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Topic: Going Deaf
One of the hardest things about moving to a new country is leaving friends and loved ones behind.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could bring them all with you -- if you could just hand each of them a ticket so they could pack their bags and accompany you on your journey?
"Going Deaf" is somewhat similar to traveling to a foreign country.
When you become Deaf you may experience having to leave behind relationships and human connections that were based on sound and speech.
However, there is a way that your friends and loved ones can stay connected with you on your journey.
The "ticket" is sign language.
The question becomes, "Which of my friends and family will choose to stay connected with me by learning sign language?"
The converse of that becomes: Which relationships will I be forced to leave behind or greatly reduce due to the individual's unwillingness to put forth the effort to learn how to communicate with in me in a language to which I have access?"
People are more willing to do something if the gap is reduced. Jumping across a meter-wide gap may be so intimidating to a person that they would choose to avoid making the leap. However, if that gap were easier, for example, a few centimeters -- the person would be much more likely to move forward.
Reducing the effort required to learn sign language helps increase the willingness of people to learn.
If you are going Deaf and learning sign language -- it is a good idea to suggest convenient, free, and effective ways to learn sign language to your family and friends so that they can more easily stay connected to you and not be left behind as you journey into the land of the Deaf.
Some tips you may wish to share with those in your social network:
How to use ASL University to learn sign language for free:
1. Visit https://Lifeprint.com and become familiar with the ASL University website.
2. Bookmark or save the official ASL University YouTube master playlist:
3. For quick reviews (to prevent memory extinction) bookmark the "Signs" channel playlist page:
or more specifically: https://www.youtube.com/c/Lifeprint-signs/playlists?view=50&sort=dd&shelf_id=1
4. If you use a desktop or laptop computer you can look up signs using this page: https://www.lifeprint.com/search.htm
5. If you use a mobile device you can look up signs using this page:
6. If you can't find a sign after using the search options at Lifeprint.com then consider applying to join the Lifeprint-ASLU Facebook group and asking your question there. See: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Lifeprint.ASLU/
7. Go through 60 ASLU Lessons for free:
A YouTuber commented:
I had the best hearing aids when I lived in KY because of the insurance but then I moved to AZ and the hearing aids were more like amplifiers and everything was just so loud! I stopped wearing them. I have to look directly at a person to hear them. These mask are horrible for my hearing lol I don't bother watching any tv that doesn't have captions. It's all muddled to me. I am thinking I should start preparing myself for the future. But everyone I know is hearing and doesn't know sign language.
If you haven't already, you may wish to apply to the Vocational Rehabilitation program of the Arizona Department of Economic Security
They can quite possibly provide funding for you to attend college, study ASL, and train for a new career that doesn't rely on being able to hear. They may even be able to help you purchase different or better hearing aids.
Going Deaf involves losing not just your hearing but also losing many of the relationships and activities that rely on being able to hear.
For those losing their hearing it is distressing to come to grips with the reality that eventually you will be to a significant extent cut off from your loved ones, friends, and associates by the fact that you can't hear them and most of them won't put in the effort to learn sign language to the extent necessary to have full, rich conversations.
Your options then become:
1. Do what you can to communicate with existing family, friends, and associates via texting, writing, pointing, simple gestures, and using technology to provide auto-generated transcriptions.
2. Make new friends and associates who have already put in the effort to learn sign language.
After learning enough sign language to hold a conversation -- do an online search for: "Deaf events near me"
If there are not many Deaf events or socials nearby -- some of your choices include:
1. Become an introvert and develop a love of reading and movies.
2. Develop a love of travel and get used to traveling in order to go to events where you can meet and interact with people with whom you can communicate freely in your new visual / gestural language.
3. Move to a city or location where there are greater numbers of Deaf people.
4. Use social media to meet and get to know other signers then use your phone, tablet, or buy a web-cam to start video-chatting with your new friends.
A Deaf person writes:
Hi Dr. Bill!
First, I wanted to express how invaluable you have been to my learning. Your lessons have taught me a great deal in a very short time, and I greatly appreciate that! I do not have the money to take a formal ASL class, and your graciously providing your material on Lifeprint has saved me. Thank you so much.
Now, onto the meat of the email...
I have been medically "severely hard of hearing" my entire life. My parents knew this as I was growing up, but did not care to learn ASL nor let me learn it, nor enroll me in any D/deaf/hh programs, nor socialize me with any Deaf people. As such, I have been socialized in the Hearing world my entire life. I am just now learning ASL because I realized that I do not have to struggle so hard to maintain my position in hearing spaces when there are very accepting and understanding Deaf spaces all around me where I don't have to try to "decipher" by reading lips or hope my ears pick up the sounds. My concerns are mostly rooted in the fact that I feel ignorant and uncultured, because I have been held away from Deaf culture my entire life and don't really know where to start. I have one Deaf customer at work, but she is much older than me and I don't see her very often, so it's not likely that I could just say, "Hey! Where do Deaf people hang out?" (I'm exaggerating, obviously... a little bit. You get the idea.) I have tried finding Deaf Facebook groups, looking for Deaf coffee hangouts, etc, but haven't really found anything anywhere close to me. Do you have any insight or words of wisdom?
Again, thank you so much for all you have done for people learning to sign. You are an invaluable member of the community.
(Name redacted and other minor edits to protect the individual's privacy.)
Let's brainstorm a bit here:
Do a search for your state's "association for the Deaf" or "association of the Deaf." Then join that association and get on their newsletter list.
Visit nad.org and read as much of their stuff as you have time and energy for.
Consider subscribing to Deafwire. See: https://h3world.tv/shows_name/deafwire/
Consider using the app Live Transcribe (particularly if your phone uses the Android operating system).
You mention that you have tried finding Deaf Facebook groups, looking for Deaf coffee hangouts, etc, but haven't really found anything anywhere close to you, okay, maybe try some of these phrases or approaches:
Google: Deaf events near me
Google: ASL social near me
Google: ASL club near me
Google: Deaf center near me (visit their website and subscribe to their newsletter)
Google: Deaf school near me (and consider volunteering)
Google: ASL meetups near me.
Checkout the "meetup (dot) com) website, sign up for it, and look for any ASL meetups in your area.
If you still can't find a meetup that means it is YOUR new job to set one up! BE THE LEADER! Pick a time and place each week to regularly show up and sit there with an ASL book and a notepad and a phone or other internet capable device and study on your own and keep advertising the ASL social that you set up -- until people start showing up. A few years from now you might just have dozens of people (or more) in your group.
Consider ordering a few books from Amazon regarding Deaf Culture and read up on it. You can often find "used" books for a reasonably low cost. If such books are still more of a cost than you can afford, consider going to the library and asking your librarian about interlibrary loan to see what Deaf Culture books can be transferred in to your local library.
Google: ASL classes near me (and consider asking the teacher if you can sit in the class for free since you are DEAF!!!) Also, ask the teacher of that class if he / she / they have any used Deaf Culture books that you could borrow.
See if you can find a college program that offers multiple levels of ASL classes and then post in the hallway bulletin board: "Deaf person seeking advanced ASL study partner. I lost my hearing over time and am now Deaf and need to improve my signing. I'm seeking a practice partner such as an advanced ASL student or small group of advanced students. Can meet at library once a week or some other social ASL setting. Contact me via email at .... or text me at .... Thanks!"
Consider moving to a state (such as Texas) that provides free college education to residents.
Contact your state's services for the Deaf department and ask for to meet with an adviser who specializes in Deaf services.
Google the name of your state and "department of rehabilitation services" -- then register for rehabilitation services and (if it fits your life journey) ask them to pay for college and consider majoring in Deaf Studies or ASL. Your state's department of rehabilitation services can literally pay for you to learn ASL. If your state's department of rehabilitation services is unhelpful -- consider contacting the Client Assistance Program (CAP) for your state and ask about your rights.
William G. Vicars, Ed.D.
ASL University (Lifeprint.com)
( For Dr. Bill Vicars' email address, see: https://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/contact.htm )
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