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.”

What Did You Say?!?

This is a short and quick post but will hopefully try to elaborate more later.

Hearing people who never had any exposure to deaf people tend to complain that it’s not fair they can’t understand what I signed to a friend or they become paranoid that we’re talking about them.
Well….erhm…hello…how do you think I feel all the time in this hearing world?
Even relatives will make the occasional comment that it’s not fair they didn’t understand something I signed to a friend.
It doesn’t seem to sink in that the frustration and self doubt they feel for a brief minute is what I feel ALL the time.
Why is it unacceptable if they don’t understand a sentence that was said but it’s totally acceptable and okay if I have no clue what they’re saying?

Why is it okay for them to become frustrated and angry but not okay for me to become frustrated?

Why is it okay for them to ask me to repeat what I said but they get annoyed when I ask them to repeat what they said?

Just wondering……

Fifteen vs Fifty

Fifteen: [fif-teen] /ˈfɪfˈtin/

Fifty: [fif-tee] /ˈfɪf ti/

Every year, I end up with a couple people on my Christmas list who ask for gift cards with an agreed limit of $15.

Every single year without fail, I find myself in a somewhat amusing situation.

I have a tendency to drop off the endings of words when talking. My fifteen sounds like fifty.

Fifteen and Fifty are tricky to lipread. They look similar on the lips.

Even hearing people sometimes struggle to hear the difference between fifteen and fifty.

Oh, how I hated those two numbers during math classes. If I did not have an interpreter present at a particular time, it was a 50/50 guess (ack there’s that 50 again!) as to if I was guessing correctly between fifty and fifteen. Kind of a big difference between those two numbers.

As the years went by I became tired of guessing when someone would tell me one of those numbers. I started repeating it back but then realized they weren’t always hearing me correctly. I later started gesturing it by holding up one finger for “1” and 5 fingers for “5” to signal fifteen instead of saying it. That actually seemed to confuse people even more because they weren’t used to interpreting visual clues and usually resulted in them just staring at me.

Without fail this happens every holiday season:

I walk into a store and grab a cute gift card.

I stand in the check-out line and hope it won’t turn into a huge scene with everyone else in line staring (yes, this has happened) and wondering what’s wrong with me.

I hand the cashier the gift card and see that they ask me how much I want on the card.

I wait until he/she looks at me (this helps with communication).

I say “fifteen”

Cashier looks at me and repeats “fifty”

I nod “yes” thinking he/she said “fifteen”

I see “$50” pop up.

Cashier waits for me to hand him/her money.

I shake my head “no” and try to say fifteen again.

Cashier looks at me again and says “fifteen.”

I shake “no” thinking he/she said “fifty.”

I say fifteen again.

Cashier looks at me again and says “fifty.” By then, I can feel everyone in line staring right at me.

I nod “yes” thinking he/she said “fifteen”

I see “$50” pop up.

I shake my head “no” and try to gesture “1” and “5.”

Cashier looks at me like I’ve just said something in a foreign language.

I sigh to myself while trying not to turn red from embarrassment from holding up the line and try again. “Fifteeeeeeeeeennnn” while gesturing “1” and “5.”

*Light bulb goes on*

The $50 has been changed to $15, I hand the cashier money, thank him/her, and scurry out of the store because by then I have about 10-15 people staring at me wondering if I was one of those rude customers who can’t be pleased.

By the time I walk outside and the fresh air hits me, my embarrassment disappears and I quietly chuckle to myself.

And that is how I know I’m in the full swing of holiday shopping!