Monday, March 31, 2008

A.G. Bell - Oral Only Organization

Since my hearing loss was diagnosed before I started school, I was placed in a mainstreamed school in kindergarten up to the first and second marking period of first grade. I was then placed in speech therapy classes. I wanted to share some of the remarks made on my IEP (Individualized Education Plan):

  • Mis-articulations make speech difficult to understand.
  • Expressive vocabulary is below age appropriate levels.
  • Based upon Abbie’s educational needs, it is determined that she be placed in the Lower Level Auditorially Handicapped Class, which is the least restrictive program at this time.

Then I was transferred to the Marie H. Katzenbach School for the Deaf in January of 1986 for the third and fourth marking period. These are some remarks written by teachers of the Katzenbach School on my report cards:

  • I am very pleased with her signing ability - she learns and maintains new words easily.


  • I have serious concerns for the lack of language models in the confines of this restricted classroom.

And then:

  • There is nothing more we can do for her.

I was then transferred back to the mainstreamed school the following year to start second grade. The notation made on my IEP for second grade said :

  • Stress Auditory not sign – she is showing signs of confusion with dual approach.

My parents fought with the school system to continue with sign but the school refused to comply. From that point on, I was aurally mainstreamed. So, I stopped signing, I was the only deaf kid in school and I spent the next five years in speech therapy. I feel that if the school continued to stress oral and ASL, I wouldn’t have felt so lost when my hearing disappeared. It would have been easier to communicate with my mom in my own home instead of having her sending me an instant message when she was just five feet away from me. A good friend of mine who is a teacher and happens to be deaf, Valerie left this as a comment that stresses the importance of quality education,

I am a special education teacher in an at risk school, but I am also deaf…We need educators who believe in the children, educate the children, and support the children. I am not for just Deaf individuals providing support for deaf children in deaf schools. I am for qualified educators who believe in the students and provide a quality environment that is child-centered and rich in language (ASL and English).
I wish she was my teacher because she hit the nail right on the head.

Perhaps I am the poster child for the A.G. Bell Association but I sure as heck do not agree with their method of promoting an oral only environment for deaf and hard of hearing. Now according to A.G. Bell website, they seek to ensure that individuals who experience hearing loss have the opportunity to communicate, learn, and thrive through the use of spoken language. What part of their vision promotes the use of sign language? It doesn’t. What part of their so-called strategic plan helps someone that cannot listen nor speak? It doesn’t!

Just to give you an idea of how A.G. Bell responds to sign language, I encourage you to read a few excerpts from their press release in response to Pepsi’s Bob’s House Super Bowl Ad:

…Your advertisement perpetuates a common myth that all people who are deaf can only communicate using sign language and are, therefore, isolated from the rest of society.

We would be very willing to work with Pepsi to develop some creative ideas to promote other facets of the deaf community and to highlight positive role models who have met the challenges of this condition and thrived using spoken language.

You can see that they got a little testy when Pepsi portrayed that deaf people using ASL and not their voice. This letter really burned my buns because the signing deaf and the speaking deaf represent the varying degrees of difficulty that we have communicating with the world.

Recently, there was a peaceful rally held at the California chapter of A.G. Bell’s conference on March 22. I knew about this a couple weeks ago and I was very surprised at the long list of people who rallied against A.G. Bell here, Deaf Bilingual Coalition California. Among the many people that attended the conference itself, one was Michael Chorost, author of “Rebuilt” and the other was Josh Swiller, author of “The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa”.

Josh Swiller talks about his experience at the conference in his latest post "Only Connect" regarding the position that the California School for the Deaf he says

It’s also the center of quite a bit of controversy and uncertainty – it’s a strongly ASL focused school and this is an oral world, and now there’s this device called a cochlear implant which many see as the passageway between the signing world and the oral one, and others see as the barrier. Salvation or annihilation – either way, big change is coming.”

Michael Chorost chimes in with his latest post, "We all sleep in silence"and he states,
I’ve been to Gallaudet three times now and have been warmly welcomed each time, though I’m still a little puzzled as to why. I’m not anti-sign in any way, but I’m still the physical embodiment of much that the signing deaf community fears.”

The pair brought up valid points. Some members of the signing deaf community are apprehensive about people with cochlear implants. I can relate to how Chorost felt approaching the rally, nerves and all. I read comments every day that contribute to that uneasy feeling. For example: “CI dudes are a different set of people. I'm not saying this in a bad way” and the more extreme comments such as, “I want to kill all CI people. They ruin the Deaf world!I read brash comments like these everyday but I see people beginning to accept that those of us with a cochlear implant are real human beings and not machines, like this blogger, Deaf Womyn Pride.

Swiller was invited as a keynote speaker to the conference and he said,

This signing versus oral feud seems like Crips and Bloods fighting over a corner in Watts. The rest of the world could care less, and these gangs, no one else but other gang members can understand their experience, no one else has walked in their shoes– they should be working together. Instead they’re fighting to the death. We’re not so different, or more accurately, our differences are inconsequential in light of all we share. This is what I learned in Africa, and the quality of my life has a direct correlation to the quality of my remembrance of this truth.”

When Chorost took the stand, he mentioned a line that I had written in the Deafread Controversy post, “We sleep in total silence too.” I am extremely honored that he mentioned that line (thank you Mike!) but it makes perfect sense. He further went on to say,

It’s true, we have more in common than not. We all struggle with communication.” He went on to say that, ‘Two different worlds were living side by side that day, one in a hotel ballroom, the other in sunlight. But they shared common concerns: communication and the lack of it, and the desire for community. They should have been working together.”

They should have been working together is a powerful statement. My thoughts and ideals run parallel because I believe in deaf unity. If we could fight as a group instead fighting against one another, we could accomplish so much more. If we could help each other up instead of pushing each other down, we can stand proud and show the world what we are capable of. Instead of organization like A.G. Bell advocating for deaf people to speak, how about we come together to advocate for bridging the two languages together? We all suffer from the one loss, it is not fair to leave anyone behind since we are all created equal and each of us deserve no less then the others because we all sleep in total silence.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Springtime a'coming!

My good friend who happens to be the very best neighbor you could ever have, brought over these absolutely gorgeous bright yellow tulips! A subtle reminder that springtime is just around the corner! The chill in the air is subsiding, the grass will become soon become full and lush, flowers will begin to blossom and I will be outside working on my green thumb.

You know what else comes with springtime – birds, those warm-blooded, feather tickling, egg laying, beak wielding, wing flapping and poop depositing creatures that at the start of every spring manages to set up residence on one of my many trees in the yard. Its a time I look forward to every year and I am so rolling my eyes as I type this.

I never did develop a strong affection for birds. Puppies, yes! Cats, yes! Goats before they ram me in my ass, yes, afterwards, not so much but birds, never. It all started when I was holy terror of a child and I fell asleep with my hearing aids on one night. I was abruptly awakened to the sound of a dove cooing in my ear. The very notion of disturbing my beauty sleep at four thirty in the morning coooooing was a big fat no-no. I woke up and ripped my hearing aid out only to discover the cooing had sufficient time to impregnate my subconscious. Never forgot to take my hearing aids out after that unfortunate incident.

For months, all I heard was the shrilling coo of that friggen bird, isn’t it amazing how prepubescent brains retain memories. Not one person sympathized with me because every time I complained the response was always the same, “oh! I love doves!” bite me alright, just bite me. Since that morning, I never bothered them, they never bothered me and it helped that I could never hear them unless one squawked right in my ear but last week, I slammed my car door and I stopped and just listened…

~ dee-dee-dee, chip-chip, toolool, toolool, toolool ~

~ chip-chip, dee-dee-dee ~

I turned around and in the distance, I saw a silhouette of hundreds of blackbirds adorning the treetops. They were frolicking from branch to branch, gliding through the air and playfully pecking each other on the head. The combination of all of them cheerily chirping away together was such a wonderful and organic musical experience. I was tickled pink on how well my cochlear implant was picking up the chips and chirps. Ten minutes later, I walked into my house with a newfound appreciation of bird songs!

The next morning, I noticed the sun was beginning to crest over the trees as I closed the front door and the only thing I could hear was the nearby traffic. As I approached my car, my eyes frantically scanned my entire car. I was floored by the sight of how much bird poop was on it and just before I went to mutter a few choice words but then a familiar chorus of cheery friggen chirping began. I turned around and there they sat atop the tree branches admiring their artwork. I swear that they were all laughing at me.

Now that I have come to appreciate what comes out of their beaks, I still don’t appreciate what comes out of the other end.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Blog Award Nominees

Before I introduce the nominees, I want to wish everyone a very happy easter!

A little deaf humor for the holiday :)

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I was awarded the “Treasured Blog Award” by KW over at Living the Questions and the “E for Excellent Blogger Award” by Jim over at Jim’s Deep Thoughts. I want to thank both of them again for giving me these awards, I am still in awe of the list that I was included in. I am very humbled and honored! The pair of them are awesome bloggers and they amaze me every time I read their respective blogs because they make you realize just how similar our lives are no matter where you are in this world.

Now the way these blogs awards work, when they are given to you − you pass them on to other blogs. After a long deliberation, I have rounded out my list and I am proud to announce the finalists! It wasn’t easy but here it goes in no particular order!.

*drum roll*

Treasured Blog award nominees are:

David over at the Life in a Cone Of Silence blog is a relatively new to the bloghouse and I’m totally hooked on it. Six months ago, this forty-something year old man lost his hearing due to a boatload of medical problems all at once. Just to name a few: bacterial meningitis, pneumonia, strep, respiratory failure and a stroke − and that is just a few. He was a normal hearing person up until the medical maladies happened − then he became profoundly deaf. Most people that I know, including myself, who suddenly lose their hearing do not have the best outlook on life but there is something different about him. He talks about his wife who beat cancer, his 13-year-old son and his adorable snow cone of a dog, Speeder. He elaborates about high quality butchers, lack of political scandals in Canada and Walmarts that are 36 square miles big. I’ve climbed aboard for his journey back to sound, he slotted to receive a cochlear implant soon but for someone who just lost his hearing, his attitude on life is amazing. I truly treasure your wit!

Valerie over at Tales of a CI Gal is someone I am proud to call a friend of mine. Valerie has been deaf for the past 36 years and she is one of 1,300 people in the USA that have bilateral cochlear implants. I am positive that she is part of an even smaller number of people because she also opted to have both ears done at once! (Oy Vei! I can’t even imagine!) Valerie is a wonderful human being, a loving mother and long standing special education teacher. I highly respect her because she has worked so hard to be where she is at today, at the front lines of the American education system. I treasure her friendship and her blog.

Geo over at Seek Geo is my absolute favorite deaf vlogger! He is so different from anyone else out there. Geo uses sign language and he truly ‘entertains’ his loyal readers AND he captions every single video that he does. He believes in providing equal communication access to everyone that coincides with what I believe in as well. We are both supporters of online captioning and promoting deaf unity. I happened to come across one of Geo’s videos over at This one particular video talked about how he almost got a cochlear implant but his mother (god bless her) told him that she accepts him just the way he is and didn’t want him to change because of it. I thought it was an extremely profound video because it emphasizes a goal that people will accept you for who you are in the end. He covers a wide variety of subjects from doing hysterical recaps of the television show, “Hell’s Kitchen” to proving to a popular cable television provider, Charter, that the Fox channel does not have any close captioning. I truly treasure his blog for being nothing but his entertaining self.

*stretches fingers for a break*

Now for the E for Excellence award

Paotie over at Paotie's Green Couch is such an amazing writer, a kick ass snowboarder and to top it off, not afraid to wear pink! I wish I could just get inside his noggin and crawl around for a couple hours. He comes up with some crazy ideas but they all make complete sense. His religious use of deaf satire, witty humor and seductive pictures are feverishly appreciated by this bionic woman.

Raychelle over at Rays of Rachelle who is an ASL v/blogger and single-handedly shook some sense into the deaf community about cochlear implants. Let me explain, some of the cochlear implantees and deaf people online have unsuccessfully succeeded in debunking the myths of cochlear implants to the deaf community because I suspect they do not bother to read us for whatever reason. I know the reasons but I’m just not going to delve into it at the moment. While Raychelle does not have a CI herself, she has managed to grasp the fundamental understanding of cochlear implants and relay that information in such a way that anyone could understand. She did an excellent job in explaining why children should be implanted if they are not responding to hearing aids before they are five years old. The first five years of a child life is crucial for learning speech and one needs to be able to hear to be able in order to speak. In order to speak, you need to be able to hear and if you can’t with hearing aids, a cochlear implant is the next option. Raychelle, excellent job, you get the bionic hat tip from me and I am backing you up 100%.

Check them all out and again have a happy Easter!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Petition Canada for CapTel and VRS

Not that it is entirely unheard of Americans meddling in foreign affairs, but I just have to do this.

It has recently been brought to my attention that Canada does not have CapTel nor Videophone Relay service available for its hard of hearing and deaf community. The US provides both of these services practically for free. The only service that Canada fund is the TTY that is practically obsolete in the US. Technology for the deaf has evolved so much since the TTY and I feel that our northern friends should reap the benefits of technology.

If you live in Canada, please petition your government following the steps below. Print this out, take it to your deaf clubs, deaf events, HOH meetings, church, bingo, bar, raves and encourage others to file a petition. :)

Electronic Filing/Contact Directions:
File a comment electronically--which the Commission encourages. Please follow the instructions below:
1. Go to the CRTC Web site at:
2. Select French or English
3. Select 'Contact Us' at the top of the page
4. Select 'E-Forms'
5. Select 'Complaints and Inquiries'
6. From the drop down menu select, 'Inquiry' then select next
7. Select 'Other' type of inquiry, next
8. Insert your first and last name and province
9. Select how you would like the CRTC to contact you (e-mail, letter, or telephone)
10. If you choose e-mail insert your e-mail address and select next
11. Let the Canadian government know of your desire for Captel service by sending the paragraph below or one of your own messages into the comment box

Sample Message to Send to the CRTC:

Dear CRTC,

I am requesting that the CRTC provide funds for captioned telephone and video relay service to become available to Canada's deaf and hard-of-hearing community. I am also requesting that the CRTC allow VRS-based companies such as Ultratec INC, Sprint and Sorenson Communications, access to Canada's telecommunications market. Captel provides real-time captioning of telephone conversations that is ideal for those with some degree of hearing loss. Sprint WebCapTel ( ) has just released a web-based service that allows a person who can speak but has difficulty hearing over the phone to read word-for-word captions of their call on a web browser during the call, while at the same time hearing the other person using any telephone. VRS allows the deaf and hard-of-hearing to naturally communicate with hearing individuals and businesses using sign language. Captel and VRS is far superior to TTY/TDD relay and will greatly enhance my professional and personal life. The deaf and hard-of-hearing community has complete access to Captel and VRS in the United States and we deserve no less.


Insert your full name

12. When finished with your message select next
13. Select 'Yes, submit' to officially submit your inquiry to the CRTC
14. A reference number will be provided on the final page, please print this page off for your reference

Mailing Address:
Secretary General
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada, K1A ON2

Other Contact Options:
1-877-249-2782 (toll-free Voice)
1-877-909-2782 (toll-free TDD)
1- 819-994-0218 (fax)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Sprint WebCapTel and CapTel update

I have been tinkering around with the new Sprint WebCapTel since it was released this past Thursday and I for one am impressed to the point that I just want to plant a big ol’ wet one on the developer who came up with this FREE revolutionizing site! From this website, those of US who have difficulty with understanding people on the phone can now make a phone call from anywhere while reading word-for-word captions right on your web browser like Firefox :) but it works with IE, Safari and Opera.

-I kid you not!-

Its gets better, hold on to your britches kids because I haven’t even gotten started to sell this yet. All you need is a PC or Mac computer with web browser, an internet connection, and ANY working telephone that can receive calls. Yes, ANY working telephone such as your cell phone, home phone, work phone, amplified phone and even the CapTel phone! That is it! Those three things are all that is needed.

-Nuh uh-

Uh huh! I will not tell a lie! You can get started by creating a free account with them and activate it when you receive your confirmation email. Now once you are logged in, you can get started on making some phone calls. Here is the screen shot.

Under Place Call, enter the telephone number of the phone that you want to talk from like your home phone if you are home or your cell phone if you are at a hot WiFi spot or at work :) Then put the number that you want to dial and chose your preferred language and click on place call! A captioning window will come up showing that is dialing YOUR telephone number first. Once you pick up, then it will dial the number of the person you want to call! It will proceed to caption your call from there.

-No way!-

Yes way folks! There is more! In order to receive a call, you put the number you can be reached and click on “Start Waiting For Calls.” Don’t forget to tell people to dial 1-800-933-7219 and key in your number but once they do that the captioning box will come up captioning your phone call! It is a minor drawback giving out the 800 number but the fact that you don't need a special phone to use it with is a blessing!

How cool is that?! You can do this from any computer connected to the internet as long as you have a phone nearby, even wireless to wireless! You can even adjust the size and color of the font along with the background color which would help the deaf blind! I decided to use this at work because I hardly use the phone because I am afraid of screwing up a phone call but I want to use the phone because I really want to do all aspects of my job. So while I have been waiting for my CapTel phone to come at work Sprints WebCapTel enabled me to make a quite a few phone calls and for the first time, I felt confident about using the phone and its all because of Sprint. I still can't answer calls until I get the CapTel phone but something is better than nothing. They are working on adding a feature of calling extension numbers and 911 in the near future. I'm excited because it is going to help so many of US!


I recently talked about how the 2-Line CapTel phone and how it helps US that have a hard time using the phone by providing word-for-word translation of the person on the other end of the phone. I am spreading the good news about this phone because I never knew about it! I had NO idea and if I had NO idea, I can only imagine how many more have NO idea that this is out there for US! They even have the CapTel USB that benefits the deaf-blind because it hooks directly up to USB port of your computer that allows the user to see the captions in large font. Many people can obtain one of these phones free or very low cost by going to this website.

Now, I have run into a minor technical snag with the 2-Line Captel phone that I received a couple weeks ago provided FREE by the state of New Jersey. In order to receive captioning on both incoming and outgoing phone calls easily and I like easy, one must have two separate phone lines that are explained by this snazzy little picture down here.

My minor technical snag is that my phone service is through Comcast Cable Digital Cable and at the moment I can only receive captioning on my outgoing calls not my incoming. Right now, the only way I can have my incoming calls captioned is to direct people to call 1-877-243-2823 (different # for Federal, California and Texas residents) and key in my home number.


My wheels started turning since the second phone line can be a basic line, I wondered if the second line can be a digital cable FAX line with a DSL Filter. My reasoning comes from the fact that many Brother and HP fax machines are particularly fussy about their analog phone line requirement but if you have VOIP service like Vonage or Comcast a simple DSL filter will have them happily faxing to and fro in no time. I tried calling Comcast customer service to run this idea by them and they were about as helpful as a rusty under wire from my bra digging into my side. I will let you all know how this works out!

Challenge accepted Jodi

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Sixth mapping and Blog Awards!

I’m shuffling back up the hallway to get to the kitchen and glide past the TV and all of the sudden I hear…

“Oh! They love having their tongue stroked.”

Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech! I came to a complete halt. Did I hear that right? The words love, tongue, stroked with an inaudible period at the end. I couldn’t fathom what kind of kinky programming my sweet mother was watching. I pivoted on my foot anticipating images of smut.


What a relief, my mother wasn’t watching porn, it was the movie, Free Willy!

Now that I have your attention, I can bore you with the details of my latest mapping :) As I pointed out in my last mapping, I was shipped out with one processor with AGC on and the other one with it off. AGC stands for auto gain compression, which compresses loud sounds. For example, the sirens of an ambulance would drown all other noises out but with AGC enabled on a CI, it compresses the siren to a moderate listening level while being able to hear noises around you. With AGC off, it sounds like a siren, intense and loud. I was *suppose* to compare between the two but I was under the impression that the processor I was wearing had AGC on and it turns out that was not true, it had AGC off.


Anyway, I heard a lot of white noise even in quiet situations, like a bathroom, a closet, and then the soundproof booth! Therefore, what my dear sweet Audi, Jennifer, did was lowered my IDR from 80 to 60 and that seemed to eliminate the white noise. What is IDR you ask? IDR stands for Input Dynamic Range. It is adjustable configuration that widens or narrows the window of sound that the processor that picks up sound. If you have the default setting of 60, it means that you have a standard window of sound open that the processor will capture. If you raise it to the maximum of 80, that means the processor will be more sensitive to sound. I found out the hard way bigger is not always better. I have been wearing my AGC ON processor that is labeled with a white stamp :) and I’ve noticed with the IDR back down at 60, I essentially hear the same sounds but much cleaner.

I had another issue with men voices. Men sound like masculine robots and damn if I can understand them. Jennifer managed to find a man to come and talk to me about his nice pressed shirt that he received a couple weeks ago while she applied some high frequency gains until his voice changed. I only met with him for a couple minutes and I already had an idea of what he sounded like when he was going through puberty with all the adjustments made.

Now for tasty tidbit of the night, my speech comprehension scores, but let me do a little review here.


HINT Sentences in Quiet:


HINT Sentences in Noise +10:






One month after activation

HINT Sentences in Quiet:


HINT Sentences in Noise +10:







Five months after activation

HINT Sentences in Quiet:


Second list HINT Sentences in Quiet:


HINT Sentences in Noise +10:


Second list HINT Sentences in Noise +10:






Boo-yah! It definitely working here folks. It is working so well that it has surpassed my right ear that I wear a HA in. With that being said, I have decided that I am going to go get my other ear done but I am going to wait until next year.

I want to give out some shout outs to a couple bloggers that just had their CI surgery, Sheila and Ruminator. They are both doing fantastic with their recovery!

I want to give special thanks to KW over at Living the Questions gave me a Treasured Blog Award. I have been captivated with reading her blog because she is so genuinely kindhearted and mentally titillating that you cannot help but feel at home at her blog.

I want to give Jim over at Jim’s DEEP THOUGHTS, and deep thoughts they are indeed, a special thanks for giving me an Excellent Blog Award. I just started reading Jim’s blog religiously a couple weeks and I’m totally hooked on him! Allow me to quote him from one of his posts:

“I am not totally deaf therefore, I am not really part of the "Deaf" culture even though I want to be. But, I can't force myself to be part of the Deaf culture. I accepted the Deaf culture. The key issues is this: I want the Deaf culture to accept me as I am. Just as a person who has disabilities who wanted to be accepted as part of the society.”

He read my mind in more ways then one. Go check him out for more of his common sense, deep thought provoking posts, you will not be disappointed.

I will be giving out the Treasured and Excellent blog awards to some other lucky bloggers next week, stay tuned!

Now, I must put some good relaxation techniques that I learned in Staples to good use, shredding! G'night all!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Helen Keller

All the world is full of suffering.
It is also full of overcoming.
Helen Keller

According to this article here researchers have uncovered a rare photograph of a young Helen Keller with her teacher Anne Sullivan, nearly 120 years after it was taken on Cape Cod and tucked inside a family album.

Experts on Keller's life believe it could be the earliest photo of the two women together and the only one showing the blind and deaf child with a doll -- the first word Keller spelled for Sullivan after they met in 1887 -- according to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, which now has the photo.