vlog describing my chat with an AG Bell assoc parent re: bilingualism
voice over on video and text summary below. Note there are some points in the summary that are not covered in the vlog and there are some comments in the vlog that are not covered in the text. i am an imperfect being – smile
Discussion with second mom about visual acuity and how her daughter might be demonstrating some visual aptitude already. Benefits of bilingualism – to give your daughter a natural and normal way of gaining information instead of having to work and train for it. David Reynolds had come over and chatted with the mom about DBC’s focus and mission and the value of bilingualism. David had to leave to return to the DBC conference and hugged the mother before he left and said pls be in touch with us, we want to help u, we will put u in touch with folks who can help you in your home state etc.
Another Deaf man had been watching nearby along side me. Tami, a core DBC member who raised a Deaf daughter bilingually, started chatting with the hearing mom. She was saying “your daughter will always be Deaf.” The hearing mom asked for clarification what Tami meant and she explained that “without her CIs your daughter is Deaf and she is Deaf on the inside no matter about the CI.” The mom said, “when you say it that way it sounds as if you are talking about more than just her ears, more than just a physical thing.” I thought this was very astute of the mom that she picked up on the fact that Tami was talking about a cultural essence even though the mom was not fully aware or knowledgeable. I said “perhaps this example will help you – when the man, David Reynolds, said goodbye to you and you hugged, this man standing next to me teared up. Now i have never met him before and i may never see him again but i asked – are you ok and he said – i have never seen such an open minded parent before and that exchange between David and this woman really touched me.” and a tear leapt out of his eye and in turn i got emotional and teared up in watching him share how deeply he was touched by you and now he is my brother because we share this common bond of this moment and this understanding. This is perhaps what Tami is trying to communicate about being “Deaf INSIDE” it is a connection that can not be denied. I said this gentleman and I are probably very different. I am hard of hearing and can speak and he his DEAF yet we are connected.” The mom asked me if i regretted not growing up with ASL. I said yes – i am not mad at my parents for not raising me with ASL. But growing up without it put a burden on me to always be figuring things out and to be WORKING to gain information. I said right now u and tami are conversing comfortably – there is no difficulty because you share a language you both understand fully and there is not barrier or labor involved in trying to access those words. This man and I can converse comfortably without any WORK on our part because it is a fully accessible language we are using. I imagine your daughter has to do quite a bit of work to get information right now. the mom says – yes she does have to work for it. yes.
With bilingualism all we want for her is to have times when it is not so much work – where she can understand and be understood comfortably and naturally and also to have a connection. The woman asked how i feel personally about CI. I replied – i am not speaking for DBC but for myself because you are asking me honestly. I said i have some concerns about implanting children. I worry about any mishaps, about infections, about complications. i do worry about that. She explained that it was not a hard decision for her to implant her daughter but with the second implant her husband had more concerns than she did. It was outpatient so she felt it was not a big deal. I explained that anytime you put something in the body permanently it is open to problems and that is what i worry about. I respect her choice and i am glad that it has worked for her daughter and their family with no complications arising.
She explained that she is happy to have her daughter learn ASL and join the Deaf community when she grows up. i explained that the difficulty with that stance is that children learn from their parents by what they do and what they dont do and values and beliefs are communicated silently often so if her family does not sign and has not introduced her to the Deaf community that may inadvertently communicate to her that they are not comfortable with bilingualism or the Deaf community. children follow their parents lead. I said now if you were to introduce her to Deaf people and sign language and say – hey isnt this a cool language – a visual language – u can learn to sign and i can learn to sign too – that is a different message from – you can learn it later in life if you want to.
it was a GREAT experience to talk with these moms. I learned a great deal from their perspectives. it is clear to me that every parent wants to do what is best for their kids – they want to do right by them. i am very grateful to the DBC for affording me this opportunity, for the parents crossing over to chat with us and for the interpreters to volunteering there services
Next DBC related vlog will be about the presenters