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Another shooting.  More young people and teachers/professors cut off in their prime before their time. More anxiety among the youth who bombard the authorities with questions such as: “I’m 15 and scared. Is this how schools are supposed to be?”  “I’m 14 years old and want to live through my college years but how can I be sure that will happen?”

If only we could know what goes on in the minds of the shooters’ heads – the reason behind their actions and what prompted them to take a deliquient path into the unknown.  So many questions and no ready answers.  All too often those things happen so quickly and unexpectly that there’s no time to react except to escape – or die.

This happens not only in America but in European schools also.  We’re not alone in this concern for our schools, which should be the last place for extreme violence to take place.  But it’s not.  Even the Amish community proved vunerable to these actions,  which occured in Pennsylvania of just a few months ago.

As recent as I could find, a school in  Erfurt, eastern Germanym a gunman (former pupil) opened fire in that school, killing 17 people before he turned the gun on himself. This was in April of 2002.

The list goes on to include another incident in Germany with a former pupil killing his headmaster and setting off pipe bombs in the technical school in Freising near Munich.  He also turned the gun on himself. Date: February of 2002

This also happened in Sanaa, Yemen and Dunblane, Scotland… and likely other places in Europe.

The victims and families react in the same way as in America –  shock, disbelief and a lot of questions.

What will it take?  The security found in most insitutions are apparently found to be wanting.  This was in evidence recently at Gallaudet University when a basketball coach was attacked and wounded in his office during campus hours.  This only served to prove how easily it could have turned into another major tragedy if its that easy for a person to enter the grounds –  armed and with a wire loose in his head.  (thus far, there have been no reports of any female taking this kind of action).

What is it that triggers males into this action and no females?  If only one of the gunmen could be captured before he turns the gun onto himself, then we might find some common answers to the questions being asked. But the biggest question lies ahead of us..  how do we prevent this from happening again?

Take a moment of silence for the victims of the Virginia Tech University.

Tonight I actually sat down on my sofa with a bowl of popcorn and watched TV.. something which is rare for me. I don’t really do ‘channel- surfing’ and ended up watching a show I always liked.. Law and Order/ CI (criminal intent).. it was one of those channels that has back to back TV shows and this was one of them. One in particular really caught my eye because it was about deaf people and CI implants.. it was a murder mystery with a ear surgeon being shot to death and they thought a deaf person committed the crime. I didn’t catch the actors’ names but in thinking about it, I had to wonder if any of them were really deaf.  I did spot a couple of actors who appear to be genuine.. 🙂   correct me if  I am wrong!

What really bothered me was the context of the message being sent. Several times – usually in ‘questioning the suspects and victims’, this phrase was used. (to the best of my memory) “You were afraid that if she had the CI operation, she would become hearing and leave you.” “So this type of operation can make a deaf person become hearing?”

Those kind of questions and comments were neither refuted or denied.   This is the kind of public information sent out to a hearing audience that can lead to unrealistic expectations and misinformation – not to mention perpetuating a common myth that a deaf person can become hearing via an CI implant.

All of which you and I know, are untrue. What do you think happens when they take their hearing aids out? They have absolutely NO residual hearing left at all, due to being destroyed during the surgical process. Without their CI, they are completely deaf.

How – on – earth – can – any – screenwriter – FAIL – to – do – their – research???????

This is a sensitive subject and at best, an controversial one in the deaf and hearing communities. If hearing parents (at least those who do not have the in depth information) should happen to see this kind of myth being expanded on while watching TV.. what do you think is going to happen?

Did any of you happen to catch this show? I believe it was a rerun and it was aired on Wed night, April 11, 2007 on Fox 26 (I think).. otherwise, the show itself was good – and I enjoyed it. But..

Here.. I can do better than that.. here’s the link. You can see some of the video in that site. Be sure to look for the episode ‘Dr. Abel Strauss: Did Dr. Strauss silence Dr. Mallory forever? ‘

http://www.nbc.com/Law_&_Order:_Criminal_Intent/video/#mea=85837

What do you think? Am I over-reacting? 🙂

Anyhoo..  will catch ya the next time!

RFW

Whew.. I spent all day today (Sunday) lazying around and even ignored my dishes.  (no, they didn’t bite when I passed them).  Truth to tell, I was recuperating from a two-day show and sale sponsored by the Arkansas Sculptors’ Guild second annual Invitational show/sale held down by the river in my home town (Little Rock).

While most of it was ok, I still had to content with *ahem* hearing people’s lack of comprehension about dealing with the deaf.  I had a perfectly nice short note on my table letting them know I am deaf (didn’t want them to think I was ignoring ’em) and still they came up and started talking.  (can’t they read???)   One man (I made a vow not to call them stupid hearing people) (ok.. so I just did.. sue me) kept on talking, leaning in closer and closer when I made it clear I didnt understand him (had my hearing aid on –  not that it did me a lot of good).  I kept asking him to simply write it down and he literally stood up and held up his hand, shook his head and walked off.   Ohhh  I wanted to smack him.

THEN this woman who claimed to have learned some signs (very badly) and when that failed, she came around the table and came right up to me.  (invaded my personal space!!!!!!!!  ACCCKKKK!!!!) and tried to talk right into my face..  I damned near pushed her away, and ended up backing away while telling her she was making it worse.

What’s a deaf artist supposed to do in a hearing artists environment, I ask ya?  me think if they hold it again next year, I will ask them if they will pay for half of an interp’s fee and I can come up with the other half..  but frankly they’re usually a full two day event  which means $$$$.

*sign*

Let me say something on this..  I think there is a real need for some kind of deaf artists’ retreat or an conference to work with resolving problems encountered in the hearing world –  many of us do have to associate with hearing people – especially those who are gallery owners, patrons, possible clients and collectors.  Who would be responsible for providing interps for deaf artists who are being featured  in gallery receptions?  What about painting/sculpture workshops with full access?  And while I’m on this tirade, how about art centers and organizations who sponsors workshops geared for the hearing artists….. and yet I hear of none destinated for the deaf.  Why?  In summer time, there are many art classes and the hearing do not have to think twice about enrolling in them (or enroll their children)..  but where does that leave the deaf community and/or the deaf kids?  ZIP.      I realize that in my area, there is probably a limited interest in this kind of venue but I don’t doubt for a minute that other deaf artists faces the same situation I encounter here.

How can this be resolved?  I think there is a growing interest in the arts amid the deaf community across the country, due to improved education, exposure and mainstreamed programs.  This was evident at the Deaf Way II in 2002.  You wouldn’t believe how many deafies were buying art there!  The only opportunities I’d had to compete with my deaf peers in the art community was in Nashville, TN and they were with a focus on the aspect of De’Via (in ASL, Deaf Art View) or Deaf art.  While I welcome this, I’d like to see other categories of art in juried shows for the deaf too.

Comments, anyone?  If you know a deaf artist…  fer god’s sake, send this to them and get ’em to send their viewpoints.   Did you ever want to take art lessons but …..?  Then say something 🙂

Ah me..  I believe I have vented and feinted enough…

oh have a nice April Fool’s day.. (BUT the above post is true-biz!)

Til next time

RFW

Stealing ASL?

No no.. maybe not literally ‘stealing’ our language.. but just a short time ago I was watching a program on animal planet (channel 54) and a advertisement came on…

I guess I was still keenly aware of this in the aftermath of Amy’s recent Vlog but …

guess what the ad was showing?

Babies.   Several babies sitting in a circle and surrounded by happy, smiling mothers.   The mothers were sitting on there knees, gesturing and encouraging their little darlings to sign.

Yes.. sign!  Hearing babies and mothers using baby signs to communicate their needs.

What really gets me is when the spokeswoman (assuming this is the ‘owner’ of the program –  for lack of a better way to put it) was talking about the program and its success.  She actually used the word ‘enpowering’ when applied to the babies getting their needs met.

*shaking head here*

Maybe I am touchy on this.. but I can see how easy it would be for someone to learn the basis signs and turn it into a profit and help others at the same time.  I’d bet my bottom dollar that if such a person was to encounter a Deafie, she’d be completely lost.

When I see the hearing mothers sitting in a circle around their children, their faces happy and smiling,  my thoughts ran over this:  If they only knew the history of speech therapy victims’ histories…  being denied access to other options of communication, be it ASL or other forms of sign.

Where was enpowerment back when we needed it?

If you haven’t seen Amy Cohen Efron’s recent vlog by now…

GO

Her presentation hit it right on the nail (or should I say nerve?). What is it about us that drives hearing parents to grope about for an answer? WHY is is that they don’t/won’t take the consideration of the child’s self-esteem and confidence into the factor when deciding what to do?

Here’s the truth here. By and large, the whole process of speech therapy and/or CI surgery is to make it more convenient for the hearing parents/family in terms of communication. We became an inconvenience the moment we were born. We’re the ‘problem child’.

This upsets the expectations of the parents upon finding out their new child is deaf – especially if they’d never had any encounter with a deaf person before. Many of them reach out for answers, often from professionals who’d been indoctrined with the concept of what’s acceptable.

How many audiologists do you know who can sign? I’d encountered only ONE who’d learned the basic signs and some fingerspelling – which I thought was ironic, considering their profession. To further point out the insensitiveness of the audiology staff, they rarely wave or come and get you when your turn comes. Instead the dumbasses call out your name and you keep on reading the outdated magazine. When you go up to the receptionist desk, do they offer you a pad and pencil? Or do they start talking to you?

Think about it the next time you have an appointment.

What I don’t get here is this.. how can two programs designed to help babies communicate be so full of ………. AAAGGHHHHHH!!!!! Deaf babies and hearing babies…. ? Ok.. fine.. I can handle that aspect. It’s great – a hearing baby learning baby signs to reduce frustration and to increase self esteem, blah blah blah.. and based on heavy research by professionals… (there’s that word again)

There they are.. the two professionals.. (whose field is psychology! Yes!

psychology!)

vlog.jpg

(no no! NOT her! Not Amy.. ok?)

All’s that’s good and well. I’m all for happy babies, ok?

Now what’s this about AVT? (Auditory Verbal Therapy)

Their approach and concept of teaching deaf babies/ kids is to listen.. and listen …….. and more listening.. Thanks to the FDR’s approval in 2002 on implanting deaf babies with CI at SIX MONTHS.

This program was founded by two well known speech and language specialists, one of who is shown here…

evil.jpg

Remember that name, folks.

The idea behind the AVT is to listen.. without lipreading.. without looking at the speaker’s face…. (they even cover their fish-mouths with their hands).

and…… *drumroll*.. learn to speak well?

excuse me while I go and emit another silent scream.

Mind you.. I’m not against speech at all.. No siree… but listen here. The whole process of speech therapy was to teach us a language that did NOT come naturally to us.. and to ignore ASL or other forms of sign language.

How many of you had a good time at your speech therapist when you were a kid? How many times were you told you talked funny or had an ‘accent’? How many times did you see a hearing person you’d never met before, struggle to understand what you said while trying to be polite about it?

And a lot of speech therapy was done with looking at lips, feeling vibrations on the throat, etc etc.. and AVT enshews all of that?

God help them

Not only that, this program is very popular in the United States and abroad – and well funded too.. you can guess where the funds come from.

WHAT THE HELL is it going to take to make them realize what they’ve done to us and are still trying to do?

Educate – yes.. but it’s not the only answer out there. We have to contend with the mindset out there.

This is how I feel …

red.jpg

Til next time……… and watch out for the evil-doers…

RFW

Seems I’d stepped on a toe or two with my last entry.  I just wanted to clear up a couple of points here because I know it’s a strong word to use.  I chose it because I felt it was justified in getting a point across.  It’s human nature for a lot of us to live within an ‘safety net’. By this, I mean working in an environment that is familiar to us  and one that we’d gained a sense of comfort in.  For those who’d chosen to venture outside of their comfort zone, it can be tough at times and twice as hard to acheive the level you’d want.  Even with today’s advancing technology on communication options,  there is still the attitude found within the hearing society that we have to contend with.

That’s all!   🙂

I have been thinking on this for awhile, and talked with a few high placed deafies online on this subject – to get their feedback and advice. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

How are we supposed to deal with ourselves if we want to stay out of the ‘deaf ghetto’? This means making a choice to enter a profession that does not involve the deaf community. This includes being a deaf teacher of deaf students, couselor for the deaf, coaching, etc.. you get the picture.

However.. I talked to a professional who deals with both the deaf and hearing professional worlds and to quote her (deaf herself) ‘A deaf professional in a deaf setting has to work twice as hard to prove themselves that they are capable of their jobs.’ There’s a lot of truth in that. But I expect the same would likely be appliable to the hearing as well.

There is a strong link between having confidence in oneself as a deaf person and the work place or in a professional setting. That confidence can be shattered or severely displaced when the deaf professional decides to leave his ‘safety net’ and move into a hearing workplace. This means that the deaf person has to work twice as hard to prove themselves capable not only to themselves, but to their hearing co-workers too. And there is still the work to overcome the attitudes of SHP (to quote Amy Cohen Efron; ‘stupid hearing people’) who view them as ‘deaf’ first before anything else.

In another instance, I talked with a deaf woman who is trained as a social worker and works as an advocate for her deaf community where she lives. She stated that there is a geniune lack of confidence among many of the older deafies (40’s and on up) in the work place because of ‘old fears’ that had been planted early in our lifes.

I can see where this can happen – even with a well – educated deafie. How many job ads do you see in the papers and online that required skills in communication within a company AND with the public? How many of them require the use of a telephone?

While it’s true that we have the ADA law and the technology which surpasses the use of a TTY machine, we still do have to use them to make a contact with a company – only to run into a wall that makes it clear they’re still in the dark ages (hanging up on relay calls, etc)

But guess what? She said that a part of the problem came from Gallaudet University. True Biz! She had a couple of clients who’d had a bad time in their work place (hearing) because of their English level. Because of this, it has completely destroyed their confidence to make it in the hearing world – and yet, Gallaudet allowed them to graduate on the foundation of ‘false hope’ without looking into their English skills.

Something’s wrong there.

It’s also wrong for us to feel deep down questioning ourselves if we really can do it in spite of communication issues and deafness. We shouldn’t have to deal with those feelings when we’re have enough on our plates not only try to convince them to hire us, but to prove it to them as well.

She also said – and I agree – that a large part of the confidence problem stems from long standing oppression. Many of us had been ‘conditioned’ to think in those terms “I can’t” via social conditioning, parental opinion, etc. Those are the internal struggles many deafies deal with. Sure.. it’s easy to utter the brave words that we can do anything (but hear) – however deep down inside of ourselves, we wonder. And there’s the issue of external struggles that causes a deaf professional to feel this way too, due to the hearing ‘watching out for them’, ‘helping’ and being patronizing.

We all need a sense of belonging in any work place we find ourselves in, a place where we can be safe and be confident.