Thursday, April 12, 2007

"Deaf-resistance" hearing people and a bridge


Hello again. I got positive comments about my previous video clip about how to deal with hearing people. Thank you for your positive comments. Some of their comments asked me if they meet a hearing person who doesnt want to work with deaf people, what they should about those hearing people?

It was a good question. I've faced that kind of hearing people before. I will give you some tips and share my ideas with you.

First, I want to tell you some important things before I give you my ideas on how to deal with those hearing people. Remember this world has so many different kinds of people which means there are so many different groups of people based on their beliefs, values, culture, et cetera...

Sometimes there are some people willing accept another person that is different from them so they can learn more about their cultures which is great.

However there are some people not willing to learn about another culture. They rather focus on their culture only. Those people do not want to accept any diversity people which is their choice. We don't have any control over those people or over their choices.

What kind of control we have? Our actions. You also have a control of how you want hearing people to remember you as a deaf person. Do you want a hearing person to remember you as a confident deaf person with a pride in their language who signs freely and creating curiosities for hearing people in your language? Or do you rather want a hearing person to remember you as a fragile deaf person with no confidence and no pride in your langauge who is looking for some pities from hearing people. How you want them to remember you is your choice.

Ok. I'd like to discuss about a pride and to compare our culture with another culture, use Hispanic/Latino culture as an example. Now lets look at hispanic people. Some of hispanic families moved to America from Mexico to start a new life and to get a job in America. Does that mean those group of hispanic people would drop their language, drop their culture, and forget about them because they live in America? No. This is not true. Those hispanic people would still preciously pass down their culture and their language to their young people because of their family history and their identity. We should have the same kind of pride for our culture and our language.

Ok. I want to discuss about the Deaf community. I applaud the Deaf community for having Deaf-related events, Deaf clubs, et cetera... which is a nice thing for us. I noticed a thing about Deaf people at social gatherings. They were proudly using their language at the gatherings. But when they went outside of those gatherings, their attitude and their pride of their language changed. Their level of pride dramatically dropped when they went outside of a social gathering. Why cannot we keep our pride at the same level outside of a gathering to show the world who we really are? We need to show the world who we really are. It is important for us to do it.

Ok. Why is it so important for us to do it? It shows hearing people that we have no shame to be a deaf person. We need to teach them that. If you go to a store and use the "pointing to your ears" approach to a hearing person, how can you teach them about our langauge and our culture with that approach? With that "pointing to your ears" approach, you teach them nothing about our culture or our language. With that approach, it seems it's a good way to ask for their pity. That was what I was talking about in my previous video clip. Your pride is the key.

Ok. Now I am going to give you tips on how to deal with "Deaf-resistant" hearing people. What I tend to do before I go in a store is I always have my Sidekick with me all the time. I tend to type what I need on my Sidekick's notepad, save it, then put it in my pocket before I go to a store.

When I see a hearing employee walks by me, I usually would sign to them directly. Sometimes when a hearing employee knows how to sign, I usually end up having a nice chat with them.

Sometimes when a hearing employee attempts to use the "a pen and a piece of paper" method to show some efforts, I usually give them a credit for putting their efforts in it and let them communicate with me through this communication method.

Sometimes when a hearing person cringes or resists me, I usually sign to them directly one more time to let them know that it doesnt make any dent to my pride or it doesnt make me feel ashamed to be a deaf person. If that hearing person continues to be stubborn about it, then that is when I will use my sidekick with a note ready for them to read it. It will put their frustrating at ease. It also will help them to expand their knowledge of how to work with deaf people better next time. Once they have that kind of knowledge, it will help our community a lot. Because once you expose a hearing person about our language and our culture, they will learn from you. Then they will be able to deal with next Deaf people better in the future. This will extremely help our community a lot.

Ok. Why am I standing here in front of bridges? Ok. There are 2 different groups. One hill on my right represents our group, another hill on my left represents another group. How can we expose ourselves to another group? We need to proudly introduce ourselves and teach them about our langauge and our culture. You also need to show your pride in yourself to them. This will start to build a bridge from our group to their group. They will learn from us about our culture then we will learn about their culture. Then the bridge between us will be completed.

Some bridges are easy to build. It depends on some hearing people. Some hearing people are willing to accept us and eagerly to learn about us which is a good thing. With those hearing people, it will be easy for us to build a bridge between us.

But some bridge are tough to build especially with "Deaf-resistant" hearing people. With those "Deaf-resistant" hearing people, it is harder for us to build a bridge with them just like the bridge behind me. Some bridges in a middle of an extreme canyon are hard to build. But this did not stop us from building a bridge in a middle of canyon. We need to go across a canyon just like we need to go through hearing people's head. It is the same idea.

Thank you. I want you to look at the bridge behind me for a minute and think about stuff that I just told you.

Click here to see a full text transcript...

Saturday, April 7, 2007

How Deaf people should approach hearing people

UPDATED: The video clips' sizes were modified for a better video quality. The clips are uploaded into to make them into one video clip. The message in the video clip remains the same.

UPDATED: I just added a text transcript to this post. Hope it helps some of you to understand my message better.


Hello. My name is Eric Babb. This is my first video clip on my vlog. I'd like to discuss about an article that I read last summer. The article's topic was about how Deaf people should approach hearing people on a daily life. This article was very interesting.

The article said normal hearing people generally deal with other hearing people through their spoken language. For example, there was a hearing employee working as a cashier at a store. The cashier saw a customer walked in the store. The hearing cashier greeted customers with the usual "Good afternoon, how can I help you today..." This means the cashier expected the customer to reply back back to the cashier in a spoken language. The customer replied back to the cashier in the same spoken language saying "I'm doing fine. I need your help with different issues." That is how hearing people deal with each other daily.

Ok. If there was a deaf customer in the same picture. The deaf customer walked in the store. The hearing cashier had been dealing with different customers through their spoken language all the day. The hearing cashier saw the deaf customer walked by him. The hearing cashier did the usual greeting to the deaf customer by asking the customer "How can I help you?", "Do you need any help?", or other ways to greet them. The deaf customer didn't reply back to the cashier in any spoken language. The hearing cashier puzzled and assumed that maybe the customer didnt hear him because of a noisy enivornment. So the cashier spoke a bit louder. The customer still didn't reply back to the cashier. The deaf customer kept on walking and noticed something at the corner of the deaf customer's eyes. The deaf customer saw the cashier moving their lips and realized that the cashier was talking to him through a spoken langauge. The very next step deaf people, in the general, do is informing a hearing person that he/she is deaf by pointing their ears, using a body gesture asking the hearing person for a pen and a piece of paper, moving their mouth to tell them that he/she cannot speak, or use many other methods to inform them that he/she is deaf.

From my point of view, the 1st 3 approaches should not be used by a deaf person. I'll explain you why.

Okay. When a deaf person uses the "pointing to ears" approach to a hearing person, the hearing person becomes puzzled and normally dont catch the body gesture at their first attempt. Then the hearing person realizes that the person is deaf and starts to feel pity for the deaf person. The "pointing to your ears" approach would make a deaf person downgrade themselves to a less person and upgrade a hearing person to a "better" person because of their ability to hear. The hearing person pities the deaf person and thinks that the deaf person is no good. The "pointing to ears" approach draws hearing people focuses on the deaf person's ability to hear negatively. The ability to hear shouldn't be matter and needs to be thrown out of the picture.

If a deaf person tells a hearing person that they cannot speak, it means the approach draws hearing person's focus to the deaf person's ability to speak negatively. The approach encourages a hearing person to pity the deaf person because they cannot speak.

The "a pen and a piece of paper" body gesture means a deaf person has to put all of their efforts to simply communicate with a hearing person. It is a hassle for them.

The 1st 3 approaches are not the best ideal approaches for us. The 1st 3 approaches should not be used by a deaf person at all. The article, that I read last summer, made a good suggestion. It explains that in the general deaf people at a deaf-related events usually use American Sign Language (ASL) to each other since it is a common language at deaf-related events. On the other hand, a hearing person usually speaking to another hearing person through a spoken language. It means ASL and spoken English functions equally for both of the groups. If a hearing person choose to speak in their native language, a deaf person should be able to choose to sign in their native sign language too. Both of their native languages are equivalent to each other.

I know that many hearing people don't know how to sign which is fine because deaf people, in the general, don't know how to speak too. Whenever a hearing person speaks to a person, the hearing person generally expects that person to reply back in the same spoken language. A deaf person should do the same thing by signing to a person and expects that person to reply back in the same sign language too.

So if a hearing person speaks to a deaf person and expects the deaf person to speak back to the hearing person, the deaf person should reply to the hearing person in their sign language and expect the hearing to reply back in the same sign language. Of course, the hearing people would be confused and puzzled if a deaf person signs to them because the hearing people use a spoken language daily and all the sudden someone just used a sign language to the hearing person instead of using a spoken language. That created a confusion for the hearing person.

Creating a confusion for them is a good thing. Because it will lead them to a curiosity in your sign language. It also shows them your confidence and your pride to be a deaf person. There is no shame to be a deaf person. The ability to hear should not matter. You should be proud to use ASL as your language as much as hearing people are proud to use spoken English as their language.

The article suggested me to use that approach and I was really curious if that approach really does work. So I went to Home Depot to buy a measurement tape on the same day. I went in a Home Depot store and saw a hearing employee walking by me. I went to that hearing employee and signed directly to him by saying "Hello. I need your help to find a measurement tape." That hearing employee looked at me with a puzzling look on his face because I didn't speak with my voice and used my hands to speak with him. He couldn't understand me because he didn't know how to sign. Then he realized that I am deaf who uses a sign langauge. I continued to sign to him as I expected him to reply back to me in a sign language. He used a body gesture to tell me to wait while he was pulling out his notepad from his pocket.

I was amazingly surprised that he was making efforts by taking out his notepad himself so he could communicate with me through his notepad. In the past, I always had to make efforts to communicate with other hearing people through a pen and a piece of paper. Now the table turned around to him and it made him to make efforts instead of me which was really nice.

Anyway. The hearing employee wrote on his notepad and it said "Hello, how can I help you? I am sorry that I can't sign." I was amazingly surprised that he actually apologized to me that he doesnt know how to sign. I remember from my childhood years to today, I had to point my ears to "apologize" to hearing people that I cannot hear. I had to apologize to them many times. But with the hearing employee at the Home Depot, it's totally opposite. He apologized to me that he didn't know how to sign which was really nice. So I went ahead and communicated with him through his notepad and went on with my measurement tape hunting. He helped me to find a measurement tape. That experience went beyond my expection.

I noticed that the attitudes between the old approach and the new approach are so different. With the old "pointing to ears" approach, you end up getting pities from them. With the new "signing to them directly" approach; you end up getting respects from them and having them to put their efforts in communicating with me. Which approach do you think is better? Of course, the new approach is a lot better than the old approaches.

From now on, I will not use the "pointing my ears" method or use the "a pen and a piece of paper" method anymore. I will sign to hearing people directly to shake their world. I totally love to see their facial expressions after I shake their world. But the bottom line is it is really nice to create a curiosity from them. I am glad that the article introduced that approach to me. I thanked the article for teaching me the new approach.

If you have any suggestion, know any better approach, would like to share your experiences, or would like to give me some feedbacks; help yourself to add your comment by clicking the link below the video clip. I'd really like to discuss about this topic. Im looking forward to seeing your comments.

Thank you.

Click here to see a full text transcript...