Accessible technology

If there is anything I have learned, technology is limited in the deaf world.

Yesterday, a friend of mine was in a T-Mobile store, looking to replace her phone. Only to be disappointed with the high cost of replacing it. We walked over to Mobile Boost and got a Virgin phone instead.

What came up? The discussin of how we could expand technology beyond what we already have. Anywhere from texting while driving (automatically installed mainly for the purpose of using a GPS but have the capability to text as well).

More deaths occur from texting and driving because of two things: eyes are not on the road and thinking about the message instead of the road.

To text while driving, the keyboard would be installed in the stearing wheel, with a voice capacity for those who can speak and write out a message. The window would be installed in the dashboard in front of the driver but next to the speedometer. That way, the driver will still have the hands on the wheel and focusing on the road. There would be a warning sticker recommend to not to text while driving. 

My 2nd idea came up today while receiving a phone call doing something else on my phone. But my implant battery is dead for the rest of the day, therefore I am unable to hear. Meanwhile, I get a pop up screen asking to answer, hang-up or send a message. I sent a message.

However, what if we had the ability to write out the message via text and have it voiced? Similar to ip-relay except it would be automaticlly from text messaging. Some people who are deaf, cannot speak. And come to think of it, perfect for 9-1-1 calls.

These are just some ideas requiring programming or maybe installation for convenience. Not just for the deaf but also for the hearing.

What does it mean for our future generation striving to keep up with the rest of the world?

Workshop

This weekend I am hosting a workshop through the church I attend regularly and I’m looking forward to it because I believe it will open up discussion about how to communicate efficiently and not allow the deafness or hearing for the matter, define who we really are.

So with the workshop coming up, I want to have bloggers take a few moments and jot down questions they would love to have answers to or would like to see discussed openly. I would be more than delighted to share the power point from the workshop after (mind- you, it’s only 2-3 hours lecture style and 1-2 hours of leisure to participate in deaf activities together.

So if you have questions, send me a shout out!

Thanks amigos! 🙂

Re-define Deafness

I’ve been asked a lot (mostly by hearing) if I like having a cochlear implant or if regret having it.

I want to clearly state, the decision was my own to make. No pressure from family or friends to get it or not. I was 17, a bit naïve in my decision making but was mine to make. For the past week, I have no heard a sound since my batteries don’t work with the implant.

But it woke me up to reality a bit.  I have been living with a family for the past few months and one of them posted an article on Facebook after arriving home the other night and jokingly said, “I’m still deaf.” Only a deaf person would understand my humor. Once you accept who you are, it’s something you’re used to, but he posted an article and hair cells being restored. Mine are completely gone, destroyed, as well as my cochlea. Is it impossible to have it restored? By supernatural healing by God, I believe it’s definitely possible. From a realistic and medical standpoint, pretty much impossible.

After that article posted, I questioned the possibility of actual healing, both the hair cells and cochlea. Then I question my decision to get the implant, what would it like without it? Would my hearing have become worse and I continued to use the hearing aid? Was it a waste to get it? I think not, it’s opened doors me than I ever anticipated, but also closed a lot of doors. The doors that did open, gave reality to what I would never witness if I didn’t have it.

I’ve learned to depend or not depend on it, I’ve learned my hearing loss defines me by others but in reality, does not define me if I see it that way. In reality, culture plays a major role in who we are. Would I have still discovered this later on or continued with the same thinking? I can’t say, but either way, I am who I was created to be, took a real hard look at my reality and it’s not all bad, in fact see a different world.

No regrets, and only seek the future for more doors to open AND close.

 

 

Never stop thinking

I was trying to sleep last night and suddenly I was trying to piece the puzzles together as to why I am absolutely terrified of large empty rooms but not of spiders or snakes or swimming or being claustrophobic. I adore spiders and snakes. And almost drowned countless times, yet I love swimming. (Weird, I know).

But in all seriousness, I found myself wondering, why? What makes me so afraid of empty rooms when I walk in. Perhaps it’s a similar concept of the fear unknown (not ghosts). If my mind was completely blank, I could easily associate to large empty rooms with nothing in it. It’s not the darkness itself, it’s knowing that I could never be able to think or process anything. This is where my creativity flow would get seriously messed up, I create the most annoying and obnoxious but loving characters in life. Take Anne Lamott‘s work for example; Shitty First Drafts, (don’t undermine the title). Yes, we write drafts more than a few times to create masterpieces  But we walk around with thoughts never-ending of how we want our work done, encouraging minds to keep processing and get the juices flowing.

http://wrd.as.uky.edu/sites/default/files/1-Shitty%20First%20Drafts.pdf

If my brain stopped, would I still be writing this? Probably not… And as a deaf person who struggles to communicate with the world, my mind would be the only thing left.

Fear of the unknown

This past week, I had an opportunity to spend time with my family in Ohio for Christmas. My sister has a son who is three and a half and a daughter who is 18 months.

 

On the first night there, my sister asked me to tuck in my nephew and I did. What I didn’t know was that my nephew is terrified of the dark but he believes the night-light is too bright. I closed the door on him and he screamed. My heart broke when I didn’t know of his fear of the unknown.

My sister came in the room and consoled him to calm his fears and had to explain that I couldn’t hear him to not close the door.

In the past few weeks, I have asked myself, what would life be like if I had not decided to get the cochlear implant. I called my mom asking this question and found she would support me either way, but it left me feeling unsure because of my family history. My sister and brother never call through the video phone relay service because the idea of talking to an interpreter is intimidating.

I told my mother, ‘this is who I am, at one point, everyone is going to have to accept my hearing loss.” My mother claims to support me if I ever made a decision to no long wear an implant. I am who God made me to be after all. Unlike the rest of my family, change is all I know, for them… not so much.

How about you, have you ever had to pursue conquering the unknown?

Don’t blame the NRA

When I was in the sixth grade, I remember the Columbine shooting all too well. That was the most devastating day for schools all over the country. Last Friday, after our office headed back after lunch for a holiday celebration, we heard the news about the shooting that took the lives of 20 children and seven others in Newton, Conn. As writers, how do we respond to this? As educators?

We investigate, but we don’t backlash. I often have to look at the code of ethics and remind myself over and over why I do my job and the importance of who is first and my responsibilities. Sometimes its difficult.

A few weeks ago, I watched a report about a photographer who was taking photos of a man who was pushed in front of a train in NY and was questioned if he killed him. Our job is to be objective and not change the circumstances, if we do, it could change the entire light of the story becoming involved. There are times we have to make difficult decisions if we chose life or death to jump in and save that person (the photographer could have jumped on the tracks and rescued him) but logic’s showed if he did that, he would put his own life at risk.   

When we look at stories like the National Rifle Association (NRA), I have a love hate relationship with them. I don’t appreciate the way they handle things sometimes. In fact, the day after the shooting, they disappeared on Facebook instead of handling it more personally. I’m not saying I advocate the use of guns, I would rather advocate gun safety. My step-father spent Christmas ever training me how to handle a gun one year so I would learn how to defend myself if I were ever in a situation of needing to take a gun from someone but needed to feel comfortable to use one. I had already taken self-defense, now it was just using a real gun. It really makes a difference. But should everyone have access to a gun? No. Guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people. Especially, if you know what you’re doing. Image

The question is still lingering in the air about what happened that day of the suspect’s mind and why he decided to kill 27 people. We may never understand. But for now, we need a time of grieving as the families bury their children. What they are feeling is unimaginable. Until then, I have no interest in blaming NRA since they do a superb job at attempting to offer multiple kinds of training including civilian training, honoring the military, preventing hearing-loss, abides by the law (not jus the 2nd amendment). I go back and forth on youth a little and need more studies on how this could affect them long-term, especially girls.  But really, I don’t have that MUCH against NRA. We need to learn self-control and make better judgement calls on how and when to use a gun. Not that you should ever have to, except for hunting. 

But killing kids?

The new kid on the block

I started a new job a couple of months back, but I feel stuck in a rut this week after a 2nd story was posted that I spent a couple of weeks working on. Soon after, I looked at it and quickly looked up the difference between Journalism and PR marketing. I knew there was a difference but how could I apply it?

http://www.geibelpr.com/marketpr.htm

Journalism is editorial, meaning it’s all about the ‘who, what, where, when, why and the how.’ It’s about interacting with the media. PR is about getting the info out there and marketing is more about making today’s sales pitch to the customer.

So, while I racked my brain, I also printed out each of the code of ethics they all have to follow. I studied both journalism and PR since I have a degree in them, but marketing? That was new and will be kept for knowledge, you just never know when you need them. And yes, I keep Communication Law in America in my office. http://www.amazon.com/Communication-Law-America-Paul-Siegel/dp/0742553876

http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp
http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/CodeEnglish
http://www.marketingpower.com/aboutama/pages/statement%20of%20ethics.aspx

Marketing PR breaks all the rules I’ve learned in journalism and I cringed when I read the article. I’m only sucking up it up, knowing I’m here to also learn. It’s only the second news story, and will have print stories being published before the next semester comes out.

Feedback? Ideas or suggestions for the new kid on the block?

The war on big D and little d

It’s one thing to live in a hearing and deaf world, but what about the deaf world of big D and little d? Perhaps I should explain; it’s a cultural context of how one exposed to the world. For example: if someone was born with hearing loss but exposed to Deaf culture throughout their entire life, such as a Deaf school or Deaf social events through using sign language; it would be expected to use the big D. Or having deaf parents if they are hearing in their entire childhood if they take part in Deaf events. At some point, they would have the ‘Deaf Pride’ as a part of who they are and their community.

It would be a little d if the person developed the language later in life or never interacted in a Deaf social event. Perhaps attended mainstreamed schools with no interactions of other deaf students or hardly participates in social events.

There are many blogs and articles across the web talking discussing this forum. Some say the hearing loss has a lot to do with it, hearing aids/cochlear implant. Some say it has to do with one mainstreaming in schools, some say it’s the parents to blame or even teachers, some say it’s choosing oral and not learning sign language or forcing it. Again: much debate on the issue.

What I am and what I think:

I went to multiple schools with deaf programs and then a deaf institution for four years before realizing I would never make it to college if I was not academically challenged, so I left and went to a mainstreamed school. I grew up with a hearing family, and my mother encouraged me to learn to sign and speak. When the doctors told me I was losing speech understanding due to profound hearing loss and not progressive hearing loss, I was eligible for a cochlear implant for the first time at 17 not before. My mother’s 2nd bible was Deaf Like Me by James Spradley. She did everything she could to make sure I had been provided a decent education and the best of both worlds. I pride myself more in the Deaf world because it’s easier sometimes but other times I’m familiar with the territory of the hearing world because of my family, though they don’t always understand nor are they sensitive. I occasionally attended Deaf events and volunteered to teach ASL classes at the local libraries when I could. I have pride, but I prefer to lay it down and accept that I’m made for both worlds. However, once the implant is off, I’m deaf anyway. I don’t always use my voice, and super soft spoken mostly because I can’t hear myself.

So, what am I? The big D or the little d?

But when I look at others, it’s difficult because I have to look at their backgrounds and see where they are coming from. Our generation is constantly transforming, we’re in a new Deaf Wave generation (the 4th) where most children are mainstreamed. Yesterday a discussion took place where the possibly of a deaf institution will use cubed speech in a deaf school, not mainstreamed but deaf school. Obviously whoever spoke of it was pretty peeved. But when we think about how this will change everything, this will put a war on big D and little d more than ever.

What do you think? Is this important? If you’re hearing, do you have issues like this culturally  If so, how does it affect you?

http://www.amazon.com/Deaf-Like-Me-Thomas-Spradley/dp/0930323114

http://www.amazon.com/Deaf-Diaspora-Third-Wave-Ministry/dp/0595335411/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355171535&sr=1-1&keywords=deaf+diaspora

How come you understand better when looking?

“How come you understand better when looking at me?” Asked a six-year-old, the other day. I kneeled down and explained the importance that if you look in the eyes, lips and face, it makes it easier to understand what you’re saying (lip-reading). She explicitly said, “OOOhhhh!” As she watched my facial expression as I explained how it’s important to watch someone when you talk, it also explains the tone of their body and voice.

I also want to add that (I did not tell her but this is important too), watch the hands as you watch the body. Sometimes it can give away if they are excited, upset, tired or relaxed or any other feelings you might notice about them. Even pick up if they are condemning a person. They are just as important as watching the eyes and lips.

Watching people is a lot of work and figuring out what is going on, so please be aware but do be expressive, especially if you have something to say and be honest!

What public schools won’t teach you

If you’re deaf, at some point in your life, you’re most likely going to attend a deaf institute at least once in your life before attending mainstream public schools.

Deaf schools give you the curriculum structure of teachings that follow what most deaf children would normally understand. In public schools, not so much. Their requirements are different and much more demanding and less attention on the students who enter the classrooms. Most classroom hold about 25-40 students nowadays while the average classroom for the deaf is between 4-20 students.

In the deaf culture, receiving individual attention is justified since the language requires it often.  Sitting in a public school structure often leaves students feeling frustrated and overwhelmed when information comes at them rather than implemented into their minds. Dissecting everything at once is not easy and oftentimes they have to figure it out on their own.

However, when entering the work force, this may not always be a useful tool. While it’s important for students to learn the structure of independence of learning skills, it’s also important to learn structure of how to make sure they are using the right tools and if they are understanding what is being taught. If students are encouraged to do something and later find out that they were not encouraged to do more work or given the right tools to help further their education, they they need to look at what they can improve on.

I also discovered that taking liberal studies courses are a waste of time in college, they make students lose focus on the important classes that need attention. Enforcing math, science and English is already enough, taking additional courses is distracting and in no way does not apply to our field unless it has to do with the major. I wish more students protested on omitting it from the programs, it would certainly cut down on government loans.

What do you think? Do you disagree or agree?

What can deaf people really do, or not do?

What can deaf people really do, or not do?

That is a defining question that most people ask, what can they do or not do? I suppose this is a question in general is really, they can do anything except hear. Think about it for a second, it’s just simply a missing link in their lives, forcing them to do a little extra work sometimes but they usually get it done. 

But based on observation and research, it is also a personal decision that people have to make on what they cannot do or do for themselves. Some people believe they are not equipped to do what the next person is able to do. Their background may have not prepared them do do what they are being asked, for example: drive or input data in the computer system because they did not receive the advanced education needed. It could also be a matter of communication as well, not all speak the native sign language or orally and some speak both.  

Recently there was a young man who intended to join the army, but the problem? He was deaf and the US army said no. He researched information about other countries like Japan being able to allow the military to join certain ranks. Eventually, the US Army heard about this and asked if he could come and educate them. I recently met someone in DC who talked about working for the US Army and they a branch doing secret missions (he was a sniper). While I’m not aware of where they are now or if they are still doing missions but if they are, that’s a sign the deaf can do anything. 

It’s all about determination and intentions. Having seen countries where poverty and disability is seen as oppressed harshly than in the US, we often have to take a step back and see what we’re up against and fight. If not for ourselves but for the people who can’t fight because of the lack of education. But beware, the US has had their fair share as well, that is why the ADA law exists. If you read up on the history, you will understand how the law formed and why it became really important. It’s not something to grumble about when someone mentions it to help protect people but also change lives for the better. It’s changing lives in other countries too. 

What do you think deaf people are not really able to do and why? What about as a hearing person, what struggles have you had to overcome in comparison to help us understand? 

Finally published: What I learned

After three weeks, it finally got published yesterday. I learned a lot about writing. I also learned some days I like coffee and some days I prefer tea. Who knew!?

Want to read it? http://www.gallaudet.edu/News/National_Food_Day.html

Here are five things I learned about writing or communication in general:
*Coming from a hearing university, I used to rely on tape recorders now I have to rely on video cameras to tape interviews. Really helpful hints for new deaf journalists out there! (Even with tape recorders, I disliked them and couldn’t pick up much information but, you never know if you need them in the future. But not helpful when working with the deaf).
*Repetition; I repeat things too much when I talk and in my writing. Once I realized this, I was able to think how I write and talk.
*Communication; when I worked on the school paper in college, I struggled to communicate as if I was swimming to the surface but couldn’t stay on top for long. I’m learning to build a relationship with my co-workers and my bosses. I have to admit, I really like the people I work with! They are funny, kind, patient and intelligent people. It makes it worth getting up and going to work everyday.
*Editing; as we work together, our communication improves.
*Interviewing; Getting certain people to open up during interviews is not easy. Perhaps I know how to work better in the hearing world than I do in the deaf world. I suppose once I get the hang of how to write notes and ask questions at the same time, it will get easier. I’m looking into investing in a camera with a tripod or should I get an iPad(?). If you have suggestions, please send them!
*Be concise; I kind of learned this in college. As I said earlier, I tend to repeat things. But I have a habit of using a lot of adjectives. Get rid of the adjectives, that will shorten the sentence structure times ten.

Writer’s Joke: I also learned the hard way not to put a pile of paper on top of the car on a windy day with nothing on top of it, otherwise it will fly away! That’s what happens after a long day of too much reading and thinking. You can’t really process anything anymore. Thankfully, one of the kids helped me run and gather them all.

Have questions or suggestions you want to shout out? Send them via email at ebrandow86@gmail.com.

Josh B.: Hearing Aids and CI

Question: Have you had hearing aids before Cochlear Implant?
Yes, when I was little I had hearing aids in both ears. But I because I have discrimination in my left ear I can’t understand anything, so I quit wearing it. In my right ear, I had progressive hearing loss. When the doctor told me that I was losing my speech understanding, I was a candidate for the CI if I was interested in considering it. After that, I no longer wore it. I remember trying to put it on one after the CI, it was definitely not the same!

Question: If you did, is there any difference between hearing aids and CI in term of hearing things?
Yes, they explained that it would be more mechanical and can pick up more sounds. But it would take time to process.

When I first turned it on, I could only spend the first six hours hearing, otherwise, everyone’s voices sounded like cartoons. This lasted only a couple of months. Thankfully, after a few adjustments in frequencies, I got found the right one and liked it but it took getting used to. I could never hear clocks before! Ask my mom, I sat for hours just amazed by listening to clocks! I know, weird… right?

However, sometimes the annoyance to picking up everything is my biggest pet peeve but other than that, I’ve learned to tune it our or communicate with others in loud environments.

Thanks for your questions Josh!

Josh’s background: Wore hearing aids his whole life, which his parents preferred. Moving to DC to attend school gave him freedom to take them off and communicate with others without them. It also gave him freedom to live in silence and peace in his mind. Right where he believes he was intended to be.

Introduction to Ask the deaf Writer

Hi, my name is Liza. That’s what the majority of my friends call me. I live and work somewhere in D.C. My dream job is to start a PR agency for the deaf. But for now… while I’m getting the ball rolling, I’ll just work my way up and write for a living.

As a writer, I’m passionate about finding out what’s on people’s minds and getting questions answered. If you’re one of the few people with questions milling on your mind; maybe now would be a good time.

Feel free to ask about anything about the deaf community or even the hearing community.

About me: I graduated in 2011 from Northern Arizona University with BS in Journalism and Public Relations. I minored in Religious Studies.

Seven red cards with one backwards showing the...I love watching films. I prefer board games over card games any time (except Apples to Apples and Speed).Love to read, write and spend too much time on social media sometimes (but I do it for a living too). Love Ultimate Frisbee, white water rafting and hiking.  I love to cook for other people. Traveling is not a past time and do it every chance I get. Love to volunteer! Email me if you have projects available in the DC area to do!

I literally live off my Mac. I wish it had a printer.

I am deaf with a cochlear implant (CI), I decided to get it when I was 17 years old. (No one forced me to get it. I was born deaf and have known ASL since I was little but I can speak well for myself. I prefer interpreters than relying on CI. I can only pick up so much information.