Tag Archive: Child Of Deaf Adult


#BlackLivesMatter

essenceFor the past months, I have been reflecting on events that have and are taking place in the world in regards to “Black Life”. “Black life” is part of who I am and know very well. The lens I use to navigate the world is through the lens of a Black woman, a wife to a Black husband, the mother of 3 Black children and a Black Child of Black Deaf Adults. The way we conduct our lives are different from other races and cultures. Noting, that all cultures have different lifestyles, beliefs and systems but the experiences and driving factors of decisions and life styles is where the difference lies. As a Black Family, our family gives care to many thoughts that other races and cultures may not such as, who our friends are, how we represent our direct family and community, where we live and how we can work harder to be a better contributor to society and receive equal opportunities. As well as, how to be the best we can be to have people see us as individuals first and then Black. Conversations that take place in our home often and are not unusual, is to explain to our youngest daughter (8 years old) why children cannot play with her at school because their parents said she is “brown” and different than their own race/culture. Another topic is impressing upon my 14 year old, that there is no room for failure because minorities are behind in academics in comparison to other races (seen as their counterparts). She must work harder and push herself harder because no matter what she will be at the bottom due to the color of her skin and hidden biases towards her on behalf of teachers and student counter parts. I encourage my children to be the best they can be and more… because we are a people who will have to fight and prove ourselves worthy to be respected as educated, deserving and human counterparts of the dominant race and culture.

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These are similar conversation I had in my Deaf and Black household growing up. My mother encouraged my brothers as Deaf Black boys to become educated and hard working Deaf Black men. I witnessed as well as learned from my mother and brothers the oppression and dual discrimination they faced simply on their inability to hear and the difference of race. They faced academic, employment and social challenges and no matter how hard they fought they were knocked down, the skill of resilience will only apply and be used as a strength for so long. After a while, they were over taken  with a downward spiral of negativity and hopelessness. In the end, my mother and brothers pulled themselves up by the bootstrap and did the best they could with what they had but not without the constant reminders of the daily dissimilarities, challenges and discriminators they continued to face.

How does this all relate to the focus of my blog “The Deaf Community”? Some of their struggles are the same. Where African-Americans/Blacks face discrimination based on their race (physical features) and ethnicity (culture), Deaf individuals face audism (The notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears.-Tom Humphries) based on the inability to hear and use the dominant language.

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I have attended meetings/gatherings where Deaf individuals relate their struggle of oppression and being devalued by the dominant culture to that of what the Black community has battled with for decades. Both cultures continue to fight for awareness, equality and acceptance of who they are as a community without having to transform to the the expectations of society and the dominant race/culture.

Can all races and cultures live in harmony and acceptance? Or do we continue to build our communities separate and not equal. How do we break the viscous and deeply woven cycle of racism and audism(although there are more “isms”). It seems to be through information, exposure, and accountability.

I read a couple of articles yesterday from a fellow word press website that remained in my thoughts in regards to racism and audism and if you are interested you can use the links below to read both of the articles.

On the Topic of Racism with Teija O. Kishna, or Bravo CSD!

Deaf Culture Hijacked-The Hearing Minded Taking Advantage of the Word Deaf

Also great resources are the video links below. Each were of interest and worthy to view to become informed on topics not regularly addressed. Each video has a topic and goal that is unalike but in general the subject matter is related to the topics of the Black community and the Deaf community.

I will continue to the navigate the world through the same lens but I will seek to make a difference with whom I can, where I can and when I can through information, exposure, and accountability but with a positive perspective.

Deaf Hope Video-Black Lives Matter ( Shares perspective about learning about other communities)

Tiffany T. Hill-Black Voices (Speaks about the perception of Black Voices in the interpreting field)

Now that it has happened..what did you think about the Switched at Birth Sign Language Episode?

This video shared why they decided to produce this episode.
It is fabulous that they did this and it reminded me of what my life was like in a deaf household….sign..sign..sign:)
Love-it(Kiss-fist)

ASL in family

ASL in family (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do I have to interact with deaf people??????? Yes, you do! This is what I tell my students.

The best way to learn sign language is to “dive into the deaf world”. Students ask all the time how they can receive a name sign or how to become more fluent…my response is….. by practicing and connecting with the very people whose language you are learning. What better way is there to increase your signing abilities both receptive and expressive than by practicing with deaf individuals. I understand using your skills as a beginning signer can be nerve-wracking but as I tell my students be like the Nike slogan and “Just Do It” jump right in and do your best. Deaf people are straightforward and seek to make connections with other signers, one of the key elements of the culture is communication. The Deaf community appreciates when a hearing person has a sincere interest in learning sign language and a level of respect for the language, culture and community.

This past week one of my ASL 1 students attended the Sean Forbes concert at California School for the Deaf Riverside. When she came back she was enlightened and excited about the skills she was able to use at the concert. She shared with me her experience and how she was happy when she realized how much sign language she understood. I was soooo proud of her because she now understands the importance of what she is learning, how to use it and its benefits.

I encourage students to attend any deaf event but the best events are the ones that are on a smaller scale and allow one to one communication. As students attend these events and return to the classroom they share how comfortable they felt, the signs they learned and conversations they clearly understood. These experiences are confidence builders which are great for the spirit when learning a new language and putting it into action.

I love that ASL is becoming increasingly popular but as an ASL educator and Child of Deaf Adults I want my students to understand that it is vital to connect, involve and grow in the deaf community, doing this will enhance your perspective of deaf culture and increase your signing fluency.

So…ASL students Get out there and sign!

Good Luck:)

Kids Can Sign!

kid signKids Can Sign…..Kids Can Sign…..Kids Can Sign!!!! It’s like a chant because it is true!

I love to see little ones signing! It is astonishing at an early age when they have not formed communication (speech skills) but they can gesture (sign) word to express how they feel.

I am a child of deaf adults and I learned to sign at an early age. I remember signing more than I talked. As a matter of fact, I learned speech from my close family members, t.v. and the radio. I always tease thank goodness the radio and t.v. shows were a lot better at that time, who only knows what I may have learned if I listened to what was on t.v. today. Anything I needed I had to sign to communicate with my parents and siblings. I did not appreciate it as much as I do now. When I gave birth to my first child her grandmother taught her the signs she knows and still remembers at eighteen years old. I am thankful to my mom for giving us a gift that has benefited us in so many ways and moreover a gift that no one can take away. When my mom passed, she stopped signing as it was difficult for her to do without thinking about her grandmother. However, when you put her in a signing environment the signs flow from her hands as if it were yesterday. This proved to me firsthand that once you teach children they retain it especially if your routinely use sign language in their daily lives.

In general it has been said that children who learn sign langauge early on have less issues when comes to frustration, temper tantrums and aggressive behaviors. It also helps increases interaction between parents, educators and children.  Children also build self-esteem by making them feel capable and proud they are able to communicate. If we can start our children off on the right foot why not?

One of the best gifts to give our children and help them start off on the right foot with academics and training for future employment is the gift of being bilingual. There are several commonly used languages in our great country English of course next is Spanish and after that is American Sign Language as other languages rise and become more common, our children need to be bilingual in one of these languages, any popular language. I cannot think of a time where being bilingual has not been a benefit to me or my oldest daughter.  Teach your children ASL from birth and start them on the path to bilingual success.

There are resources below to continue your reading about the benefits of sign language and children.

Benefits of children learning sign language

Baby Signs

The benefits of sign language for all children

Benefits of Signing with your Child

As I sit here thinking about the new year and lesson planning:) I ponder on the reason why I teach the subject that I do or why I teach at all. I teach my subject because it stems from who I am.. a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults). My mother and brother was deaf, I have one brother still living who is deaf also. My mom had a personality larger than life with blue eyes and Carmel skin and a heart filled with faith. Her motto in life and for her family is in all things keep the faith. She passed away five years ago but each day feels like it has not been that long ago. I think of her to remind me why I do what I do..teach ASL. I could teach anything but ASL is my passion it is the electricity that ignites my core.

I remember our experiences growing up in a Deaf family some good and some bad but I use those experiences to make a difference with the students I work with. My mother never let anything interfere with her life plan, each of my brothers (both have blue eyes too) and stood against discrimnation..against audism to become the people who they became. My twin brother sadly passed away three years ago and he reminds me to “try life” to live and love and not regret. I share that passion with my students as well. I love them whole-heartedly as their teacher, mentor and the person who may be able to make a difference in their lives so they can make a difference in someone elses.

All in all, I strive to remind myself of my purpose as a teacher and the subject I teach. My purpose is to show the importance of American Sign Language to the Deaf community and the hearing community and to bring life to the lessons I teach. As well to make sure I empower and educate others to reach out and connect with populations other than their own despite their abilities and in abilities. Most of all, to keep the lessons of my family in my spirit to keep me passionate about who I am, will become and what I do.