Snowflakes are unique and beautiful.  There’s something about looking up in the sky and watching these little white things flutter gently and softly through the air.  There’s something about sticking my black glove out waiting to see what unique shaped snowflake will land on my glove only for it to melt a few seconds later.  There’s something about looking down on the ground and wondering how a small and fragile thing can create a huge pile of snow.

Here are some pictures from a couple of websites I ran across.

Snowflakes under a microscope

For those of you who like crafts:  Paper Filigree Snowflakes (I’ll have to set aside some time and try my hand at making these)

What Did You Say?!?: Part Two

I would like to clarify something in my recent post, What Did You Say?!?

It is a sensitive topic that can be misinterpreted as unappreciative or selfish.  I have put off talking about it because I did not want to rub anyone the wrong way.  I have noticed many other deaf people avoid this topic for the very same reason however it is something that needs to be talked about.  If a problem is not presented then how can there be a solution?  A solution that will benefit everyone in the long run.

I have no problems whatsoever with repeating what I said in a different way to ensure that hearing people understood what I said.  I know what it feels like to be left out and not knowing what is going on.

It shakes up your self-confidence in a negative way.

It makes you feel unimportant.  Makes you wonder why you’re even there.

I guess I’m sometimes disappointed that my experience is the other person only cares about if she/he understood and not if everyone else did.  This generally only applies to people who I do not interact with on a daily basis.  I’ve always thought for successful communication to happen (regardless if you’re hearing or deaf) everyone needs to be willing to meet each other halfway.

It’s something  many people do not seem to understand how it affects people with hearing loss.

I do not know how many times growing up I would leave a family function nearly in tears because I had no clue what was going on.  I was expected to act like I was happy, included, and like I understood everything that was going on.

I cannot imagine what it’s like for other people with hearing loss because my family is one of the MOST accessible family a deaf person could ask for.  I have a few relatives who know some sign language and will try to interpret (which does make me feel guilty but that’s a whole another topic).  I have relatives who have taken the time to write down information and to speak clearly. I will never take that for granted.

On the other hand, it hurts to get yelled at by a relative because I asked him/her to repeat something.  It hurts to see them go off and talk to other family members about me in front of me.  It hurts to get brushed off when I try to write something down because that person is not used to communicating on paper.  It hurts when the other person walks off mid-sentence because they’re so nervous about not potentially understanding me.  It hurts to feel so lost among people I know loves me.

So after a while, I stopped trying.

Part of it is my fault.  Over the years, I have became the quiet one who blends in.  I’m not even sure if they know I’m there or not.  Maybe it’s time to step out of my protective bubble and let them get to know the real me.  Maybe it’s time to take communication risks on my part.

I was always confused about why relatives would sometimes act like I didn’t exist at family functions but then insisted on hugging me before I left.  It sent very confusing messages to me as a child.  I understand now that they have always loved me but just weren’t always sure how to communicate with me.  Now, I have to figure out how to step out of that protective bubble I have created over the years.

I have met an amazing number of hearing people who have gone above and beyond.  I’m constantly thankful and am always touched by what they do in terms of making communication more accessible.  There’s no words to express how awesome they are.

If you ever see me talking to someone and you want to know what I am saying.  Do not hesitate to ask, I will be more than happy to repeat it for you and I hope you will do the same for me.  🙂

Interviewing A Person Who is Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing

I was given this sheet with some tips on how to interview a person who is deaf or hard-of-hearing.  I do not know who wrote it so I can’t cite it at this time but cannot take credit for it.  It has some helpful information for general conversations too.

“1) If you need to attract the attention of a person who is deaf or hearing impaired, touch him or her lightly on the shoulder.

2) If the interviewee lip-reads, look directly at him or her.  Speak clearly at a normal pace.  do not exaggerate your lip movements or shout.  Speak expressively because the person will rely on your facial expressions, gestures and eye contact.  (Note:  It is estimated that only four out of ten spoken words are visible on the lips).

3) Place yourself facing the light source and keep your hands and food/beverage away from your mouth when speaking.

4) Shouting does not help and can be detrimental.  Only raise your voice when requested.  Brief, concise written notes may be helpful.

5) In the United States most deaf people use American Sign Language (ASL).  ASL is not a universal language.  ASL is a language with its own syntax and grammatical structure.  When scheduling an interpreter for a non-English speaking person, be certain to retain an interpreter that speaks and interprets in the language of the person.

6) If an interpreter is present, it is common place for the interpreter to be seated beside the interviewer, across from the interviewee.

7) Interpreters facilitate communication.  They should not be consulted or regarded as a reference for the interview.”