Editorial: What a start!

Originally appeared in Silent News, October 2000.

A few weeks ago, I drove from Chicago to Mount Laurel, N.J., to start my new job here at the newspaper. I had gotten lousy directions off the web—so at 1:00 a.m., I was lost in a new town in a new state. I got fed up with driving aimlessly up and down Route 73 trying to find my hotel, so I decided to make a u-turn (turns out they’re very illegal in this area) and got busted by a local policeman. Luckily, he didn’t ticket me. Even so, he was dumbfounded about how to communicate with me, and kept trying to make me lipread with the sirens flashing behind his head. I gestured for him to write, pointing to the lights. He then shone his flashlight upon his face—keep in mind his car was next to my truck with the lights flashing directly behind his head—and said, “Does this help?”

After agreeing with me that lipreading was probably useless, he admitted he had no idea of where I was supposed to go either. So, I paged a friend back in Chicago and finally got the correct directions.

The hotel office closed at 11:00 p.m., so late arrivals were expected to dial a specific number to call someone to come and open the door. I had called twice prior to my arrival to confirm my late arrival, and was told both times that they would make alternate arrangements for me with absolutely no problem.

I arrived at my hotel only to find that the office did not leave a note or key for me.

So, here I was, at 2:00 a.m., stranded.  I dialed the number repeatedly and stared blankly into the receiver each time, hoping that the other person would realize there was someone at the door. No luck. I once again used my pager (how did I ever survive before I got my pager?) and had someone call the office for me. At 2:30 a.m., I finally got the key to my room—and didn’t get to bed until 3:30 a.m. because of unloading my car, getting settled in, and trying to relax a little.

A few hours later, I started my first day at Silent News.

In thinking about that night, I’ve come to realize that even though we’ve come a long way in accessibility and equality, we’ve still got a lot of ignorance and inaccessibility going on. And that ignorance makes for a lot of frustration, especially at 2:00 a.m.

Even so, Silent News has been there for many of these changes or frustrations for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community, and for many of the milestones in my life.

I started reading Silent News when I was a young child. I can’t really remember how or where. Maybe my parents subscribed, or I read it at school. Either way, I remember regularly checking the magazine rack in the “hearing impaired office” (as it was known back then) at my high school to see if Silent News or any other publication of interest had arrived. I would sit and pore through those publications inch by inch, drinking up every bit of information—and dreaming about where I would be going in the community. This was how I learned about our deaf leaders, our deaf people, and our events, and I would then share the information with the other 75 deaf students at my school.

That thrill of learning, that thrill of dreaming, and that thrill of reading about someone or someplace you know is something I hope to revive with Silent News. Even with all the instant news we receive through e-mail, the web, and TV, there’s still nothing like the feel of a new issue of Silent News that you can sit and read.

Silent News will be going through some changes. You may like them. Or you may not. Either way, we hope to have more original stories, more variety in our stories, and a more uniform look.

We want to make sure you get your money’s worth, and enjoy our paper. Also, if you’re interested in writing for us, we would be thrilled to have you on board.

I also need you to tell me what fonts you like or don’t like. What pictures do you want to see more of?  What stories would you like to see? What don’t you like? (By the way, we will be changing our logo in time for the next issue, hopefully—keep your eyes open for that!)

I’d also like to be able to have more diversity in our writers. Not all of our writers will be on a regular basis. Some will write only a few times a year, and others will write on a monthly basis. But I think you’ll agree that each brings a unique perspective to the newspaper.

Please know that this is your newspaper. I want to  produce a newspaper that meets your expectations.

Most of all, I hope to be able to make a difference for another person just like that Deaf child I was years ago.

Copyrighted material. This article can not be copied, reproduced, or redistributed without the express written consent of the author.

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