It’s been another busy two weeks since my last post! I’m slowly starting to bring my project to a close because our last class is only two weeks away… Anyone else thinking they should probably start working on their Summary of Learning Project…? Nonetheless, it’s a little bittersweet realizing that this project is wrapping up. I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to connect with people in my school division and to learn a language that is rich in culture and community. Although we are nearing the end, we aren’t quite there yet… Keep reading to see what I’ve been up to and what’s on the horizon!
Where We Started…
- Continue with my ASL 1 lessons (Lesson 4 and maybe 5)
- Keep up with Deaf U and Seen and Not Heard shows
- Continue to explore ASL Connect… I’m thinking of learning how to sign different outdoor activities.
- Continue building my Wakelet resource hub
- Explore Deaf influencers on social media and other educational accounts
Where We Ended Up…
Bill Vicars Lessons: Lesson # 4
Initially, I was planning on doing both Lesson # 4 and # 5, however, I found Lesson # 4 a little more difficult to learn, practice, and film. Plus, I was also in the process of mastering ASL outdoor activity signs. It was starting to feel like a bit much, so I decided to pull back and focus on just Lesson # 4 for now! Since I did find this lesson more challenging, I needed to create my update video in chunks because I kept forgetting the signs when I was trying to do them all at once! What I found challenging about this particular lesson was that Bill would teach the student a few new signs, then would share a fingerspelled version of those words. The student needed to figure out what the word was and then sign it back to Bill. This was certainly challenging, but also a welcome change. I had learned the ASL alphabet as one of my first tasks and wasn’t finding much opportunity to apply it, so it was exciting getting to combine this with one of my lessons. It was also a nice review because it has been a few weeks since I’ve practiced the alphabet. Something that surprised me in this lesson was that I already new “friend” and “help” from a song that I signed and sang in choir from elementary school!
For some reason the struggle was real when I was trying to sign “bedroom.” As the lessons carry on, they are also moving much quicker, making it difficult to notice the nuances in each movement. However, I resorted to Signing Savvy and Handspeak to catch the signs I was struggling with. I tried sticking as closely as I could with the signs Bill was doing, although some were slightly different than the signs on Handspeak. This was also the first lesson that I’ve done with Bill that had longer sentences. For example, “If teacher spell slow you understand s/he?” Not only did I need to apply new information when signing this sentence, I was also able to apply some previous knowledge too! I am starting see the overlap between each lesson and how they gradually progress. Next week, I am aiming for Lesson # 5!
ASL Connect: Outdoor Activities
To continue supplementing my lessons, I’ve also been learning basic vocabulary terms. This week I decided to focus on Outdoor Activities from ASL Connect. Overall, I found the flow of this video a little slower than the video I did last week. However, I still needed to double-check with Signing Savvy and Handspeak to make sure I wasn’t missing any small details. Since I am slowly gaining some fluency with signing, I originally was planning on breaking this video into three separate chunks and learning one chunk each day. As it turned out, it only took me two chunks to get the hang of these signs. Of course, I also practiced in the mirror prior to filming, which I found helpful. In my video I couldn’t include one of the signs from the tutorial… I could not figure out what activity they were referring to at 2:47! Feel free to watch the video and let me know if you have an idea! You’ll notice that I left that one out in my practice video update. I’m hoping to squeeze in one more of these lessons for my next update. I’m thinking of the 5 Whs or Family.
Seen and Not Heard Podcast & Deaf U
Seen and Not Heard: For this post, I listened to Episode 7. It begins with Bet getting her hearing aids checked out, as she has been experiencing some discomfort with them. Something interesting I learned about hearing aids is that some people are actually allergic to the material that is in them, which can cause an allergic reaction. The specialist tells Bet that her reaction to the hearing aids could be more of a mental adjustment than a physical issue. They ask her to take note of when she feels agitated by her hearing aids and to take them out for a break. Later, Bet goes to her mom’s music concert. Her dad and sister get close seats, but Bet explains to them that it probably won’t help and hearing will be difficult anyway. Her sister assures her they will crank the microphone volume, but Bet is also skeptical about that helping. The concert begins, and as Bet predicted, she can’t hear because the reverberations are too strong. As she is watching the concert, she begins to feel anxious about the social after in a crowded, large, echoey auditorium. As she is talking to the guests, she pretends to know what people are saying by nodding and replying, “Oh, yes, yes!” Sarah and Bet notice that their Dad looks concerned while they are at the social. He shares that their grandmother is ill and is in the hospital. Bet is guilt-ridden on her way to the hospital. After she lost her hearing, she stopped visiting her grandma unless someone else could go with her. Her grandma’s voice had become so soft that Bet couldn’t hear her to have a conversation. Bet’s mother is all business and taking care of the paperwork/organizing aspect. However, Bet vocalizes to her mom that when she was ill, she never really came to visit other than to drop items off. Bet explains to her mom that she needs to be there for grandma because this will be her last chance. Bet visits David and he notices that she doesn’t seem like herself. He asks her what is wrong and Bet reluctantly shares that her grandmother passed away. The episode ends with David comforting Bet. This episode was short and sweet, but something that resonated with me was that Bet had stopped visiting her grandmother after she lost her hearing. I feel like Bet’s mom lives in denial that Bet’s life has changed quite dramatically, and as a result, hasn’t been offering her the support that she needs. Bet feels isolated and is missing out on opportunities, as she feels judged asking for help. This situation highlights the importance of learning to self advocate and having a network of people to help you adapt to change.
Deaf U: I’m definitely a reality T.V. junkie, so I’ve really been getting into Deaf U and watching the drama unfold. However, I’ve been trying to keep my posts focused on Deaf culture and the Gallaudet University experiences of the people featured in the show. This week I watched episodes 3, 4, and 5. Keep reading to find out my “takeaways.”
In episode 3, Rodney and DQ were having dinner with Rodney’s family. Rodney’s parents are both African American and attended Yale University, which is an Ivy League school. At the dinner table, they discuss the intersectionality of Deafness and being African American. DQ is also African American and grew up in difficult conditions, as he lost his mother when he was only 14. He explains to Rodney’s family that he feel like his life experiences and what he has been through doesn’t align with the experiences of the other students that attend Gallaudet. Rodney’s mom asks DQ if he feels this way because he is Black and hearing. As a white, hearing woman, the concept of the intersectionality of being Deaf and African American never dawned on me. I felt that Rodney’s mom raised an interesting point that I’m sure many people from other marginalized groups face in the Deaf community. DQ elaborated more on the hearing/Deafness piece, as he explains that he struggles with the culture at Gallaudet because he is hearing and doesn’t sign all of the time; he talks. They also discuss how the gossip at Gallaudet spins out of control so quickly because they are such a small community. Rodney’s mom cracked me up because she didn’t miss a beat and doesn’t take any excuses. She explained to Rodney that he knows what the Deaf community is like and understood that Gallaudet is a small community… Essentially, he knew what he was getting himself into. Sidebar: During this segment of the episode, Rodney signed, “mommy’s boy” and I was excited that I knew what that meant, as I learned these signs in my lesson this week! Woohoo– progress! The smallness of Gallaudet is highlighted in Cheyenna’s conversation with Alexa. She addresses the issue of Alexa’s friends being critical about her YouTube videos. Alexa is part of the “elite” group at Gallaudet, but is also friends with Cheyenna who is not. Alexa explains that the term “elite” is somewhat misleading. From her perspective, it refers to friends she has had since childhood. Alexa often finds herself stuck between her friends who are “elite” and those who don’t belong to this group. She wants to keep her old friends, but enjoys connecting with Cheyenna because she is different than the people Alexa spent most of her childhood with. On a date with Rodney, Cheyenna explains that she struggles because she doesn’t feel like she really belongs to the Deaf community and that she is often judged by them. In some ways, I feel like the Deaf community at Gallaudet is very hierarchical and some of the students feel like they need to prove they are “Deaf enough.” Based on the experiences I am seeing from some of these students, I wonder if other Deaf communities are also like this to a certain degree. I understand this is reality T.V., so some details may be fabricated, but I also don’t doubt that small communities can become “cliquey,” as we can see this in many other contexts. However, as a young person in college, I think this would be challenging when you are still trying to figure out your place in the world. In my opinion, I think being Deaf adds another layer when trying to develop relationships with others who are hearing, as the mode of communication is completely different and so is the lived-experience of those who are Deaf versus those who are not. I am not saying it isn’t possible for hearing and Deaf people to connect, but there are different things that need to be considered.
In episodes 4 and 5, Dalton shared with Rodney that he isn’t interested in dating people who are hearing. After he began attending an all Deaf school, his world really opened up because he found people who could relate to his experiences. After he began attending this school, he took his hearing aids and flushed them down the toilet, as he didn’t feel they were necessary anymore because he had found his niche. I appreciate that this show brings in so many relatable topics and tries to deconstruct the stigma around mental health. Renate expresses that she deals with depression, anxiety, and often worries about the future. She also explains that her parents divorced when she was 5 and reveals that she deals with PTSD from the domestic violence that occurred before the separation. Renate’s struggles highlight that although she is Deaf, the challenges she has experienced in her life reflect those of many others. I also want to bring attention to how Deaf U highlights that people who are Deaf experience things that all hearing people experience as well. I read this article by Fred Topel that explains one of the goals of the series was to highlight how Deaf people experience the world is not drastically different than hearing people. The cast was also interviewed and they gave some great insight into the purpose of the show, as well as their experience of filming it.
My final comments on the episodes I watched are regarding some small pieces I noticed in the episodes that caught my attention as a hearing person. The first piece that caught my attention was clapping. Renate performed at a Slam Poetry night and the audience raised their hands and twinkled their fingers, rather than clapping. I wondered if this was because it was a Deaf performance. Turns out it is! It is called the deaf applause and it started in France and was brought to America by Gerald “Bummy” Burstein. Essentially, it is a “visual display of applause.” I got a chuckle out of this e-card! I was also impressed with myself when I understood the joke without any help. If you don’t get it, look here and here! The second piece was when Cheyenna went to a bar with Cameron and Rodney. When Cheyenna placed her order, she asked for a napkin and pen and wrote it down. In addition, she was reading the lips of some other girls talking in the bar who were staring at her. She could tell they were talking about her because she could read what they were saying… Busted! Finally, my favourite part of all of the episodes, was when Cheyenna was talking about music. As a child, she felt it was so unfair that everyone else could hear music and she couldn’t. One day, she realized she could feel vibrations and she said that after she learned this, the world became such a colourful place and wasn’t simply black and white anymore. I felt this statement was so powerful and eloquently phrased.
New Resources/Social Media Explorations & Wakelet Update
I’ve also spent some time going through the resources I’ve stumbled upon on my own and some that were recommended to me by Alyssa, Michelle, and the SLP from my school. Since so many wonderful resources were shared, there’s no way I would be able explore them all and post about each one. I decided to choose a couple and discuss them on my blog, but will also post others on my Wakelet. This week, I’ve decided to tackle some social media accounts that I’ve discovered…
Chrissy Can’t Hear You: I’ve watched a few of Chrissy’s videos on YouTube and I’ve really enjoyed them. Michelle and Alyssa offered great insight, but it has been helpful listening to the perspectives of a Deaf person and their everyday experiences. She uses her social media (Tik Tok, Instagram, YouTube channel, etc.) to educate people about ASL and the Deaf community/culture. In addition, she is a film major at the University of Southern California. One of the first videos of Chrissy’s that I watched was her experience of getting a cochlear implant. This process can be complicated and difficult to understand. Getting to see snippets of Chrissy’s experience made it that much more “real” for me. Something I found surprising from Chrissy’s experience was that the implant doesn’t work immediately. One month after the surgery, it needs to be activated. I always figured that it is turned on immediately and that was it! However, I am learning that cochlear implants take practice to learn how to use and they are uncomfortable at first. Chrissy said all of the noises she was hearing were very over-stimulating and she felt guilty for not liking her cochlear implant. However, she has learned to balance her use of the cochlear implant and the sounds are becoming less stimulating. She said it is important to remember that even though she has the cochlear implant, she still requires many of the adaptations she had before the surgery and self-advocacy is still crucial. Lastly, she says the experience really emphasized the importance of ASL and how the cochlear implant is a tool to supplement ASL. She says that ASL provides full access and the cochlear implant is the security.
This was another great video I watched prior to my conversations with Michelle and Alyssa. I found it helpful, as it gave me an idea of where to start and what I should be aware of to approach my project respectfully. Much of what she mentioned was also noted by Alyssa and Michelle as well! I encourage you to watch this video, as I wouldn’t have known about some of the “dos and don’ts” without it.
Connect Society: This is a nonprofit organization in Edmonton and Calgary that Alyssa had spent some time working in. They have an Instagram page that has signs of the month and showcases the work that they do. They share some helpful tips as well. This organization works to help build connections between Deaf and hard of hearing individuals, as well as provide resources. In this post, I’ve included their signs of the month for September. I encourage you to check out their Instagram page!
I’ve also added these resources, along with some others, to the Wakelet that I’ve started!
Where We Are Heading…
In my last blog post, I contemplated learning how to sign a children’s book or part of it. However, I took a peek at my calendar and my days are numbered! This goal might be a little much, as I am trying to bring this project to a close while also beginning my Summary of Learning! The next post you read about my Learning Project will most likely be my wrap up post, but never fear, I still have a few things up my sleeve I plan to work on and include in my final Learning Project post. Some of these items include…
- Complete Bill Vicars Lesson # 5
- Continue working on my ASL Connect supplement lessons… I’m thinking about learning family members next!
- Continue adding to my Wakelet and exploring the many resources passed down to me
- If time allows: Keep up with Seen and Not Heard and Deaf U shows
Thank you for sticking with me this long and following my journey!
Until next time,