when someone has a deaf or hard of hearing child, they have to really consider which would be the best way their child will be constantly exposed to the preferred language of wherever they live. Constant exposure to fluent language models is the key to successful learning. Simplifying the spelling of words in the English language is not the answer.

My question to people who use sign language:

Over the years, have you noticed many signs that have been shortened or simplified? Would you feel that it would make sense to simplify signs even moor?

Layter Aligayters,


June 4, 2010

My First Year As An Itinerant Teacher: What I Learned

The school year is coming to an end!! Everyone is itching to get out and enjoy several weeks off not thinking about tests, paper work, home work, pop quizzes, malfunctioning smart boards, boring meetings, boring class work, "getting to know each other" group activities, sitting with hot sweaty kids who recently came back from recess, and stinky overcooked cafeteria broccoli, to name a few.

I can't help but to reflect on my first year as an itinerant teacher for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. It went by really fast and I feel like I am just getting started and understanding what my job entails.

Here are a few things I've learned:

1) Do not waste money on school supplies.

I ended up not using half of the things I bought, especially since I have access to a lot of the same things I spent my hard earned money on. I am practically given materials I need as I travel from one school to another. 

2) I will not view myself as a 'glorified tutor'. 

I do much more than 'tutor' my students. I am an advocate. I will focus more on teaching strategies and tips my students can use to help them be successful on their own.

3) I need to talk more with the adults I work with.

They are the ones who need the most teaching, not my students. I learned that many people have absolutely  no clue what my job is about. I will need to clearly explain it to others and not assume that they know what my job entails. I need to educate others more about deafness-related issues. A lot of people have absolutely no understanding of or experience with deaf and hard of hearing people.

4) I need to explain the interpreters' roles more clearly. 

Many teachers do not understand what interpreters are supposed to do or how to work with them. Perhaps educating them more about the interpreters' roles may help keep future problems from arising.

5) Never complain out loud (you never know who is listening). 

(Me kicking the wall) "Dang it! I can't believe this school changed the schedules again!! AAAARGH! I am so sick of this!!!" Suddenly, I heard someone clear her throat behind me. It was the principal of the school witnessing my professionalism.

6) Always remain professional.

7) I must remember to 'pick my battles'.

I will have to ask myself at times, "Do you really want to get into this? Really? Turn around, and walk away until the non-issue dissipates behind you."

8) Do not ignore the fact that you may have diarrhea and proceed to see a student anyway. 

Enough said.

9) Don't tell some people you work with that you had diarrhea. No one cares to hear about your disgusting problems. Just say you were sick. 

I don't know what is wrong with me sometimes.

10) Do not write anything in an email or a letter that can later come back to bite you in the butt or be used against you in court.

Or emailed to everyone in the school district.

11) Be mindful of what you say at meetings.

12) Stop taking on too much. 

13) Do more presentations with your students.

I had so much fun with the presentation I did with one of my students about famous and successful deaf and hard of hearing people!! We learned a lot too.

14) Forget about all of the silly things and drama surrounding  your job and focus your energy on the students.

I love you guys! 
You rock!