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fter Deaf Day number one, I was feeling very confident in my ability to communicate. I placed my orange earplugs in with an air of confidence, grabbing my pocket-sized notebook and pencil as I ran out the door. If I could have a good day around people who don’t know any ASL, I was certain I could have a great day around people who did. The five of met at the mall near Amber’s house to eat at the food court, then we all caravanned to her house to watch “The Phantom Of the Opera” without sound. Overall it was a good day, although none of us five really knew any of the others outside of class. I think it would have been a blast if we had known each other better. I always wanted to speak a language that only a select few around me knew, get stared at in envy a little, and now we could sit in the food court and make a spectacle of ourselves. It was fun to have that wish come true.

The food court was great. I chose to go to Subway, because I knew I could tell the girl exactly what I wanted to eat. I wrote down the sandwich I wanted on my pad of paper, down to the smallest detail, and handed it to her. She took a look at the top line, “Turkey on Italian Herb and Cheese”, then handed me the notebook back. When she asked me if I wanted cheese, I handed her the notebook again, and her lips asked me if she could keep it. I nodded. I guess that was enough for her, because she started chattering small talk at me while she made my sandwich. I shook my head no and pointed to my ears, then shrugged my shoulders. She seemed to understand that I couldn’t hear her. I paid, then took a seat in the middle of the bustling cafeteria with the other four girls. We chatted back and forth, and people from all over the cafeteria were staring at us. It was kind of fun to be the center of attention for a while, but I think it would get old fast if people everywhere I went wanted to stare at my conversations.

The five of us then caravanned back to Amber’s house to watch the movie. One of the girls had brought her copy of The Phantom of the Opera, the Andrew Lloyd Webber version. I was a little excited because I grew up listening to Phantom, and I knew all the music and loved the musical itself, knowing every word to all the songs on the soundtrack. But I was also worried that I wouldn’t be able to separate the music I knew from what was happening on the screen, even if I couldn’t hear it. While this was partially true, I did notice that the movie had a completely different feel without the music. The Phantom himself I had always thought of as attractive and cool in a really creepy way. The music gets all rock and roll and awesome when he’s around, and he has a voice that would make you fall in love with him if he didn’t like killing people so much. All his attractive points are removed without the sound. He just becomes this crazy thing living in the basement. I also found that I got bored really fast. I found myself checking my watch to see when it would be over about every fifteen minutes, towards the end. I was relieved when the credits rolled.

After we chatted for a while and played with Amber’s cats, we started trickling home. It was a good time, and I feel like I have more of a friendship with those girls than I had previously. It was nice to get to know people from class. Also, it was fun to see what a musical without sound is like, and great to be the center of attention for a while in the mall food court. I had a really good day, and I would certainly do that again. In fact, I wonder what a musical with more dancing is like… Maybe it’s CC musical night at my house tonight!


Every year I like to make some New Year’s resolutions and write them down so I can tangibly track how I’m doing.  This year, my resolution is to attend more Deaf Events than I did last year. 

I don’t remember how many I attended for ASL 2, but I know that I attended 4 last semester.  If we take that as the norm, that’s 8 per year.  So my concrete and unchangeable resolution is that I will attend more than 8 Deaf Events this year. 

You can count the entries to see how I’m doing, if you want.  Otherwise, I’ll report back on how I did next January.

y new semester is supposed to start on February 22nd, and I can’t even register until February 1st.  I swapped schools because my old one didn’t have an ASL program, but I’m really missing it right now.  They had their act together, and the new school just really doesn’t.  Plus the people at the front desk in Admissions and Records are really rude. 

That’s OK, though, at least my department is amazing.  The people at the Linguistics front desk are incredibly nice and helpful, and I love that most of the teachers in the ASL department are deaf.  It makes me feel like I’m getting a better education, somehow. 

I’m expecting that getting classes will be just as excruciating as last time, but hoping that it won’t.  I guess I can take another semester of sitting in the back of the classroom with twenty other kids and praying for the teacher to decide to add me.  After all, even the measly 7 credits I took last semester got me one step closer to having a better registration date. 

On the up side, I’ve been looking over all my stuff and I think I’ll be ready to graduate in a year and a half!!!  That’s way less time than I thought I had.  When I was starting ASL 1, the ASL 4 kids seemed so in the know to me.  I never thought I’d get there, and here I am ready to register for it.  I guess time flies when you’re having fun.  I can’t wait for classes to start again!

ately, I’ve noticed Deaf people and ASL all over my TV screen.  From Sue Thomas, FBEye, to episodes of the ever popular Glee, to Kay Jeweler commercials, to re-runs of The West Wing, deafness seems to be everywhere lately.  While I think it’s great that deaf people are getting wider media exposure, I think we should be asking ourselves if this is the kind of media exposure deaf people want.  I have never seen an episode of Sue Thomas, FBEye, so I don’t really feel that I can make judgements about it, but the other three I’ve seen several times.  It seems to me that The West Wing portrays a positive and empowering picture, while Glee makes fun of deafness and the Kay commercial violates a common value held by the deaf community.  Hearing and deaf people alike can be getting the wrong ideas from these negative portrayals, and I think the impact should be discussed. 

The West Wing, with Marlee Matlin as Joey Lucas, is an ideal portrayal of what a deaf person’s life in politics could be like.  Joey is considered one of the team, equal to anyone else on the show.  The President suggests she run for congress, she’s trusted with intimate and important secrets, and some on the staff start to learn sign language so they can communicate with her better.  Not only that, but she upholds most of the values of the Deaf community.  Joey has an interpreter who follows her everywhere and is her voice.  Although she does speak on very rare occasions, mostly she speaks only in sign language, and reads what’s going on in the room from her interpreter’s hands.  She has a bit of a flirtation with the Deputy Chief of Staff, but they never date or even kiss.  Any serious relationship she has is not with a hearing man.  By treating her in the script as an equal, The West Wing has given a wonderful deaf role model to Deaf America.

I do have a few good things to say about Glee.  The students in the choir actually performing the song were wonderful, and their ASL was wonderful as well.  That being said, Glee was awfully insulting to deaf people in general. While things like the deaf “soloist” speaking above the music, and the fact that they didn’t show much of the ASL , felt like minor violations of deaf culture to me, what really bothered me was the way the advisor of the deaf school was portrayed.  He was played for laughs, insisting he was hard of hearing and yelling back and forth in silliness with the regular staff.  I like to think that I’m not quick to take offense, but to me, this heavily implied that officials in the deaf world are unprofessional and ridiculous.  I felt the same embarrassment for the show as I would have felt if they had decided to do a choir number in black face.  It was extremely inappropriate, and it made me sad.  Normally I really like Glee. 

My Deaf Culture teacher has told me that, much like catholics marrying outside of Catholicism, Deaf – Hearing marriages are very frowned upon.  And yet in the Kay Jeweler commercial, we see a hearing man with inferior sign language skills giving a deaf woman an expensive piece of jewelry.  In my world, girls only accept expensive pieces of jewelry if they’re romantically involved with the man giving it to them, so I think we can safely assume that the two in the commercial are seriously dating.  So let’s look at this from a not necessarily deaf point of view.  The man admits that his sign language skills aren’t very good, and for Deaf people,  lip reading and writing things down are great for communicating basic needs but aren’t very good for substantive thoughts and feelings.  By this, we can infer that they have never had a real conversation in their whole life, and why, why, why, would a nice girl like that have anything to do with a man she has never really spoken to?  Maybe because he buys her expensive jewelry.  But then what does that say to deaf little girls about what they should be dreaming of when they grow up?  Nothing good.  It’s upsetting to me that Kay couldn’t come up with a less ludicrous idea for a commercial featuring sign language and deafness, but obviously they couldn’t. 

Deafness and ASL has been everywhere lately.  While the portrayals aren’t always the most flattering, or the most in line with Deaf Culture, there could be some truth to the saying “any advertising is good advertising”.  After all, wider exposure of ASL only makes more people realize what a beautiful language it is.  Hopefully this will incourage more people to get into a classroom, where they will be exposed to the truth of what Deaf Culture really is.

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