Reading and Deaf Researchers

By Jean F. Andrews

Portrait of John Bulwer

John Bulwer, 17th c linguist who proposed a manual alphabet for the Deaf

Since I’ve been in higher education, I’ve seen an increase in numbers of graduate students who are deaf apply to deaf education programs. I have also seen the increase in the hiring of professors who are deaf in different institutions where I have worked. The topics of their research papers are typically related to Deaf culture, and to the use of ASL and fingerspelling in the teaching of reading. If literacy is to improve, it will take deaf researchers to provide us with insights on how to use ASL and fingerspelling to teach English reading.

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

I Flunk My Hearing Test

By Joanne Greenberg

Hearing exam

Hearing exam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was sure that I would pass because I hear so much better than my husband, and while some people were difficult for me to hear unless I was facing them, most of them speak clearly enough for me to follow. I did the bit in the soundproof box and when the audiologist showed me the results on the graph, I asked if I could cram for the next one and make a better showing. Yes, I was better than my husband, but my hearing was worse than a normal person’s would be.

I am comfortable with the hearing aids I got, but I have to find someone I couldn’t hear before to see if the difference is as great as my audiologist things it will be.

Joanne Greenberg was born in 1932, in Brooklyn, NY. She was educated at American University and received and honorary Doctorate from Gallaudet University – the world’s only college for the Deaf. She has written 2 books on the subject and has spent decades working with state mental hospitals for appropriate care for the mentally ill Deaf.

The Role of Deaf Professors In Higher Education

By Jean F. Andrews

As more and more deaf individuals earn degrees in higher education at the doctorate level, they are entering high education as professors and administrators. Oftentimes, they experience both physical and attitudinal barriers. Professors who are deaf provide role modeling for deaf undergraduate and graduate students. But working in an environment where majority of faculty and administrators are hearing, non-signers poses subtle and not so subtle challenges. Dr. Damara Paris shares her experiences in this article published by Lamar University Press.
Here is the link. Deaf Is Just an Adjective

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

Conversation at the Supermarket

By Joanne Greenberg

I was standing near the onions trying to figure out which kind I wanted, when I spotted a neighbor who greeted me. During our chat, she mentioned that her husband had new hearing aids. “They cost a mint, but he never wears them. I’m exhausted by his saying. ‘What?’ all the time and having to repeat myself 3 or 4 times before he gets what I’m asking him, and I’m almost howling. All our incidental conversation has been lost, the little back-and-forth that’s half the fun of being with someone.”

I nodded. “Same here,” I said. I was aware of movement behind me. I turned and there were 4 women, all nodding, and then they all broke out with similar stories about hearing loss and the fact that the person isolated by it isn’t the only one suffering.

Joanne Greenberg was born in 1932, in Brooklyn, NY. She was educated at American University and received and honorary Doctorate from Gallaudet University – the world’s only college for the Deaf. She has written 2 books on the subject and has spent decades working with state mental hospitals for appropriate care for the mentally ill Deaf.

This Video Will Rock Your World

By BitcoDavid

Jeffrey Swartz posted a link to his latest blog story on the ASL Learner’s group. He makes numerous valid points on his own, but at the bottom of the post he embedded this video. After watching it, I knew I had to post it as well. This video is utterly amazing, and it will change your whole perspective on Sign, Deafness and even Cochlear Implant technology. It is a long video – just over an hour, but once you start watching, you won’t be able to stop. Rachel Coleman is an amazing woman, and her story is both moving and inspiring. Trust me, if you don’t absolutely love this video, I’ll… well, you’ll just love it.

Also worth noting, the video has flawless embedded captioning. You will not need to turn on the YouTube automated captioning thing, which is known for its 30% accuracy.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

In A Prison Times Three

By Jean F. Andrews

While some children learn to read effortlessly and on their own, I had to wait until the first grade. After my teacher taught me the 26 letters of the alphabet with the sounds they make, and taught me 20 to 30 sight words, she handed me a primer, my first book. Before my very eyes, the magic of story unfolded. I lurched forward through the talk to print connections, put it all together, until it made sense, I was on my way. Reading took me to worlds far and wide, real and imagined. And I have not put a book down since.

My ease in learning to read is not so with most deaf and hard of hearing children.

Book Club for Youth in Federal Prison - Global Giving

Book Club for Youth in Federal Prison – Global Giving

For them it is a lifelong struggle to access visual language–both signed and written. The struggle begins at home in a sound-base environment and continues to school, another sound-based setting and if they have scrapes with the law, it continues into still another sound- based setting, the prison.

My colleague, who organized a book club for hearing inmates in our town’s prison, says his book club is transforming minds. Inmates read books and get together with him to discuss ideas from the novels and share their own experiences about situations and characters they read about. Not a bad way to spend their time while they are doing time.

But if you are deaf, it’s a different story.

The 3 Weird Sisters from Macbeth. Afana.org

The 3 Weird Sisters from Macbeth. Afana.org

Most deaf inmates can’t read beyond the second grade level. It would be impossible for deaf inmates who are illiterate to get into the biography of Malcolm X or To Kill A Mockingbird or Macbeth or read Robert Frost’s poetry. My colleague’s prison book club has created a shared humanity, an oxymoron in such an incapacitating and punitive setting as the prison.

While deaf inmates reading levels are lower than the average reading level of most deaf high school leavers which is 3rd to 4th grade, still deaf non-offenders have information sources around them through the Internet, YouTube, VRS, their signing deaf and hearing friends, signing hearing friends, Deaf sports, and Deaf associations and ASL/English bilingual e-books.

Alex Dixon - Flickr

Alex Dixon – Flickr

Not so, for deaf inmates.

Deaf inmates live in cells without books or signing companions. Not only are they locked up physically; they are locked within the prison of illiteracy and within the prison without signers. It is prison times three.

What a terrible, excruciating lonely and cruel existence.

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

“Kissface” the Horse

By BitcoDavid

Years ago, I lived in Boston‘s West Fens – a corner of the ghetto area, Roxbury. In those days, Boston police had one of the few mounted police divisions. These cops loved their horses, and saw the posting as a position of honor and dignity. The cops would be assigned to different beats throughout the city, and would become intrinsic parts of their neighborhoods. Our particular horse-cop was a Black woman of about 40, and her horse was a brown and white Appaloosa.  Every morning like clockwork, a certain elderly woman from the community would apply her fire engine- red lipstick, and kiss the horse in the middle of the white patch on his face. After a while, the lipstick began to stain the horse’s fur, and he developed a tattoo of red lips – right smack on his kisser (sorry, couldn’t resist). We nicknamed him, “Kissface.”

Kissface and his mounted partner did more to prevent crime than we’ll ever know. This cop knew everybody in the neighborhood, and usually referred to us by our first names. She’d break up fights, get brown baggers to find some shelter for their imbibing, help abused spouses to find protection – and above all – counsel us. Sitting atop Kissface, this woman would gently remind you that what you were doing was illegal, and it would probably be a good idea for you to knock it off. In all the years I lived there, I saw her intervene in hundreds of situations, but I don’t think I ever saw her make an arrest.  She relied on the peer pressure only a neighborhood is capable of – and an understanding of the inherent decency buried within all people.

But those days are gone.

And something has changed in the makeup of police. Marsha Graham of AnotherBoomerBlog reports today, on 2 separate cases of police, beating Deaf offenders during traffic stops. In Settlement reached in police abuse of deaf motorist and in Hard of Hearing, Mentally Impaired Woman allegedly Battered by Police Officer, Ms. Graham restates the need for training of police in dealing with the Deaf and HoH, and for interpreters to be present at arrests and other police interactions with the Deaf community. I couldn’t agree more with this essential point, but I think the problem goes much deeper.

While it’s easy for cops to say they don’t know how to deal with the Deaf, and that training would help prevent these tragedies from occurring, I find that to be an overused and overly convenient excuse for simple bullying and bad behavior. I’m not a cop, but you can’t tell me that the woman above did anything to warrant the kind of beating she endured. We’re all capable of telling when we’re dealing with someone who’s confused or at a mental disadvantage – Deaf or not. And truthfully, it wouldn’t have mattered if she was a Rhodes scholar with perfect hearing and 20/20 vision. It wouldn’t even matter if she were Bonnie Parker. There is absolutely no excuse for beating someone like this. I don’t care how tough your job is. If you can justify this kind of behavior – then it’s time to switch careers.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

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