Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Deaf World Story: Part 5

In the last Deaf World post, I listed some advice for ASL students and interpreting students.  What though about the Deaf members of the community? Truly, you, as members of the Deaf World hold the keys to the gate.  You are the ones that decide to share your world...or not.

I would give advice, but, like Molly shared in her video "Bypass," Deaf people have been doing this for years.  Deaf seniors are true experts at it, from what I have seen in my own experience.  They aren't afraid to invest in a young student.  They have the authority of years and a wealth of culture and experience to share.

This doesn't mean younger Deaf members can't be guides through the Deaf World.  Future interpreters need those who are younger to introduce them (and re-train those who are more seasoned) to the Millennials in the Deaf communities.  Like I said, the Deaf World is changing and with it, the demands on interpreters are changing.

If you, as Deaf members of the Deaf World want to connect to your interpreter and want your interpreter to understand you, both linguistically and culturally, you must be willing to invest in the up-and-comers.

My husband and I were joking about the fact that I'm often mistaken for Deaf, even by Deaf people or CODAs while he is sometimes mistaken for hearing.   My being mistaken for Deaf is not because I'm so awesome, but because I learned from and lived life with Deaf people, therefore, taking on most of the nuances of the language I saw from Deaf people.  Ken, on the other hand, learned to sign with hearing people as his language models.  Not until later in high school was he around more Deaf ASL users.  So it stands to reason that he would have some mannerisms that mimic his language models, the major one being that he often mouths English when he signs.
(I often tease those who tell me they thought I was Deaf, "Give me a little more time.  You'll see my 'native hearing' come through very clearly!" I can also still get lost or misunderstand ASL, so don't mistake my statement for arrogance. There is no place for a hearing person's arrogance in the Deaf World. Also don't misunderstand my comparing myself to Ken. His ASL fluency is worlds better than mine. I hate to admit how many times I've been watching a conversation or vlog and had to look to him to clarify something that I missed.)

I have to admit though, I do get a burst of pride every time I hear that compliment, but it's not pride in myself.  It's pride in the Deaf people who poured so much of themselves into me.  I picture each one and fondly recall so many late-night stories, fun-filled trips, struggles, tears and laughing until we couldn't breathe.  I love my Deaf World and am forever grateful for the people in it.

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