Here and There

This article originally appeared at i711.com.

I’ve got lots on my mind, so bear with me as I go into a million tangents.

Why can’t manufacturers or companies create an attractive alert and alarm system ideal for the home? All the alarm systems and signal systems on the market specifically designed for people who are deaf are white, black or silver, and ugly. Not to mention clunky. On my husband’s nightstand is a stark white alarm, and on my nightstand is a drab black alarm – both eyesores in our bedroom full of wooden furniture. What I usually do is throw the alarm clocks under the bed when guests visit.

So how about it, manufacturers? You’re sitting on a money-making idea here.
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Am I the only one driven crazy by the new, widespread sign for “e-mail,” where the non-dominant hand makes a “C” while the other hand ‘slashes’ through it?

I asked a linguist why this sign seemed so wrong to me. Thank heavens he had an answer. He explained that the “C” handshape already has a purpose assigned to it in ASL linguistics: to show a bump on a wall, a cup/jar, a shape/size, or other related classifier tasks. So the use of “C” in the sign for e-mail violates the handshape’s linguistic rules, among other rules. And I’m not alone; a lot of people tell me they hate the sign, too – usually those who have been signing since birth.

The irony: when I ask deaf people why they use this sign, they say, “Interpreters told us to use this.” When I ask interpreters why they use this sign, they say, “Deaf people told us to use this.” Let’s not mangle the language of ASL any further, please.
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A while ago, someone made a motion during a meeting for one of the organizations I belong to. That person wanted to remove the word “of” from the organization name (I’ll use a fictitious name): “Deaf People of Earth.” S/he also wanted to make it “Deaf People Earth,” because “If we use English words in organizational names, we’re oppressing ASL.”

What’s even funnier is that this person’s own company name has “The” in it. Go figure.
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I, like so many others, am riveted to the Gallaudet presidential search process and the controversy sure to follow. But there’s lots going on at the state level around the nation, too.

One instance is the superintendent selection process at Indiana School for the Deaf. Indiana School for the Deaf was among the pioneers in bilingual/bicultural education back before “bi-bi” was cool, and is considered one of the elite deaf schools in the nation. Just like the Gallaudet selection process, people in Indiana are divided into two camps – some bitterly – over the candidates. I’m curious how this pans out. And has anyone noticed how more and more hearing superintendents are being hired at deaf schools around the nation, even with more and more deaf people getting their administration credentials and doctorates?
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There’s nothing that makes you appreciate live captions more than being in a small town. I visited my grandmother over the weekend, and I lost my patience after a few minutes watching the local news which used scripted captions. The captions flew by, out of sync with the spoken words, and then froze for a few minutes before it flew by again in a blur. Ugh!

When I got back to Minnesota, I immediately wrote an e-mail to KARE-11 and thanked the station for its superb captioning.
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I was fortunate enough to visit the Greater St. Louis Association of the Deaf’s new center over the weekend, after the DeafNation Expo. Impressive! Kudos to the people there for ensuring that the financial donation they got didn’t go to waste.

Even as deaf clubs disappear around the nation, we continue to find a way to gather. This is the spirit of the Deaf community, folks.
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Thanks for letting me get all this off my chest. Gotta love the Deaf community, hands down.

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