Monday, September 24, 2012
Nuggets of Deaf Awareness
I'm not sure how I feel about Awareness campaigns.
That is a lie.
I know exactly how I feel, I just don't want to share those feelings at this time as it happens to be Deaf Awareness Week and I've got a Deaf kid.
Over the past several mostly non-blogging months, there have been some bright shining moments of Awareness that are worth sharing and celebrating.
Awkward teenage girl at movie ticket counter is now a bit more aware;
Me: "Three kids and an adult for Brave."
Her: "Uhhh. OK." Nervously; "I don't know if you're aware, but it is a captioned viewing. So the words will be on the screen. I hope that's not a problem."
Me: Big smile. Right hand giving her thumb up. Left index finger pointing back and forth between Owen and his Deaf friend Jay; "Deaf kids. Score!"
Her: "Uhhhhh. Ohhhkaaaay?"
Old lady sitting next to me at pond requested the awareness;
After seeing/reading Brave, I took the kids for a swim.
The second we staked our claim on the perfect patch of sand, Owen and Jay bolted toward the water.
Me: "DEAF KIDS!!!!"
The boys trudged back toward my outstretched hands. Owen placed his hearing aids in one hand. Jay placed his cochlear implant processors in the other.
I signed my thanks and gave orders for being careful and polite and all the requisite pre swim jazz and sent them on their way.
I assumed there were numerous pairs of eyes pointed at me. I chose to make contact with the old lady to my right.
She beamed at me and asked a zillion questions about the boys, the differences in their technology, their school, their language, and their lives in general.
And I believe we may have made her day.
Hopefully Verizon guy will pass Awareness along;
As a beginning of school treat, I rented The Lorax on demand for Bea and Owen.
As the movie started, I fiddled with the remote and couldn't seem to get the captions to come on. Owen is getting anxious and whiny as I call Verizon to see what the problem is as we've always been able to get the captions to work.
The nice young man attempts to school me on the workings of the remote, I assure him that I know how to make the captions appear and nothing is working.
He then asks me if I'd noticed when I'd rented it, if it said that captioning was available for the movie, because as it turned out, they were NOT available for The Lorax.
I insisted there was no such information given, and it would be nice to have known that beforehand as I have a Deaf kid who is now in tears because he can't read his movie.
Nice young man goes on to explain that the children's movies aren't usually captioned, at which point I cut him off and politely (no really, I was polite) tell him that there are in fact children who are Deaf and that they very much like movies.
He apologizes profusely, assures me that he will mention it to someone, and passes me along to a customer service person who will refund my money.
My favorite part is when he transfers me I hear a recording saying that there is an unusual call volume and I will be waiting a long time for assistance. He's still there and says;
"No. That's not cool. You're cutting in line."
Customer service person listens to my story, agrees that it should state if the movie is captioned or not, apologizes, and credits my account.
I then tell Owen that he won't be reading his movie and crank up the volume.
And then I check the main menu, where it SHOULD have clearly stated whether or not the movie was captioned.
It clearly stated that it was NOT.
In which I am made aware of a very specific animal sound,
The county fair is a summer must.
As I walk the kids around, I'm on the alert for sounds that are and are not available to Owen.
The toothless carnies shouting demands that we throw money at their unwinnable games? Owen is oblivious.
The scary shrieks and bangs in the Haunted House? He hears enough. Enough to be a brave big brother and see his little sister through.
Baby goats and their wee little bleats. He leans in close and hears them.
Chickens. He hears the clucking. He asks and is allowed to hold one. And is so scared of the thing he nearly strangles it.
I see a group huddled around a pen. I hear an odd grunting sound and peek over someones shoulder.
A large, really large tortoise. I wonder if Owen can hear it. So I get his attention, sign to him that there is a huge turtle as he runs over to me.
Woman whose shoulder I had peered over is giving me a curious stare as I grab Owen and lift him up to see and hopefully hear the turtle.
I hadn't thought much of the look the woman gave me as I was too concerned with Owen getting the full turtle experience.
And now I am aware that people don't just give me weird looks because I'm signing to my kid.
They also give me weird looks when I hold my Deaf kid up so he can watch giant turtles have extremely loud sex.
Bea is as aware as one can be;
Owen can barely hear Bea.
The constant chatter of her high pitched voice is just not accessible to him.
Most of what she says, if he cares to know it, I have to repeat to him, or give him in sign.
I've been on a mission to make the two more self sufficient in their communication. I'd love to remove myself from their equation.
So I encourage Bea to use the signs she knows. Remind her to face him and to be aware of the noise level in the room that could interfere with his understanding. And implore her to be patient when Owen asks her to repeat what she's said.
None of the above is going very well. As evidenced by this exchange as we were getting ready to go swimming;
Me; "Bea, do you have everything you need?"
Bea; "My orange towel! It's upstairs! I'll go get it!"
Owen; "What she said?"
Now. It is just a towel. He's not been deprived of some important piece of information. But it is these little incidental bits that he misses that make my brain scream 'No fair!'. So if he demands to know what his sister said, as insignificant as it may be, then he has the right to know it.
Me; "Bea. Tell Owen what you said, he missed it."
Me; "Tell him please, he wants to know. It isn't fair. Tell him please now."
So on and so forth for far too long, but I am determined to make my point.
Finally, I resort to threats of not going swimming;
"Bea. You're going to tell him what you said right?"
"No. I can't. I didn't HEAR myself."
Aparently she is determined to make her own point.
Possibly more Deaf Awareness stuff later this week.