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Monday, June 27, 2011

ADSL's questions, pt 1

A Daft Scots Lass left a comment in one of my posts last week, asking the following questions:

"Whats the most interesting conversation you have ever evesdropped on? Knowing that you lip read and not everyone being aware of it, have you ever come across and interesting situation that made you surprised or made you laugh? I'm sure you have some interesting stories to tell."

"Is there such a thing as a singles bar for sign languagers? If so, have you ever been to one and whats it like? Is everyone signing all over the place?"

"Do you prefer to sign with a fellow deaf person or do you prefer to lip read?"

"Whats your most favourite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon?"

"Whats your most challenging part of being a daddy?"

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Since ADSL's first two questions contain sub-questions, I'll answer them in "ADSL's questions, pt 2" (and pt 3) later on in the immediate future, I will answer question #3 which is "Do you prefer to sign with a fellow deaf person or do you prefer to lip read?"

Having attended my deaf school's reunion Saturday night, I got to experience both (signing with deaf people and lipreading each other) at once in one sitting. My deaf school emphasized strongly on oral education - signing was forbidden in the classrooms. We had to learn how to lipread the teachers. When we were done with our deaf school, we were ready for the world without ever acquiring any signing skill.

I had not seen some of my classmates for 30 years and it was rather disconcerting to me when I talked with some of them and seeing their eyes go blank when I tried to use sign language to help with the communication. One classmate was barely able to comprehend fingerspelling...and nothing else other than a sign here and there. Two of my classmates started conversing with each other, without any signing - just lipreading and gesturing.

I got bored with them after few minutes and I sought out others who could sign. I know it sounded bad...as if I was being a jerk or selfish. They were talking about NASCAR and driving/racing tactics. I have nothing against that, just not my cup of tea. I simply used that as my excuse to leave.

So it's obvious that I'd rather sign with a fellow deaf person than to lipread. Out of the 21 students in my graduating class, 14 attended the reunion (including me). Maybe half of that are at least competent in sign language communication. 30 years since graduation and only one could communicate with me in sign language fluently.

10 comments:

A Daft Scots Lass said...

WOW! Thats actually pretty sad. I just shows you how much you change and grow in 30 years!!!

Mynx said...

I think it is realy interesting that the school put so much emphasis on lipreading and not signing. I hope that times have chnged and children are taught both equally now

Jewels said...

I'm with Mynx. I hope it was an error of the times and not a rule in deaf schools. I would hope that they teach children both now.

I have always been fascinated by sign language. I taught the children in my class sign language basics in preschool and they picked it up so quickly. The basics, alphabet, colors, numbers, please and thank you and then branched out to other words as we had time. I took a class in it but just like video games my hands don't move as fast as my brain things and I would get confused and frustrated so easily. It's beautiful though.

DCHY said...

ADSL - what's sadder was my viewpoint on sign language. I had such disdain for sign language that I wasn't interested in learning it until I was 25.

Mynx - my school now uses sign language interpreters, but the teachers do not sign.

Jewels - I'm glad that you teach sign language to preschoolers. I believe that learning another language at a young age enhances the intelligence.

Copyboy said...

Yeah, I'd tend to agree. The topic of NASCAR lipread, signed, or spoken is meh.

Chloe said...

I am shocked they pushed lipreading so heavily, too. Really shocked. I want to get back to learning sign so that I can communicate with anyone who knows it, just as I would love to re-learn 2 other languages I let lapse...(I started years ago, and then changed careers and let it go) This may seem crazy to you, but I think signing is beautiful.

nitebyrd said...

I would think that having the ability to sign, in addition to lip-reading, would be most beneficial. Like being bi-lingual.

Are deaf schools now leaning more towards signing? I'm wondering if it's like the "new math" deal. After about 20 or so years of teaching the "new math", educators realized it wasn't working.

DCHY said...

Copyboy - your comment made me smile. Thanks

Chloe - it isn't crazy. I know why people would think signing is beautiful...it's like dancing. You get to see how a person goes through the motions and how graceful that person looks. I'm the same way too. :)

Nitebyrd - I can't speak for the schools in general. All I know is my school uses interpreters. Does that make the students better? Only time will tell.

Furry Bottoms said...

I grew up both lipreading and signing. First SEE then ASL.

I honestly don't know which one I prefer myself. I feel so incompetent with other deaf people who are much much better at ASL than I am. At the same time, my lipreading skill isn't perfect, so I am not totally confident in that area either.

I think with deaf and oral people, the gesturing and body language part is their sign language in a sense. You cannot avoid that when you're deaf-- you must depend on what you can also see and feel.

DCHY said...

Furry Bottoms - the fun part of communicating in ASL is learning. After many years of conversing in ASL, I am still learning new things. You are right about the oral deaf people...they use gestures and body language and it is a form of sign language for them. :)