"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive." Anaïs Nin

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Friday, February 28, 2014

"The Mom Song" - Captioned Version

My friend Laura posted this delightfully funny video on my Facebook timeline today. According to the person who posted it, these are all the things a mom says within a 24 hour period.  Enjoy!


Monday, February 24, 2014

ASL Interpreters at Upcoming PawsAbilities, Harrisburg, PA

Vikki Lagaza, the events coordinator for Susquehanna Service Dogs sent me this information about the upcoming PawsAbilities event March 8th and 9th, 2014. There will be ASL interpreters "on hand" BOTH days.

The VIP brunch on Sunday features the New York Times best selling author, Capt. Luis Carlos Montalvan from 11am to 1pm at the Keystone Conference Center at the Farm Show on Sunday. Tickets for the brunch are $35.00 per person. "Until Tuesday", the story of a wounded warrior and the golden retriever who saved him written by Capt. Luis Carlos Montalvan will be available for purchase.

Angela Lapioli posted a review of "Until Tuesday" for the Susquehanna Service Dogs Blog here: http://susquehannaservicedogs.blogspot.com/2014/02/until-tuesday-making-difference-in.html

Let all your ASL friends and family know about this exciting event!

Your ticket is good for both days.
$8 general admission
$4 children ages 4-12
Purchase 2-day tickets at the door
$10 general admission
$5 children ages 4-12

Be sure to check out the SSD blog for more information here: http://susquehannaservicedogs.blogspot.com/2014/02/join-fun-at-pawsabilities.html

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Never Leave Home Without My Hearing Aids

My hearing aids. I actually have a love/hate relationship with them for several reasons.

1. They make my ears sore and itchy no matter how clean they are. They are uncomfortable and annoying to wear. However that may be, they do help with ambient sounds and give me audio clues in many environments, but they aren't perfect.

2. Though they make things louder, they aren't necessarily clearer. I often have to have Fabulous Husband or my friends "help me hear". If someone is talking to me and I don't see them, I'm not aware. If I'm not aware, they may think I'm ignoring them and being rude. Though I lack many social skills, I certainly don't want to appear lacking more than I am.

It's difficult to explain when someone says, "We have headsets and loops that can help". Actually, no, they don't. They aren't loud enough, or clear enough. I have trouble distinguishing what I am hearing. I often find myself asking people around me, "What's that sound?" then try to describe what it is. Because hearing aids don't sound "natural" to me, that's sometimes difficult to do.This is why I have to see your face when you are speaking to me, or why I need captions at events and presentations. Though often I'm told I'm good at lipreading, that isn't always true. There are some people that are unreadable to me. Often, when I meet people, it takes me awhile to get familiar with their "speech patterns" to read them. Reading lips and body language is quite difficult. Try watching tv with the sound off for a couple of hours and you'll understand why after a day of lipreading, I spend the following day "sleeping it off". For a couple of decades now, I've been describing living with hearing loss is like playing Wheel of Fortune every day, all day long. Instead of guessing letters, I'm guessing at words that fit the content of the conversation.

I have to plan my appointments, lunch dates, etc. accordingly and make sure that I don't wear myself out too much in personal social interaction.This is why I've quit teaching Sign Language at the school. While I felt saddened to have had to do that, I am so glad I did. I like a slow, quiet, less-stress lifestyle. Add the fact that I just turned 55 years old this week, I think it's time I learned these things about myself and adjust my life accordingly. It feels really good now that I have.

3. During my last stint at college, I kept getting ill and I lost quite a bit of hearing. I was getting recurring ear infections and couldn't figure out why. My doctor finally figured it out. "How long are you wearing your hearing aids each day". He suggested I try not wearing them more than 5 or 6 hours a day. Guess what... No more ear infections! However, that put a crunch on attending classes and working a 9-5 job.

Apparently the apparatus that can help me hear was also the one causing me to lose my hearing when I wore them too long day after day, regardless how well I kept them clean. I don't wear my hearing aids when I'm at home unless I'm having an in depth conversation with Fabulous Husband.

About a year and a half ago, I tried to get new hearing aids through Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. The first question they asked my audiologist who was calling on my behalf was, "How old is she?" Then, "Does she work?" Then, "When was the last time she worked?"

They said, "No."

It doesn't matter that I volunteered my time all these years, or that I'm a mom with a child and I need to hear when I go to his appointments and functions for school, etc. No. It only matters to them that I work a regular 9-5 job or be attending school to be eligible for hearing aids. I worry about the day these old hearing aids stop working... most people who see them tell me they belong in a museum.

I don't want to have to take a loan out for THOUSANDS of dollars for the kind of technology that will actually help me, only to have them last a few years and then break down.

4. The pressure around my ears when I wear both the hearing aids and glasses hurt after
a while and I can't wait to get home and take everything off and be comfortable. I don't know how people can wear both hearing aids and glasses everyday, all day long. Sometimes the sides of my head hurt so much, I can't lay comfortably on my side to sleep. The first thing I do when I come home is take my "eyes" and "ears" off my face and head and breathe a big sigh of relief.

Those are just a few reasons why I don't like my hearing aids, but...  I never leave home without them.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Tide Could Be Turning for Deaf Education - Guest Post by Mark Drolsbaugh

Mark Drolsbaugh kindly accepted my offer to guest post on the blog today. I am honored to share this space with someone who is making a huge difference for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children caught in the outdated politics of today's education system.

The Tide Could Be Turning for Deaf Education
By Mark Drolsbaugh

During  a powerful stage performance of Tribes in Philadelphia, I was completely caught off guard. There were plenty of deaf issues in the play and I was prepared for most of them.  I was curious to see if the cast could convey the struggles deaf people and their families have to deal with, and they did—they absolutely nailed it.

But what I hadn’t expected was a family dynamic that would tug at my heartstrings: Deaf brother and hearing brother. I don’t want to spoil the play for those who haven’t seen it yet so I’m not going to divulge any details. At the same time, I’m going to man up: The deaf brother/hearing brother storyline hit me hard, and for obvious reasons.

My oldest son Darren, age 15, is deaf. His younger hearing brother, Brandon, is 12. The two of them are tight. I mean, really, really, tight. They play basketball in the driveway and baseball in the backyard. They’re especially talented at baseball—both of them are on travel teams—and share a strong passion for the game. They also share a sick sense of humor and thoroughly enjoy watching Impractical Jokers every Thursday night. They do all of that stuff together and more.

 At least they used to.

The sad reality is that deaf education is a mess. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its warped interpretation of Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) has totally decimated the education system for deaf and hard of hearing children. Darren was initially mainstreamed and did well academically, but he couldn’t bear the isolation and many frustrations that come with being The Only One.

Long story short: I got Darren out of the mainstream and into a deaf school. He reports that he’s very happy now. He says he finally enjoys education in a stress-free environment where he can talk to anyone, anytime. Good for him, but that school—the one that best matches his needs—is three hours away. I had to break up my deaf son and his hearing brother. No more basketball in the driveway or baseball in the backyard.

And this is why Tribes had me wiping my eyes after they featured a deaf brother/hearing brother storyline of their own. I had come to terms with sending my kid away—which was hard enough for me—but Tribes had touched a nerve that reminded me how hard it was for Brandon, too. I couldn’t sleep all night.

LRE has affected two generations of my family—first me, and then Darren. Then you add the impact on Brandon, and while we’re at it, add my hearing daughter Lacey (age 9). She absolutely adores Darren. Then there’s my wife Melanie who wants to visit her first-born kid every weekend. This isn’t easy.  And… we’re just one family. How many others are going through this? It shouldn’t be this way. 

Over the years I’d seen a lot of crazy things going on in the mainstream and it motivated me to write a book titled Madness in the Mainstream. For a short while before it was published, I wondered if I was the only guy bringing up concerns about LRE. Fortunately, I’m not. It turns out that I have some very inspiring company and there’s hope after all.

*Link to purchase this book is at the bottom of this post

Soon after Madness in the Mainstream was released, my family took a vacation in Los Angeles. We were thrilled to find out that our trip coincided with the premiere of No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie. We didn’t know it at first, but we were in for a pleasant surprise: No Ordinary Hero addresses important issues related to mainstreaming and deaf education.

No Ordinary Hero benefitted my hearing kids as much (if not more) than my deaf kid. Lacey actually pulled aside the star of the film, John Maucere, and told him “I’m sad that my brother has to move to a deaf school. But after seeing your movie, I understand.” Maucere smiled and responded by giving her his SuperDeafy pin.

A few weeks later, I was invited to do a presentation hosted by Swarthmore College and the Deaf-Hearing Communication Centre. While preparing for this presentation, I came across new research that validated everything I’ve said all along. This research proves without a doubt that it’s time to do away with the antiquated practice of isolating deaf kids in the mainstream. In fact, deaf kids with cochlear implants—who are often separated from signing deaf kids out of fear that sign language will ruin their speech—can actually benefit significantly from exposure to sign language.  This includes improvement in their ability to acquire language and speech. So there’s no logic at all to the practice of separating them and the other deaf kids. None whatsoever.

I bring this up because Darren was a victim of this warped mentality when he was mainstreamed. We learned after the fact that there was another deaf student in the school he attended, and they were intentionally kept apart because apparently the other kid’s IEP stipulated that there should be no exposure to sign language. Darren’s ASL interpreter was even told not to make eye contact with other deaf student. By the way, this student didn’t even have cochlear implants so they couldn’t use the ASL-affects-progress-with-CIs excuse—they just didn’t want him in close proximity to anyone who signs.

Can you believe this stuff still goes on today?

Speaking of the aforementioned research, you can find more of it in an exciting new book titled Turning the Tide: Making Life Better for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Schoolchildren by Dr. Gina Oliva and Dr. Linda Lytle. There are excellent case studies and research findings presented in there that clearly show it’s time to overhaul the interpretation of LRE.

I felt bummed out when I started writing this article. See how the mood is shifting now? We’re not alone in this anymore. Love the title of that new book because the tide is definitely turning.

As for LRE, there is something you can do about it now. The Conference for Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD) has an inspiring Child First Campaign which is proposing a new bill, the Alice Cogswell Act. If passed, this bill will go a long way towards changing how the educational needs of deaf and hard of hearing children are met. At long last, LRE would be interpreted in a more deaf-friendly way. This is huge. To support the Alice Cogswell Act go to the CEASD website and sign their petition at:  http://www.ceasd.org/child-first/alice-cogswell

The battle has just begun and we still have a long way to go. But there’s no doubt that the tide is finally turning in our favor. Let’s make the most of it. 

*To purchase your copy of Madness in the Mainstream visit this link: http://handwavepublications.com/bookstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=4

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love and Other Valentine's Day Signs

Rachel Coleman of Signing Time shares a few lovingly sweet signs with us.

Here are a few signs from Signing Savvy.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Birthday Card

My Fabulous Husband had this birthday card set out for me with a delicious box of chocolate this morning. I love the sentiment of the words. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Falling on Deaf Ears - "Madness in the Mainstream"

I want to thank Carrie Hill, @CarrieHillPR for sending me a tweet that directed me to this 9 minute CAPTIONED and SIGNED video of Mark Drolsbaugh, author of "Madness in the Mainstream". His book focuses on key issues in maintsreaming and deaf education. Read more here:


And watch the video here:


You can find a list of other books by Mark Drolsbaugh at Handwave Publications

Friday, February 7, 2014

"My Beautiful Woman"

Holly of Om Pregnancy and Parenting Center shared this beautiful 7 minute short film on Facebook today. It touches the heart in a beautiful way. I was admonished for not giving a warning for "tissue alert". consider yourself warned. :-)


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

March HLAA, Lancaster Chapter Meeting Announced

ALL are welcomed to our meetings.
We have captions available for our Deaf and deafened attendees.
When: March 18
Time: 10:00 am
Place: Village of the Brethren, Fellowship Hall, downstairs

I'll be there, and I hope to see you there, as well!