Category Archives: Deaf

You are what you Eat- ASL

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Hurricane Sandy and the New York Interpreter

Hurricane Sandy is making landfall near New York.

I am getting beset because I have read that all of Southern Ontario including Townsville is about to get the brunt of this hurricane that has two other storms feeding into it. I’m trying to find a channel on TV where i can get more information and I finally get to Global where they are saying that the monster storm is going to bring big winds and lots of rain.

And then, just when I need to know whats in store there is no captioning. It disappears.

I am discomfit. I need that information!

I can’t crank the television because my daughter is already in bed! My husband is in bed and he has to work in the morning! There is no one to tell me what they are saying!

I go closer to the tv hoping to try to read their lips and see if i can decipher any of the news. It’s too hard! I cant figure it out. Everything is garbled. I head to my laptop to see what I can find in the news on the web.

It’s really beginning to bug me. I really think Canada is way behind when it comes to urgent news events on the tube and elsewhere during storms or disasters. Unlike the USA, we have no VRS, no interpreters on TV, über crappy captioning that is garbled or doesn’t make sense 60 percent of the time. No warning or alerts in place and no ADA. You would not believe the barriers my son faces (more than I) on a daily basis.

Lots of stuff in print about the storm on the web and then I happened upon this:

Her name is Lydia Calas and as you have seen she is a sign language interpreter. You will very rarely see anything like this on Canadian TV during a disaster or otherwise. I applaud the Mayor for thinking of the deaf and hard of hearing during the storm.

From the Huffington post:

All eyes were on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as hurricane Sandy approached, but it was his sign language interpreter who stole the show.

Viewers went wild over Lydia Callis’ facial expressions and dramatic gesticulations (is that even a word???) during Bloomberg’s press conference Monday, turning her into an instant web sensation, complete with her own GIF-filled Tumblr.

“I love that lady,” wrote one commenter on the video of the presser uploaded to Youtube. “Stupid news is blocking her on TV so they can show footage of something. But this lady is amazing.”

Several outlets also reported her name as “Lydia Calas” — which has an unverified Twitter feed associated with it — but New York Magazine says she spells her name “Callis.” Whatever the spelling, her performance gave the public a pleasant moment during what might turn out to be among the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. history, with some estimates topping $20 billion. At least 33 people lost their lives during the storm, according to the Associated Press.

In the words of New York Magazine:

Unlike Bloomberg’s own stilted Spanish, another highlight of the updates, Callis’s signing is both lightning-fast and emotive, her animated face lighting up and contorting happily as she goes, not unlike a guitarist during a blistering solo.

And that is the truth.

It was so good to see someone was thinking ahead there. And now she is a celebrity.

And for the next storm I am going to be okay. My friend AC told me of two services I can get to notify my iPhone of important news and weather. I am already signed up.

Late-deafened Moms with young kids? How did you cope?

Just recently while doing a guest spot for Lipreading Mom’s blog, I got asked a few questions about coping and communication methods with my children. Since they are grown now (the youngest is 17) I had to think back to the early days when my Meniere’s was full-blown, my hearing took a turn for the worst and I didn’t want to lose out on any part of their lives or the ability to dialogue with them. How was I going to cope?

It seemed like such a long time ago that I was thrust into the world of hearing loss, I hadn’t realized just how much time and effort had been  put into simply surviving as a family. Back then there was not the advancement of technology that there is today. In 1999 for example, when I got my first Blackberry there was no phone option, just a simple text pager. No surfing, no SMS, no Facebook or Twitter just simple text on-screen with the ability to reply. It was a great way to be able to communicate back and forth if family members needed me but it was also very expensive. Many Deaf and hard of hearing folks just started to get in on email and still relied on their TTY’s and could not afford to get hooked up with RIM.

I relied on my creativity to get us through. I couldn’t afford to fully outfit my home with assistive devices or to shell out hundreds of dollars in sign language courses being offered at the local college. I made do with things I already had and purchased a few more things that I could afford. I got loads of tips and advice from my local Canadian Hearing Society, ordered a few CD’s, got a few books from the Internet. I hit the library for what few video’s they had for kids and sat down to make a plan.

Trouble was, there wasn’t really any way to make a plan. I had no idea where to begin. I made a list of what I thought were pressing needs at that moment but couldn’t seem to get it organized, so I sat the kids down and armed myself with a pad and paper. I let the older ones write down what they thought, what they didn’t like and what they thought might help. There was a lot of good ideas and they were happy to help.

We started with basics.

The neighbours already thought we must be  horrible parents because of all the yelling back and forth so we made it a rule that if mommy was upstairs putting laundry away and she was needed, the kids were to turn the hall light on and off a few times to get her attention. Same with the basement if was I was putting in a load of laundry or unloading the kiln. There were reminders to not wander off when talking and go into another room, to tap me on the shoulder instead of yelling. It took a bit of practice but eventually they started to get the hang of it. I think it was easier on the 2 oldest and harder on the youngest.

We kept eye contact and spoke slower, tried to eliminate noises around us. The noises always seemed to get in the way. Sometimes they would write things down. I installed a flashing light for the telephone and one for the doorbell. I got a really loud alarm clock that also had a bed shaker on it. I didn’t want to be dependent on being told someone was  at the door or on the phone. The specialist said that as i got older I would lose my hearing completely and the thought of the kids excluding me because I couldn’t hear was frightening. I put on videos for them to watch to give them some exposure to sign language and began to teach them the basics. The youngest child was receptive because she could not yet fully verbalise and the others thought it was neat but that soon wore off. It was a lot of work.

I photocopied black and white pictures from a sign language book for kids and let them color them in. I pasted the pictures onto construction paper and used plastic wrap and tape to keep them from getting dirty (I couldn’t afford to laminate them all). I went around the house with the kids and the pictures and one by one showed them the sign for things such as the “door”, and then taped the picture to it. We taped the picture of  “tooth-brush” onto the bathroom mirror above the tooth brushes, “toy box” went above where the toys were kept, “bed” went on the wall beside the bed, “clothes” was stuck to the closet door, “dog” was put on the wall above the crate. The house looked kind of pretty and they started remembering signs! There was also a lot of fingerspelling 😦

I studied the sign language CD’s and learned new signs I didn’t know and taught them to the kids. I got involved with our deaf community and joined the deaf club. Many were really receptive and only too glad to help. They made gentle corrections to my grammar (LOL Anthony and Pola) and still laugh about the first time I signed “pleased to meet you” as “pleased to dessert you” because I was nervous. We had “Silent Sunday” which was when we would all gather round the table for sunday dinner and no talking was allowed. If you wanted the salt, you had to use your sign language to ask for it. The youngest loved that because she could out sign the older ones. Looking back I don’t think hubby minded the quiet at all LOL. I educated the kids every chance I got about hearing loss and communication and how important it was to me and why.

Then there was learning to lipread. I think that really helped me the most. I was disappointed to learn that only about 30 percent of speech can be read on the lips. The rest is practice, body language, common sense and more practice. It is also not true that all deaf or hard of hearing people know how to lipread. Some say lip-reading is a talent and not a skill and that it cannot be taught. I took one on one classes and walked around my house for months on end holding a mirror up and watching my mouth form sounds and words. I would turn down the TV and turn off the captioning and see if i could read what was being said on a persons lips. Let me tell you it is NOT an easy task. The letters B and P look the same, as do V and F.  And what about C and T? Eventually if everyone slowed down a bit, and I watched their mouth and body language I could put most of what was being said together. Hubby had to lose the moustache. That was a milestone for me.

I believe in total communication, do whatever it takes, use whatever you have to, to speak and be heard! If you need to write things down? Do it. If you want to sign and speak? Do it! If you want to lipread? Do it! Do whatever it takes, whatever and where ever and when ever but most of all don’t forget to be creative. And your kids will have more awareness too.

Wow…. I just realized.

“We’ve come a long way baby…”

Healthy eating DVD help for deaf- ASL Captioned


What is BMI? -ASL

Watch a doctor describe BMI and how it affects you.

Deaf in the Health Care Field – ASL and Voice Over

National Deaf Awareness Week, USA