outsider questions, hope I don't offend

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2006
outsider questions, hope I don't offend
6
Fri, 08-31-2007 - 2:23pm

anyone.

First I have to say that I understand there are certain terms that go in and out of favor within small communities, so I am really sorry if I use any of the wrong words here!

I went to grade school in a school that was the "mainstreamer" school for our district, so I had classmates that had various degrees of development isssues. Also had a few classmates (for part of the day) that were hearing impaired. From that experience, I fell in love with sign language, when you move your hands and face and body to speak, I just find it beautiful (I am also one of those "weird" english teachers in training who finds many languages to be beautiful, so that is just me I guess)
anyway, from this experience I learned a bit of sign, though I knew lots more back then than I do now!

so now I am the girl scout leader for my daughters troop and there is this girl that was always watching us when my girl scouts came up to talk to me after school (they attack me, like a mob!) and you can just tell this girl wanted to be a part of the group. her mom always seemed really shy to me, if I smiled at her she just barely smiled and them looked away. so I didn't really invite her daughter into our troop (they don't have to be invited, they get a flier home, but with some families it helps to ask the parents out right). last year I realized (how I didn't know before, i don't know) that the mom is hearing impaired. I saw her kids signing to her and figured it out...

so I went online to a site that shows sign language words in little video clips to learn how to say a few things to her: my name is... I am the girl scout leader... do you read lips?... I would love J to join our girl scout troop... we meet on monday nights... I will send a paper home...

we had a very tiny conversation (which I am so proud of, I can't believe I learned how to say all that, it may seem silly to you, but I learned it all in an afternoon during my youngest dds nap) and yesterday after school I felt a tap on my shoulder, it was her (the mom) and she was smiling, which I don't see too often. we had a mini conversation and I told her I was learning more sign so we could talk more.

so my question- she is bringing an interpreter with her to the parent info meeting. do I explain to the other parents why the int is there, or just let it be part of the meeting?

since we won't always have the int, I want to be able to talk to her myself, so I am learning more. (I might sign up for a class at the community college, but first I have to see what it costs). so when we are doing the parent meeting, can I sign what words/phrases I have already learned, or is that weird since the int is there?

can I ask her what her sign for her dds name is so that I don't have to spell it all the time, or is that a family thing? (that sounds incredibly stupid, but I really don't know and I don't want to be rude, I was told once long ago that a name was created based on a personality and it was part of the signing community, so I am not sure if I am part of that)

is there any other etiquette that I should know of when talking to this mom? I know she is just a regular mom, but I also know that she belongs to a group of people who use her language, just like any other language has their customs and I want to be respectful of that. I am so sorry if anything I am asking here is rude or off base, it is just that my only other experience with having friends who signed was as a kid and as a kid, who cares if something is rude? kids are kids and don't think of it. I would love to be friends with this woman, she seems incredibly nice, so I think if I can learn enough sign we could get along great! I just don't want to do anything stupid to start off on the wrong foot. I know she is a woman and mother first, hearing impaired second, but I still wanted to check- ya know???

thanks in advance!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
trishia
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-15-1999
Fri, 08-31-2007 - 8:47pm

Hi Trishia.

Maria

       basketball mom! 

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Sun, 09-02-2007 - 1:46am

HI there!
I am the resident teacher-person and I have quite a bit of experience with deafness, deaf education, and Deaf Culture.

First and foremost, many individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing do not like the term "hearing impaired." For more information about that, I refer you to an article on the National Association of the Deaf website -- http://www.nad.org/site/pp.asp?c=foINKQMBF&b=103786.

Secondly, and nearly as important, the school is responsible for providing an interpreter (or other means of communication access) for this parent to participate in activities related to her child per the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (unless you don't live in the US). She is being very nice by hiring her own interpreter. Also, it is not your responsibility to explain the presence of an interpreter. Even people who have never met a deaf person before will know why there is an interpreter. The interpreter is supposed to be "invisible," really. Unless the individual employing the services of the interpreter introduces them, it is not really appropriate to call attention. It would kind of be like stating, "Amber's mom is using a Quickie Wheelchair this evening" or "This is Joey's mom's guide dog, Bubba." (Yes, many guide dog users do introduce their dogs, but some, especially those with a young dog, prefer that no one else knows their dog's name so that they can't call the dog's attention away -- I am also a teacher of the visually impaired/orientation and mobility specialist).

Finally, just because she signs, don't assume that this parent is a part of the Deaf Community. There are "big D" culturally Deaf people and people who are deaf, but do not identify with Deaf Culture. I know many hard-of-hearing people who can talk on the phone, hold a conversation orally, but identify strongly with Deaf Culture. I know people with profound hearing loss (deaf) who don't sign and have no association with Deaf Culture. I also know people who have varying levels of hearing loss who sign, but may not have ties to the Community. More about Deaf Culture at http://www.deafculture.com/.

Hearing Loss Association of America -- http://www.hearingloss.org/aboutus/index.asp

The best way to learn sign language is to go to a community college course. Many of them offer classes for lifelong learning. My very first ASL classes were in an Interpreter Training Program at a Community College -- because my University didn't have an ASL 1 class that fit into my schedule.

I hope that this helps!

Have joy!

Dawn

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2006
Sun, 09-02-2007 - 9:47am

Dawn, I cannot thank you enough!

For the deaf v hearing impaired- growing up we always said "deaf" but then everything I see online says hi, including the name of this board! So I was having a hard time on that one, not knowing what one to use. I prefer deaf, since that is what I grew up with and I know it is a name of a community, so I am happy to hear that is the preferable word.

We are in the US, and I did not realize that the school was responsible for having an interpreter for her extracurricular needs as well. I just asked her if she knew someone who could interpret for the parent meeting and she said yes...
That makes perfect sense to me about introductions, obviously we wouldn't introduce a wheelchair or the likes! I didn't think of it that way since the interpreter is a person. I just know my girl scout parents and some are downright rude. I can just see them looking all around the room when they see the interpreter signing, trying to figure out who is there that can't hear... so I thought it would be easier to introduce. After posting my first questions, I realized that there will be a few other new parents too, so we could just go around the room and introduce everyone quickly.

Thank you for the info on Deaf Culture, also. I started reading it, but my little chickens are getting up and are ready for breakfast! I will be reading through all the links you gave me while they take naps later.

again, thank you so much. I really want her to belong, and I don't want to do anything to upset her since this seems to be the first time I have seen her communicating with anyone at the kids' school, I want to be able to create a friendship with her, she seems so very nice! (most likely because no one else has signed to her)

I am going to take an ASL class at my community college, too!

trishia

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
trishia
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mon, 09-03-2007 - 12:12am

Hi Trishia,

Well, the school principal may not know about the ADA/504 accessibility requirements. If the student was deaf/hard-of-hearing, the requirements would be through IDEA -- either way, the school/district is responsible for providing accessibility.

As for the "HI" thing, I was happy to see that Maria was able to add something to the name of this board to tell the folks who used to be on the old HI parent board where we had moved, but, at the same time, I was disappointed to see "HI" used... However, I am practicing recognizing that in oral education and among hearing professionals who are not Deaf Ed teachers, HI is still widely used. Also, some people who are deaf/hard-of-hearing who are not "big D" Deaf, sometimes use HI. I just came from a birthday party for my friend's one-year-old and was with 3 sisters (with hearing loss) who all use HI, not D/deaf or Hard-of-hearing -- which is quite surreal for me.

Good luck with your ASL classes! A good teacher can make the classes lots of fun.

Have joy!

Dawn

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-23-2003
Sun, 09-09-2007 - 8:03pm

Hi. I have 2 HOH children. They have both been immersed in Deaf Culture so I hope that I can be a little bit of help.

I just wanted to add that I don't believe that the school would be responsible for providing an interpreter. Girl Scouts aren't a school run activity, however the Girl Scout counsel should be the one to provide the interpreter - not the troop but the council. My dd was in scouts and never had a problem getting an interpreter for special events just make sure the counsel has time to find one (2-3 weeks usually).

The other thing that I have noticed from my experience with Deaf and HOH people, is that most appreciate any effort made by hearing people to communicate with them. Don't be afraid to ask them questions. If they know that you are asking because you want to communicate with them better, most will happily answer. What is considered rude is hearing people who announce (or brag) that they know sign language and know a few signs. I have found that if you are honest and say that you are learning sign language most Deaf people are very patient.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Sun, 09-09-2007 - 10:14pm
I just re-read the original post and you are absolutely correct. Unless it is a schoo-sponsored activity, the school/district is not responsible for providing an interpreter. My own GS troop was school-sponsored and met on school time, so we would have had to provide an interpreter if the need had arisen.