(And yes, that is my dog doing what she does best — retrieving — in the header picture.)
Well let’s see…what to say?
I was born profoundly deaf due to complications from maternal rubella. Since I was my mother’s first child, she didn’t pick up on the fact that I might be deaf until I was about three years old. At that point, a friend of hers with a deaf daughter of her own saw me watching TV and ignoring calls for lunch and said, “That’s not the terrible twos, get her hearing tested.”
So she did and I was duly outfitted with hearing aids, went through a summer session at John Tracey Clinic in Los Angeles. I went to kindergarten and first grade at a private school and I did well enough my mom lobbied to have me mainstreamed into the local neighborhood schools (mainstreaming wasn’t necessarily automatic in the early seventies). For several years, until 6th grade if I remember, I had itinerant tutors come by once or twice a week to give me lessons in speech therapy and to make sure I was doing okay in classes. I did have one briefly again in high school, but I ran him off, utterly sick to death of the constant assumption I needed more speech therapy and more coaching when I was making straight A’s (and really trying to actually fit in, which is destroyed when you’re taken out for “special ed” in the middle of classes for all others to see).
This was 100% oral, I never did learn sign language at any point in school. I was always the only deaf kid in school; despite my mom’s getting to know other women with rubella babies, I never socialized with other deaf children. I’ve never asked my mom, but I suspect we were kept somewhat apart to reinforce the oral education.
School was structured enough that I did fine as long as there weren’t too many group discussions. It got a little trickier in college, but I found most professors willing to accommodate extra reports or quizzes in lieu of class participation so none of this was a real problem. On through university, jobs, and life in general.
The interesting thing is that when the second Gallaudet protests started up in 2006, I caught wind of it, and started to monitor the news and blogs coming out of it. That has certainly triggered a lot of reactions, thinking, and re-evaluation. And at the beginning of this year 2007, I started to learn ASL. In other words, even though I had self-labelled as “deaf” since I was quite young, actually, I still thought of myself as a “hearing person with a problem” rather than as a “deaf person looking for tools in a [often hostile] hearing world.” Nothing wrong with me but what society labelled me as. So I started exploring this online: starting out at Livejournal, then briefly at DeafRead and now here at my own WP blog. (I’ve tried exporting various old entries into this blog, but the success rate has been piecemeal; someday I’ll find the time to sort it all out.)
Some of you have wondered how much I can hear — despite all my points about how this isn’t the issue :). Without hearing aids, I am 90dB down, meaning that you generally have to amplify a sound by 90dB for me to hear it about the same level most hearing people do. In fact, I have been known not to notice the garbage disposal was no longer running, I can’t hear vaccum cleaners and I can walk right past the 5′ tall speakers at concerts without flinching. I can hear the backup beep on trucks from the right angle (usually too close for safety!). But with my hearing aids, I can function face to face with people (yes, I speak) to the extent they may not realize I’m deaf at first. Some people can hear my “deaf accent;” others notice an accent but can’t place it (so yeah, I’ve had people think I was everything from Canadian to Mexican to European…) I rely extensively on captioning for TV and video clips of all kinds, although it is possible for me to put on ear phones, if the computer will amplify loudly enough, and understand some materials on YouTube. But only when people are speaking directly to the camera (no voice overs) and keep in mind I’ll have to watch the clip several times over to make sense of it, so it involves a lot of spoons and most of the time I don’t bother or I search for transcripts. I was never a big fan of TV shows or movies until DVD’s came out and I realized how much captioning helped. (No, I never used it growing up — I was so much of a bookworm that it didn’t bother me too much to have a very low TV usage.) It’s great that YouTube is starting to auto caption a lot of stuff (even if much of it looks LSD-inspired — check it out sometime) although there’s a long way to go with online video content captioning :-/
I write about whatever interests me. It can be about being deaf in a hearing world, about dog training, about my personal life. Much of the time it’s about politics, especially about queer rights, disability rights, and the general liberal-conservative dynamic. I’m also a programmer and very interested in how online and “real life” intersect and interwine. I have been online the internet since 1987. After various bad experiences using my personal name online, I have been BrownEyedGirl65 since 2005.
If you’d like to email me directly, try browneyedgirl 65 “at” gmail “dot” com. Remove spaces, and replace the “at” and “dot” as usual…
For what it is worth, here’s my Google plus profile.