They say capital letters in writing substitute for screaming. Well I'm writing this to try and get it Out of my system because I Feel like Screaming! So please Don't read this until you feel like putting up with a frustrated rant.
ASL Class. The purpose of this week's class was to learn the part of visual communication which deaf people use when they aren't signing. This includes drawing pictures in the air, miming, etc. We were given a bag of objects and told to pick an object which no one else could see. Then we were to describe it without finger spelling or signing.
I know that ASL is a whole body language, including facial expression, posture, and many more subtle things of which, as a blind person with a serious hearing loss, I am unaware.
I chose deodorant. To show what it was I did sign
, then held an imaginary object under each arm, moving it back and forth. Of course, everyone got it. Bath
Then I was informed that I should have been more descriptive. I should have drawn the shape of the stick deodorant bottle in the air, mimed pulling off the cap, Then maybe rubbed the imaginary bottle under my arms.
People were miming kicking and throwing a football, a key ring, and a TV remote without signing. The only word I got was Elephant, because the deaf man miming it drew the trunk in the air and cuped his hands behind his ears, flopping his hands back and forth.
This miming caused a Great deal of confusion and only the man who grew up deaf got any of the objects right.
As for me? SOL!
I have touched a football and know its shape. But I haven't Ever seen it kicked or thrown. The same goes for all sports except bowling, which I have done. I don't watch TV like a sighted person. I lean close to hear it, using an amplifier and headphones. The person miming the TV remote was cranked back in her chair, pushing buttons with her thumb. I've never seen a person do this. I hold a remote differently, and to make sure I'm pushing the button I want I feel it to either count a row of buttons or to find a particular shape. To me a TV remote can feel like a slim candy bar with buttons.
Nothing! Nothing! Looks like it Feels. That old story about the blind men and the elephant is true as far as it goes, but it Doesn't go far Enough!
Blind people without intellectual disabilities aren't generally so ignorant as to assume that one part of an object which they know is large, sums up the Entire Object.
When I touched an elephant at the zoo as a child I touched its hide, its trunk, asked how tall it was, and touched its Huge foot. I asked what kind of a tail it had. My teacher told me how its back sloped.
Out of all of these details I formed a mental picture. But it Wasn't a Visual picture. It was a Tactile Picture of what it might Feel like to sit atop an elephant or touch its large domed head. There are Many ways of Perceiving the world!
So, what I got from the class is that I will forever be an outsider in the deaf community. I can't understand air drawings and cannot see facial expressions. In one to one conversation I pick up a person's feelings nearly instantly from the tone of a voice. In groups, I cannot. From hearing one person's voice and movements I learn something about how tall and heavy or light weight they are. In a group I lose this.
Realizing how much of an outsider I am in the sighted deaf community brought up other unpleasant facts I usually manage to ignore. I am an outsider in my family which still sends me pictures, even though my friends don't know my family and aren't interested in looking through them with me. At family gatherings the only person I have a Hope of talking to is whoever happens to be sitting next to me. In restaurants it can be very difficult to converse though I can usually manage. In the blind community I can't keep up with the sound based jokes I grew up with if more than one person is talking. And the telephone can be a Bitch!
During the ASL. Class I felt more and more sad. One person told the elephant story, Without taking it any farther than usual. Another said how much we all take for granted. . . Ok, it's true, but I've heard this stuff Thousands of times, so What?
My ways of nonverbal communication aren't beautiful, like the miming or air drawings of people who are deaf. But they Are communication understandable by deaf people.
When asked how I would show Football, I drew the oval shape with pointed ends, using both hands to show wider in the middle and as my fingers closed with my thumbs the ends came to a point. Then I scooted back my chair, pointed at my foot and kicked forward. No one had trouble with what I meant. It wasn't beautiful or funny, but it did work. I use my own body and my immediate space to demonstrate things, not spaces in the air where I have No tactile frame of reference.
It was a sucky day.
And I had been sharing space for a few days with a dear and helpful friend who had lost a job after moving out of her apartment. She is an amazing person. But sharing space was hard on her and me. She is used to more noise in her environment and smokes. I can't hear shit with the TV or music on very loud and am highly allergic to smoke. My friend was extremely considerate, smoking outside and not having nearly the noise level she is used to, but it was still tough for us both.
And the day after my friend moved out and I had that class my website opened and I was supposed to be excited. I haven't yet caught up with myself. I still feel tired and depressed. I just need some Space, as did my friend who found another job and was able to move to a motel. She did something major to help me each day, garden, dishes, cooking. I am Not trying to blame her for my stress level.
We have, in the past, each been diagnosed with PTSD and I caused her stress too, just by being here. She had the fear and upset of losing a job to cope with, we needed too talk.
We will probably go out for a meal on Sunday and enjoy one another's company very much.