Thursday, October 30, 2008

ALDA's President's Lunchon

My first night in Chicago involved the Magnificent Mile that is like the Fifth Avenue of New York City. We went to the Big Bowl where I had well, a big bowl of Chicken Pad Thai and for desert, a pretzel dipped in multi-grain mustard. We were adopted by the veterans of ALDA with no problems. I met the man who co-founded ALDA in 1987, BIll Graham. I was forewarned before I came here about ALDA because most of the people here cannot benefit from hearing aids or cochlear implants but what really surprised me was the amount of late deafened adults that signed. Logically, you would think that this is a group that has gone deaf later on in life for various reasons and has chose to learned sign to communicate. It's a blissful environment, one that I have been adapted into quite well. It is total communication access here. If one doesn't speak, they sign. Between Jennifer and I, we can get through a conversation. If we are completely lost, they are so patient because most of them remember what it was like to start off young and fresh at the signing game. If we are so lost, we grab someone else to interpret for us. If that doesn't work, the pads and pens are brought out. Its not like out in the busy hearing world where I get a huge exasperated sigh or infamous eye rolling from hearing people. Whatever works for you whether it would be a tap on the shoulder of rapidly shaking your hands in front of someone's face, you won't get any eye rolling here. Being here right now feels like a comfortable old shoe that you don't want to part with.

Right now, I am sitting here at the Presidents Luncheon in a packed ballroom, situated right under a glass chandlier with crisp white sheets adorning the table. My glass of water is half full while my tummy is full as can be. I am watching conversations being carried all across the room. I'm watching people communicate with their mouth full. I am staring at two huge CART screens while an interpreter translate the signing of Dr. Robert Davila who is the ninth president of Gallaudet University into voice. Not one person is left out of his speech. I am going to go see if I can get the CART transcript emailed to me.

Stay tuned!


Laurie said...

Sounds like you are off to a great start! Can't wait to "hear" more!


Sam said...

Hey...we can't get into chat tonight!! Whacha do, steal the IP address???? :D

Anonymous said...

That's my fav. type of communication environment!

Anonymous said...

I had such a blast meeting you, Jennifer and LaRonda! I wish I could have stayed another day!

sara said...

NTID and RIT always had accessibility like that for the big events (student orientation, family weekend, etc). I always loved getting invited to their NTID Foundation dinners. If there's a convention near sometime DC I'm going to go!