Friday, May 10, 2013

Short Deaf Chat Attended Without Hearing Aids

Deaf Chat Without Hearing Aids

Where to start?  First, if you are talking ASL or TASL to a deaf-blind person it is Extremely helpful to go through the whole alphabet with them.  Names have to be spelled and so do some other words and abbreviations.

Everyone's hands are different and everyone makes letters in an individual way.  Some people bend their wrists down to make the letter P.  Some can't or don't, so it looks a lot like a K.  Some people make a letter H with the index and middle fingers sticking straight out, away from their bodies.  Others point the H sideways, as it is more comfortable for them.  This can be confusing.  If two people in a conversation both know what the other person's letters look like it helps cut out guess work.

Mo. Medicaid looks like it will be cut for people of my income level who are blind.  This means if my hearing aids break I'm Not "hard of hearing".  I'm DEAF!  Partly for this reason and partly because I wanted to know what it would be like I went to a short Deaf Chat tonight without my hearing aids.

All I could hear was a bit of the drumming from the rock music playing and a chair scraping backward with a loud noise if it was right next to my chair.

In for a try, in for an idiot.  And that is Just how I felt, like a damned embarrassed Idiot when I went up to the counter with a deaf friend to order a chocolate coffee.  I asked in English and Pigeon signed English, "I would like a chocolate coffee, please."  "Me like chocolate coffee please".  I don't know what happened.  Did they not hear me?  Were they not paying attention?  I think my deaf friend whom I can understand some with my hearing aids in, but whom others do not understand tried to ask also.  I think he had to end up Writing what I wanted.  I felt so bad for putting him through that when I did speak clearly.  So did it Really take them That long to make it?  Probably.  Living on a fixed income I have never learned "coffee language."  I don't know what an "Americano" or a "mahkiado" are.  I know coffee, sugar, milk, chocolate, caramel, etc.  Never make it, me in yuppie town, nope!

Maybe That's what took so long, questions about how fancy I wanted my coffee.  I felt very ashamed for putting a friend through the hassle.  But without my hearing aids I couldn't understand a Word.

I learned something else which made me feel Not so stupid.  My TASL instructor has very tunneled vision, but depends on it a LOT!  She couldn't read my signs and spelling.  When I asked why she said the room was too dark.  I had to slow down my fingerspelling so she could Feel the letters.  I didn't know she was reading them by sight before.  When I asked if it was hard for her to understand her partner with such low lights she said yes.  So I'm not such a rotten speller or signer as I feel, always around deaf people with flying hands.  My instructor was reading my hands against a black shirt with Good light from behind her.

Yet when I said that I thought the sighted deaf man who put on sleep shades and walked around with a deaf sighted guide was brave, my instructor disagreed.  He wasn't brave.  Hell, I don't know too many people who are willing to be Truly blind folded and walk around with a guide, let alone a deaf person who would.

I'm often faster in a crisis than my sighted hearing friends.  I freak only After it is well over.  On the ride home the vehicle stopped at a light and I realized I didn’t know if it was time to get out or not.  I couldn't hear seat belts retracting, doors opening, but the motor kept running.  So I decided to sit tight until either the motor turned off or someone signed to me that we were at my house.  Good choice, because we started moving again in a couple of minutes.  I decided correctly that I didn't want to risk getting out at a stop light in the midst of an intersection.

When we got6 to my house I recognized the bump into my driveway and the wise deaf driver who is used to deaf-blind people turned off the motor.  I could feel that.

The music at that place wasn't super loud, so I know I missed some drumbeats and I Certainly couldn't have moved surely in time to it.  For that it would need to be loud enough to vibrate the tables or floor, or I would have to gain a lot more skill at picking up vibrations by touch.  I tried while my friends were talking to others.

Some of the time was very boring, I sat and fast ASL speakers talked.  I may bring something to do if I go back, to fill in this empty space.

It was when I got home and locked in that I began feeling much about the experience.  I felt very sad that I might lose my hearing aids if they break when Medicaid is gone.  I felt sad that I might lose that much hearing someday.  And I felt an adrenaline rush of Fear, belatedly.  One way of calming down is writing this and my typing fingers are flying!

I thought about a Cochlear Implant, if needed.  But of course, Medicaid won't pay for that if it is taken away.  I am Very Dependent on this computer for communication!  Without either hearing aids Or a cochlear implant I will have to work with some device which transmits Braille into print and vis versa.

I thought about whom  I wanted for friends and the answer is I want deaf people for friends and I want hearing people for friends.  Deaf people say more with a touch than hearing people. And I Love learning new languages, even Visual ones by touch, turning ASL into TASL.  Before I lost so much hearing I could converse in rudimentary Spanish and a bit of Cherokee, which is nothing like any European language I've run into.  So I enjoy learning what little grammar and structure I can in TASL, although I know I speak a pigeon form of it and probably always will.  I think ASL must be a full body language which, as a totally blind person, I can never imitate.  The grammar structure  is different enough that you cannot speak ASL and English at the same time.  You can't translate Cherokee into literal English and have it make any sense, either. 

 But while I can, I love music, I love to sing, and though I'm neither "deaf enough" by the standards of many deaf people, nor Hearing when with my family, for instance, I don't want to give up what I love until I have to.  I already have to give up most music I don't already know, because the instruments drown out the words or the words are spoken or sung too fast for me to understand.

Would I accept a Cochlear Implant?  Yes, though I abhor the thought of yet Another invasive surgery, I've had so damned many.  The thought of it scares me so I am glad I don't have to face it now.  But I wouldn't want to give up my deaf or deaf-blind friends and talking TASL either.  No one knows the future, and I'm not Quite being forced to make those choices yet.

If you have a TTY you can't use a "regular" phone.  And to contact Fair Trade vendors, for example, for business purposes, I will have to use the "relay" system in which I type in or Braille in what I want to say, an operator with the "relay system" says what I type as she reads it, and types the answer back to me.  I could learn to text, which is what most deaf people with any usable vision do, but growing up totally blind means I don't even know what letters go with which numbers on a phone keypad, so learning another language, "texting" seems line a nuisance, unnecessary!

The words  I learned in TASL tonight are "frustrate" and "look for" (a single sign) because my TASL instructor and a friend of hers kept looking for the boss to try and get the lights turned up.

Sometimes, though I would Never want her to walk in my shoes, it felt like she was cheating, just because I hadn't known she had been reading my signs and fingerspelling visually.  Still, very few people, (Thank Heaven) aare both deaf and totally blind, so now I will know that this is usually the case for deaf-blind friends.

I'm toast! Tired, time to stop, if you aren't bored out of your skulls already!

Good night.

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