Last night the Hobbit and I went to a fund raiser/auction for girls camp for my daughter.  The Hobbit and I were talking (in ASL) and some missionaries came up to us and asked “Which one of you is deaf?” using the sign at the same time.  Turns out he is a CODA serving a mission here in Houston, and not in the ASL mission.  He was very nice and excited to use his skills.  He said he felt as if his skills were fading just over the time in his mission with the hearing.  We told him all about our recent CODA experiences and talked all evening until the girls started doing their theatrical sketches.  He was a very nice kid and we had a great experience talking to him.

I wasn’t going to post at all for a few weeks, let things die down, but this is my blog about my personal experiences and it has, for the most part, been positive and uplifting.  It was good to have a positive experience with  CODA after everything that has happened the last few weeks.

There will be no comments on this thread, but if you liked it, please like the post, and if you didn’t like it, please just go away and find another blog to read.  Thanks.

An Hour In The Life Of A Deaf Blind Man (guest post by the Hobbit)

An Hour In The Life Of A Deafblind Man

I wanted to do something sweet for my wife and stepkids, so I decided that I would get my wife a dozen yellow roses, and a couple of packs of candy valentine hearts for the kids.

I walk to the store, and on the way I realize that I don’t have a notepad and a magic marker with me, but I hope that it won’t be a problem.

I went to the bank near the store to withdraw money from the ATM. Unfortunately it is midday, and the sun is shining too brightly on the outdoor ATM for me to be able to use it.

So I go into the grocery store to see if they have an ATM. I ask one of the cashiers where the ATM machine is. He points me in the direction of the bathrooms, so I go over there only to discover there is no ATM. I go back to the cashier and pull out my ATM card and slide it back and forth. He points in a different direction, and I find the ATMs.

I can’t read the fonts on the grocery store ATM very well, so I sort of stab at the buttons until I can see ‘checking’ and enter the amount I want ($20). The machine shows another screen, probably asking me if I want to pay the transfer fee (which I wouldn’t have had to pay if I could see the bank’s ATM machine). I figure it’s 50/50 so I push one. The machine doesn’t give me a $20 and flashes a message that I can’t see.

I sigh with exasperation.

I go to look for the flowers anyway, figuring that I can use the ATMs at the cash register, which is kind of a pain because I can never read the LCD readouts that ask me if I want to use credit/debit do-you-want-cash-back, please-enter-your-pin, and the order isn’t always the same from store to store and I haven’t tried it here yet.

I find a dozen yellow roses and ask the cashier how much they are. She scans it, but I am unable to see what the price showing on the monitor is, so I ask her to tell me. She tells me, but I can’t hear her, so I tell her that I am both visually and hearing impaired, so can she write it down? She does, but it’s in pen, so I still can’t see it. At this point I feel like a terrible nuisance.

I am not completely sure exactly what my balance in my checking is, so I go *back* to the bank, only this time instead of using the bank’s ATM (because the sunlight is still glaring on it too much to see) I go inside the bank and wait in line. Once I get a bank teller, I ask her if she will tell me what my balance is, and I tell her that since I can’t hear, would she please write it down for me.

She writes it down in pen, but it is too small, so I apologetically ask her to write it larger so I can see. She writes it out, and I see that I actually did have enough in my checking account to be able to use the bank’s ATM as well as the grocery store’s ATM. I get enough money to buy flowers, and I head back to the store.

After I get the flowers, I remembered that I wanted to get the candy hearts for the kids. So I ask the cashier which aisle the candy hearts are on. She calls to someone else, who tells her, then she tells me, but I can’t hear her. So I ask her if she will show me with her fingers what aisle they are on, and she holds up a 1 on one hand, and a 3 on the other hand. I figure it’s aisle 13 (rather than 31) so I say “13, right?” She nods, and I thank her.

I go to look for the candy hearts, squinting hard at the aisle numbers, and after a few minutes of squinting at candy boxes, I find them. I can’t see the price for the candy hearts. Since I only have approximately $2 left, I grab two boxes hoping that I have enough money to cover it.

I go to another register to buy the candy hearts, but I wanted to be sure I had enough so I ask the lady if $2 will cover it. She says something, but doesn’t nod or shake her head, so I am unsure. She seems to be asking me for change, so I fish in my pocket for change and show her what I have, and ask her again “is that enough?” she hands me back a dollar and rings it up. Apparently I had given her too much, not too little, but I just couldn’t hear what she was saying.

Finally, I leave the store, flowers and candy in hand, and I decide I should probably call my wife to let her know why it is taking me so long. I can’t see the numbers on the phone very well, but I’ve dialed the number enough to be pretty sure that I am dialing the correct number. I wait until the screen changes so I can begin to talk, but I can’t hear whether my wife is on the phone or not. I speak into the phone telling her “I don’t know if you are getting this or not, but if you are I am on my way home now.”

Then I walk home, and give the flowers to my wife. I am grateful that I managed to bumble my way through it, and I can literally feel all of the tension from the pent-up deafblindie frustrations melt away as she hugs me.

— by Sam

Spring is Bustin Out All Over!

This Spring has been early for us, with such a mild winter, the early planting went much better than anticipated.  Cherry tomatoes…

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And the Nasturtium is really taking offMarch 2013 027

And then there’s the catnip:

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I finally got around to a project I’ve been wanting to do.

Here’s the before of our south wall of the master bedroom:March 2013 064

And here’s the after:

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The cats seem to really like it:March 2013 070

The back yard is really coming together nicely and here is the view from the magic window:

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We also did our yearly outing to take pictures in the bluebonnets:

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I adore the flowers in the hill country

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Community (guest post by the hobbit)

Community > Culture

I hadn’t really taken a firm position on this debate before, but I have now. Noelle and I both endorse the following commentary that I’ve quoted below.

From now on I intend to emphasize the concept of community rather than culture when it comes to hearing impairment. And I will dispense with the lowercase/uppercase conventions of “deaf” and “Deaf.” Because I’d rather be unconventional. And because I can.

Editors’ comments:

While I am familiar with the concept of “Deaf culture,” I prefer to use the term “Deaf community” to describe us. I don’t believe that the term “culture” is appropriate, since it’s too strong a term, too restrictive, and too politically-slanted. Since deaf people come from a wide variety of backgrounds, communicatively, educationally, and socially, I prefer a term that reflects this diversity.

I don’t feel comfortable defining us as having a “culture,” since deaf people in the United States are already members of American culture. Certainly, it’s possible to hold membership in more than one culture, so to speak, but if you consider carefully, you’ll see that deaf people don’t really have a distinct, full-fledged culture. We don’t have a “Deaf God,” for example, although there are a number of ASL-affirmative churches. But these churches are simply outposts of existing denominations, such as Lutheran, Methodist, Roman Catholic, or Reform Judaism. There is no distiinct “Deaf religion,” no “Deaf Bible,” no “Deaf food,” no “Deaf dress.” Deaf people are not recognizable as “deaf” at first glance.

Yes, we have ASL as the linguistic basis of our ethnic identity, but aside from that, we don’t have a distinct culture like Sikhs or Italian-Americans do, so the term “subculture” might be more appropriate. Still, I like the term “Deaf community,” since it defines us without limiting us.

“Deaf culture,” as a self-conscious political concept, is limiting rather than inclusive. It encourages a certain elitism, a snobbery. For example, in Deaf culture, a person is considered “strong-Deaf,” and is accorded respect, if s/he has Deaf parents. Since I am the child of hearing parents, and the only deaf person in my family, I’m not considered “strong-Deaf” enough by certain Deaf-culture purists. (Not strong-Deaf enough to be taken seriously, I imagine.) My status in Deaf culture is, in this view, lower than that of persons with Deaf parents and/or Deaf siblings. I’ve had a few encounters with gung-ho Deaf-culture types who have told me that they don’t consider me part of Deaf culture because I’m from a hearing family and didn’t attend Gallaudet University. Despite the fact that ASL is my first language, that I entered Indiana School for the Deaf when I was 3, began my ASL education immediately, was immersed in this environment until I graduated as valeductorian of my class, and that I participated actively in the ASL-using community of NTID/RIT—none of that cuts much ice with the Deaf-culture purists. I suppose that they consider me second-class, according to the strict Deaf Culture criteria. Or maybe third-class. Since the vast majority of deaf people have hearing parents, that would mean that only a mere handful of Deaf people can rightly be considered the “elite.” Not by one’s personal accomplishments, not by one’s contributions to the community, but simply by having the “right kind” of parents. To my view, this is as snobbish and restrictive as the views promulgated by the oralists, who excluded deaf people from the respect accorded to all other groups, communities, and societies. In defying the norms of Hearing culture, Deaf culture has set up a view that is, in its own way, just as exclusionary.

The term “community” indicates a group of people, or a segment of the population, that has shared goals, beliefs, experiences, or simply lives in proximity. Although most deaf people are geographically scattered, they do comprise a distinct community with ASL and the schools for the deaf as their socio-linguistic heart. Thus, “Deaf community” includes people from mainstreamed backgrounds, alumni of oral schools, persons with cochlear implants, and those whose first language in English—all of these disqualifying factors to membership in Deaf culture. The Deaf community also includes hearing families, friends, supporters, and advocates of Deaf people—even if they’re not native-ASL signers.

My political views are based on my own experiences, observations, and interactions with other Deaf /deaf people—and I’ve met a large number of them. When I’m asked about my feelings about Deaf culture, or if I see myself as being part of Deaf culture, I propose that we use the term “Deaf community.” Deaf culture excludes; Deaf community includes. I prefer an inclusive approach here.


If you’re a friend of the deaf or deafblind community, you’re welcome to drop by and be friendly.

Namaste, +Sam