Tag Archive: disability


English: A collection of pictograms. Three of ...

English: A collection of pictograms. Three of them used by the United States National Park Service. A package containing those three and all NPS symbols is available at the Open Icon Library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems odd that I would ask this type of question especially with my background but very often people ask me is deafness a disability? Or is it a handicap? Or both?

My answer is that Deaf (Big D) individuals do not see it as a disability nor handicap but instead a unique way of life and a culture bonded by a common language. Deaf individuals do not focus on what they cannot do but what they can do- this would the disability vs. ability perspective. Hearing individuals tend to focus on the limitations associated with deafness until they are introduced to the “can do” perspective of a deaf person.

The hearing communities and deaf organizations have established programs and resources for deaf individuals to have equal access, resources and opportunities to be successful and a productive citizen in society based on what may be perceived as a disability. On average deaf individuals appreciate and utilize the resources and opportunities provided but they take advantage of the offers not because they feel and agree with the disabled perspective but to use the resources to accomplish goals, to advance and to thrive.

According to www.ehow.com

Disability Defined
  • According to the World  Health Organization, a  disability is “any restriction or lack (resulting from any impairment) of  ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered  normal for a human being.”

Handicap Defined

The World Health Organization’s definition of a handicap is the “loss or  limitation of opportunities to take part in the life of the community on an  equal level with others; encounter a person with disability and social,  physical environment. Is an inability to accomplish something one might want to  do. The term emphasize the focus on shortcomings in the environment and in many  tasks and activities, ex. in education, occupation, information or communication  (social dimension).”Read more:  Difference Between Disability & Handicap | eHow http://www.ehow.com/facts_6141081_difference-between-disability-handicap.html#ixzz2TQ7D4Ymx

According to www.wisegeek.com

Impairment: occurs when there is a problem that affects the normal human body structure or organ.

Disability: refers to the way in which the impairment restricts the movements and activities of the individual.

Handicap: stems from the extent of restriction that the impairment and disability impose on the individual. The criteria for measuring the handicap is by assessing how other normal people in such a situation would cope. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-difference-between-impairment-disability-and-handicap.htm


All that being said, which there is more to the Disability vs. handicap topic, how do you define each and what do you think the difference is and which applies to the deaf ? Maybe your perspective is that neither applies to the community.

What are your thoughts respectively shared:)

help images

Help, I need somebody,
Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone, help! The Beatles – Help! Lyrics

As a teacher every now and then we may teach topics we may not know the technical term for but we now what we are teaching and how to teach it. Sometimes, I will teach a topic and someone will ask if I teach a certain topic or make a comment on the topic I teach and when they use the technical term..I think oh yes that is what is called. My motto is I am always learning and I seek to learn something new as often as possible therefore I am in a constant learning process. What I think I know…. I don’t and what I think I don’t know…I do, odd how that works. However, I know that I know I want to always put my best effort forth and when I am not familiar with a topic I am going to research or ask for help until I get an  answer I understand. Therefore, I was introduced to these four topics some of the topic I knew already and the others I did some research to make sure I understood and now I want other educators, native signers or those knowledgable about linguistics to shed some light. If you could give definitions and examples of how you use this in content, that would be great!

These are 4 topics : Classifiers; Discourse Analysis; Register and ASL Sentence Types. 

Thankyou for your help and feedback!

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” – Dr. Seuss

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:)

Video provided through Ohlone College Deaf Studies Division

deaf manSign Language is  a Deaf Language not a Gang Language, there’s a difference!

A deaf man by the name of Terrence Daniels was stabbed because gang members thought he was using gang signs. This is an unfortunate event. It reminds me of the world we live in where cruel or uneducated individuals see gestures and mistake them for gang signs. Have they ever heard of American Sign Language??? Maybe not because as an ASL educator I am still defending ASL as a language.The North Carolina Terrence Daniels, 45 was signing with another deaf man and a third person saw the two of them signing and  stabbed Terrence Daniels multiple times. Thank God he is in stable condition and made it through the attack and the arrested the man who stabbed him but what is the aftermath of this attack? Will gang members target deaf individuals or will they become more aware of sign language? Will deaf individuals become fearful to use their language freely in public and not worry about someone harming them because they mistake their signs for gang communication? Too many questions and thoughts.

I think this further upsets me because in my area there have been two attacks on deaf individuals. I am not sure if the assailants knew they were deaf and purposely preyed on them or they  acted out of opportunity either way it is inhumane to hurt another person. Law enforcement managed to arrest the individual responsible for these attacks but it still does not excuse that it happened.

My family and I grew up in the inner city. My grandmother would always tell my mother and brothers to sign low, put their hands down or to wait to talk when were in the car. I know she was not embarrassed but afraid of gang members that might mistake my family for rival gang members and this began at an early age. They listened but it did not make them feel confident about their form of communication. When my twin brother became a young man he experienced the very incident my grandmother wanted to protect him from. While at a store with a friend, the two them were signing and gang members saw them and begin to harass my brother and his friend and began to bust my brothers car windows until a resident in the area told the gang member he was deaf and to leave him alone. The guy gestured a warning to my brother and left. Thank you to that person who helped my brother but they never arrested the guy who vandalized my brothers car. My brother learned to be cautious of  but never let that incident change how he used his sign, how he felt about hearing people and how he lived his life but it changed me. I make sure to advocate for the deaf community and educate others with a passion because no one deserves to have an experience like my brother or Terrence did.

According to the website www.projectcensored.org  individuals with disabilities are more likely to be victims of crimes. They estimate about 5 million individuals are victims of serious crimes annually in the united states. How can we decrease this number? How can we protect this unique population? How can they protect themselves?

We must be the voice and educate others, the deaf community cannot be afraid to use their language and gang members must be held accountable for harming innocent people. “We” the hearing and deaf communities must stand together and protect each other. I know it’s easier said than done when fighting against individuals who care for no one and nothing and believe in killing and bringing harm to anyone they can but we must be the change we want to see like the person who stood up for my brother.

Below is an article about the incident:

Deaf Man Stabbed

One of my students shared this story with me and my heart was saddened but I understood. This is a must read it is short but it made me think of how much I missed my twin brother. There were so many things in life we did together and when he passed away I did feel a part of me change and I always feel as though a part of me is missing.

In Belgium a set of 45-year-old twins who were deaf and becoming legally blind decided to end their lives together at a hospital, they felt they could not live the rest of their lives without being able to see each other.

Each us have our opinions of what we would and would not do. However, as individuals we have the right to make our own decisions. It is sad for a person to end their life but it reminded me of the bond between siblings. Also, that these twins were bonded by their multiple disabilities and had made a life together that they could not see living apart or without sight.

I think of how some siblings cannot be in the same room together. My thought is to appreciate the people in your life and the bonds you have created you never know when a decision or act may change your lives. A simple I am thinking of you or forgiving a situation to re-connect with family is all it may take. When we don’t have anyone else it is said we will always have family.

A link to the article is below:

Faced with blindness deaf twins choose euthanasia

The first experience of a mother and child is the flutter of movement in our stomach. At that point we realize that we are carrying life is in us and we are now responsible for another human being and within a matter of months he or she will be cradled in our arms. We look forward to perfection as we imagine ourselves counting all ten fingers and all ten toes, looking at eyes as wide as if they are smiling at us because they are familiar with our presence. When the time comes and we deliver our bundle of joy and perfection we can’t wait to teach them everything we know and have experienced so they can grow into the perfect healthy being.

Some people may think to themselves “I would never expect perfection just healthy” but what does healthy entail? All ten fingers and toes? Both eyes,hearing, a strong heart and lungs, and a sound and capable mind?
What happens when something is not healthy, normal or perfect like we want? How do we feel and what do we do?

The first moment your realize that your child does not respond to sound and may be deaf, what do you do? Create the sound again to be sure, think a hundred thoughts of what “if’s” or call your physician? You want to know what’s going on and when you find out your greatest fear/concern of your child being deaf is confirmed, you are speechless and cannot understand what happened. If you have never experienced deafness, the language and culture your mind is wondering what is it and what does it involve.

This may not be the experience for every parent but a number of parents have experienced this and looked to guidance for this situation. Deafness is not a disabling, limiting or negative experience with the right tools children can grow into the perfect and healthy beings you seek to raise.

Being deaf may be a challenge at times but not an obstacle that can’t be overcome. When you first find out your child may be deaf it is best to see an audiologist. However, commonplace now is for infants to undergo a hearing test for early detection of hearing loss. After the audiogram confirms the amount of hearing loss and the amount of what can be heard a decision may need to be made. Sometimes the hearing loss can be assisted with the use of hearing aids, or partially restored with a cochlear implant and the other end of the spectrum it may be too great of a loss and not be able to be restored. I am not a doctor but sharing information that I have encountered. It always best to seek a professional opinion as this blog is for basic informational purposes.

When you find out your child has a hearing loss seek all opportunities that may be best for your child however do not forget about seeking professionals in the Deaf community. The Deaf community can be one of your greatest resources. You can learn about the opportunities available to your child academically and socially, the language and culture. Sometimes parents listen to only one side “the medical side” and forget to listen to the “deaf side”. Your child can live in both worlds. Communication is key! No matter what it is important to find a way to interact with your child rather you focus on speech classes or sign language your child will need consistent interaction with language. I think it is great to teach children both speech and sign language but the choice has to what is best for your family.

There are mainstreamed school where they attend classes with their hearing counterparts and residential/day schools with programs geared for the deaf population. Employment opportunities are available to deaf individuals and it has been shown that there are successful deaf individuals activities, educators, lawyers, entrepreneurs and more…these individuals had support, faith and belief that they could be do what they put their mind to and they have accomplished greatness.

If you are seeking additional resources your local social service agency, medical organization and education system should be able to give your resources to point you in the right direction.

The thought for this blog is to remember that we love our children unconditionally and despite the challenges we may encounter we seek the best for them and encourage them to be their best. Always think of the word “ability” instead of “disability”.

“Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.” Lady Bird Johnson, former U.S. first lady

Being a part of a Deaf family we have had many experiences both good and bad. Unfortunately, living in the area we did as children my brothers being young deaf males had an encounter with law enforcement. Growing up, they were taught to gesture towards their ears to indicate deafness when someone tried to talk to them or if they encountered a situation with officers. Thank goodness this did not result in a negative encounter but the other person usually  understood  what they gestured. In my years of experiences I have not met many officers who had deaf sensitivity training, especially with the growing population of deaf individuals or officers who work in a heavily populated deaf area. I met a couple, maybe two who had some type of generic training to deal with people with disabilities. I was excited about that experience.

Today, I watch this video on YouTube by Deaf Inc.  and it is awesome! I think law enforcement should have additional training to deal with disabled populations. I understand they probably have enough training as it is but when your job is to protect and serve the community; training and further education never ceases. It is similar to teachers who seem to face non-ending professional development, changing standards, learning to accommodate new disabilities and so on we understand the value and flexibility to adapt to a changing world. I understand.

English: A collection of pictograms. Three of ...

English: A collection of pictograms. Three of them used by the United States National Park Service. A package containing those three and all NPS symbols is available at the Open Icon Library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The American with Disabilities Act is vital to people with disabilities. Although, deaf individuals do not consider themselves disabled they are included in this Act. The ADA prohibits individuals and/or businesses from discriminating against a disabled individual in forums of public accommodations/stores/businesses, employment, state and local governments and telecommunications. These sectors must provide reasonable accommodations to disabled persons depending on the disability and circumstance. Some of the most common accommodations that are well-known is the use of an American Sign Language Interpreter, Closed Caption on media devices such as T.V.s, and Teletype communications devices on public phones but more commonly used  now are videophones. If you are a person with a disability please become familiar with the ADA Law as it is a good resource and form of protection for you.The world we live in there are still companies and individuals who are not familiar with ADA when dealing with persons who have disabilities. They are not aware of the reasonable accommodations they must provide. If you take the time to educate yourself, you can educate others to be able to help provide you with equal opportunities/access and services as the hearing and non-disabled communities receive.

An example of  the lack of education on the behalf of organizations is my twin brother who was deaf  died at the age of 32 of congestive heart failure. The last year of his life I became his care provider although I had somewhat been a provider to him all of our lives as the only hearing child in the family. That role was fine for me growing up and remained the same until the day he passed. My brother was somewhat familiar with the ADA and utilized his rights when necessary but as he became more ill it was a challenge to stand against a hearing world. My brother entered hospitals frequently, there were several hospitals where we were well-known. One in particular because we had to go through several levels of management to have an interpreter placed at the hospital. This stemmed from doctors and nurses giving my brother medicine and explaining vital procedures without an interpreter. The hospital felt he could read the information they wrote on a tablet (which I kept all the tablets) but this was not good practice because they assumed he understood what they wrote and if something medically negative happened it would be their responsibility. There have been times as an educator with a higher level degree where I do not understand medical lingo and need to retrieve a dictionary or ask the doctor to explain it in layman’s terms.  Therefore, relying on written communication is not the best choice. Since written communication was not successful, the hospital asked if I could be there during certain times to interpret information, I am a full-time employed teacher, wife and mother, I would do anything for my brother but there are times my schedule would not permit. So what did I do, you might wonder. I moved up the chain of command, we had a discussion as nice as possible about ADA and I shared documentation and the next day my brother had an interpreter (reasonable accommodation). The interpreter was not there around the clock but the nurses/doctors knew to share important information when either the interpreter or I was present to ensure my brother had access to communication and knowledge of health related topics. I am grateful I could make a difference for him and help him obtain communication by advocating on his behalf.

To sum it up, knowing your rights makes a difference. I do not encourage abuse or bullying when using the ADA and asking for unreasonable accommodations. I encourage using the ADA when it will provide equality in communication, access, and all other forums that will support the disabled population in being successful and capable of living a limitless lifestyle.


Below are resources that you can view for more information about the American with Disabilities Act with an emphasis on the Deaf population.