Sunday, November 11, 2007

Open E-Message to Richard Roehem, OCED (ASL Issue)

Hey Richard,

Why should we, deaf people have to be obligated to accomodate hearing people's rudimentary (limited and inferior) signings at any various deaf events for their own sake???

Deaf people in general NEED some break from the dominant (hearing) society from time to time and want to interact with other deaf fellows in their own language WITHOUT taxing themselves to please hearing signers. Deaf events are not the time or place for practicing ASL.

Hearing signers ought to know better than imposing themselves upon any of us, deaf people at any deaf events or coffeehouse gatherings.

Deaf people are NOT only the linguistic group really annoyed with gawkers and so-called fluent speakers (signers). Many minority or dominant-speaking linguistic groups OFTEN get impatient and crassy with some people barge into their social lives.

French Parisians are well-known for scoffing at many tourists, especially Americans for speaking unintelligent linguistic sentences/phrases. Parisians do NOT have time for anyone, who wish to polish up their French spoken skills!!! Excuse moi! No questions about handful of rural French populace generously sacrifice their time for any gawkers speaking inferior French which they have not much things to do.

Deaf events, coffeehouse social times and silent suppers are not supposed to be the annexation of ASL classrooms. Any hearing people have the ability to sign much fluently in ASL. Deaf attendees will feel worthy of their time to have non-awkward conversations with fluent hearing signers.

I often could not wait for hearing signers with poor ASL skills leaving the ASL Dinner. So we, deaf people could take our social time back to ourselves and speak freely without worrying about other hearing people not comprehend what we are talking about.

Other minority/dominant-speaking linguistic groups will give you subtle message - "Get lost! We just want to have good time, not laboring ourselves to teach hearing people on our own time". Or we should get paid for partial tutoring hearing signers? Why not!

I often was told by hearing people as a deaf kid that they just talked "all nothing, not anything important" within their social conversation. Getting even with hearing people and make them understand what many of us, deaf people were going through for years. D'accord?

ASLize yours,
Robert L. Mason (RLM)


  1. I really feel the teachers of the ASL classes should ask the deaf patrons for permission in advance before telling their students to attend these functions. It's the deaf people's time to socialize with each other.

  2. ASL teacher should be there too to take care of his students.

  3. Hey RLM,

    You do actually have a good point. When there is a Deaf event such as expo, etc that puts us much harder to be patient around with people who started to learn ASL because this is the ONLY day we all will ever to be socialize with bunch of Deafies.

    But, I don't see why it should stop them from attending however they don't have to force themselves to be part of conversation. It will be up to some Deafies to walk up and chat if they wish.

    Of course, the last thing we want is to be rude so try to do it in nicest way if possible.

    That goes the same at coffee night, they can come and observe us but it's up to some of us if we want to use up our time to chat with them. I do that sometimes when I'm out of conversation with Deafies, so I just walk over to ASL students and chat with them.

    When there are ASL students around, they should chat to each other in ASL but with no voice, it helps as well to practice until a Deaf person joins.


  4. THANK YOU!!!! I am glad there are people thinking alike. I don't get to go out much often as I would like and so I value my free time so much hanging out with deaf friends. It often annoys me when I would chat with a deaf friend at resturants or events to have someone hearing interrupting us right in the smack of conversation "I know how to sign. Blah, blah" THAT's very RUDE!

  5. SG says, "That goes the same at coffee night, they can come and observe us..."

    Deaf people are NOT exhibits for people to observe!

  6. Good entry, RLM.

    We need a neutral space aside from Deaf events where hearing people can interact with us. I don't know-- I do know that we need our space often, and that we aren't exhibits. Is there a way hearing learners can become fluent signers without having to resort to interrupting social intercourse at Deaf events?? I believe so.

  7. brentster,

    Ok.. ok, you are right.. that was my bad saying this way. I take that one back.


  8. DE, can you suggest some ways?

    My only "natural" deaf contacts are the one guy at the gym, and my instructor.

    I am also getting a little more involved with our local deaf hoh services org. (Going to the MoPix movie, and talking about it afterwards was great)

  9. My first post did not show up, where I said:

    I think it would be good if:
    1. The events were more publicized
    2. They had some rules, and guidelines available for "visitors"
    3. Perhaps some open and closed events, with open events to specifically include students and encourage increased use and communication with ASL.

  10. I totally disagree. I think that it is wonderful that many people are showing an interest in American Sign Language. And wouldn't that be wonderful if we let them become involved with us by befriending each other. We need allies...all we can get in these days of being oppressed and bein treated horribly. We would create the networking so we can move easily within the world in near future? one notices that these hearing female students that are practicing are cute and beautiful???

  11. I really don't agree with this, because in essence you would be shutting out the oral deaf and the late-deafened who are just beginning to learn ASL.

  12. Just tossing in my 2 cents worth here: I agree with Mishkazena - that ASL teachers should ask permission from the deaf community gathering before sending their ASL students to their event. I also feel that many Deaf Service organizations often seek volunteers and that ASL students should grab those opportunities as it would be in a more structured setting that they could practice their ASL skills.

    However, my personal belief is that if I am approached by ANY ASL students, hh, late-deaf or deaf person just learning ASL, I ALWAYS give them some of my time. why? I am honored that they are learning ASL and that the world of ASL and therefore, ACCESS, is growing! (Not fading as Richard R. seems to think.) ASL LIVES ON!!!

    ~ LaRonda

  13. This is obviously a touchy subject. I try to be patience with hearing people who just learned ASL but there is a limit to how much time I'm willing to spend because I'm at a social function for a reason, to relax and enjoy conversation with friends. SO, I tend to break off conversation with hearing person after five or ten min and hope they can just go on to the next person.

    Many ASL classes requires their students to put in 60 or so hours into participating in deaf events as part of their requirement to pass the class. What the ASL instructors want their students to do is to OBSERVE and PARTICIPATE. I've been to one picnic where two students did nothing but observe. One happened to be the daughter of a friend so, I approached her and talked to her anyway and they both really appreciated it beause they got to sign to us in ASL.

    How else will they learn naturally? Same with late deafened people or what about some child that went to oral school first then entered state school for the deaf? Poor kids have to put up with bullying because they didn't know signs. I've seen it first hand and I really thought it was wrong. so, it is a touchy subject, maybe we all need to be a bit more compassionate?

  14. I'm a student of ASL, and I appreciate reading this blog. At first, I was offended by, what I felt was harshness. But, I also respect the privacy that you want at YOUR functions. More than that I appreciate the support from those who responded about encouraging the students to learn. To those who help me, Thank you! I feel like I improve every time I attend the functions. The more I go, the sooner you have more interps available. thanks for listening.

  15. Not only is it the duty of true teachers to teach but it is also THEIR duty to inform students about different cultures and languages. When I taught French
    fir six years, I taught students about the French customs, so they would approach the French-speaking as properly as possible.
    So ASL teachers should teach
    students that deaf people are like foreigners.

  16. You picked the right words. Seek Geo. We need to looking at the light that lights the bonfires.

    Right Mconnell??


  17. I feel like I'm on both sides, because I am Late-deafened and I never plan to become a "terp" I am going to make new friends and learn ASL! So it hurts to hear that others are bothered by my poor language skills. Still, after my last experience with the guy who knew next to nothing I sort of understand. You already have your friends and may not want a new friend you find difficult to talk to. I GET IT. It's just that hearing people treat me the same way.

    Maybe the answer would be for some of you to set up some kind of tutoring night where you actually "charge" an entry fee and then you will talk to ASL students-- hmmm? That way you could make money and they would benefit and wouldn't bug you at your deaf coffees.

  18. The issue is inclusion, the lack therof, and the scourge cast upon those who stood between the deaf and hearings.

    I simply popped 2 champagne bottles. 3 more to go :) All whooshing even louder. Enjoy!


  19. A lot of you had left very good comments :D

    Let me give two example for here, there is a group called IGG, and they are inviting everyone. They are interpreters in training. So, the deaf people expect to sign with them. Another is "ASL Learners & Deaf events." That would be held at deaf club, resturants, or one day camping. That will help deaf people find time to work with the ASL learners.

    Rebruishments can be gas, refreshments, and/or yeah, monies.


  20. For those coffee houses, why not reserve the time for ASL learners? So that you can have time for them??


  21. Robert,

    You really opened my eyes in that specific point of view. I didn't realize that we were laboring our free time away trying to tutor them wasting our precious times together. Now that will be something that I can use to improvise the morality in our deaf events as a place to relax and enjoy socializing with other deaf folks.

    Thanks Robert for that entry! It led me to the BIGGER world!

  22. In this town there used to be monthly pizza nights at the Pizza Hut where interpreters and ASL students invited the Deaf community to join in. The idea was to get an opportunity to practice and to mix, separately from the more closed clubrooms and Deaf events. These probably were arranged between the restaurant owner and the ASL teachers.

    I can't imagine a ASL teacher so clueless as to order his/her class to barge into the local Deaf club or crash events. A few rules need to be made clear about this.

  23. but the thing is, if we are to advertise "ASL Learners & Deaf Event," I can guarantee there won't be a lot of deafies there. Like RLMdeaf said, who wants to deal with awkward signers during out "time-off" from hearing world?

    I see this as a catch-22 problem. We want more hearing people to speak our language so that we can communicate with them more naturally, but we don't want them at our social events because we need a break from them. :)

    One way or another, we'll figure it out as we always do.

    -Rosa Lee

  24. Hi, Rose Lee,

    Yes, I am aware of that, smile. I just emphasis that ASL Learners & Deaf events as a special catergory. There are not many events such like that. Like, Breaking the Ice Party with ASL Learners at Deaf Club, get it? There is a lot of Deaf events at Deaf clubs, tho. Thanks. deafk

  25. For myself, I don't care to be a monkey in a zoo. The instructor is being paid good money to teach his/her class. So be it.

    I would suggest that hearies learning ASL learn to bowl, golf, or some other sport with the deaf. Or perhaps a deaf church. This type of thing is more "natural" than barging in on a group of deafies' social life.


  26. I truly appreciate all your comments very much. Many of you have good point about not excluding future terps and hearing ASL users, etc.

    I am not the ASL/Deaf extermist myself. I usually spend considerable time with ASL learners at various deaf events, especially the ASL Dinner(s).

    I feel somewhat annoyed with some deaf people choose to sit within themselves during the ASL Dinner and totally ignore hearing people at the opposite end of restuarant table. Ever some hearing people have good ASL skills. Those deaf people rather chat among themselves and left me to babysit ASL learners. Deaf attendees would talk to me, not any hearing attendees. Definitely rude on their part, but I sympathize with other deaf people feeling that way. I wouldn't blame them at all.

    I often told the host of the ASL Dinner to insert explict announcement on the website that the ASL Dinner is not an ideal time or place for learning or practicing ASL. The host of ASL Dinner shrugged at the idea.

    Some ASL learners showed up at the Deaf Professional Happy Hour. I usually gave them my email address if they were interested in polishing up their ASL skills at other times, quiet lunch conversation or group of deaf people with natural ASL signing styles. Some of them did email me with interests, etc. That was only the way for me keeping ASL learners from feeling any emotionally devastating by rejections among deaf attendees.

    Any language instructors would not send their students to formal or special events within particular language usage like the embassy party.

    ASL instructors often find themselves at the crossroads how to encourage their students to be more fluent in their ASL acquistions.

    The hearing female lawyer, ASL learner herself, once paid for the group of deaf attendees' foods and drinks at the coffeehouse upon her own insistence. Of course, deaf attendees objected to her offer, but she refused to back down. We had to let her paid off the tab for her own sake. The female lawyer thanked us for letting her watched our conversation and learned several things. Kinda hilarous!

    DE said perfectly - Deaf people need their own space.

    Wolfer, how true about handful of hearing people being rude to deaf people by enroaching upon our private moments in the public places like "Hi, my name is Jane Doe or John Doe" with grin, blah.

    One hearing lady approached me in rudmentary signings - "I think that my son is deaf" which put me in real awkward position. I am not a certified audiologist myself . I personally do not want to recommend the lady to take her four years old son to any audiologist. I referred her to the particular place with deaf staffers to evaluate and determine if her son is really deaf or not. I waved to the son to see if he really responds to any visual gestures. He smiled at me. That must be true for the four-years old lad to be deaf himself.

    MZ, I really do not know about asking permission first from the group to see if that would be alright with either of them for ASL learners coming to the deaf social events. Kinda unrealistic for someone hearing to ask for the permission. What about impromptu plan to attend the event?

    ASL instructors ought to emphasize the reality of deaf social events intentionally cater to deaf people, not hearing ASL learners.

    DianaRez, I agree with you about not excluding late-deafened individuals at any deaf social events due to their recent ASL acquistions.

    In reality, culturally deaf people rather have their comfort zones of having conversations going smooth without taxing themselves. That's what social event(s) are all about: fun.

    I meant to say that ASL never will fade into sundown in my blog posting.

    Robert L. Mason (RLM)

  27. Today was a great day at Catalina Island with scores of HOH folks all giving me hugs and high fives for my last 2 vlogs. I promised them tomorrow's vlog will be an another whoosher!

  28. I have mixed feelings. I'm afraid that this blog entry will discourage many ASL students, oral deaf, and late-deafened people. I want them to know that there ARE many of us in the community who support their efforts to learn ASL. I, personally, want them to keep trying and to feel free to approach us.

    But I do definitely agree that we need our space. I like the idea of specifically setting up events for this purpose and of ASL teachers to be more careful about which events they send their students to, communicating with community leaders about which would be appropriate.

    Doing these would help minimize the intrusion, deaf people going to these events would be aware of the probable influx of ASL students, and they would be more likely to be patient with learners. It'd be a win-win situation, giving students opportunities to practice with community members.

    moi, the blogger