Curious Eyes’ comment in ACE’s blog

August 15, 2009
clipped from

I hope this isn’t getting too long, but I want to share one story. Twenty years ago almost to the day, I attended a deaf culture workshop at Gallaudet. A famous Deaf presenter showed a pyramid of the hierarchy of Deaf culture, with ASL-using Deaf of Deaf at the top, then deaf of hearing who use ASL, then oral deaf, and then hearing. The Deaf of Deaf at the top, of course, are the most valued by the Deaf community because they are presumed to transmit Deaf cultural values from one generation to the next.

Another pyramid showed the hierarchy of hearing people, with hearing at the top, then oral deaf who speak and hear pretty well, then signing deaf who speak somewhat but don’t hear, and last, deaf who don’t sign or speak.
  blog it

Low Expectations?

May 29, 2009

After the firestorm involving Deaf Pundit’s ”Let Me Show You Reality!” blog article (now dropped from DR), we’re learning that DP’s article was dropped due to what DR/ DVTV editorship believes to be copyright infringement of Barb DiGiovanni’s video comment.  A blog written by DR editor Jared Evans reminds DR/ DVTV readers that Barb DiGiovanni’s and Amy Cohen Efron’s leadership puts them “out” there, quoting his words here:

“I think everyone needs to remember all the great things that both Amy and Barbara have done for us all. They have dedicated a lot of their personal time and energy as advocates for Deaf people, and especially Deaf children. They both care deeply about the Deaf community and in order to do that, they must be “out” there a lot of the time and speak out.”

There are also a lot of v/bloggers on DR and DVTV, including even those who are considered “unpopular” v/bloggers, who may not fit Jared’s description of  “leaders” but who do care a great deal about the deaf community and about its future nevertheless.

Another quote  from Jared’s post:

“Never forget that they both are humans and should be allowed to make mistakes now and then. They both should not be demonized for making minor mistakes and we must remember that these mistakes does not completely invalidate their hard work they have done nor their dedication to the Deaf community.

…Moreover, they are doing it using the new medium of vlogs, which is still in its infancy and not fully understood so they are blazing a trail when they push the envelope of political vlogging.”

Many DR v/bloggers have been around for at least two years, past infancy stage, and two years is plenty ’nuff time to learn leadership lessons and stop saying ” Who me?! I ain’t misbehavin’!”  How long does it take to realize that, as a leader, one sets an example by matching what he says with what he does.  How many leaders  go around saying, “Do what I say, not what I do?”  Parents are notorious for that line, LOL, but leaders can’t afford to set that kind of example. When followers see a leader do something that doesn’t match what he says, that is called a double message.

If Barb DiGi and Amy Cohen Efron are perceived as leaders in the deaf community, then it’s time for the community itself to expect that their leaders get off their high horses and match their messages with their actions.

Yes, leaders make human mistakes and the more quickly they apologize for them, the more people will realize their leaders are actually human and not some god/ goddess on a pedestal to be worshipped.  When a leader denies her incongruous behavior, red flags go up.  Deaf leaders are responsible for their own actions and shouldn’t expect the deaf community to cover their asses for them (no pun intended).   There’s been a pattern of deaf leaders getting away with behavior they won’t own up to, because the deaf community allows this behavior and protects them.   The same thing repeats with deaf organizations.

Do we have such low expectations of deaf leadership, is that what it is?


Life With Whodunit

May 7, 2009

Start to sigh and yawn, and my ears get nibbled, ugh.

Pull the bedsheets over my head.

Repeat of same nosing under my hands, ugh.

Can’t even get a 10-minute snooze.  I don’t even need an alarm clock.

Start pulling on the clothes, the bra strap gets snapped before I can hook it closed and my underpants gets pulled ’round before I can pull ’em up.

Fight with the damn socks, then the shoes.  The shoes are a real wrassle, especially those with shoelaces.

Make the bed and I no more than turn around, and the bed’s undone…again.

The kleenex from the wastebasket in shreds on the rugs, a chewed tube of hand lotion oozing from several holes on the blankets, more shredded kleenex from a nightstand on the blankets…like some kind of white nest or something.

Put on my hearing aid, and hear loud thumping on the wood floor.

My 2-pound weights for weight-lifting exercises are being thrown around.

Hubby hollers from downstairs, The elephant stomping around up there?!  Me??? yeah, right.

In the time I go to pee and wash my face awake, the earpieces of my new glasses are chewed off and the frame is bent out to the point of no return.

OUTSIDE, you, yeah, YOU!!! *slam of back door*  Boil hot water for my morning tea and hubby’s filtered coffee.  Whew.

*loud tear of howling noise from outside, waking up the neighborhood*  SHADDUP, you!  NO, NO, and what part of NO do you not understand?

More noise, drat.

Open the back door to see the potted plants dug up, dirt churned up in every direction on the back patio.   The back yard already an obstacle course of holes deeper than putt-putt holes.

The rocket is inside before you can say jackrabbit…

…and already there in my favorite chair before I seat my ‘arse.

And on my lap before I get the chance to put the coffeecup down and scald myself instead.

And after wiping myself down with shredded kleenex and before I can even sip my tea,  my face gets slobbered and slicked down.  DOWN, you, yeah, YOU!!!

NO, you do not pull up the (8 x 10′) rug and chew on the damn fringe.  Puts a heavy chair on each corner of the rug.

NO, you do not chew on the remote control.  Bags the remote inside the lounger chair’s pocket.

NO, you do not chew on the sofa pillows.  Throws out the shredded tassels and puts the pillows up high on the piano.

Here now, play with your toys.  Gazillion squeak toys all over and  I trip on them throughout the day.

Hubby kisses me goodbye and goes out the door to work.

Yiiii-ii-i, shot out like a rocket again and down the street before you can say…well, you know by now.

Hubby clenches his teeth and lets out an expletive-loaded tirade as he goes down the street in search.  Neighbors walking their dogs go “tsk, tsk”.

Back in the doghouse (outside).

Couple of hours go by and I prepare lunch.  Open the back door and the rocket is inside before I can even whistle.

While fixing a sandwich I hear furious wanking of some paper, uh-oh.  *spinning my head around, first in one direction, then the other*

Two telephone directories shredded all over the office floor.

The gas meter guy enters the back yard gate to check the meter, and the rocket is ricocheting off furniture and window sills, furiously sounding off for a good thirty minutes.  SHADDUP, you, yeah, YOU!!!

I turn to my freelance job on the computer, and realize a couple of hours gone by and it’s TOO quiet.  Which means trouble.

I go upstairs and find the laundry basket of dirty clothes turned over and the clothes strewn all over the hall floor.

A photo album is shredded.

Go back downstairs.  The morning mail is yesterday’s mail on the doormat.

After another potty outing, the rocket shoots inside with something in her mouth, and I’m thinking, Is that a stick?  Aaaagh, a  steak knife? Where the hell did she find that?

The Artful Dodger game starts, she with the knife handle in her mouth and trying to avoid a muzzle wrassle, and me with a chewbone and trying to avoid getting sliced.  Back and forth and ’round a coffee table several times first, then under the dining room table amongst the chair legs, then ’round the living room furniture and counter-clockwise several times over.

Finally corner the rocket under the coffee table and gingerly remove the knife and do a fast switcheroo with the chewbone before she nips at the knife.

Think I’ve gotten enough exercise…a walk? forget it, girl.

The rocket hasn’t taken a nap yet since she arrived in the house.

I’m thinking,  How much more trash before the day is over?

Dump all the chewing fodder into the kitchen trashbag, draw up the strings, start for the back door without realizing the rocket is just underfoot.

I get to the trashcan just in time to see out of the corner of my eye the rocket speeding down the street…again.

This time I just stand in the front yard and wait.

The rocket shoots off in all directions here and there.

Finally she slunkers to my feet.

Looks at her with folded arms and says, If you don’t behave, you’re going in the trash can yourself.

At which point, she stood stock-still and looked at me with those brown eyes with black Cleopatra eyeliner and a worried frown of black eyebrows.  Then she cocked her head.  Like, Really? You’d do that?


We walk back to the house together.  I sit down in my favorite chair and she WAITS for me to sit first.

And then I pat my lap, and she hops up onto my lap into my arms.  I lever the lounger chair so that the footrest comes up and the seat back goes backward.

I rock the chair gently, and the rocket puts her head on my chest like a baby.

In the evening she greets Poppy at the front door with a tail that waggles her whole body and she jumps up and down on his legs.  Hubby protects his jewels *roll of eyes, ahem*, but he grins at the transformation.

I eyeball with a no-nonsense glare at him and mutter, You’re the one who’s gonna take her out for her walk.

Yup, him and Whodunit.  People walking their dogs oooh-and-aaah over how cute she is.

Cute, my ass.


The dog had been dumped twice at the same dog shelter before we adopted her.

At least she’s housebroken…whew.

The EVA Story

April 23, 2009

This story is actually a comment that Paotie wrote under the comment section of a previous blog article I published recently.   I felt it was worthy of publishing as a separate article with the author’s permission,  so that readers may enjoy it.  The story illustrates a concept that may not be easy to apply in  our daily lives but it is something to strive for.

When I was in college, I attended summer school every summer because it was an easy way to get ahead of my academic program. And one summer while I lived in the dorms at my university, I met an older, white man from Boston who lived a few doors down from my dorm room.

His name was Finn, and Finn loved tea more than anything in the world. His tea-stained smile reflected his love of all things British, and in the fierce, New Mexican summer, he would wear ski jackets outside because .. well, he was from Boston, as he used to say.

One day after classes, I went to my dorm room and found Finn standing at my door, waiting for me. “Want to go grab a bite?” he asked. I said sure, and as we walked towards the parking lot to his car, we passed by a group of my African American friends who were also football players.

As we walked past my friends, Finn said, “Oh, those people! They are bad people!”

Yes, Finn was a card-carrying racist of African American people. And for a while, I would worry that one day, I would find Finn beaten to a bloody pulp for his prejudiced views.

Every day after class, Finn and I would head to town to eat lunch together. And every day on the way to the same parking lot, we would pass by the same group of African American football players, and he’d make the same comment without fail, too. “Those people!” he described them.

By the end of the summer, my African American friends revealed to me that they did not find Finn to be a racist; rather, they found him to be “funny” and “cool in a weird way,” and above all, they all thought he was a harmless old man.

So, one hot, summer’s night, I was playing dominoes with my African American friends (they lived directly opposite of Finn’s dorm, and they played dominoes outside A LOT) when Finn came running around the corner of the building. And when he saw me nursing a Mickey’s 40-ounce while I sat at a small, pop-up table with rows of dominoes heading into all directions, he walked up to me and quietly asked, “Paotie, I really do not know how you can hang out with ‘those’ people.”

I invited him to play dominoes with us, instead. And he did, and he had fun.

The last time I ever saw Finn, he told me, “Paotie, I liked your [African American] friends. I didn’t know they could be so nice to me.”

My African American friends helped a racist man change his views, not through anger or demanding reparations, but by accepting Finn for who he was. When he would make remarks about “those people!” they would smile and we’d move on.

I never saw an emotion of hate from either Finn or my friends. What I saw was empowerment via acceptance: my African American friends accepted Finn and his prejudices, and together, we overcame Finn’s prejudices by playing dominoes while we drank malts (and Finn with his hot-tea during 110 degree heat).

More importantly, by accepting Finn, my friends overcame prejudice without inflaming emotions, or making excessive demands.

I never knew what happened to Finn, but the last time I heard about him, he’d been enrolled at the University of Miami in Florida, an area where there is a significant population of “those people!” that Finn used to fear.

Empowerment via acceptance (EVA).


:o )


Also, these comments under the same previous blog article.

One more thing regarding empowerment via acceptance in the story above:

We all became empowered because my African American friends helped a prejudiced person accept THEM; Finn became empowered because he found a new way to look at “Those people!” and (hopefully), did not continue to harbor his prejudices that he said was ingrained in him at an early age.

I became empowered because I accepted both Finn and my African American friends regardless, and by inviting Finn to play dominoes with us, I learned that people CAN and DO overcome prejudices.

That was a really fun night playing dominoes with Finn and the football players.




Valhallian ..

You said, “Hopefully that’ll encourage the anti CI people to actually hang out with CI users and see that they are actually good people too.”

I dunno about hanging out, but at the very least, we can all accept other, different deaf people and learn from them. We do not promote discrimination against various types of African American people, do we?


Why do we do this with deaf people?

A strong, vibrant Deaf culture would NOT need to waste an inordinate amount of time promoting hate, discrimination, intolerance and a need to “Save the babies!!”


A strong, vibrant Deaf culture would look at oral deaf people (and AG Bell Foundation members), and say, “Wow! She is fluent and speaks wonderfully in many languages! Amazing! Good for her! Awesome!”

And that’s it.


But that is not what too many culturally deaf groups do.


“Save the babies!”

Mmm .. ‘kay.

:o )


And lastly, this comment.

A quote from Helen Keller:

“It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of *ennui.”

There is a very poignant aspect of her quote: she suggests people learn to accept others, rather than wasting energy on negative focuses (”the devil”).

:o )


*ennui means boredom

AGBell’s ASL Position Statement Date

April 15, 2009

I noted Tayler’s recent y3 blog “Alexander Graham Bell the name” and checked out the AGBell Association’s website to locate the link Tayler provided.  If you search their website, you’ll see an index on the left side of the webpage.  The first item on the index list is “About AG Bell”, hover the mouse over that item and a drop-down menu will appear just to the right of it.  Click on “Who We Are” and a new page will appear.  You will see “Position Statements” on the far right side of this page, so click on that phrase.  On this next page you will see the American Sign Language Position Statement listed with other position statements, click on that one, and the ASL Position Statement that Tayler linked to in his blog will show up.

Note when AGBell’s board of directors unanimously approved this statement, this info is just at the end of the statement:

June 11, 2008.

A little less than a year ago.

Before the DBC rally and the AGBell convention in Milwaukee June 27-30, 2008.

-isms Run Amok

April 4, 2009

Lately there’s been a lot of discussion regarding audism, ethnocentrism, surdism, because of the rise of Audism Free America, a grassroots deaf organization.  I checked out Tom Humphries’ 1975 article “The Making of a Word: Audism” which contains the definition of the word “audism” that he originally coined.  Harlan Lane was to later popularize this word in his writings about Deaf culture and ASL.

Humphries’ definition of audism is “The notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or to behave in the manner of one who hears.”  Humphries obviously was referring to hearing people or to deaf oralists who discriminate against the deaf simply because they regard their ability to hear as better than a deaf person’s inability to hear.

Ethnocentrism is a rather general word for the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own ethnic group or culture.   White supremacists believe that the white Caucasian race is superior over other races, for example.

Surd-ism, which most dictionaries don’t acknowledge as a word yet, is derived from the Latin word surd, meaning “speechless”.  Interesting that the original meaning focuses on the inability to speak but not on the inability to hear.   ASS-umption of “can’t speak, therefore can’t hear” on the Romans’ part,  I guess,*shrug*.  In phonetics, surds are the sounds said with breath, not voice, such as p, s, f, etc. as opposed to sonants, or speech sounds said with voice. The definition of surd-ism doesn’t exist as yet.

I’ve also noted other -isms that pop up on DR and DV such as deaf-ism, oralism,  robotism,  dis-ableism and others.

Man, that’s a lotta -isms run amok.  Ever wonder why we d/Deaf have this thing for -isms?

For simplicity’s sake, I’ll focus on the -ism known as audism.

Audism is generally regarded as  a form of discrimination practiced by hearing individuals or institutions who believe that hearing is better than deafness.

Ok, but the word ‘audism’ is like splitting hairs.

I mean, discrimination against the d/Deaf is sufficient enough, just like discrimination against the blind or against wheelchair persons is sufficient.  You don’t see visual-ism (sight-ism?) or ambulator-ism, do you? Many people, able-bodied or  not, recognize the word discrimination for what it is.  But audism?

I wonder how other disabled people fighting discrimination regard the d/Deaf ‘s moniker “audism” for discrimination against the d/Deaf.  It’s as though the  d/Deaf want to set themselves apart from other disabled people as a special lobby group to be treated via kid-glove treatment.   Is this ‘solidarity’ with the disability movement?  Well, there are some d/Deaf who don’t consider their deafness a disability, a contradiction in terms, as some d/Deaf individuals get SSI benefits, which are based on disability, and regard their deafness a cultural value, not a medical one.

If a d/Deaf person doesn’t consider his deafness a disability but rather a cultural one,  then audism should be defined as a cultural discrimination and not a disability discrimination.   Humphries clearly defines audism as a discrimination against the d/Deaf based on one’s ability to hear or to behave in the manner of one who hears.  So there you have it, audism is a disability-based discrimination, not a language or cultural-based discrimination.  There’s no mention of speech or language or culture  in Humphries’ definition.   Deaf people have taken audism to mean a discrimination against sign language (ASL), a cultural aspect.  At least that’s the way AFA’s philosophy and mission present audism.

Me, I’d rather stick with “discrimination against the d/Deaf”.  Much more easily understood and more inclusive of all d/Deaf, ‘disabled’ or cultural.

I’d appreciate it if comments are kept civil, thanks.

The Eyes Have It?

February 21, 2009

As an oral deaf person I rely a great deal on my eyes.   With my eyesight, I can read lips, facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language  in communications with others.  Many d/Deaf individuals rely on their eye vision for understanding the visual language of ASL, for lipreading/cueing with aided residual hearing or without, and taking in their environment around them.  Many d/Deaf individuals depend on their eyes as a primary sense to take up what their ears don’t do very well and hence, they don’t take their eyesight for granted, the way so many hearing people do.

But ya know, there are some things our eyes don’t see.  Check out and have some fun.

Yup, we all got our blindspots.

Try the site’s ‘More Blindspots’ tests, such as the “Switching Colors” yellow/green test and the “Lines” test.  The more, the merrier.

As you will discover, our brains make up for the blindspots.  Powerful stuff this gray matter, this brain, our consciousness.

There is a strange phenomenon called blindsight.  It’s been mentioned in a few blogs and on YouTube recently.  Scientific and medical researchers have observed this phenomenon in individuals who suffered brain damage as a result of a stroke, brain surgery or brain trauma.  Blindsight persons “see” (even with 20/20 vision in both eyes) but do not “understand” what exactly they see.  In other words, they can see but don’t have a conscious understanding of what their eyes are seeing.

Blindsight persons are known to “detect” objects as they navigate a room however, only guessing at the shape, color, or movement of an object, but they are unable to actually identify an object for what it is, say a ” bouncing basketball” or a “potted plant” or a “lit lamp”.  They will more likely identify the basketball as some round orange shape moving from left to right, the potted plant as an irregular green shape, the lamp as a round yellow shape.   Theirs is a “residual” vision, but not a conscious one, which in effect makes these persons blind in another way.

Some of you may have seen an example of partial blindsight in someone who has had a stroke for example.   A right-side stroke in the brain can sometimes cause a blindsight of the left eye, hence, the term partial blindsight.  (Right side brain stroke affects the left side of the body, and vice-versa.)  Such a person may be observed eating the food only on the right side of his plate for he can see and consciously understand that side of the plate, leaving the food on the left side of the plate untouched because his left eye doesn’t “understand” what it sees.

Researchers are uncertain about the exact mechanism that causes this blindsight phenomenon.  Some say that it is directly attributed to a damaged visual cortex within the brain that is responsible for conscious seeing.  Others say that the phenomenon is due to the brainstem that, if intact even with a damaged visual cortex, controls basic functions of the body such as the heartbeat and breathing.   The brainstem is the most primitive  part of the brain, site of functions that were critical to prehistoric man’s survival.   So, the basic functions of vision, that is, shape, color, and movement, are believed to be situated in the brainstem as well to serve as a visual alarm system before a threat registers consciously.

So, blindsight is a reminder that a great deal  happens unconsciously on the back burner before an image registers as a conscious thought.

On another note, blindsight reveals (pun intended) that humans with a damaged visual cortex can see without understanding what they see…or that they see.

Now that’s an even weirder thought.