Mainstream Class

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I mentioned this on my own Facebook status after complaining about my first day of class, (yeah…I’m still a college student.) because of my frustration with hearing class. However, I immediately thought of my hearing friends from middle school, when the words “mainstream class” got on my mind.

My FB Status:

“I remembered going to a middle school where I was the only deaf kid and I hated having classes with hearing kids until I met a few hearing kids who wanted to learn sign language for me, so they could be my friend and I’m really grateful to have met friends like them. That really helped me cope with being the only deaf kid. I returned the favor by learning English for them, so we all could have better communication. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have the desire to learn any academic subject at all. But having deaf classes makes it much easier not to miss information via sign language. Of course, not all deaf people are the same. Some prefer mainstream class. Some don’t.

Because of these kids who learned signs for me, I wouldn’t bash any ASL student / people’s ASL skills. I praise them…with much love. Be happy for people who are willing to learn sign language for you. Be happy for parents who tried their best to learn sign language as much as they could. To non-deaf people who learned ASL, thank you for increasing deaf-awareness…”

After reading my own Facebook status a few times, I thought, “Wow, this is really good to share on my blog.” I truly hope deaf people feel the same way I feel toward hearing people when they learned ASL. There are probably grammar errors in my FB “status”, but I want deaf people to get the right idea of how they should treat people when they are trying to learn to sign better.

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How to meet more deaf people

If you are deaf, and want to find more deaf people near your area to make friends with, or just want to practice your signing skills, there are good places for you to start with:

Deaf Chat Coffee

Deaf Chat Coffee is a place where a small Deaf community usually get together at coffee shops, and  socialize with people who are deaf or want to practice their ASL skills. It’s usually popular for ASL students to come to Deaf Chat Coffee socials, because they want to master their signing. If you excel in ASL, you can help teach sign language, which would be a good opportunity to get to know more people in your area or near a school. You might be able to expand your social circle through this deaf social. Find a Deaf Chat Coffee social near your area at happy.deafcoffee.com.

Deaf Professional Happy Hour (DPHH)

Deaf Professional Happy Hours is a social gathering for deaf, hard of hearing, sign language professionals who come together at pre-selected bars to socialize and network with other professionals from various career fields such as business, human services, education, etc. Perhaps, you will be able to learn about other deaf people’s job experiences, but more importantly, you should be able to have a good time with deaf people and signers, at the same time network with other people that come from your similar professional area. To find a DPHH event, google Deaf Professional Happy Hour in your home state, or look on FaceBook and see if there is a DPHH page for your home state.

Deaf Festival

Deaf festival is an annual festival that celebrates and promotes deaf awareness and its rich culture. It’s always an exciting event for deaf communities to socialize with each other, or even meet their old friends from other schools, and work. You might meet a few deaf celebrities there. Deaf festivals usually have ASL storytelling, games, shows / performances, contests, movies, and services like interpreting, counseling, job coaching, etc. You might find cool products like tech-advanced video phones, and tech gadgets with vibrating alert features around on the booths. Ask deaf clubs or organizations for more information on deaf festivals, or look for their websites on the Internet.

Deaf Church

A local church with deaf ministry might be a good place for signers that wish to practice similar faith or worship of their religion. Some of the deaf churches can have a growing community where there are deaf people who enjoy socializing with each other, and worshiping together. You might have to ask an instructor, deaf clubs / organizations, or a sign language interpreter if they know such a church with deaf ministry.

There’s another way to meet deaf people which is to set up your own profile on deaf sites like deafs.com, where you can seek friendship or a relationship  with deaf people online. However, I’d say you’d have more chance to meet deaf people at the Deaf Chat Coffee socials, DPHH events, deaf festivals, or deaf churches, than social networking / dating sites. You can check up with your local deaf organizations for upcoming events. If you cannot find any deaf event near your area, and you already know many deaf people around in the home state, then I highly encourage you to set up an event for the deaf community.

ASL Power!

I’m very, very thankful to have good English skills which equipped me to survive in the real world or at least have access to hearing services. However, that doesn’t make me look down on American Sign Language (ASL). Some complained that it discourages Deaf people from improving their English skills because of its different grammar style / structure. Maybe. That’s why it’s important for a Deaf person to be bilingual, having one language that provides an ability to learn through visual concepts and another language to communicate. ASL is proven to enhance cognitive development at young age or infants (*See info from Baby Sign Language.com), it means a baby can develop faster thinking, decision-making, and remembering, or problem-solving.

I’ve encountered a few Deaf people in person who moved to the US from another country, and they were struggling with their literacy skills. There was one deaf middle-aged man from church who asked for my help to write a note to plumber for him because he didn’t know how to write well. He wanted to tell the plumber that a pipe in the bathroom was leaking. I felt bad for him, so I wrote a note for him. I also met another Deaf man who always told me stories about his family and how he and his wife met. He came from Puerto Rico, I think. He once asked me to teach him a few English words that related to food such as “bread”, “beef”, “garlic”, etc because he was learning English which is his second language while Spanish is his primary language except that he can only write in Spanish, not speak. We talked about food because we both enjoy a variety of food cuisines. The way I see it, ASL actually builds bridge to literacy skills including oral language. If it weren’t for SL, I wouldn’t be able to write / read well.

Maybe it’s really a nuisance to talk to Deaf people who has terrible grammar but I wouldn’t blame them. I had the same struggle as they did when I was younger. I can enjoy having conversation with them without having to be such a Grammar Nazi / Police…

It goes the same for my country, Philippines that has its own Filipino Sign Language (FSL) which heavily borrows from ASL. They both use same sign but it doesn’t mean sign language is universial – *there are about two hundred sign languages across the world. Not all of them use same sign.

So….ASL is beautiful and I take pride in both of FSL and ASL. I prefered ASL over SEE (Sign Exact English) because it commmunicates a lot of visual concepts that let me mentally picture what a signer is talking about. Easy communication for me. I’d get bored if a sign HAD to sign every word, especially if he/she doesn’t use facial gestures.

Links to check out:

http://www.babysignlanguage.com/basics/faqs/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sign_languages

What’s on your iPhone??

I was sadden to learn Steve Jobs’ passing away on October 5th, 2011. I am a huge fan of his Apple products. This is my tribute page to him for one of his best inventions, iPhone.

I first fell in love with my iPhone in the year 2008, after switching to AT&T from T-mobile that I’ve been using a Sidekick under for many years. Beside my love for iPhone, there are some apps that I like and will share with you.They do make my daily task easier in a way.

What’s an app?? An app is often referred to software on a smartphone or mobile devices such as Android, Blackberry, iPod, or iPad. (Ew, I didn’t like saying these names of mobile devices…iPhone is the best! Haha!)

 

IP-Relay

I often use this app to make phone calls to hearing people like my family, (Most of them are hearing and I’m the only deaf dude in the family.) non-deaf friends, business services, etc. The only con about it is being not able to receive phone calls through the app. Nevertheless, I enjoyed using this app.

AIM

I know AIM to be one of the most common Instant Messenger but it is considered deaf-friendly because it replaces the use of TTY / TTD, so deaf people can always contact each other easily on computer. It was quite popular until many of my friends stopped using AIM since they started texting to each other. Most mobile devices have a texting capability anyway. I kept my AIM screen name online because I use SIPRelay and My IP Relay on my list to handle my important calls from hearing users. It’s the only way for me to receive them.

Just Big Text

I ALWAYS use this app to communicate with hearing people. It’s better to have this app that allows people to read your text much easier, than have people struggle with reading smaller texts and complain they cannot see well without glasses. (*Screams and pull my hair*) It’s very useful if you want to have easy communication with any hearing service. For instance, when I go to McDonalds, I take my iPhone out, and type my order then show it to a cashier (and SMILE!) and I get a McDouble Cheeseburger, small Diet Coke, and small fries. Happy ending. The app also saves some text for you if you wish to use them again in the future. Recommended for communicating with transportation services such as taxi drivers, train officers, or bus drivers (Telling where you want to go.)

PurpleMail

This is like an answering machine that lets people leave messages on. This is only for people who use P3 that let them to make VP calls on computer. (VP stands for Videophone). When I could not return an call, people who use VP, leave VP messages and I am able to view them on this app instead of  viewing them in e-mail with video attachment in it.

Dictation

This app converts speech into text that people can read. I actually don’t use this app much but I kept it on my iPhone in a case I could not read a hearing person’s lips well. It is somewhat helpful but you have to be sure to speak very, very….clearly for the app in order to translate into..correct words.

Read It

This app reads what you type, aloud. It’s like the opposite of the app Dictation. It converts text into speech. Anything you type through the app will be spoken. You could raise a volume if you like… to get a hearing person’s attention..haha. The app might be using a faster voice so you’d have to repeat it for the hearing person to catch every word.

join.me

This app hardly relate to deafness or anything but it is often used to assist the other people with technical issues with computers. It let the other see what is on the user’s screen…with his/her permission. The other has to dial the number to get the access to the user’s screen or one’s own screen from iPhone. I wouldn’t recommend watching a movie on someone’s computer through desktop sharing because the movie is too slow for that as in stop-motion.

Flashlight

I usually use my iPhone as a flashlight whenever I sneak into the refrigerator on late nights, for midnight snack. (Lol.) In addition to that, I also use it to search for lost items under anything such as bed, couch, etc. Places that have no light. You could also use it to be able to see the other sign in the dark.

These apps are why I am very fascinated of Apple technology that makes communication very effective with both Deaf and hearing people. I enjoyed using my iPhone since December 2008. Hope these apps are helpful to any of you that currently owns iPhone.

Lucid Dreaming

There was the other day I had a dream in which I was actually aware that I am dreaming. This kind of dream is called lucid dreaming and I find it very.. fascinating! It was amazing. There was no physical laws in the dream but the dream has its own limits. It means they don’t always seem what should look in the real life. Everything in it is somewhat blurred or misplaced depending on how your mind produces within a dream.

I knew I was dreaming at the moment I thought I was awake. It began when I woke up from long dream..which was just another meaningless dream. I went back to asleep yet, I tried to wake up because I realized I needed to do shopping. I was too sleepy due to heavy medication which made me feel a bit sedated. It was hard to wake up because of meds so I tried to make myself fall off a couch I was sleeping on. If I fell on the floor, I should’ve woke up completely.

But I didn’t….

When I fell off a couch, I didn’t land on the floor; instead I was hovering on…something! For a minute I felt a strong vibration against my whole body but I was actually in the air. I was like wow this is really cool. I knew I was lucid dreaming.The floor was disappearing and I was flying in the sky. Everything suddenly turned dark like the day became the night again. I felt cold wind against my face as if I was skydiving. It seemed like 15 minutes since I was in the air.

After a couple minutes passed, I slowly landed into an unfamiliar house which wasn’t my home. It turned out that I was in some stranger’s home but nobody was home there. I was hovering on the floor. I looked around and every room was dark but I could see as if I had a night vision. In my sight, it looked like dark purple.

I went into the bathroom to use a mirror to see if I can see myself. Oddly, the mirror was blurred from stream. I wiped it but couldn’t see myself. I could only see a stranger in the mirror. It was a caucasian girl. Or a red-head girl. She hissed at me as if she was trying to frighten me. I chuckled and wiped the mirror again. I saw an unfamilar face of a hispanic woman which confused me.

“What the…. DUCK!!!” (LOL)

How could I see strangers that I’ve never seen in my entire life? I tried to wipe the mirror a couple times, and ended up seeing different faces. Then a brilliant idea came on my mind, I wiped the mirror while I was attempting to create a beautiful woman in the mirror but did not succeed. I frowned at my failure.

And I felt something vibrating in my arm which I knew it was coming from my iPhone. I sighed, and looked up and flew into the ceiling which turned into the dark sky. I returned to my own body without seeing my body.

I woke up and checked my iPhone.

It was a hearing woman who called me through SIP Relay, just to ask how I am. It was 1:05pm. (Late, I know..blame medication.)

Oh gosh, I was pretty annoyed….well that’s that. Couldn’t return to lucid dreaming. My researches on lucid dreaming says it takes years to master lucid dreaming. 😦

But was that astral projection?

No, but let’s not go there. Not getting any insane anytime soon……………………..

Religion and (deaf) child abuse

I’ve been thinking about making this post for a long time..I’ll see if I can elaborate on this topic.

Although I am very spiritual, I can clearly see that there are a few child abuse linked to religions but cannot talk about all of the religions that I could not relate to. Christianity is the only thing I know the best. To begin with child abuse linking to religion, I always believe religion is not to be blamed, bad style of parenting is.

From my childhood experiences related to Catholicism, I remembered, as a child, begging my father to bring me home at the time I was having a huge asthma attack at the time my father and I were still at the church. He was praying and I really needed him to bring me home since I did not have an inhaler. He continued ignoring me until my cryings got louder and louder so that people would hear me. My father kept telling me to ignore my own asthma attack and said they are Satan’s work that try to distract us away from God.

Unbelievable, that is.

After hours of crying, it finally got to my father’s attention, so he decided to bring me home. My mother found out about what happened and she got mad at him. I should have died from asthma attack. I think my parents might not possibly remember this because it was so long time ago.

But that’s not only worse. For many years, my parents forced me to go to their Catholic church…without an interpreter. I am telling you, it has been a huge torture to me. No, I’d call it the greatest torture ever of my life. For three hours of Sunday service, my eyes would wander anywhere restlessly, because I was completely deaf to a priest preaching, I mean I am completely DEAF, actually. Profoundly hearing impaired since birth. I cannot understand such words that were spoken and I was completely mute and illiterate. I begged my parents to bring me home yet they ignored. My cryings wouldn’t work because If I tried that again, my father would severely punished me with spanking or other physical beating. Not having any choice, I had to continue attending their church and tolerate silence of years. During the morning services, what I would do:

I sat restlessly.

I stare at the ceiling.

I played with my hands.

I was painfully bored. I would describe it as being put in a small, sound-proof prison without any window AND human contact at all for years because my parents constantly ignore me without explaining or making an effort to interpret for the priest. When I finally developed my English skills at age of 10 or 11, I was able to read, yet could not understand anything since I lacked a strong vocabulary needed to understand Bible verses or written sermons.

Many years of being forced to go to church, being not able to understand anything from church or preaching itself, and being forced to tolerate “silence” until I turned 18…were the greatest torture of my life.

In addition to my past experiences of torment, my parents would sometime force me to attend prayer meeting which is for family only. In the basement, we would pray for an hour or so, or say our Hail Marys. There was nothing I can do but watch. There were a few times that I tried walking away but my father would drag me to stay with the family and then I would cry a little.

I could reminisce much more but I truly hoped that these experiences I’ve been telling, should be strongly labeled as child abuse linking to religion.

But how did I become so spiritual?

When I was in middle school, there was a woman entering into my life which changed a lot. This woman was my interpreter and an assistant to my signing teacher. I would call her “Miss S” because she wasn’t married until I finished high school, I think. She was now married to a man named Mario and lived in MD. She was much like a mother to me. In middle school, I was the only deaf student and many kids there did not know any sign language at all. Miss S would teach them so they can start friendship with me. My teacher set up Sign Language Club and more kids joined.

I was delighted.

However, Miss S would talk to me about God and I was shocked because I thought it was illegal and still kinda is, in most of US public schools. She almost quit her work after I picked on her, spit on her for being too religious, and was being terribly rude to her until I was curious to learn about her belief. I asked her to teach me about God and she was totally rejoicing. After talking and many discussions about God on occasions, I became a Christian at age of 12…but not a Catholic. I attended Bible Study on Wednesdays until I finished high school. My parents knew about Bible studies but they let me attend them because it was the only way for me to learn God’s Word.

What should have been done to make this better?

Proverbs 4:4-6

4 He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.

This scripture means that if a child is deeply taught wisdom, only if the child understood wisdom, that is…then the child would not turn away from wisdom, especially when he/she became much older. If the child isn’t taught any wisdom then they would easily rebel.

Patience and prayers are the only things that would keep a child coming for more wisdom or teachings. Maybe I would have became a Catholic if my parents knew full sign language, but becoming a Christian was the best decision I ever made. I was a Catholic for a brief time until I found errors in Catholic beliefs such as a priest healing, bread-and-wine, and more. I did my research and became a believer. I’m 23 now and still reading Bible sometime. If it weren’t for reading Bible, I would not develop strong English skills faster during my childhood years. Reading Bible benefited my English skills. It not only benefited my English skills but helped me learn how to keep my friendship with friends steady, and preserve my virtues.

1 Corinthians 13:11

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

From time to time, I could not read Bible completely which would cause off-balance in my life, for instance, I forgot how not to lose temper so easily, or lack conscience sometime. I had to memorize some of the scriptures to preserve my best attitude and character. Bible was like a best parent’s wisdom. It had important history figures and events that I have to look up to as precedents to lead my life.

Anyways, I loved reading Bible but wouldn’t force anyone to read Bible…only encourage. I would only explain if anyone ever asks about God. I try to avoid pushing anyone to learn God’s Word in a bad way like my parents did. That was totally child abuse…for a deaf child.  I forgave my parents for all these tragic experiences I had related to their belief.

Don’t go too further on forcing your children to study or learn your beliefs or they will seriously rebel.

PS: Another article related to child abuse linked to overstrict-religion, resulting in death, can be found on this link. It’s similar to my bad experience with my father neglecting me while being ill.

Blogging

After blogging on blogger (used to be called blogspot) for a few years, I’m deciding to give wordpress a shot. I’ve actually used wordpress in the past because of my web design-related assignment that I was learning to set up on my own website.

I think blogging is a wonderful activity that allows people to share their life experiences with the others or express their views / opinion on certain subjects they plan to discuss. According to this article found on the web, blogging is good for your health. In the article, blogging strengthens our analytical and critical thinking skills, challenges our creativity, increases our problem-solving skill. It also said that blogging gives much more access to information and let us level with the peers that equals with our intelligence.

However, maybe not all people would be willing to share their blogs in public. For instance, they have an option to either post their blogs privately for themselves to read like an online journal or share their blogs publicly where people can benefit from learning more and understanding better through reading blogs. To entertain our readers, we must update the blogs frequently. It is up to bloggers whether they want to be completely opened to the blogging community or just write private blogs for specific people only. Public or not, blogging has to be fun in any way for us.

Hopefully, I could give myself more time to try this site. I mostly agree with the article that says blogging is good for your health, not is it only good for our health, but also good for improving our English skills. Every time we write posts, we re-read our writings to analyze our English skills and decide if our writing skill has more to improve. We cannot just rely on blogs to improve our English skills but to read the others’ blogs. We will see how the way people speak their mind on their own blogs and the way they write. Reading their blogs will have a big impact on our skills.

I wish you the best luck of blogging and have fun blogging.

Happy Blogging.

-Neil