I just got word a few days ago that I got into Chapman University, which I’m so thrilled about, I can’t even tell you!!  They like me, they really like me!

While this doesn’t exactly have to do with sign, it does get me one step closer to getting a BA, which gets me one step closer to being certified as an interpreter.   I just thought I’d like to share the good news.  🙂

  

odger Young was born in the small, rural town of Tiffin, Ohio.  His family moved nearby, to the smaller town of Green Springs a few years later.  Rodger was the oldest of five children, and the family loved to get together and play music as a group.  Rodger also grew up hunting with his father in the woods and was an excellent marksman.

In Green Springs, sports was the hinge-pin of the community.  When Rodger started High School, he was determined to make his mark on the ball field despite his small stature.  He was too small to play Football, and the coach wouldn’t allow him to participate.  At 5’2″ he was also too short to play Basketball, but the coach took pity on him and decided to let him play anyway because of his enthusiasm.  Mostly, Rodger played in practice games, but it was during a regular game that tragedy struck.  Rodger was fouled and knocked flat onto the concrete, hitting his head and blacking out.  In the months following his accident, Rodger’s hearing and eyesight deteriorated to the point where he was almost completely deaf and needed to wear thick glasses.

Rodger’s school work was greatly impacted by his accident.  He could no longer hear the teacher, and he could no longer see the blackboard in class, no matter how close to the front of the room he sat.  After a year of struggling to keep his grades up, Rodger decided to drop out of High School and go to work for the local factory.  His family could use the money, and he didn’t feel like his school career was going anywhere.

A few years later, wanting a little extra spending cash, Rodger joined the Ohio National Guard with his brother.  During peace time, the national guard would meet a couple of weekends a year and there was little expectation that they would be in actual combat.  Rodger had been interested in the military before his accident, but knew that his hearing and eyesight would keep him out of the official US Army.  He didn’t pass the test to get into the National Guard with flying colors, but he explained to the man in charge why he wanted to join up, and they let him anyway.

The expectation that the National Guard wouldn’t be in actual combat ended with Pearl Harbor.  Suddenly, the Ohio National Guard had become nationalized as part of the regular US Army, and Rodger was on his way to the South Pacific to fight in World War 2.   Because of his amazing performance as a soldier in the National Guard, Roger was given the rank of  Sergeant with a troop of men under his command.  He did his best to hide the true extent of his hearing loss from the higher-ups in the Army, but it was well known that his hearing wasn’t perfect.

When word came from the top that a big campaign to take control of the Munda Airstrip would be underway, Rodger began to worry.  He knew he could take care of himself in battle, but he didn’t want to be responsible for others lives when he may not be able to hear an order to retreat, or hear where the enemy was located.  That night, he went to his commanding officer and asked to be demoted to a private.  At first, his commanding officer thought he was trying to get out of fighting completely, and he wouldn’t let Rodger step down.  Eventually, the officer ordered that a hearing test be performed.  When the test showed that Rodger was deaf, the commanding officer tried to send him away from the battle, but Rodger wouldn’t go. He insisted on staying and fighting, and the officer sent in Rodgers demotion paperwork that night.  Rodger would be responsible only for himself.

The battle didn’t go well for Rodger’s unit.  They were taking heavy machine-gun fire from a mounted gun operated by 5 Japanese men.  The machine-gun was set on top of a hill, and covered ground for miles.  Rodger’s unit had gotten themselves into a safe position for the moment, hiding behind some trees, but if they were to either advance or retreat, most of them would have probably been killed.  They couldn’t wait out the situation, either, as the Japanese would surely have ambushed them.  After carefully reviewing the situation, the Sergeant in charge of the unit decided to order the men to retreat anyway, as he didn’t see any other way out of the situation.  According to reports, Rodger looked right at the man and said, “I’m sorry Sir, but you know I don’t hear very well,” and went running toward the machine-gun.  He was able to launch a grenade into the midst of the five men operating the gun, killing them all, before dying of his wounds.  This heroic act allowed the rest of his unit to escape the battle without further loss of life.  It also gained Roger Young a posthumous Medal of Honor.

A year or so after Rodger’s death, the Army decided that they’d like to have a song made about one of their heroes.  They commisioned a man named Frank Loesser to look through the Medal of Honor citations for a Private, and to tell that man’s story in song.  Thus the ballad of Rodger Young was born.   Had Rodger kept his rank as Sergeant, he would not have had a song made of his story.

Though Rodger Young was an unlikely looking hero with his coke-bottle glasses and his short frame, he saved many people’s lives that day in the South Pacific.  He will be remembered throughout history as a brave and courageous man.

At Disneyland where I work, they allow you to have a n extra little pin at the bottom of your name tag if you speak a language other than English.  I think the idea is that people from all over the world come to Disneyland and should you need extra assistance talking to anyone, you can just pull your friend aside who has a “Mandarin” name tag on and they can help you (or whatever language you need).  They’re really stringent about who they let have a pin.  You have to go and do a special test with a native speaker of that language.  If you pass the test, they put our name on a list, and only people with their name on the list are allowed to have the pin.

They offer an ASL name tag, but I’ve been holding off on getting one until I felt I knew enough sign to really help someone.  Besides, the guy I would be testing with is a CODA, interpreted for Hundreds of years at Disney World (OK, I’m exaggerating), and is now head of disability services for the whole park… very nerve-wracking.  I’m starting interpreting classes now, though.  I felt like this was something I should certainly be able to pass.  I also felt like this is just the first in a series of tests that I’m going to be taking in the next few years, so I better get used to it. 

Really, it ended up being super easy and a lot of fun.  The guy who tested me was extremely friendly and knowledgeable.  As soon as he started explaining what would happen, I knew I would pass no problem.  The test consisted of three parts:  Part one, he would give me a vocabulary work and I would sign it back to him.  Part two, he would sign a work or small phrase and I would tell him what he said.  Part 3 was a short conversation.  I don’t think I’ve taken a test so easy since ASL 1.  He was impressed that I knew the sign for “tickets” (super-easy!!!) and the hardest thing he signed to me was that he lost his 7-year-old daughter and explained to me what she was wearing.  The conversation part consisted  of the information you give to every deaf person you meet at any Deaf Event.  When the test was over, he told me that he thought it was the quickest he’s ever given, as he just skipped over the easy stuff.  Let me tell you, I felt great!!

The best part about the meeting, though, was all the information he gave me on Deaf Services at Disneyland.  He was saying that people will see my pin and expect me to be an expert, so he’d give me all the information he could.  Such cool stuff!! They have a little handheld Closed Captioning device that’s radio-tuned to the ride, so people on the ride can read what the overhead voice is saying in places like the haunted mansion.  They also offer interpreted performances four days a week, 2 days at California Adventure, and 2 days at Disneyland.  I have to say, I kinda want to ask for one of those Closed Captioning devices the next time I’m in the park.  It would be fun to see how accurate they are and how easy they are to read and use while riding the ride.  I’ll definitely have to do that and report back. 

The other thing we discussed that I thought was interesting is when I’m allowed to interpret and when I’m not.  It’s all stuff we’ve covered in classes I’ve taken too, but I thought it was great that he’s concerned about Deaf people having qualified interpreters when they need them.  All in all, I was very impressed with my Disney Deaf experience.  I can’t wait to try out their stuff for myself.  And in the mean time, I’ll be waiting for my pin to arrive!!

I started my first interpreting class two weeks ago, and boy are we talking about some interesting things!!  The name of the class is “Principles of Interpreting” and, as my teacher says, it’s everything about interpreting that doesn’t have to do with ASL.  We’ve been dealing with dress codes, on the job stress, talking about types of interpreting (who knew there were so many?!), and all sorts of other things. 

The topic I’m finding most pertinent right now is on the job stress.  A few weeks ago, I was in a work-type situation where there were a mixed group of Deaf and Hearing folks.  A very Audist gentleman was being a total A$$H*!@ to the Deaf folks, much more so than to any of the hearing.  He would spontaneously yell and reprimand people publicly.  I even once heard him say “I don’t care about Deaf Culture, I just want you to do it my way.”  I was not the interpreter in this situation (thank God!!)  but boy was I stressed!!  I think the worst thing for me was that this gentleman came into the situation spouting all the right stuff about Deaf Culture and Deaf rights.  It wasn’t that he didn’t know better.  it was just that, when push came to shove, he didn’t care.I was so stressed one night that – I’ll admit it – I went home and cried. 

In class, we’ve been talking about worse situations than the one I experienced, such as being the operator for a 911 VRS call, or having to tell someone in a hospital that their mother just died.  I’ve heard all this can wear on an interpreter until the experience what’s called Vicarious Trauma.  Don’t worry, I’m not re-thinking my desire to become an interpreter, I’m just thinking about all the tools I’ll need to handle this.

I have never handled stress very well.  My usual master plan is to go home and have a good cry, which frankly frightens my husband.  Crying is not a good strategy for stress management, at least not for me.  But what other tools can I use?  I’ll be pondering that as I take the rest of this course.  Along with everything else I’m learning.

In the late 1600’s, an extended family from Weald, England settled on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in New England.  The family carried a strong hereditary deafness gene, and as they married and intermarried, the rate of deaf people born on the island rose steadily.  By the 1700’s almost everyone on the island had a deaf family member or two.  Because of the high rate of deafness, the society on the island was completely different from mainstream, mainland society.

Mainland New England at this time was generally a terrible place for deaf people to live.  Many people believed that deafness was a punishment from God.  While the families of deaf children may have developed home signs, mainstream society could not understand these rudimentary signs, usually only good for expressing basic needs and requests, and different from home to home.  Scholars debated about whether a deaf person could reason and learn like a hearing person.  There were almost no career opportunities for deaf adults.  The best they could hope for was to be trained to do manual labor for someone else’s business.

The prospects for deaf people on Martha’s Vineyard were completely different.  Many of the former residents of the island were interviewed, and they paint an idyllic picture of what it was like to live in Martha’s Vineyard during this time.  Because everyone had a deaf family member, everyone in the community knew sign language.  Deaf people were farmers, store clerks, anything they wanted to be.  Hearing people would sign to each other over the large expanses the island farms created, a deaf person could walk into a store and the clerk would always know sign.  Deaf people were even elected to high political office, becoming mayors and council members for the island, a thing unheard of in the rest of the country.  When telling stories about the community, the people who were being interviewed could only remember after much prompting if the people they were talking about were hearing or deaf.

The rare deaf/hearing equality experienced in Martha’s Vineyard is still remarkable today.  In a society where hearing people are ignorant about deaf issues and can be very rude, a place like Martha’s Vineyard seems particularly wonderful.  The equality that was shared by everyone, and the prejudices about deaf people that didn’t exist, make the little island community seem like the perfect place.  Many deaf people consider it the ultimate utopia.

Ironically, the opening of the first deaf school in Hartford, Connecticut was a big reason why the hereditary deafness on the island petered out.  Many deaf people from the island attended the school, met and married other deaf people who’s deafness wasn’t hereditary, and lived and had children near the school on the mainland of New England.  As more and more of the population moved away, less and less deaf children were born on the island.   In 1952, hereditary deafness died on the island with the death of Katie West.  Though the community is gone today, it’s signs live on.  Children attending the Hartford school mixed their signs in with the French Sign Language Laurent Clerc brought with him from Paris, creating much of the uniquely beautiful American Sign Language that exists today.

he MacArthur Fellowship Genius Grants were announced a few days ago.  For those of you who don’t know what this is, the John D. and Catherine T. Macarthur foundation gives $500,000.00 to 20-40 Americans who “show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work.”  These Americans can be in any field and they can spend the money on whatever they feel like, no strings attached.

This year Carol Padden was one of the recipients!  Carol and her husband, Tom Humphries, wrote several books about Deaf Culture, including “Deaf in America: voices from a culture”, “Inside Deaf Culture”, and two textbooks for learning American Sign Language.  I have read many of her books and consider them some of the best I’ve ever read on the subject of Deaf Culture.

Carol was born Deaf to her two Deaf parents and she also has a Deaf brother.  She attended a Deaf elementary school for a time before being put into a mainstream school.  Currently, Carol is a professor at University of California San Diego and studies signed languages.  She recently studied a new signed language in Africa that uses the actual body of the signer to indicate pronouns, as opposed to the area around the signer as in American Sign Language.

Carol is the first ever Deaf recipient of the Genius Grant.  She says she has no concrete plans for the money yet, but will probably use it for creative research.  “Maybe I have a few wild ideas I’ve been obsessing about,” she said in an interview “But they’re a little bit crazy. I’m not going to tell you about them until I can make them sound a little more rational.”

Not only am I excited that the field of Sign linguistics has gotten such amazing recognition, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.  Congratulations Carol Padden!!!

aturday was horrifically hot and awful.  It was over 100 degrees, and you could see the waves of heat coming off the macadam roadways.  Instead of staying inside like any decent person would, I worked Deaf West’s booth at DEAFestival LA.  Aside from the unbearable heat, I had an amazing time!

My shift at the booth was supposed to start at 2:00, but I hit the inevitable LA traffic.  That, coupled with a 3 car accident on the side of the road, served to make me a bit late.  As I pulled off the freeway, I saw with relief the little sign procaiming DEAFestival parking, and a blue arrow pointing the way in.  Murphy’s law tends to work out so that whenever I’m running late, I usually get lost too.  I was excited that didn’t have to worry about that today.  I drove down a dusty road while a volunteer pointed me to park in a vast expanse of dustiness.  There was a bus, shuttling people from parking lot to festival, so I retrieved my purse from the back seat of the car, straightened my new blue “Deaf West” shirt, and trudged through the dust to the bus stop.  I was excited when I knew one of the volunteers helping people park!  She also volunteers at Deaf West sometimes.  We chatted a little before I took my place in the shade to await the bus.

It probably took less that 15 minutes for the bus to arrive, but the opressive heat made it seem like much longer.  My little Disney Heat Index trained self was telling me to drink water NOW or suffer the consequesces.  Too bad I hadn’t brought any with me.  As I waited, I caught snippets of conversation from the others waiting for the bus.  I think that’s the first time I’ve understood parts of ASL conversation without trying too.  Evidence I’m getting better?

The bus dropped us all off underneath a line of tall pine trees, next to another field of dustines.  Blue Easy-ups stretched out in the vast expanse of brown dirt while people bustled here and there.  I joined them, determined to rush around and find the Deaf West booth as quickly as possible.  As soon as I joined the crowd, a woman stopped me.

“Hi!  You work for Deaf West?” she asked, signing with a very student accent.

“No, I’m a volunteer.” I signed back.

“Are you hearing?”  She asked me.

“Yes.”

“Oh thank goodness.”  She said to me in English.  She wanted to know about volunteering at Deaf West.  I told her that I considered it an amazing experience, that they needed people for just about everything, and that she could go on the website and fill out their form if she was interested.  We exchanged names, and I went on my way.

I found the booth pretty quickly, in the middle of the middle aisle.  Ty, the Deaf West representative was chatting with someone in front of me.  “Hi!” I signed to him, ” I’m volunteering today. I’m soooo sorry I’m late!”

“Don’t worry about it.”  He signed back to me, and I took my place behind the counter.  The next two hours were great.  I chatted with people in my bad ASL, handed out forms, asked them if they wanted to win tickets, explained the shows that were coming up, and all together had an amazing time.  They even had bottles of water for us to drink so we didn’t get dehydrated!  The other girl who was volunteering with me was an ASL 2 student, and she did so well!!  I don’t know that I would have done as well as she did when I was in ASL 2.  We made friends fast,  and exchanged numbers at the end of our booth stint.  Several Deaf people asked me my name, several more decided to tease me (which I always enjoy), and I saw a lot of funny t-shirts.  “I laughed my ASL off” was one of the t-shirts I really liked, but my favorite by far was “Don’t Scream, I’m not that Deaf.”  I also saw a LOT of people I knew milling about in the crowd.  It was exciting to know that I was recognizing people and becoming a part of the community, slowly but surely.

When my booth stint was up, I wandered around for a few minutes.  I decided several months ago that my dream interpreting job would be to work for GLAD (Greater Los Angeles Agency for the Deaf), so I was excited to see their signs.  I took a bunch of fliers, figuring I would peruse them later.   I also walked around to see if there was any ASL merchandise I wanted to buy.  Sadly there were only two booths selling things, and they were things I really wasn’t interested in.  The other thing I really missed was the TTY museum.  Maybe they decided not to attend because all their antique machines would be outside in the dust.  Aside from all the booths with Deaf themes, booths from the city of Los Angeles were there too. The Democratic party had a booth, the water district had a booth, and so did one of the candidates for city council.  It was nice to see people who aren’t part of the Deaf community trying to participate.  I commend them for trying, but it didn’t seem like many people were interested in what they were doing.  To be honest, I wasn’t very interested in what they were doing either.

I had an appointment that evening, so after I strolled leisurely through the rows of booths, I took the bus back to my dust-covered car and went on my merry way.  It was a great day!  I think my ASL stood up really well to the challenge of explaining things, I got to meet neat people, and I got to spend time with the Deaf community.  What could be better than that?  Not a whole lot.

chool has already been in session for two weeks, but I didn’t get a chance to say anything about it because of my break.  I think hell might have frozen over, because I was able to register for all of my classes with no problems at all.  I have 12 units right now, and I didn’t have to fight tooth and nail for a single one!  That’s progress!

It’s funny to me how semesters seem to divvy themselves up into themes.  I’m taking American Sign Language / English translation, Critical Thinking, American Sign Language Structure, and Psychology.  You wouldn’t think that all those classes would be about communication, but they all are.  It’s strange to me how many of those classes have been helping me to understand the English language better.  As my teacher says, you can’t learn about adverbs in sign if you don’t know what an adverb is in English first.  As excited as I am to be learning more about English,  I’m overjoyed about learning some concrete rules for sign.  I feel like I really need that.

With the new semester starting again, I think the thing I’m most excited about is going back to the world of the living.  I’m not chained to my job anymore!  That means I can get out into the community, visit some really fun Deaf events, and use more ASL.  Right now I have plans to usher for Deaf West, and also help out at their booth during DEAFestival Los Angeles.  I’m really excited to see everyone again!!  Hopefully I’ll also be able to attend other events, but it’s crazy to me how fast my time is filling up now that I’m free.

Here’s to my last year at Mt. SAC, and to lots of hand-flapping fun along the way!!

y sister went out to the mall with some friends the other day, and a Deaf man left a little booklet on her table with the ASL alphabet and some basic signs inside.  She thought of me, so she bought it.  I was really excited about it.  Most of the signs are ones I don’t recognize, like GOOD, BAD, PERFECT, CHANCE and RIGHT.  I know versions of those signs, just not the signs listed in the booklet.  I had heard much about ABC cards and Deaf peddlers, but never seen them.  In fact, I had the impression that ABC cards were a dying breed and I’m excited that I now own one.

I know this is probably a controversial feeling.  Deaf people tend to look down on people peddling ABC cards.  The general feeling is that people handing out ABC cards are ambassadors, of a sort, for the Deaf Community.  Most Deaf people feel that these people aren’t the best roll models.  The impression they give is that Deaf people don’t work, that they rely on begging to sustain themselves, and that Deaf people can’t do everything a hearing person can.

I know neither my sister nor I felt this way.  She thought the little card was neat and bought it because she liked it, not because she felt sorry for the man selling it.  What she was really interested in is how he got it.  Who prints them, decides what they say, and how does the ABC card seller get them?  I went on a quest to find out, and what I found was, um… interesting.

My particular card was made up into a PDF file by a group called The Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center.  Before this latest version, they had another version where the signs weren’t very up to date, but they recently remade it to be more current.  The group prints the pamphlets and distributes them mostly to Deaf people, although they also distribute them to hearing people at fairs and other places that the Center might have a booth.  They also offer the PDF file on their website to anyone who wants to print some ABC cards themselves.  If you’re interested in looking at the PDF, here’s the link to it: http://www.deafadvocacy.org/community/freebies/des.pdf.  I think it’s interesting to note that nowhere on the card does it state the name of the agency- or have any other identifying information about where it comes from.

Now comes the juicy part.  How did I come across this information?  I found a message board thread where a man stated that they had just finished re-designing the ABC cards, and that distributing them would be “a win-win for the deaf community members and our deaf center!”  He linked to the same PDF file that’s listed above.  People ripped this guy a new one on the message board, but he seemed to enjoy it and was snarky right back to them.  It feels a little to me like this guy knew he was being controversial and wanted and internet fight.

So who is this organization providing ABC cards?  At first, I thought that the OCDAC might be some sort of dummy site or joke site.  I clicked around a little, and I found out that they’re a legitimate Deaf Advocacy organization.  They hold events, provide services, and otherwise function like a real organization.  They aren’t a joke.  The question now is, are they trying to make a joke?  On their website, on the page “Free Services”, the link to the ABC cards is listed as “Personal Fundraising Assistance”.  They’re just asking for it, aren’t they?

The third layer to this story is the fact that Deaf Peddling is illegal in California.  There’s a law that prohibits solicitation by those not connected with a non-profit institution, which includes Deaf people selling ABC cards.  Whether they’re trying to be funny or not, the reality is that OCDAC is making it really easy for people to break the law, without telling them that it’s illegal.  Do they realize this, or not?

I’m inclined to chalk all this up to a not-very-funny joke.  It seems to me that someone is trying to make a touchy subject a little less touchy by being flippant about it.  The fact that it isn’t funny, and that they’re potentially harming people seems to have escaped them.  That’s what I’m going to believe anyway.  Who knew that researching the gift my sister gave me would be so interesting and controversial?

isney has just been eating up all my time.  I’ve been working 7 or 8 days in a row before getting a day off on a regular basis, and I have little time to do anything but go to work and sleep.  Posting blog entries has been like pulling teeth for me, too.  I’m really isolated from the Deaf community right now (as I am from everyone who doesn’t work with me), so not only do I not have time to write anything, I also don’t have anything to write about.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m having a fun time re-connecting with all the Disney folks and putting out parades among our zany antics.  I’m just glad there’s a definitive date when I get my life back.

so basically, this post is notice that I’m taking a summer vacation to go work my butt off.  I’ll be back to making regular posts on September 1st, and I’ll try to make them extra amazing because everyone has to wait so long for them.  Thanks for understanding!!

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