Archive for the 'Blog Contributors' Category

Nov 22 2016

Deafness: Is It Really A Disability?

Blog topic written by Hannah Mann, A Croaking Dalek With Laryngitis

In college, I was taught about two approaches to deafness: the medical approach, and the cultural approach. Essentially, the medical approach regards deafness as something to be fixed or cured; the cultural approach regards deafness as something to be embraced and celebrated. Now, I won’t lie: after years of fighting to be “normal,” the Deaf community was a welcome respite that helped me solidify my identity outside of my hearing loss. But that niggling feeling remained: it wasn’t the whole story, especially when it came to job-hunting.

Deafness is pretty unique in that it’s one of the few disabilities that affords near-complete independence. We can drive, we can move around, we can hold down jobs in any physical and intellectual capacity. The only thing we– most of us– struggle to do is communicate in a hearing world.

Unfortunately, that last one is a pretty big deal, especially in networking and securing employment; or in seeking information and education. It’s much like being a perpetual foreigner– without communication, you miss out on language, social cues, and local culture. And not everyone is willing to accommodate, or they don’t know how.

In part, that’s what gave rise to Deaf culture. At various points throughout recent history, a bunch of deaf people got together, worked out their own communication and social norms, and out of it came a distinct language and culture. Over time, a social network for education and employment also developed– it wasn’t and still isn’t uncommon for Deaf people to find jobs in residential schools, ASL courses, and municipal social work.

Outside of those niches, however, our options become… more complicated. A whole lot of  service and sales professions– for example, reception, hospitality, and nursing– rely heavily on verbal communication. At least, as most people understand it. Mind you, several deaf people have found workarounds for succeeding in these types of jobs (many of whom are cuers!)*; often, their biggest challenge lay in convincing their employers that they could do it, albeit in a different way. Quite a few have just gone ahead and started successful businesses, notably in Austin, Texas.

These people, however, are a bit of a rarity.

A paradox: if deafness isn’t a disability in most senses of the word, then why do so many of us end up on SSDI? Or worse, straddling the poverty line?

Any objective measure comes up with two answers:

  1. Deaf people struggle to access secondary information in an auditory environment. We don’t usually overhear things like hearing people do; direct communication is how we learn and retain information. This has major implications for education.
  2. It’s harder to convince employers to hire and retain deaf employees at a living wage. We take longer to find jobs, and we get promoted at slower rates.

The best reconciliation I’ve heard for that paradox so far came from this Australian deaf blogger,** who defined deafness as a social disability. Once I thought of it that way, all those niggling pieces in my mind finally fell into place. See, one of my biggest hurdles in the Great 2014-2015 Job Search was networking at social events and job fairs. Imagine a patchwork conversation like this:

Me: So what kind of job do you do?
Them: Oh, I work at …. [unintelligible]
Me: Say again?
Them: [unintelligible] administrations at [unintelligible] in Dallas.
Me: Oooh. Administration? That sounds interesting.
Them: Yeah, we do a lot of paperwork and [unintelligible].

Not really a whole lot to work with, so the conversation peters out. And that happens everywhere: church, work, parties, social events. Building relationships is the whole point of networking, and how do you fluidly do that with persistent communication breakdowns?

The social model also explains why deaf people so often flourish in a variety of roles within deaf/disability/diversity-related occupations. Those occupations are designed to facilitate deaf-friendly communication, which in turn enables deaf people to build personal connections with coworkers, supervisors, and educators.

We’re not disabled, for the most part, unless our environment makes it that way.



*This does not include the relatively few professions where safety unequivocally relies on verbal communication, like armed services, police field work, and firefighting. I do know deaf people who work in these professions, but they tend to be in volunteer or support roles, not in active duty.

**Sadly, I lost the link to the Australian deaf blogger, because I suck. If anybody knows who I’m talking about, please feel free to drop me a line so I can credit him. It’s really an excellent article.

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Sep 21 2016

“If you could restore your hearing, would you?”

Blog topic written by Hannah Mann, A Croaking Dalek With Laryngitis

The first time I thought about this scenario, I hesitated.

As I’ve mentioned in another post, I grew up with the impression that deafness was this great obstacle to be overcome, to be excised out of my daily life as much as possible. To boot, I grew up in a very religious community that was big on faith healing. My mom, especially, prayed regularly for my hearing to be restored, and I went along with it as a kid. So when I started reading news articles about new advances in treating hearing loss…

By all rights, I should’ve responded with a resounding “yes.” But I didn’t. I was afraid that I would be changing myself. This, even though I’d already gotten a cochlear implant and knew that it didn’t take anything away; it just gave me more access. Whether I wanted it or not– mostly not, for most of my formative years– deafness had already shaped my identity. So, when I thought about taking that away… I paused.

But when I dove deeper into it, I realized that regained hearing couldn’t erase my past experiences, which helped shape the perspective and strengths that I have now. I would still think and feel “deaf,” if that makes sense. It wouldn’t make me un-learn ASL or Cued Speech, or stop hanging out with my d/hh friends; why would I have to give any of those up just because I could hear?

On the contrary, when I started speech therapy last year, I started using my cochlear implant a lot more– I mean, really paying attention to sounds around me and picking out what made people tick when it came to music and spoken language. And things started falling into place, and my world broadened just a little bit more. I stayed me, but now I had more access to the hearing world, and more potential to speak for myself without having to go through interpreters or transliterators. And to me, that’s a good thing.

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Aug 24 2016

School starts this week. Change. – by LeAnn Caseria

Blog topic written by LeAnn Caseria

This morning I helped my youngest pack our old Toyota as he left for his 2nd year at University, new dorm, new roommate and part-time job, new classes and new people to meet. Change.

This fall, another son and daughter in-law are anxiously awaiting the birth of their second child.  My adorable grandson is so excited to soon be a “big brother.” Change.

Speaking of babies, a very dear friend and her husband have wanted a child for a very long time.  They’ve just received the news that they are expecting two! Change.

A friend has recently taken her elderly father into her home to live with her family.  She’s not sure how this will work out, but she wants to try to make it work.  Currently it is very difficult for all involved.  Change.

Some years bring more changes than others, but we all know that life never stays the same.  The ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus spoke of what he saw as the needless unconsciousness of the people around him.   Famous for his views on change being the essence of the universe, he is known for such quotes as “No man ever steps in the same river twice” and “The only thing that is constant is change.”

By this time next week, I will be getting up a little earlier and packing a lunch again.  Making sure that I have my gym bag packed for the days that I go straight from work and planning my meals ahead, for those evenings when my brain will seem to be nonfunctional by 6pm.  Experience has taught me that there will be those days.

Change…in the summer it is easier for me, less adaptions to keep things normal for living with hearing loss.  I have more control of where I go and can choose places without a lot of loud background noise.  For me, this means less lip reading needed with the blessed results of less headaches, tinnitus and vertigo.  I belong to a hearing loss support group and read about the daily challenges that each person makes to have a relatively normal life.  Knowing that I am luckier than most, I remind myself of the good change coming up and that even though all the noise is very difficult, I can still work in a job that I love.

At the middle school where I work, the students are energetic, fun and never boring.  Like rocks on the river bank, they are all different, but each is beautiful in their own way. Some come with some pretty sharp edges but when you get a closer look, you can see the beauty there.  Sometimes their beauty is hidden in cracks, buried under a bit of dirt. They’ve hidden their shiny parts, a bit afraid that their peers might not like what they see. Their natural abilities and talents might need to be dug out. Like us, they don’t always see the value in their individual shapes or sizes, or how strong they really are and how important that strength is. With their own personalities, talents and challenges, they will all teach me something this year, and what I learn will be in direct correlation to the attitude that I bring to the relationship.

I’ve learned so much since sudden hearing loss brought a new kind of change to my life. I’ve learned that continuous lip reading causes daily headaches and that it is crucial to “rest my eyes” whenever possible during the day. I now take my breaks and often go sit in my car to calm the ringing in my ears. Time spent in the local gym has taught me that if my muscles are stronger, I have less dizzy spells and am less fatigued. If I’m overtired or catch a cold, my inner ear can throw a bit of vertigo to make my day more interesting. Those days, I’ll need to change things up and move a bit slower. Maybe stay seated more and be careful going around those crowded hallway corners.

Explaining some of my challenges to the students helps them to understand why my interactions may be a bit different and how I’ve made changes and adapted to my physical challenges. No longer do I make excuses because I do not want them to think that their own challenges make them weak, but that they are courageous when they tackle their obstacles and that it’s okay if they do things differently. I explain that I watch a bit more intently so that I can “hear” with my eyes.  For those that are interested, I take off my BAHA (bone anchored hearing appliance) to show it to them and we have some great scientific discussions about sound waves and how they can travel through your bones. When students find out the adaptions that people with hearing loss make, it often opens up discussions on learning strategies and changes they may need to make.

As we learn from each other, I will be helping them discover what change is needed in their life. Maybe organization will be a new focus or daily reading to strengthen their skills. Some changes they may embrace, while others they may not be quite to excited about…..sigh, such is life. But my hope is that as we learn together, that they too will find ways to grow, to change and some days when it is really, really hard to just be able to cope with it. To learn how to hang in there….maybe take a quiet moment, rest their eyes or their tired brain. Breathe in and out, then gather themselves, finding that inner strength that they have.  That we all have.

Rumi, the 13th-century Persian Poet is quoted saying, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” And it was Mahatma Gandhi who said “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Yes, the word change still scares me somedays, but I realize that just because I don’t like it….well, it’s not going to go away.

So yes, school starts this week. Change…..what’s changing in your life?  What’s hard?  What scares you, and what can you do about it? What’s something that is working for you?  What advice can you share that might help others on how to handle change?

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Jun 22 2016

“Cued Speech isn’t a language.”

Blog topic written by Hannah Mann, A Croaking Dalek With Laryngitis

…and it doesn’t need to be. Cued Speech is a communication mode that visually represents an existing language in real time. That’s why professionals make a distinction between Cued Speech, Cued English, and Cued language.

Sometimes I’ve heard that statement used as a put-down: supposedly, because Cued Speech isn’t a language in and of itself, it either can’t be used to instill language into children, or its input will be fragmentary at best. My experience says otherwise.

As a rough analogy, you could say the same about writing. Writing itself isn’t a language; it’s a way of representing language in another format. It codifies sound into print… mostly. (English is a stupid, stupid language.) Likewise, Cued Speech also codifies sound into a visual format, and much more faithfully than written English (again, stupid language). Both are valid, successful teaching tools and modes of communication.

I think part of the confusion comes from the frequent misidentification of Cued Speech as a variant of Visual Phonics. Unlike Visual Phonics, Cued Speech was tailored for smooth transitions between different handshapes and placements, which facilitates real-time communication– in other words, you can cue as you speak at a “normal” pace. As far as I know, that isn’t feasible with Visual Phonics and inhibits its use for immersive language acquisition. However, because the two systems’ basic premises are similar (i.e., visually convey the properties of sound), they often get lumped in with each other.

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May 17 2016

Where the Americans with Disabilities Act Falls Short

Blog topic written by Hannah Mann, A Croaking Dalek With Laryngitis

The ADA is a marvelous legislative tool. I have, however, noticed a disturbing tendency to rely on it as a blanket solution, or worse, a legal bludgeon.  Here’s the thing.  In practice, its compliance rests on three conditions:

1) the needed accommodations fall within the definition of “reasonable”
2) the owners are aware of the requirements
3) the owners are willing to comply

Now, larger businesses usually have the money and the sense to ensure that they’re accessible. Smaller businesses, especially those in older buildings… well, it depends.

Take those smoke alarms with flashing strobe lights, for example.  A small-to-medium hotel may get a grand total of 1-2 deaf guests a year, if that.  Legally, new hotels or hotels undergoing renovation are required to purchase and install strobe lights in a portion of their units, and ideally, they’d do so posthaste because, yannow, preventable death by immolation tends to puts a damper on business and common decency.

But. What if it’s a tiny bed-and-breakfast?  What if the accessible rooms are full?  Or the hotel is in an older building and hasn’t gotten around to updating the alarms?  Or the hotel is newer, but for whatever reason, they aren’t ADA-compliant?

You could always file a Title III complaint.  First, though, you’ve gotta collect proof of the discrimination (photos, written documentation, etc.), write a letter, and mail it to the US Department of Justice, where it will be filed along with, I don’t know, 10,000 or however many other cases they’re handling on that given day.

Or, better yet, you can have a sit-down with the owners and tell them, “Hey, just so you know, to make your rooms accessible to anyone with hearing loss– especially older tenants– and ensure their safety, you can swap out your smoke detectors with these alarms and write it off as a business expense.  Plus, you’ll be in the clear legally.  If finances or labor are a concern, you can start with the legal minimum required and swap out as you replace older alarms.”

However, neither option resolves your immediate problem when the hotel isn’t already ADA-compliant.  Let’s say you’ve been driving for eight hours straight, you are in the middle of nowhere, you need a place to crash, and this hotel is the least seediest place in town.  Not exactly a plethora of options there, unless there’s an appropriate alarm immediately available and they’re able and willing to install it right away.

Apartments are a bit more clear-cut, but again, that relies on 1) the owners’ and builders’ awareness of ADA requirements and 2) the owners’ and management’s willingness  to accommodate you, rather than give you a difficult time over the “reasonable” stipulation.  (It also depends on whether you rent from an individual owner vs an apartment complex.) If and when the apartment does install flashing smoke alarms, you won’t be able to take it with you when you move.  So, you’ll have to repeat the process all over again with the next place.

Instead of relying on others’ foresight and goodwill in being ADA-compliant, why not focus our energies on finding solutions that allow for accessibility on our own terms?  The flashing smoke alarm is a perfect illustration of how we can close that gap between ADA mandate and reality.  Modern technology allows us to create portable smoke alarms that we can take with us when we move to a new place, visit a friend’s house, or travel. In fact, Gentex  and BRK both have their own lines of flashing smoke alarms that are portable.  Although the ones I’ve looked at seem to be a bit cumbersome (and friends’ feedback confirm this), it’s a start.

That, to me, is true accessibility, not going through a lengthy explanation with just about every vendor on what the ADA requires and hoping they don’t find some excuse to wiggle out of it, trying to determine who’s going to pay for it, or weighing if it’s worth the hassle.

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Apr 19 2016

Who’s Really Smart? – by LeAnn Caseria

Blog topic written by LeAnn Caseria

I took one of those online tests….this one was “what level of education do you have?  Let us guess.”  Then by a series of questions, it was supposed to know how far you’d gone in school.   I was still feeling a bit sheepish about a spelling test that I’d bombed last week, but I had time, so I took the test and it guessed that I had a “PhD”!!! No way, I wish… I’m not even close to that in schooling.

This “you must have a PhD” just made my day, which is kind of sad.  It’s just a silly test and most of the answers I knew because I work at a middle school.  Eighth grade Language Arts has helped me to brush up on my Shakespeare, and this year I’m helping some students in Science which reminded me about the “Theory of Relativity”.  I love my books but don’t think of myself as either smart or unintelligent….normally, it doesn’t matter to me.

So why was I feeling so darned pleased with myself that I scored well on this silly online test?  Pride?  Maybe…but really, it is because of my hearing loss.  The truth is that hearing loss makes me feel less intelligent.  Struggling to understand directions during a work meeting or at a recent computer training, (something I used to be a whiz at) I couldn’t understand the instructors directions.  When simple things are now challenging, it’s hard to feel “smart”.

Then there are the store clerks, like the guy at Fred Meyer, who raised his voice until he was almost shouting.  But the louder he got, the faster he talked, so the words all ran together.  Keeping the smile frozen on my face, I finally figured out what he was asking and tried to get out of the electronics dept. with as much dignity as I could muster. I know this type of thing happens to many of you and I feel like we’re all in a secret, but frustrating, club.  Many of your stories are similar, my personal favorite being when you couldn’t hear what the waiter was saying, so he kindly brought you a menu in Braille.

I tell my students that they should work hard to be the best “them” that they can be.  That we ALL have challenges and that the most important things are being kind, compassionate, considerate of others and NOT GIVING UP.  But when I see them struggle, because somethings not easy, they too, often think they’re not “smart”.   Reminding them of their strengths, I show them how much they’ve improved.  I see the questions in their eyes and wish I could inject them with the confidence that they desire.

Scott Christ writes that smart people are compassionate, imaginative, humble and appreciative ( “They view themselves as a small piece of a vast world and they know they have the ability to do great things.”  In his article, he lists ten things that smart people do NOT do.  My favorites were…”Smart people don’t focus on the negative.   They don’t let past stumbles dictate their present state.  Smart people don’t expect instant gratification and they don’t go a day without giving thanks.”

What do you do to build yourself up?  Does your hearing loss somedays leave you feeling a little “less” than you should?  For me, I try to spend time each week doing things I’m good at.   I’ve joined a gym, am exercising more regularly and have thanked the owners for keeping the captions on, so that the hearing impaired can understand.  Thanking people is important and I’m trying to be better at that. I read books that I enjoy and have taken up drawing, something that I hadn’t had much time for but want to get better at.  It’s not about being smart or not, it is really about being the best you.  Helping others and being happy with the life you’ve been given.  Hope so, that’s the way I’m trying to go.  I hope you believe in yourself and can be thankful.  Keep sharing your stories, they help all of us…and remember, only do the easy online tests!

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Mar 22 2016


Blog topic written by Hannah Mann, A Croaking Dalek With Laryngitis

One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was study abroad in Beijing for four months, with no accommodations for most of the semester.  I’d enrolled into the full immersion track, which meant five straight days of class every week from 9 to 4, tutoring until 6, and homework until 10pm.  Oh, and it was all in Mandarin; we weren’t allowed to speak in English except on weekends.  The details elude me, but I remember we’d study between 20-50 vocabulary words every other day, usually in a deadline-induced panic to pass the next test.

Most of us had a meltdown at least once that semester.  Mine came when I volunteered to be the class representative for our end-of-semester speech contest (seriously, I swear every Chinese course has a speech contest).

Early in the semester, I’d noticed that one other guy in the program had hearing aids, but I thought he didn’t sign.  He’d seen my cochlear implant, but he thought I didn’t sign, either.  We didn’t run into each other a lot since he was on the non-immersion track, which focused on non-language courses and allowed for about 500% more free time than the immersion students got, so of course they spent that time touring the city and interacting more with natives in one week than we got in an entire semester because we were holed up in our rooms doing homework.

So, we went on like that, hanging out with our own groups, not signing, until one day just before Thanksgiving.  We were in the hallway together, and when he caught my eye, he tentatively moved his hands: “do you sign?”  I responded, “Yes, I do!” And we made brief, hurried plans to sit together at the program’s Thanksgiving dinner just to have a conversation in ASL after nearly three months of spoken Mandarin and English.

Lest this sounds like the beginning to an epic love story: the guy was gay.  Just to get that out of the way. Anyhoo, we did indeed grab a seat next to each other at the Thanksgiving dinner, and started signing while also speaking in Mandarin and English to the others, and oh my gosh. I can’t begin to describe what an absolute mindwarp that was.

Both of us had forgotten vocabulary in English and ASL.  “There was the red… umm… red… oh geez, I forgot the sign for red. What’s the sign for red?!”  Our grammar was all screwed up. Looking back on it, I’m amazed I maintained any semblance of coherency, shifting between three languages at the same time.

It didn’t stop there. At the end of the semester, I had a sign language interpreter and a cued language transliterator for our two-week study trip, because the other CLT broke her leg and couldn’t make it.  We had several instances where I ended up translating for them (or trying to) because they didn’t know a word of Chinese beyond the basic pleasantries.

Language. It does funny things to the brain.

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Mar 15 2016

Finding my Awe – by LeAnn Caseria

Blog topic written by LeAnn Caseria

I went to a party yesterday.  Actually I went to two parties….IN ONE DAY!  This is epic for me, especially with my hearing loss.  The first one was my grandson’s birthday and he is turning three.  So, yes, balloons, pizza, popcorn and a “make your own cupcake” table all included.  Thomas the Tank Engine decorations, happy kids, busy parents, it was loud, nonstop and filled with happy children.

I didn’t spend too much time sitting as I was making coffee, taking pictures and trying to connect with people one on one.  Hearing loss and crowded, noisy rooms don’t go too well together so I try to catch people one at time, focus on just them and use a little lip reading.  A couple of times in the kitchen, someone would come up on my deaf side, lean in and ask me a question.  Luckily it was always family so I just smiled saying, “Sorry, can’t HEAR you”.  I’m really working on not letting parties frustrate me, try to go with the flow, be positive and enjoy.

A little later, I sat for a bit with my brother, ate a cupcake and people watched.  My adorable grandson was running around the tables wearing a Thomas the Tank engine outfit and a big grin.  Giggling he pulled his balloon along while being chased by his friend Molly who was also armed with an enormous grin and a balloon.  Their joy in the moment made us both pause as my brother joked, “That’s what we should all be doing.  When was the last time we grabbed a balloon and ran around in circles?”

It made me think.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about life, attitudes toward life, the struggles in life and our attitudes toward those struggles.  What do those three year olds have that we’ve lost?  Well, maybe not lost, but buried somewhere.  And I think one of the things is awe.

Awe is defined as a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.  With synonyms of wonder or wonderment, awestruck or to be amazed.

Awe is…being amazed.  Saying “WOW” when you see something beautiful.  It could be the Grand Canyon or it might be noticing the older couple that still hold hands when they cross the street. Today it might be the lady bug that a 7th grader showed me on the playground.  Yesterday, my grandson seemed amazed when I walked in with a huge bunch of balloons at his party.  Seeing his face light up with wonder made my day.

Researchers at Berkeley University( say what we all know, that while young children seem to be wonderstruck on a regular basis, this experience tends to be rare in adults…but that awe is just as important for adults.  Their research suggests that awe has many proven benefits, including increased life satisfaction, a sense of time slowing down or standing still, and a greater desire to help others. They say awe may help people cope better with stress by promoting curiosity and exploration, rather than withdrawal and isolation.  Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology suggests that we “seek more daily awe” and that we will be better people for it.

So yesterday evening, my husband and I went to party number two.  A small dinner given by my daughter-in-law’s mother.  No balloons and much less noise for my ringing ears.   Six adults in a cozy cabin by the beach. The waves were crashing on the rocks as we drove along the bay and I was working on “finding my awe”.  The sounds and sights of the stormy beach made that easy.

Later we relaxed after a lovely meal and I found my awe in admiring the way that my son and his wife have transformed this beach cabin into a “home” that is uniquely them.  I found more awe on the way home, watching the moon shine over the water and thinking of what a fun day it had been and how fortunate I was.

I have friends that list what they are grateful for and another that has been keeping a journal of thankfulness for over a year.  All great ideas to look for the good things in our day.  For now, “finding my awe” is working for me so I’m making it a habit. They say that it takes 21 days of doing something before it becomes automatic.  Right now, I don’t care because “seeking my daily awe” is working.  I guess all I can say is “Wow”.

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Mar 08 2016

We Aren’t Outliers

Blog topic written by Hannah Mann, A Croaking Dalek With Laryngitis

“You had strong family support.”

“You went to a good school.”

“You got lots of one-on-one time, didn’t you?”

“You were exposed to other cuers.”

Sometimes, when I tell others about what Cued Speech had done for me growing up, someone will mention the above, as if those factors somehow negate or diminish Cued Speech’s efficacy. It’s like they’re implying that Cued Speech itself didn’t work, that the other factors had to compensate, or that I was the exception that proved the rule.

It’s true that family and educational support are immensely important, and often if not usually a deciding factor in a child’s success. Home and school are where the child spends most of his time. However, communication access and literacy depend highly on what the people in those environments are equipped to provide.

In a residential school, or a mainstreamed program with a strong Deaf presence, everyone is either d/hh, more visual-oriented, or have (ideally!) received training and support to meet language requirements. Staff are able to act as appropriate language models, so that ensures communication access and, to some degree, academic success.

Outside of residential schools, though, getting that access to appropriate language models can be much more challenging– not to mention the complexities of using a manual language to impart literacy in a completely separate aural language. That’s if you have access to ASL; more often, what I’ve seen is a mixture of auditory-verbal therapy and manually-coded sign systems, and the results can vary just as much from very, very good to very, very bad. In fact, many cueing parents took up Cued Speech precisely because their local programs or residential schools were not a viable option for one reason or another.

In evaluating different approaches in d/hh education, we need to look at that approach’s overall results, not just specific examples. We can’t cherry-pick outliers to prove our point. That’s probably why those statements at the beginning somewhat annoy me, because in my experience, success at attaining language and literacy through Cued Speech is thenorm, not the exception.

In my experience, signing d/hh people who can write or read well tend to be in the minority. On the flip side, cueing d/hh people who have those odd grammatical or spelling flukes– not typos, but more like what you might see from ESL speakers– are the exception; the rest read, write, and talk like native hearing speakers (with varying degrees of a “deaf” voice). I’ve had more than one person tell me that they wouldn’t know I was deaf just by reading my posts.

The studies on Cued Speech that I’ve read bear this out– in fact, I haven’t yet found any studies with negative results on Cued Speech’s use. (I do recall one with “meh” results in a group of hard-of-hearing students, but that’s about it.)

I suspect that you won’t see such consistent results among deaf signers mainly due to these reasons:

  1. The learning curve involved in picking up any manually-coded or signed system, which demands greater commitment and effort from parents and teachers over the long term, so you’re much more likely to see a wider variation in usage and proficiency.
  2. The linguistic and conceptual gap between sign language and spoken language (or even just two different languages). You can patch that gap somewhat, but it’ll never replace incidental learning through full linguistic immersion (and not necessarily just reading and writing).

This isn’t to make Cued Speech out to be a magic bullet that bestows language and literacy the instant someone starts using it for their kid. What it does do is enable one to visually “recode” a language she already knows, without the delay of learning and translating through a second language. In this way, the d/hh kid is put on the same playing field as a hearing child for literacy and language acquisition, so d/hh cuers are much more likely to pick up spoken/written language at the same pace as their hearing counterparts.

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Feb 23 2016

Sara Lundquist’s Top Ten List for Hearing Loss

Blog topic written by Sara Lundquist

It is a tad late for the start of a list for the first of the year but I think we can do this exercise at any point of the year. It makes us put things in perspective, to marvel at the changes, the normality of things people would think are not normal life. I decided to look at this past years and would make a list of 10 things I have noticed and learned. I was able to get a hold of my audiogram from 1996 when I was 19 years old. I was in college and attending the University of Wisconsin and studying Communicative Disorders. I had a conductive loss at a 30-35db loss. Which in all reality I could have been wearing hearing aids back then. I am now 38 and I have a mixed loss that ranges from a 60-85db loss. That is a big difference. Will it change from this point, I don’t know but if it does I know there will be frustrations but I feel I will be better equipped to handle it.

  1. Always carry hearing aid batteries with you. I learned the hard way this last week. I decided to leave my bag out in the car after lunch and I was subbing in science. Well both hearing aid batteries went dead. I had about 3 hours of the day left to go with no break to run to the car. Thank God we were watching a movie very little talking and listening had to take place. It made me realize I need to learn to speech read more than ever which will be my number 2.
  2. I hear with my eyes as much as my ears. I need a big boost in speech reading. I can do a word here or there but I need a lot more practice. I lack in this area greatly. Although I have done a few experiments on my own while listening to someone I really do concentrate on their face. I will close my eyes at times and my comprehension really goes down. I need that visual; I need to see it as much as hear it.
  3. Hearing aids are not miracle aids. Yes I really rely highly on my hearing aids. I recently told a friend who is deaf, I can’t sign proficiently, I can’t read lips for a full conversation. I rely on the hearing I have. I have become great friends with the phonak and starkey hearing aids I own. I don’t have perfect hearing with my hearing aids but they make up for a lot of lost ground.
  4. Ear molds are better than domes. This is an individual thing but wow a big difference for me. I was given domes then got moved to closed power domes in my hearing aids. They annoyed me and I could hear better with my finger in my ear with them. When I bought this up I was told it just took time to get used to. I then went to another audiologist and they told me my hearing loss was to great for the domes and that is why I was having the problem. I was told I needed the ear molds and I sure can tell a difference. What I learned from this, you know what you need. If it doesn’t work for you and you have a finger in your ear, it isn’t working. I will never use domes again. You can change doctors nothing is set in stone.
  5. You are not alone. Family and friends supported me and listened to me but I needed to find someone who understood me. I have found friends online. They understand hearing loss. They can laugh with you and help through the tough times. I urge anyone who is going through a trial to seek out a group that understands. As a hard of hearing friend says you need your tribe. You need the people who walk in the same shoes as you do. Seek them out!
  6. Car radios suck. Ok so I am blunt and to the point. Maybe this again is just me. I try explaining to my husband I can hear the music and the beat but I very seldom can make out the words. I can hear parts of words but it kind of sounds like a broken foreign language. I will keep the radio on I like music but the words nah can’t do it. But I have never been able to really listen to the music and get all the words so maybe this isn’t such a new thing.
  7. I have become to love the assistive listening devices I have. I was very stubborn at first I didn’t want to try these. I felt that I was not profoundly deaf or hard of hearing so I didn’t need these. I was wrong. I use the streamer on my TV a lot. It blocks out everything but the show or movie we are watching. It makes a big difference. I still use the captions but I seem to be more engaged in a movie if I use it. Otherwise I seem to lose focus and I am off doing something else. When we are watching a family movie I need to be involved and enjoy the time.
  8. Keep my family in the loop. My children know when I can hear them and when I can’t. If I say I can’t hear you they are really good at waiting till we are somewhere else and then ask me. My kids understand my hearing aids. My husband will hook up and ask if I want the streamer on the TV or for the music we are listening to. They support me and that makes such a big difference.
  9. Sign language- I know some but I would like to learn more. When we are in a situation and I can’t hear my kids I would love to be able to use more sign. Today in church I used sign to my son and we understood each other. I hope another class will be offered soon in my area.
  10. Pimping and blinging my hearing aids have become an obsession. Heck if I can go and see all these fun glasses at the eye doctor why do hearing aids have to be beige or dark brown in my case. I can decorate them and maybe no one will see them but I know they are there and sassy.

So here is my list of 10 things I have learned this past year. I wonder what my list will look like in another year.

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