Archives For deaf

Don’t Label Me …

October 13, 2014 — Leave a comment

2014-10-07_08-16-26In fact, Raven tells Oprah that she rejects the notion of labels completely in all areas of her life. “I’m tired of being labeled,” she says. “I’m an American. I’m not an African-American; I’m an American.

“The remark seems to catch Oprah off guard. “Oh, girl,” Oprah says, shifting in her chair. “Don’t set up the Twitter on fire… Oh, my lord. What did you just say?”

“I mean, I don’t know where my roots go to,” Raven explains. “I don’t know how far back they go… I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from, but I do know that my roots are in Louisiana. I’m an American. And that’s a colorless person.”

“You’re going to get a lot of flak for saying you’re not African-American. You know that, right?” Oprah asks.

Raven puts her hands up. “I don’t label myself,” she reiterates. “I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian, I connect with Asian, I connect with Black, I connect with Indian, I connect with each culture.”

“You are a melting pot in one body,” Oprah says.”Aren’t we all?” Raven asks. “Isn’t that what America’s supposed to be?”

SOURCE:  Raven-Symoné: Don’t Label Me ‘Gay’ Or ‘African-American’ VIDEO.

I was totally fascinated by Raven Symone as a little girl on the Cosby Show. Even at that young age she was a person well beyond her years and proves to be that way even today. She might be naive in some aspects of life and an idealist but those are assets the way I look at it.

I too don’t like to be labeled and I never have. I very seldom talk about my deafness and I definitely don’t label myself with that affliction.  Yes, I am deaf and that means I cope daily with different obstacles than many but that is not who I am.

I think, but am not sure that my distant relatives came for Scotland but that fact does not mean that I am a Scottish-American. One blood line is in the native-American category I am kind of proud of that fact but I don’t go around calling myself a native-American.

Yes Raven America has been labeled as a melting pot but in some sense it is far from that.  A melting pot means everyone is the same and treated the same and we all know that is simply not the case, at least yet.

I need to find out what Raven has been doing in the entertainment field since the Cosby show. She still seems to be quite a unique young lady…

2014-08-24_13-14-19The white majority in the U.S. will be outnumbered by Americans of other races by 2042, eight years sooner than previously projected by the Census Bureau.

SOURCE: U.S. White Population Will Be Minority by 2042, Government Says – Bloomberg.

The year 2042 strikes abject fear into some of us. Particularly those who are associated with groups with three letters in the title. That is the year that people of color will outnumber whites in the United States. Why is it that so many are so afraid of being a minority?

For twenty-five years now I have been in a pretty small minority. Only about 1% of the U.S. population is deaf and I am one of them. I go through months at a time without ever seeing another deaf person but I live with the consequences of being deaf every single day. Before I became a member of this somewhat exclusive minority I to had an abject fear of it. But it turns out that being a minority is not as bad as I imagined. It is not great but not totally bad either.

So, why do so many fear going from 51% to 49%? What is it about that number that get to us? Of course a big part of that is the perceived loss of power. They would no longer be masters of our own fate. It’s nice to be the guy in control of things. To turn that over in any degree is a scary thing. What if “they” decide to do it differently than I want?

But then again most of us are in a minority now in one regard or another. Being a progressive in Indiana puts me in a distinct minority. I loathe many of the things that my governor does; he just seems to be a guy without much compassion for others, especially those much different from him.  But my life for the most part goes on despite being a minority in several different areas. Sharing power is not at bad as many imagine.

We may come to the point where no political party will have a majority status and will therefore be forced to form a coalition government made up of different minorities. But then again that is pretty much what at least the Democratic party is now. There are those Democrats who want abortion on demand and those who would like to see it go away entirely. There are those who just want government out of their lives and then there are those who think government is shirking its responsibility of doing the people’s business.

All I can say to all those out there who are in abject fear of becoming a minority is that it is not as bad as you imagine. Spreading the power around is enabling, not disabling, as a country as well as on a personal level. Try it out , you might like it.

2014-07-11_07-59-24Apparently, the new iPhone 6 will incorporate a more advanced vibration motor that could offer better tactile feedback to users, depending on the app they’re using or the area they tap on the screen.

SOURCE:  Secret iPhone 6 feature uncovered? – Yahoo News.

I have had my iPhone 4 for about three years now and am for the most part very pleased with its operation.  But one areas that needs improvement for me is the vibrate mode. Since I am deaf I rely exclusively on vibrate to let me know when text messages come in. The current vibrate mode is rather weak and sometimes hard to detect especially when my mind is on other things.

While the ring mode has dozens of options, the vibrate mode is limited to two short bursts only. So, I was pleased to hear of this new secret feature. Yeah, I am one of those guys waiting for iPhone 6 to do an upgrade. I guess there are millions of us out there. I know Apple phones are more expensive than some of the competitor but given its overall features it is well worth the price.

Prosecutors had accused the two officers, who approached Thomas near a bus depot in July 2011 to question him about reports of vandalized cars, of turning a routine police encounter into an unnecessary and savage beating that cost the unarmed homeless man his life.

Attorneys for Ramos and Cicinelli argued that Thomas was dangerous and that the officers responded according to their training. Defense lawyers also said Thomas suffered from a weakened heart brought on by drug abuse.

“These peace officers were doing their jobs, operating as they were trained,” said John Barnett, who represented Ramos. “There was no malice in their hearts that night.”

SOURCE:  Ex-California policemen acquitted in beating death of homeless man – Yahoo News.

I certainly don’t know all the facts about this incident but I do remember watching a few minutes of the video capturing it.  From that it seemed like the police officers were simply stomping and beating on someone who was just lying on the ground screaming for help.  Of course this is not the first time officers of the law have killed unarmed men. It seems to happen almost weekly.

For that reason, the first feeling that comes to my mind when I encounter a policeman is trepidation and maybe even fear. The main reason for that is because I can envision a time when I will be stopped by an officer who could shot me because I am deaf and couldn’t hear what he commanded me to do. I can remember another incident where someone was simply reaching in his pocket for a cell phone was shot seven times. These incidents scare me! I even remember an incident several years ago when a deaf man was severely assaulted by a police officer who was unaware of his hearing impairment.

I know a police officer has a right to defend him/herself when they feel they are in danger but I also fully realize that most officers have had very little if any training in encountering someone with hearing loss. I certainly deeply appreciate and respect what they go through on a daily basis to keep our streets safe but unfortunately that does not ameliorate my fear…

Baby I’m Yours……

December 17, 2013

Baby, I’m yours

And I’ll be yours until the stars fall from the sky,

Yours, until the rivers all run dry

In other words, until I die

Baby, I’m yours

And I’ll be yours until the sun no longer shines,

Yours, until the poets run out of rhyme

In other words, until the end of time

I’m gonna stay right here by your side,

Do my best to keep you satisfied

Nothin’ in the world could drive me away

‘Cause every day, you’ll hear me say

Baby, I’m yours

And I’ll be yours until two and two is three,

Yours, until the mountains crumble to the sea

In other words, until eternity.

Baby, I’m yours

(Til the stars fall from the sky)

Baby, I’m yours

(Til the rivers all run dry)

Baby, I’m yours

(Til the sun no longer shines)

Baby, I’m yours

(Til the poets run out of rhymes)

2013-12-16_15-38-46I have had this song stuck in my mind for a couple of days now so had to research it some to find where it started. I know I remembered it from my youth but didn’t realize that it originally appeared the year I graduated high school in 1965. It was number eleven on the billboards that year. Barbara Lewis, a young African-American blues singer I think was the original one to sing it. In my research I also know that it has been re-recorded by Cher and several others since then.

Even though I have not heard a sound through my ears in over twenty-five years and have lost the ability to even remember what musical instruments sound like songs like this one pop to the top of my mind on occasion. I can still hear it as if it were being played on an old-fashioned record player used in those days.

I don’t know how much longer it will remain captive in my brain. I kind of like it so I hope it stays around for a few more days. I think one of the things I would quickly do if for some miracle my hearing were to come back is to pull out all the hundreds of black vinyl records from storage and seek out a player to spend hours listening to them again. I really miss the songs of my youth but I’m not too sorry that I missed the rapping and such since then. :)

My wife laughs whenever I start singing this song to her now.  I don’t know if it is because of my singing or she is just moved by the emotion of my efforts. We did not meet for another twenty years but still it seems like the song was written for me to sing to her. I love it when my brain gives me back these sudden spurts of hearing. Even if they are only in imaginary….

comfort zoneFor this post I thought I would focus on a cultural topic. Let’s face it none of us are totally comfortable with change. Some of us see it as a nuisance, some as a threat, and fortunately many of us see it as an opportunity. Since we live in an ever-changing world how we face change often determines the root level of happiness in our lives.  When we get too comfortable with our current situations we leave ourselves open to complacency and that often leads to stagnation.

When I went deaf over twenty-five years ago a lot of things changed for me. I was definitely shocked out of my comfort zone. It meant a basic change in my career. I was very fortunate to have an employer who allows me that opportunity. Being one of those who are physically handicapped gave me a perhaps oversized portion of empathy for others. These changes while being stressful at the time actually resulted in a happier life. I finally got into a career path that was more pleasure than chore.  It took my fundamental emphasis away from myself and instead direct it to those who have life even harder than me. I found my purpose in life in that regard. I’m not sure any of that would have happened if I weren’t shocked out of my comfort zone. I, like most of us, was just too comfortable there to face the amount of change that eventually occurred.

Being shocked out of your comfort zone leads you to being the next version of you. Don’t always look back at the person you thought you were going to be. Instead look deeply at the person you want to be and take some uncomfortable risks to make that person a reality.  We should all  be panicked on a regular basis in our lives or we will not be pushing ourselves forward.

Here is an interesting idea, instead of being pushed out of your comfort zone try taking a self-appointed leap once in a while. I think you will be happy you did….

Life’s Dramas…….

March 7, 2013

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Anyone who has watched movies, and that surely is almost all of us, know that when certain scenes come up there is always very dramatic music in the background. One of the strange things about me being deaf for more than 25 years now it that my brain just doesn’t remember what music sounds like. Even though I don’t remember the sounds the fact that it was dramatic music still remains. When the soldiers landed on Normandy the dramatic music boomed. Whenever there was a seemingly life changing event on the silver screen there was always dramatic music in the background.

It’s funny how life just doesn’t align with movies. One of the most dramatic times in my life was when I went deaf. There was just no music playing for that event. As a matter of fact the only sounds I heard with the ringing from my still present tinnitus. When family members have died no dramatic music.  But I do remember some pretty good organ music on my wedding day. :) Let’s face it life in the movies is just not the same as life in general. We just don’t have music to emphasize to us that a dramatic moment has occurred in our lives.

But one thing I have learned in my old age is that life is what happens when you are planning for something else. I am a planner; that is just my nature. So, I spend quite a bit if time planning our annual vacations and such. But I have come to realize that I plan for maybe 10% of my life while letting the other 90% sort of just happen.  We have to realize that life happens to us 24/7 and not just those time we dream about or plan for.  Spending time on the toilet everyday is not something we dream about but it is just as much a part of life as any other event. Don’t disregard the simple things in life, they, whether we like it our not, are where we spend the majority of our time.

I want to close this post with a quote from a  great theologian and author C.S. Lewis from the 20th century:

“The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.

Being Deaf….

January 2, 2013

Source: DO NOT OPEN « creativetidalwave.

ignoreWorking in a deaf school for many years I learned the value of incidental learning. So many students lacked a lot of common knowledge often taken for granted. We are constantly learning from events and situations that are going on around us though we are often not aware or participating in them directly. Being deaf cuts one-off from a more experiences than most are aware. They are often clueless of what is happening around them because they are not alert to turn to observe due to a lack of being able to hear to know something is happening.

I don’t often talk about what it means to be deaf in a hearing world these days but the words by one of my blog buddies got my attention.   I readily admit that there have been several times in my life that I just didn’t “get it”. As stated above being deaf cuts one off from more experiences than I like to admit.  When I often sit silently as my friends converse about one thing or another my mind leads me in a different direction than what is actually occurring around me.

Continue Reading…

Late Deafened Culture??

March 12, 2012

I have had some questions and some search engine links to my blog about a “late deafened culture” so I want to talk a little about that here. As I mentioned on other posts I have been deaf for the last twenty-five years or so. Anyone who went deaf after acquiring the ability to speak is considered late deafened so I am obviously one. We make up about 1.5% of the current population in the U.S.

The other deaf group is the pre-lingually deaf.  They typically have been deaf since birth or at a very early stage.  They make up about 0.5% of the current total population. Many in that situation are part of the Deaf culture (with a capital “D”). They associate primarily with other deaf and maintain that their deafness is not a negative in their lives but a positive.  Many come to celebrate their deafness and consider restoring hearing, via cochlear implants, in children as child abuse.

Those of us who are late-deafened usually maintain their identity in the hearing world. We, for the most part do not identify our deafness as a beneficial part of our lives but instead treat it as getting in the way of our day-to-day living. Many, like myself, seldom come across someone else who is deaf in our daily encounters. For all of the above reasons we do not have, per se, a culture that is unique to us. We are more likely to identify with the culture of our heritage (Italian, Irish, etc) than that associated with our handicap.

One of the facts about late-deafness is that the majority of us are senior citizens. That is many, but not me personally, go deaf due to aging. Therefore for many of us the loss of the ability to hear is a devastating occurrence. It often leads to very severe isolation for those seniors. Some could be helped to varying degrees by hearing aids and other tools but refuse to acknowledge that they need any. Being a senior with the corresponding loss of many of our working world relationships is hard enough without having to cope with no longer being able to hear.

So, to answer the initial query there is really nothing called a late-deafened culture but maybe there should be? There are support groups around to help the late-deafened. One of those is called ALDA (Association of Late Deafened Adults). I was a member of this organization for some time but it is really more of a social club than an advocates group. The NAD (National Association for the Deaf) does advocate for both pre-lingual and late-deafened but, in my opinion they are much more slanted toward the former rather than the latter.

Source: The Body Odd – Cracking the code: Why yuor barin can raed tihs.

For emaxlpe, it deson’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod aepapr, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pcale. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit pobelrm.

It is funny how we can read this above sort of thing. It is even funnier how I can read my own handwriting a day or more after I have written it.

We use context to pre-activate the areas of our brains that correspond to what we expect next, she explained. For example, brain scans reveal that if we hear a sound that leads us to strongly suspect another sound is on the way, the brain acts as if we’re already hearing the second sound. Similarly, if we see a certain collection of letters or words, our brains jump to conclusions about what comes next. “We use context to help us perceive,” Kutas said. 

I am deaf and I often times have to rely on what people commonly call “lip reading” to try to figure out what is going on.  In the context of this post I want to tell you a little about this topic and how it relates to the source article.  First of all the more accurate term is “speechreading” as it is more than just watching lips. It is watching body language, expressions, and most importantly context.  Many words appear the same when trying to speechread. One group of words that appear the same on the lips are “buy”, “my”, “pie” or letters b m and p. So, when I see the lips purse for a b, m, or p I have no idea which is being spoken without trying to put the word in context. With these types of problems in mind a deaf person trying to figure out what is being said is simply a guessing game. For even the most fluent speechreaders, I am certainly not one of them, only about one-third of the words are gleaned by actually seeing them on the lips. The rest have to be guessed by taking the context of what the topic is.

Context is everything in speechreading and being able to read the gibberish at the start of this post is the same thing. When words are taken out of context speechreading becomes almost impossible for anyone.  I have no problems speechreading someone who asks me how I am or if I like a particular thing in front of me. But when they come to me asking about how IBM did in yesterday’s stock market I very likely will give them a glazed look.

I am a wordsmith. I struggle to find just the right way to say something in all of my posts. So, having to fill in a 66% gap in a discussion comes difficult to me. The other thing about speechreading is that it is a very tiring thing. It takes total concentration and then some to accomplish it even at a rudimentary level. After a few minutes of filling in the gaps I just get too tired to do it anymore, at least with any degree of success.

I am tired just thinking about all this stuff so I will stop here… :)