Policemen acquitted in beating death of homeless man

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……

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….

Getting Shocked Out Of Your Comfort Zone.

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…….


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….

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.
To get a basic idea on how this happens I would suggest you try the following experiment.  Find a movie somewhere on your TV that you haven’t seen before and turn off the sound. Then make up a story about what you are seeing.  No cheating by turning on the closed captioning now!  🙂 Now I’m not talking about a Sylvester Stallone movie here; you will need one where people are actually talking. 😉   I will lay dollars to donuts that your story will have almost nothing to do with the actual dialog taking place. If you have a DVR go back to prove my observation.

You must understand that I, and most deaf people who choose to remain in the hearing world, experience this type thing on a daily basis. I know from so many past experiences not to read too much into my conclusions about what I think is being said around me but doing just that gets me in trouble quite frequently. When I am feeling down I imagine bad things being said; when I am happy it is often a happy story.

In talking about the last sentence in the quote I always make it a point when I am working in the soup kitchen to tell every one that doesn’t know me that I am deaf and am not ignoring them if they talk to me while I am not watching them.  I suspect many deaf people are labeled snobs because they don’t reply to other they don’t see.

Living in the hearing world definitely has its challenges for those of us who are deaf but I personally am never one to shy away from a challenge so bring it on!  (ha).


I am thankful to all those who said NO to me. It’s because of them I did it myself.  –Albert Einstein

After collecting a number of Einstein quotes he is becoming one of my favorites and this is one of the best ones. I know in my life I have always asked “Why is this like ….” I often get the equivalent of “no” as a reply or maybe more accurately “this is the way we have always done it…” or some such as that.

Those refusals to take seriously my “why” has made me stronger over the years. It is one of the things that has enabled me to cope with my deafness. I won’t fall into the box that people want to put those who cannot hear. The “deaf and dumb” label is still alive today.

My asking why and then having to go about finding out why myself has made me stronger. One case in point is when I questioned my religious leaders about why we seem to ignore Jesus’ words today I was pretty much told that we are just worthless people who can’t do that but he loves us anyway. That answer just didn’t play with me. Since I could get no answer that made any sense I went about finding out the answer myself. I spent years studying the words of Jesus and the history of religion. As a result I now have my answer that my religious leader either didn’t want to tell me our just didn’t know himself. What is the answer?  To find that out join me on the journey of the history of the church over at RedLetterLiving in the coming months to find out.  The answers just might surprise you 🙂

Don’t ever stop asking questions and don’t ever take “no” or “that is the way we have always done it” for an answer especially in todays political environment. Thomas Jefferson’s quote the “a democracy depends on an informed electorate” is more urgent today than it has ever been. Continue asking questions and seeking answers; don’t just sit back and accept the spin that others put on the story.

But what do I know….

Late Deafened Culture??

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.

Cracking the code: Why yuor barin can raed tihs

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… 🙂

The Sounds of Silence…

It has been a while since I relayed any stories about my deafness so I thought I would present one here. One of my favorite singer/composers was Simon and Garfunkel from the 1960’s. I still have all their albums including perhaps my favorite song from them which was “The Sounds of Silence”. Little did I know back then that the title of this song would take on a completely different meaning for me. I have been deaf for about twenty five years now and as a result of that the sounds of silence is indeed the sound of silence.

In my college days during the 60’s I, like many others around me, played a guitar. I was a folk music freak in that I knew most of the words to the popular folk singers of the time. This included Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, Woody Guthrie and too many others to mention. I was not a particularly good singer, or guitar player, but I could do a pretty good job of imitating Bob Dylan and his guttural type of singing.

During the last twenty five years my brain has slowly shut down in relation to sound. What I mean by that is that my brain no longer remembers what things sound like. This is particularly true for musical instruments and singing.  I played the guitar for several years but my brain no longer remembers what that instrument sounds like.  I know you pluck the strings and sounds come out but I just no longer remember what they sound like. The same is true for all musical instruments. This phenomenon is very frustrating to me. I think I should remember what a piano sounds like but the memory just doesn’t come about. I can still remember many of the words to the songs of the sixties and can recall the cadence of them but the instruments are a blank.

So now the sounds of silence really is the sound of silence. Maybe another saying is appropriate here also and that is “the silence is deafening”. Yes, there is some advantages to being deaf but there are also many disadvantages. While not remembering what music sounds like if very frustrating to me it is nothing compared to not being able to communicate easily with another person one-on-one without my interpreter/wife helping me. That frustrates me to no end.

Closed Captioned TV….

Continuing on with tools that help me and other deaf people coupe in the hearing world this post will cover closed captioning. When I went deaf in 1988 there only about 10% of the television coverage was closed captioned. That meant that I was pretty shut out of TV.  And even for that 10% I had to order an external closed captioning unit for my TV as the hardware was not standard at that time. The captioning unit costs almost as much as the TV and due to some technical matters the degree of accuracy of the captioning varied widely. Some of it was just not readable!

But maybe I am getting ahead of myself here as some of you might not even know what closed captioning is. Closed captioning is where all of the sounds and words on a TV program are spelled out in text somewhere on the screen. Many hearing people use it today so that they can turn off the sound and still watch TV. Of course this is usually so that their hubby can get to sleep without the noise.

Fortunately as the years went on captioning became more and more available. The main reason for that was the Americans with Disabilities Act signed in congress in 1990. It mandated that by 1994 all television would include a captioning chip (about a $5 cost whereas I paid over $200 for the external box). It also gave requirements as to what was captioned and how long it would take before all TV was captioned. I am a somewhat realist and realize that without this law TV would have probably been inaccessible to the 10 million or so of us that depend on captioning as it is today. Private businesses just don’t deem that number of people worth doing much extra for.

Fast forward to today and just about all programs are now captioned and of course all TVs made since 1994 have the ability to pick up that signal. But the quality of captioning on some of the networks is somewhat substandard. One of those cable/satellite channels has been the Hallmark channel. When they started up they waited until the last possible minute to legally bring up captions and it seems that they tend go to the vendor of lowest cost to get their original content captioned. I had always had a respect for the company but due to this experience I learned that they are pretty much the same as everyone else when it comes to profit verses service performance.

Anyway, thanks to the ADA act I can pretty much watch TV the same as everyone else. The only challenge I seem to have in the area is when we travel and come across hotels that have not replaced their TV inventory in the last sixteen years. But that is another story

And yet another story is with the increase use of video on the internet I am again beginning to feel left out as almost none of the videos are currently captioned. I guess I will have to wait for congress to regulate internet videos for that to happen. But of course with the extreme partisan gridlock that has taken those folks over it might be years before they can agree to act on this matter or anything else!

And the journey goes on….

Born Deaf vs Late Deafened…

I think of my deafness as an affliction that I must daily try to overcome in order to go about my business in the hearing world. That is not the case with some, perhaps most, who are born deaf. They claim they celebrate their deafness to the degree that they deem giving any child who is deaf a cochlear implant is child abuse! A cochlear implant is a device that is surgically inserted into a deaf person’s hearing system to allow many of them to hear.

The deaf who strongly identify with their deafness are know as the Deaf Culture with a capital “D”. As I said above they celebrate the deafness and do not wish to join the hearing world. In large population areas they, like many minorities, tend to associated primarily with others like themselves. Where possible they shop at deaf retailers, get their haircut from deaf barbers, etc. There are some who are late deafened who choose to join the Deaf culture but they are by far the minority of that culture. In fact many who are born deaf hold an animosity towards those of us who went deaf after being fully associated with the hearing world. One of the reasons for this is that we use English Sign Language instead of ASL. They say we are polluting their language by putting it in an English word order. Don’t get me wrong; those who have an animosity toward other deaf people are an extreme minority of the population much like the 9/11 terrorists are an extreme minority of the Muslim population. (I am definitely not saying the Deaf culture folks are terrorist so please don’t go there.)

In my experiences many in the Deaf Culture crowd see their population constantly dwindling each and every year due to cochlear implants and other medical advances. They seem to see the writing on the wall that soon, probably within a couple more generations, they will be a much smaller group than they are today. This greatly threatens their way of life. In that regard I can understand their feelings and have a degree of compassion for them. But life must go on and in the hearing world.

And the journey goes on….

Being alone in the world…


I know that I am not the only person in the U.S. who is deaf. In reality there are more than three million of us around. About two million of those are like me who went deaf as an adult. That means for Indiana where I live there are about forty thousand of us around. But since I am not active in any deaf clubs or organizations I seldom come across another deaf person in my daily life. When I do I am most often too surprised to try to effectively communicate with them. So, to me being deaf almost means being alone in the world. I am constantly around only hearing people.

When I first realized that deafness was the reality for me I indeed felt alone in the world. My ear doctor of several years basically told me that there was nothing else he could do to save my hearing so “please go away”. He did not offer any referrals to groups or such that could help me cope. I got the idea that he thought of me as one of his failures and he wanted me out of this sight as quickly as possible. As I later learned from other late deafened adults this was not an unusual scenario with a ENT doctor.

Up until that time I did not have any friends, family, or acquaintances who were hearing impaired. So, I like most other hearing people didn’t realize that those who were deaf in later life were just like everyone else except they couldn’t hear. I had read stories about how deafness caused severe depression in some; even to the point of thinking of suicide! I very much dreaded the day that I would lose the last bit of hearing. I felt very much alone in the world. The only support I seemed to have was from my dear wife and, of course, she knew no more than I did about what I was going to face.

Here it is 22 years later and I did survive those years and everything turned out fine. At least for the most part. I did go through some periods of depression but managed to cope with them. I found support groups in the early years although I have not made contact with many of them for more than a decade. Yvonne and I learned signed English sign language. Over the years I have accumulated all the various technologies that help me cope. Do I sometimes still feel alone in the world. You betcha. I often say that I feel the loneliest when I am in a room full of people. More on those things in later posts.

And the journey continues….

Text Messaging is the Way For Me…..

When I went deaf in 1988 there was no way for me to communicate with my wife or others once I left the house. Even at home calling others was almost impossible. I had a device called a TTY but the person I called also had to have one to communicate with me. They cost about $500 and could only be used with deaf people so they were far and few between. I could use a thing called the Deaf Relay service. How that worked was that I would call a special operator with my TTY and they would call the person I wanted to talk with. The operator would then listen to the other person and type for me on my TTY. The inconvenience of doing this and having another person listening in on the conversation made this method of calling pretty much a rare thing. Since my wife is hearing I usually depended on her to make all my calls. But that did not solve the being away from home and communicating with her.

It would take about twenty years before I could call my wife. I had to wait until text messaging on cell phones was finally developed before that happened. Now with my cell phone set on vibrate mode I frequently get messages from my wife and others while on the road (but I don’t actually text on the road. I pull over to do that. 🙂

Text messaging and close captions have indeed made my deafness more tolerable. More on close captioning next time.

The picture here has nothing to do with the post. It is of a college room mate I had for one semester in the 1960’s. His name was Knute and he came over from Norway via a freighter to go to the engineering school at Purdue. Knute learned enough English that he was somewhat able to communicate but with broken English. Of course he taught me how to say a bunch of dirty words in Norwegian and I taught him the equivalent in English :). I think he went back to Norway after he graduated ? Like so many other “lost” friends I wander how he is doing now.

And the journey goes on…

Personal Adversity Makes Us Stronger or…

OK, first let me start out by completing the title message. Personal adversity makes us stronger or breaks us. As I mentioned a few posts ago I went deaf about twenty years ago and have consequently faced my share of adversity since then. In the coming months, I will share specific stories about this but I want to keep it on a higher level for this post. When Helen Keller, who was both deaf and blind at a very early age, was asked what she would choose if she could get one of her senses restored. She without hesitation said it would be her hearing as being deaf keeps you separated from people and being blind only separates you from things. I certainly can understand her logic but I am not sure I would make the same choice.

Being deaf does definitely separate me from people and that makes me sometimes very lonely indeed. I often say that I am the loneliest when I am in a room full of people. At least sometimes when I am in a one-on-one situation with a hearing person they will go out of their way to communicate via notes or whatever works best. But once another hearing person comes into the room I most often become invisible as it is just easier for them to talk to each other than to me. I have come to accept this situation, even among my friends. That is just the way it is for most people. I thank heavens for the internet and email as that does level the playing field at least some of the time.

Ok, let’s get back to the theme of this post. If a person goes through life with little or no adversity they certainly take for granted what they have. When you lose something you then tend to realize just how important it was to you. Adversity also causes humility and to me that is one of the most important human traits. The other is compassion.   That is where the second part of this post title comes in.  Some people just can’t handle the adversity at that particular time in their lives and it breaks them.  For some it means drugs or alcohol. for others it is deep depression or something else.  We should all realize that “but there for the grace of God go I” and have compassion for those broken by their personal adversity.

Humility and compassion makes us the type of person that the Lord intends us to be.

And the journey goes on….

I am deaf….


I am doing something here that I have not done on any of the other blogs I have created. I am going to come up front with the fact that I am deaf. Being deaf is a major part of my daily experiences but it is not who I am. It is just one of those obstacles that sometimes get in the way of having the full life experiences I desire. I have many stories to relay to you about being deaf but they will wait for a later posts. There is also a lot of very different statistics about the deaf but that will wait too.

I will spend some time here on personal history with being deaf and a little about others who are deaf. I became deaf in 1988 at the age of forty two. The reason for my deafness was a congenital disease but I haven’t found anyone in my recent (four generations) history who were deaf? My loss of hearing started in college in the mid 60’s and progressed to complete deafness in 1988. A cochlear implant is not possible for me.

There are about 500,000 people in the U.S. who are completely deaf as I am. But there are also about 2,000,000 others who are said to be deaf but manage to retain a small level of hearing and therefore are able to more easily cope in the hearing world. I can attest that, at least for me, being able to hear even just a little bit was enormously different than losing all hearing. There are two basic categories of deaf people. About 80% of deaf people are like I am, they went deaf after acquiring the ability to speak; they are called late-deafened. To us English is our native language. Most of us are pretty much islands in a hearing population. That is we don’t associate on a day-to-day basis with other deaf people but continue to live in the hearing world.

Twenty percent of the deaf population (100,000) were born deaf or went deaf before acquiring the ability to speak. This group is called pre-lingually deaf. Many in this group became deaf due to medical reasons: some because of illnesses and others due to having spent too much time in oxygen tents as babies. With the recent recognition and control of deaf causing illness and the increase in cochlear implants this group is shrinking rather dramatically in recent decades.

Many, but not all, of the pre-lingually deaf seek out and associated as much as possible with others like them. They form what is known as the Deaf Culture (with a capital D). They are proud of their deafness and even celebrate it as part of their culture.They use a form of sign language called ASL with is really a separate language from English in that it is more conceptually based than written or spoken English. To them ASL is the primary language and English is secondary.

Only about half of those who are late-deafened learn any form of sign language. The majority of those who do learn to sign use what is called Signed-English. Signed English uses many signs from ASL but they put them in an English word order. I am in this group. My wife knows how to sign but very few of my friends or associates ever take the serious amount of time to learn to do this. For that reason I constantly carry around pencil and paper.

That is enough for now. In the future I will relay some of the many stories about struggling in the hearing world both in my personal and corporate life. As I said at the beginning, I am deaf but that is not who I am. Unlike some in the pre-lingual group I don’t celebrate my deafness but instead I accept it as a hurdle to be overcome almost every day of my life.

And the journey goes on…..