Language or Code?

Here is a picture created by Deaf Revolution and posted to Facebook by Deaf Pride.  1005412_651677811526452_563298360_n

This picture is in conflict.  (I couldn’t make the picture larger.)  The concept is clear.

How do we determine what is language and what is code?  Code meaning a system that is created off another language to facilitate information exchange. Essentially, a coded system.

Here we have is a stoplight: Red (LSL: Listening and Spoken Language), Yellow (SEE: Signing Exact English) and Green (ASL: American Sign Language).

The concept is clear for many who have gone through denial of access to a natural language or those who have struggled with two languages: American Sign Language and English, mainly the spoken form.  While each have their own benefits or pros and cons, the one the most struggle with is LSL and SEE. When deaf people begin to see and adopt ASL, they feel that they have come home.

So ok, the concept is clear. So why is the picture wrong?

LSL: Listening and Spoken Language is the new word for Auditory-Verbal Therapy and Oral Method.  This is where many deaf children will go through in the beginning of their lives, regardless if they use technology or not.  This approach is common because parents want their children to be like them when it comes to language and culture.  The language in use in America is English. The emphasis is to learn how to listen and speak English, without use of sign language.  In fact, ASL or sign language is banned from use because it is believed that the use inhibits the ability to speak.

SEE: Signed Exact English is signs  based on spoken English. The most common belief is that the use of SEE in the education system will help with English literacy.  It does help certain number of children but not a lot.  The word order is based on English word order and often will initialize the sign such as the handshape F used in the sign for FREE; whereas, a fist is used in ASL.  Emphasis is to use signs in English order to make hearing people (in general) happy.  Only a few are successful English literate people, the rest are still confused to what is used in English.  Honestly, deaf people make fun of this system by using it around people who can’t stand it. Hehe.

ASL: American Sign Language is a living language, over 200 years old and based in America. This is what deaf people who sign use daily. Even if they use SEE, they will automatically switch over to ASL because this is the natural form of language.  ASL is a language tied to linguistic rules, just like any other language whether spoken or signed and has its own culture.  This language has been a growing educational subject and only just recently in the last 20 years joined the linguistic research field.  This is the language many deaf people feel at home with.

Ok back to point, why is the picture contrary?

LSL is an approach or a method that uses teaching skills, resources and materials to encourage someone to listen to and speak a spoken language.  The language in use is a language, no argument about that.  Again, LSL is a teaching method, not a language or a coded system.  Examples may include covering of mouth to encourage listening and repetition of words for comprehension.

SEE is a coded system based off of another language, a spoken one. It has no true linguistic rules nor does it have a culture.  The main source of use is in the education system as previously explained.  There is only one creole system that bridges English and ASL but violates both of the languages and that is Pidgin Signed English, not SEE.  SEE also simultaneously uses spoken English which ‘bastardizes’ ASL and English.  This system comes out of the total communication approach of the 1940-50’s, when educators realized that oralism was failing students.

ASL is a true language. As mentioned, the involvement in linguistic research field is new; however, it has created some influence on other spoke languages such as the concept of ‘space’.  Without the use of an interpreter, no hearing person with little to none sign language knowledge will understand.  Both hearing and deaf people require alternate communication methods to bridge communications (not languages).  Most deaf people are bilinguals – they use ASL and are English literate, who can or may not be able to speak English.  ASL is also a culture – a highly visual/tactile culture.  Lights are required, vibrations are necessary and how we approach people are different from other cultures.

You have totally three different schools of thoughts on a stoplight. Again the concept is clear, to us who know what this is all about.  We do acknowledge that there are successful cases for the first two, most often the world is broadened when ASL is added and deaf people, including children of deaf parents and some hearing people have found home.

Water, Blood, Fire; Nature’s Purification

Today I went to church and the sermon topic was “Water”.  Our pastor talked about water as a critical aspect to life, including baptism.  He mentioned that there were three topics frequently commented through out the Bible – water, blood, and fire.

I am drawn to what nature gives us in terms of those three aspects, in many ways are purification types; however, they also lead to renewal.  This is whether it is physical or spiritual.  In almost all religions, water is used for baptism, from simple sprinkling on the forehead to immersion.  We also cannot live without water. Did you know that a body can survive days of no food, as long as there is water to drink? Our bodies are made up of 72% water.

Our world, when one is paying attention, her climate is changing because of how we humans are changing the landscape of nature. The Great and Salt Lake Basins are drying up its aquifers and looking into the Colorado River to feed its population, especially Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Reno. The rainfall there is a scant 5 to 12 inches annually.


Another aspect of life is blood. Blood is as strong as water and is composed of water.  Familial blood ties tend be much stronger between families even if there’s a dramatic love-hate relationship going on.  We are reminded of blood daily even if we do not see it, for it courses through us.  In other words, what of earth’s blood are spilling daily with the deforestation and ever increasing exploitation of our natural resources for greed? Blood will tell.

Fire, an interesting element, while destructive can be a renewal source.  I cannot say for California’s forests which in the last few years have gone through forest fires, compared to the last 3 decades can be scary.  In the Plains, controlled or natural forest fires actually bring new growth because the ashes fire leaves behind has nutritional properties and coupled with water, something grows within a few days.

Admit it – how many of you have stared in a fire and just let your thoughts run around? Fire, such as burning thoughts, spark creativity, desire to accomplish and of course warms us in the dark of nights.  Primal, is it not?  Summer comes soon.

Each element, water – blood – fire, each have a heartbeat that pulses within us and within the earth which we live in. We worry about its physical power but forget the spiritual power that reaches deep into our primal selves.  These elements remind us that we are not gods.  We cannot let greed dictate us, we need to go back to our natural selves and begin to see what we are doing as a whole – a spiritual whole and begin to work, clean up and restore equilibrium to our world, that WE all NEED to have. is soon here, where fires will run rampant.

*deep sigh*


United States’ Irony

Update: This blog is another piece to the whole picture. Like I said later in this post, we can’t take care of our own, can we? 

It has been a while since I have been here. My heart goes out to the Sandy Hook Elementary folks and I do have to feel a slight fear as I work at a local high school teaching ASL.  What I experience now and what I experienced back in high school, totally different. I have two children, my oldest, close to the age of the children.  Now we have the Westboro Baptist Church coming in to picket the school all because of the existence of gay people?

One can’t help but wonder….. what are we coming to?  I have said this before, things are going to be changing. No matter what folks say about the Mayan calendar…

Do you want to know an irony?

It just hit me.

We go to war with countries that have religious fanatics such as Shiites and other factors of Islam religions.  We complain or bemoan the fact that our soldiers go to war in those countries.  We do have the First Amendment which grants us 4 freedoms: the right to assemble, the right to practice whichever religions we practice, the right to speech (public proclamations, not spoken language) and the freedom of the press.

It falls to this…we cannot even take care of our own. We just can’t, can’t we? 230 some years since the Founding Fathers came together to create the Constitution, I ever wonder if they truly ever thought this far ahead?  I imagine they would be like the older people, resistant to the inevitable change that is coming.  It would be unfathomable to the Founding Fathers that we would remove what is dear to our hearts, the ability to pray, from schools.  Every religion, from its extreme and to barely non-existent; we pray.

While we have words, like the “Lord’s Prayer” to guide us, we must question ourselves, do we believe in what we pray for?  Consider what you pray for, is it truly relevant to the way we live our lives now?  What services are we rendering ourselves with those kind of prayers.  When we pray for other countries whose religions are different from ours, do we pray for peace and mean it, or pray for God to strike them dead?

We have yet to truly try to stay at home, look into ourselves as individuals, as citizens and as Americans (regardless of what kind of person we physically are) and make a difference.  We say this but mean another.  We all have a part in the actions of the nation.

Gun laws, increased regulation for gun control? Not the answer, the politicians do not care (most of them) because with power comes money.  Day by day, many of us will continue to be disempowered and disenfranchised by those who believe they have the ‘power’ while they have the money.  Not only is it a continuation, many join our ranks from all four corners of our country.  It is people, not guns, which is the problem. Westboro Baptist Church is a good example of what kind of damage a group of people can do, utilizing situations that are of deep importance and significant impact on families, communities and our nation, to battle something incomprehensible.

The Texas A&M students and faculty fought back.  Locally, the honor guard fought back. Each of us have contributed one way or another to the folks who lived through Hurricane Sandy and the storm system that came after that.  That is hope.  Or from Star Wars, where Luke tells Leia about their father and she asks why Luke has to face him. “There is good in him, I know. That is why I have to do it.”

Hope, one of our strongest emotion.  Do we Love our nation enough to fight back, regardless which party you belong to? Regardless which religion, school of thought, or scientific practice?  Do we hinge our lives on being a superpower nation by ignoring our problems at home?  We will battle this and that, we are fragmented and broken.  While we are not at war at home, this I believe to be far worst that the War between the North and South.

Hope, we must have hope.  We must remember that our Love outweighs many things and brings us through our sufferings. We must not forget the significance of prayer, Pray as you mean it.

Pray. Hope. Love. Cherish. Forgive. Temperance. Kindness.

Identity: MINE

Growing up, I have always been categorized in two groups when asked: “Is your family all deaf?” and “No, you are faking it, you’re hearing.”  The answer to both is No, I have a whole hearing family and I am not faking it.  I may sign proficiently at the age of 11 (when the ‘deaf family’ was asked), more likely as an Easterner (while I am a Midwestern) and respond proficiently as a hearing speaker with excellent speech reading skills…

I still remain who I am. Even with the decisions I make in attempt to compartmentalize my life according to the wishes of both cultures and languages, I live MY life.  Honestly, I cannot compartmentalize myself.

I posted this on my profile at Facebook on 30 March: Statement of the day: I never thought about what they wanted me to do at home – I separated two languages and cultures – one at home and one at school. I made the decision for my family – when they really wanted me to shut up and start signing. My parents made the decision for me to have both – be bilingual and bi-cultural as is my natural right as a human being. I denied them the same right they gave me. They were not aggressive with themselves to demand the same right. Love can make us blind. Society uses that love to create barriers on all sides. It is natural and God’s gift for all of us to be diverse, to be who we are intended to be. I was accused by my mother at a soccer game for not signing at home – 100% – I told her that she never told me to shut up and start signing. My parents took all of my siblings to ISD for sports or some activities, I went to theirs when I was home. I thank God for my parents every chance I get. I’m sure my siblings will say the same, our mother always told us how proud of us she and Dad are, I often said back – we are too of you. Dad doesn’t have to say it – he shows it. This is a relationship I would like to see in all families but as we are naturally human, it will be difficult, but not impossible.

I was at a playgroup recently and the deaf adults who have an active role with families were asked to share their experience growing up which included the communication range in which we were expressive or receptive. It is certainly informative.  I mentioned that we continue to struggle with our identity because of the demands society wants us to be in compliance.  We do know who we are but we have a hard time being true to ourselves.  While the other two grew up oral, they are currently bilingual.

Somewhere in the aegis of AG Bell is a comment oft heard: “Do not acknowledge that your child is deaf. The deafness will go away.”  The problem with this is if we deny a part of who we are… a key ingredient to a whole person, we will live a life that is not our own. The child will grow into an adult struggling doubly because the child/adult has yet to accept the fact that he/she is deaf and that it is only a part of who they are.

Deny the deafness, is to make it prominent. Stand out. It becomes painfully obvious that the person is deaf when it is denied. I am not saying that one should publicize that one is deaf but to accept the deaf within self and approach life as he/she is within, not so demanded by society to conform.  One simple fact, we will never be hearing, ever.

Yeah … but but but … technology… we’re still deaf (or hard of hearing).

Back to me (not my favorite topic): So growing up in both cultures and languages, how did that happen?  I was ‘kicked’ out of the house at 8 years old to deaf clubs, organizations, deaf church, playing with children like me; however, I was not limited to that side of my life.  I also participated in Girl Scouts, did songs for several performances (signed not spoken, y’all would need good earplugs), went to visit my family and did whatever I had to do as a growing child – as any other child, even played baseball.  Heck, I went to London to cheer in the Westminister’s New Year Parade, a sole deaf girl with no official interpreter and oy, I cannot remember how many gals and guys were there, probably over a hundred.



The same can be said for the other side; however, my being deaf has allowed me to say what I want to say.  The deaf community may not be happy with what resources and tools I have in my bags to communicate with the world or to find ways to work with the people.  Their experience is different from mine whether in past generations or current generations; however, I feel for them.  It pains me the most because of experience with my family and my life which I still live.  If the deaf community remains closed to the world, it will be difficult to work on a level of comprehension, enlightenment and equal compassion.

That is something most people will not understand, the identity is not meant to be society’s, it is meant to be mine.

I am deaf and danging proud of it.

Just remember, it is only a part of me. Pieces of the puzzle. A petal on a rose. A leaf on a tree. A poison on a poisonous frog.

I am the part of the sum of whole.

Don’t Waste Your Life Away

you were born an original, dont die a copy.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by the dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they some how already know what you truly want to become.” ~ Steve Jobs. (See YouTube Commencement Speech in English and Interpreted in ASL – Here)

Steve said this in  his commencement speech at Standford University in 2005.  I am not fond of Steve but there are considerations to his persona that make this statement relevant. It is also pretty much true when it comes to being already different and expecting one to be the same as others when you know that you are living someone’s life.

This is often what I hear or see other people say. We who are by nature different are often told we cannot be ourselves because that is not ‘natural’ (according to society). We have to adhere to the ways of the socially superior ethnocentric culture that is in dominant force.

This is a burden, a burden I often remember and forget intentionally to relieve the depressing parts of being different. Think about it. I know and accept that I am different, this is not depressing because I celebrate that. What is so depressing about being different is other people. People who are ignorant and conformists, which is a majority of the people.

Two examples: My children, one is hearing and the other is hard of hearing. I am not going to waste their lives harping on their ability to hear or speak when they have a soul, brain and body to live with. I want them to have everything that is available for them (sans technology if possible, :D… ok, not).  I have met people who have lived under the shadow of oppression, denial and grief from those around them, they led the lives the others wanted them to lead according to THEM. Once the folks saw what they were missing out of life, their journeys took a different fork in the road, often severing ties with the people of shadow.

Ignorance and outright defiance of difference causes pain, confusion and the truth to lie low. Would you rather live a life marred by lies that gave you smiles or the truth that allows tears to flow and hearts and souls to be healed?  Why limit, when the sky and stars are unlimited?

The Real World

No, this is not from the TV series called “The Real World”, that was my sister’s favorite and I couldn’t understand why. Too much drama.

For the last few weeks, a thought keeps flitting back into my mind every once in a while. What is the real world and how do I view the real world?  When I was growing up, I was often told (and I am sure that many of us deaf and hard of hearing can attest to that) “You will be working in the Hearing World.”  This was quite overdone melodramatically… until a few years ago and more recently.

What constitutes a Hearing World?  It is just a majority of the people whom we work with, live with, or have a conversation with; however, we are forgetting one component. The Hearing people do need to work with the Deaf people, thus comes to what is termed appropriately and without further dramatic ado “the Real World”.

Black people work with White people and vice versa.

Asians work with Europeans and vice versa.

Hearing people work with Deaf people and vice versa.

A person who walks works with a wheelchair user and vice versa.

A musician works with a songwriter and vice versa.

A bumblebee works with a flower and vice versa.

The sun works with the earth and vice versa.

American Sign Language users work with English speakers and vice versa.

The list is countless and priceless. The reality is just this… this is the real world. The nature of ‘hearing world’ and the notion of geographical boundaries are social constructs.  Society further wishes us to divide ourselves further to create constant war in the name of the fictional ‘social ideal world’.  You may be hearing or deaf, I still have to work with you. You may be black (African-American), Asian, Native Indian or white, I still can work with you.

Can you?

Welcome to the Real World.


People, people….people.

I enjoyed Sunday at Michigan City with family and friends. It was certainly hot, the sand hotter than the air, whoo!  I think one of my toes is happy with the heat as it does not hurt anymore.

There was only one thing to mar the day, yes, littering. We went into the water, found various items that are dangerous to the wildlife; plastic bags, fabrics and plastic bottles to name a few. Not only is it dangerous for wildlife, its also dangerous for children and adults. One can drown or be trapped by litter.

Almost no one picked up their litter, fortunately for my group, we had trash bags ready, for the trash cans provided by MC park was full and I did not see if any workers emptied the cans. I am sure the workers were faced with a littered beach, after last night’s fireworks.

Some will say “my taxes go into keeping the park clean”, while many will remain ignorant (and do not teach their kids responsibility) and a few keep their areas clean or pick up after others. Paying taxes is one of those required aspects of living where you live, since they pay for, i.e.  school and government operations. It is our responsibility to ensure our towns/cities remain beautiful and healthy environments for everyone, including our wildlife.

Remember “Keeping America Beautiful.”  It starts at home.  Here’s the link:

P.S. Two things: today, a SUV in front of me littered a bag of chips on a country road, I got angry and signed vehemently. I do litter…foods that are naturally environmentally friendly, i.e. banana peels and remnants of apples, bread too.

Update: A few days ago… got a neat video about water – bottles and tap. Both ASL and English are in use… here it is: