Thursday, March 13, 2008

An Inspiration: Fun Roaming Southerner Fact #215

So, in trying to find interesting things to talk about and not just link to my bloggity friends sites 24/7, I thought I'd share a little about me. Something that most people don't know.

Fun TRS Fact #215: I know Sign Language.

When I was 8 years old, there was a girl several grades a head of me who was deaf and the first time I saw her when was competing the school wide spelling bee. I was thrown by this fact...that someone could compete in front of the school AND have a disadvantage of not being able to "sound it out." I was so intrigued, I asked my mom if we could get a sign language book asap! I wanted to know some signs in case I met her.

Around that same time, I saw Marlee Matlin on T.V. and once again I was intrigued that people can talk without verbalizing anything. I started to pour back into my ASL dictionary just in case I got to meet Marlee Matlin...that way I could talk to her.

As I grew up, I always read about signing but without the opportunity to actually converse with someone my enthusiasm dwindled.

And then, 3 years ago when I was in grad school, one of my classmates, Matt, was almost completely deaf from childhood rubella. This was it...my chance to meet and converse with someone in sign language. Only problem: my left hand was in a cast. I was nervous that I would make a fool of myself, but one day his translator was running late so I thought I could help by trying to translate what I could or at least introduce myself. Well the end of the story was, that I had a horrible time trying to sign. I "stuttered" and got nervous and every time I'd try to talk I'd get so easily flustered and embarrassed, he would have to read my lips more than anything. I also had a horrible time trying to understand signs. No one has ever signed to me so I couldn't "read" signs as well as I could sign myself.

Matt and I talked on IM about class at times, he gave me some "better" signing books, and really tried to encourage me. Unfortunately, I never got over the fact that I couldn't communicate automatically the way I thought I could and became very discouraged. I also stopped talking to Matt after class because I was so embarrassed that I thought I could communicate with him and he knew how bad I was.

I never realized until recently that he probably was happy with my half-a** attempts and my eagerness to talk with him...even if it was like talking to a 2 year old. I also realized that there is an amazing Deaf community with a long history that is in some ways very exclusive. Matt could have easily have blown me off but he encouraged me more.

These days, I try to learn more signs....sign to myself in the mirror more...and if I ever see that lady on TV who signs in the circle at the corner, I turn the sound off on the TV and try to read her signs. Hopefully, one day if I get to see Matt again, I'll be able to talk to him more clearly.

Also, Marlee Matlin is competing on Dancing with the Stars: go over to Leigh's to read about her cool dancing partner and vote for her if you can!

4 comments:

Leigh said...

Southerner-Thanks for the link. I too took sign language classes for about 5 years. It became apparent to me, and was repeated over and over, get involved in the deaf community. "If you don't use it you'll loose it". I used to drive down the road too and sign songs. Yes, I am sure I looked like a freak to other drivers, though it hasn't ever stopped me before. I also took a musical signing class, it was great because studenta had to sign a song (chosen by teacher) in front of the class. It didn't give much time to think ahead but to just sign. I highly recommend. Stick with it. You can be very beneficial. Emergancy response teams (police, fire, etc.) keep munbers of interprators on hand to aid in translation. This is just one suggestion of many.
We have similar stories. My facination came when on Days of OUr Lives Kayla went deaf and Steve learned to communicate with her. Of course, as in any good soap opera her hearing suddenly returned.....then I too saw Marlee in Children of a Lesser God and was amazed. I also had a friend in school whose parents were deaf. After I graduated, I worked a job at a local dept. store in gift wrap. A elderly couple would come in regularly. Both were completely deaf. I was so proud when I was able to communicate with them.
Today, much of what I have learned I am sure has been forgotten. But I still sign to myself in the car from time to time, to keep my brain on it's toes.

Erin said...

Camp Wannacropalot is the name that my scrapbook consultant uses! Its corny, I know, but I just love it!

I am really not that crafty, but it is fun! I like going on these weekends because I can use my friend's supplies! I don't have enough moola to pay for all the tools and gadgets!

I, too, am interested in ASL! When I student taught, there wasa little girl that was hearing impaired. It was so amazing to see her learn through me and the interpretor!

Have a great weekend, babe!

Christine said...

WHat a great thing. If I ever learn a new language it will be sign language. I already know how to sign, "I love you and Cut it out". :)

Bananas said...

that's really cool. The school that we're hoping CJ will get into this fall teaches sign language starting in kintergarden and then up through the grades, which I think ALL schools should be doing.