Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Deaf Coffee 11-26-2010

How long has it been that I haven't seen BB, my Deaf ASL instructor? I took 2 ASL classes with her and then practiced sometimes with her at my corporate office. But we kept in touch via email and with Facebook, socializing became a cinch, a matter of clicking buttons and pressing keys.

Thanksgiving break was a good time to meet up; everyone was relaxed. There were more people at Panera's that night. BB was already there when I arrived, looking beautiful, unravaged by time. Straight blond hair, pinned up simply.

I signed "Hi, nice to see you again!" Then I stopped. I wanted to say "I'll go get some food. I'm hungry", but what's the sign for hungry? BB gestured. Aah!

K introduced himself after me. I tried to converse with him, to ask what work he does. It became a pretty laborious process because I couldn't read his signs fast enough and I couldn't recall enough signs to interpret his message. It ended up with him, and BB helping out, telling me how often he worked and what he does for a job. At least I think so! :)

Others drifted in after 7pm. S, C and wife, D; A, and husband, G. There was another lady with a hearing husband. A hearing guy named T came and left early. He even interpreted for R who came with his friend, D (both hearing).

I tried to chat/sign as much as I could, but my signing was rusty and I couldn't follow everyone very much. C told me about his work in the army, how he used to be in Hawaii and there was an earthquake then. He was scared. I am just grateful how patient everyone was with my atrocious signing. They fingerspelled slowly so I could catch up with them.

C baked small loaves of mango bread and handed out a couple to everyone. Wonderful!

I'd love to go there every week but I have another weekly group meeting that conflicts with it. Must find another opportunity to practice my signing! I love it.

What struck me most was how difficult it would be for this group of signers to communicate with other non-signing people if they don't know anything about the culture of signing or deafness at all!

For myself, I taught a deaf student in 1998 and since then have become familiar with the d/Deaf culture over time, through formal learning and with a deaf niece. How would any hearing physician who diagnoses patients mainly through what they say, treat a d/Deaf patient appropriately if they don't know what ails them because of language difficulties???

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