I have several very good friends that are deaf. They are always there for me, they are an awesome support system. They taught me most of what I know of ASL, and continue to correct and teach me what I need to know to be the half-ass interpreter I am. The only problem we have is communicating when we aren’t face to face.
I don’t have VRS. My husband is legally blind, so VRS isn’t really going to help him. But when I call my deaf friends, I usually get their Sorenson Service. When I give my name: “Noelle – N.O.E.L.L.E.” What I get from my friends on the other side of the VRS is “WHO?” Sometimes I will tell the operator that my sign name is “writing” but with the “n sign.” I hope they know what I’m talking about because trying to explain a sign, especially a name sign, verbally is like trying to verbally paint a Monet. Most of the time, I end up telling them “It’s me, remember? You helped me set up for my party on Saint Patricks Day,” or some other uniquely personal event they were at me with (shopping for shoes last weekend, going to get ice cream at Baskin Robins, etc). That’s when they say “OOOOOOOHHHHH!” And hit me with the: “Oh! I’m sorry! Hugs! Love you!” BTW, Deaf people “love you” a LOT–It’s probably the best, and most genuine things about the Deaf that makes them easy to be around.
Anyway… once we get over the awkwardness of them not knowing who “Noelle” –the woman they see every week, and just how many Noelle’s do they know?–is over, the conversation can progress. The only problem is… they never remember my name: Noelle. They only remember my namesign. It makes sense, of course, like trying to remember that Chuy’s name is actually Jesus, which, if said without the Spanish pronunciation: “Jesus is calling you,” is probably pretty disorienting. Right?
It’s understandable, though a little awkward, and just one of the many little quirks of being hearing in a Deaf Community.