Conversations in ASL about Cars

I was taking my hobbit to buy some shoes when we saw a car with a bumper sticker: Tax the rich! –I said: “It’s a Prius. SURPRISE!” (which is a fun sign, btw) and that the Prius was like the liberal version of a Mustang. To which my husband said “But I like Mustangs. I don’t like a Prius, they are so wussy. I think Prius means “I have a little penis.””

Can you sign ‘I have a little penis’ too?

Is Any Juan Out There?

Our landlords name is Juan. He has his own namesign, of course, assigned by my husband with a little help from me (though you aren’t supposed to let hearing people give namesigns= see my post on Deaf Culture) that is a ‘j’ then a one sign. J’one’. He told us today that he was sending over the pool man. I met the pool man and told my husband his name: Juan. My husband then comments: “Oh, I didn’t recognize you… wait. You’re another Juan.”

Yes, he is another Juan.

Our landlord has a strange affinity for people with his name. The plumber he sent over was named Juan and so was the electrician. This strange affliction is so common that we just joke with each other that our landlord will be sending some Juan over. Some of them even speak English. None of them, however, speaks ASL.

It can be a little confusing for a deaf-blind man to be told “Some Juan will be coming over to fix…” because he literally doesn’t know who to expect and would probably let almost any Juan in the door.

Is any Juan out there that interprets?

Getting A Blind Mans Attention

For the deaf, what is recommended to get their attention is blinking lights off and on. It is supposed to be the equal of a whistle or shout among the hearing. Add some blindness in the mix and suddenly your light off and on better be a floodlight. I tried turning in and off my lamp this dark morning to no avail. Maybe I should get a flashlight with a narrow beam?

Spanglish

When I married my half-deaf/half-blind/half-crazy husband I knew exactly one word and one phrase in ASL. The word? Sorry. The phrase? I love you. We started to go to a deaf branch of the LDS church the week after we were married. It was the people in the branch that taught me ASL, the interpreters and the members. Because most of the members were Hispanic, and I am half Hispanic, more comfortable with Spanish than I was with ASL, I hung around the Hispanic deaf members because I felt a little more comfortable in their culture than Deaf Culture. The words they verbalized were often in Spanish, the food was Mexican and even if it was quiet, it was familiar. But from those friends I picked up a lot of words in MSL not knowing they were MSL.

Now that I am more comfortable with my skills in sign language, I sometimes find that I’ve learned a word in MSL that translates as a completely different word in ASL. Strawberry in MSL, for instance, looks a lot like Flower in ASL and it is easy to confuse my ASL only friends with the sign.

The strangest side effect of this, however, has nothing to do with the deaf. Because I am (1/2) Hispanic, I have friends that speak very little English and I find myself signing at them when I am trying to stammer out my broken, ill-used, Spanish. Maybe it’s because ASL and Spanish are in the same part of my brain, I don’t know, but it must look awfully strange to my hearing friends and relatives to see me waving my hands in the air while I am speaking to them.

It’s kinda funny because my hearing friends do the opposite to me, knowing I speak ASL at home. They try NOT to wave their hands about, because they’ve seen me zero in on their hands once they start moving, like I’m trying to figure out what signs they are signing.

Being multilingual in a multilingual world would be a fascinating study in anthropology or linguistics, don’t you think?

Crash Into Me

Today my husband stepped on my foot and said he was sorry. I said “It’s okay, I’m used to it.” I have to be careful to pay attention to sounds of footfalls, so I don’t come around a corner and crash into my own husband. He literally can’t see me if I am standing beside him unless he is looking directly at me.

Dave Matthews has a song: Crash Into Me, that is a metaphoric love tale of how two souls collide when in love. When you’re married to a blind man (with RP), this metaphor becomes reality.

You’ve got your ball
You’ve got your chain
Tied to me tight tie me up again
Who’s got their claws
In you my friend
Into your heart I’ll beat again
Sweet like candy to my soul
Sweet you rock
And sweet you roll
Lost for you I’m so lost for you

You come crash into me
And I come into you
I come into you
In a boys dream
In a boys dream

Touch your lips just so I know
In your eyes, love, it glows so
I’m bare boned and crazy for you
When you come crash
Into me, baby
And I come into you
In a boys dream
In a boys dream

If I’ve gone overboard
Then I’m begging you
To forgive me
In my haste
When I’m holding you so girl
Close to me

Oh and you come crash
Into me, baby
And I come into you
Hike up your skirt a little more
And show the world to me
Hike up your skirt a little more
And show your world to me
In a boys dream.. In a boys dream

Oh I watch you there
Through the window
And I stare at you
You wear nothing but you
Wear it so well
Tied up and twisted
The way I’d like to be
For you, for me, come crash
Into me

Who got you off when you got yours?
Who was the first to spill your soul?
Who got you off? Well, I’m the one
Dreamed of doing it day and night
Oh sweet like candy to my soul
Sweet you rock and sweet you roll
Oh I swear over and over
It’s you like a wave into me

When you come crash into me baby
Please come crash into me
Come crash into me
In a boy’s dream
In a boy’s dream

No miss you all (?) what runs your way?
Who runs up side you and begs everyday?
Who’s watching you through your window?
Night Comes
Who celebrates with the moon?
That you’re like a wave come again

Come and crash into me baby
And I come into you
In a boy’s dream
In a boy’s dream

Oh now it’s here I build my soul
I swear, friend, don’t you know
I’m bare boned and crazy for you

Oh when you come crash into me yeah
And you come into me
And you come into me

Hike up your skirt a little more
And show the world to me
Hike up your skirt a little more
And show the world to me
In a boy’s dream yeah
In this boy’s dream

(Dixie Chicken outro)
I’ll be your Dixie chicken
You be my Tennessee lamb
And we will walk together
Down in Dixie land

Crash into me
Crash into me
Crash into me
Crash into me

Oh I wanna play with you

Deafness is not a disability… or is it?

This is a hard, controversial post, but it appears in my life constantly. Please be patient and understanding while reading it.

I was looking for videos in ASL when I found this:

This is a hot topic in any “Deaf” community. This is also partly why I and my husband aren’t considered IN the Deaf Community. He has a CI and I am hearing. I can never be IN the community, not truly. They even have a diagram to show all of us how we aren’t really IN it. People in Deaf culture are in the very center. The rest of us… well… you can see how you really aren’t unless you are both deaf and accept the culture.

Disability in this context is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary is:

A disadvantage or deficiency, especially a physical or mental impairment that interferes with or prevents normal achievement in a particular area.

So is deafness a deficiency that prevents “normal” achievement in a particular area.

But it is clear that it is unacceptable to call deafness a disability, unless you are at the social security office, or at a school, doctors office, counselors, or other office asking for an interpreter. Then you are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. From what I can see, you are disabled when you need to be but otherwise aren’t when you don’t need anything to interact with the rest of the culture (real world) at large. You don’t really need Closed Captions to enjoy a show, do you? You can watch it without subtitles. And you certainly don’t need police to be trained in how to deal with a deaf person if they aren’t disabled.

If you have a CI–A cochlear implant–you can not be IN Deaf Culture because you are not audiologically in deaf culture. Even people who consider themselves deaf and aren’t FULLY deaf can’t be in the “inner circle” of Deaf Culture, let alone if you are Hard of Hearing. As shown by the diagram above.

I have never really understood this and for the life of me, I can’t understand why CI’s bother Deaf people (with a capital D) so much.

If you had a child born missing a retina and there was surgery to reattach it or to replace it with a digital device, would you not do it? If your child were missing legs, would you refuse to let them use a wheelchair? Parents with deaf children consider it a disability, like these others mentioned before, and they are vilified in the Deaf Community for it.

And if their children are put in a deaf school, those children receive reinforcement for all their negative feelings (because, we have to admit that being deaf in a hearing family is often a lonely, distant, alienating sort of existence) toward their parents. Those reinforcements distance a deaf child from their hearing family members.

These parents have a daunting task and the Deaf Community makes it harder and almost guarantees the parents failure at some point no matter what choice they make.

Why? All because of a concept called “Deaf Culture” and the education that presents deafness as a NON disability.

As far as culture goes, scientifically, Deaf Culture does not really fit in it: http://www.deafculture.com/. But I’ve been in a “Deaf Education” class. It is clear that it is being taught as an actual Culture (anthropologically speaking), ignoring the spaces that it is missing to actually be one.

All of it doesn’t really matter. The truth is the truth. Either Deafness is a disability or not. Either Deaf Culture is a culture or it is not. My opinion means nothing in this area to anyone really influential, but it is my own. And now I am interested in yours. Try not to be too hard on me in your comments below.