Archive for the ‘Deaf & HH Adults’ Category

Yiesell Rayon: A Rude Encounter

March 19, 2019

It’s always exciting to try new things, but I never expected a rude encounter to come with it…

After a week long conference, a group of us wanted to get out and try “Chicago’s favorites.” Karen Putz, Co-Director of DHH Infusion, lives in the Chicago area. Anita Dowd and Virginia Moore from the Kentucky Commission for the Deaf joined us. We grabbed lunch at Lou Malnatis pizza. Karen kept bragging about Garrett Popcorn Shops and told us we had to try it.

“Let’s do it!” I said.

We didn’t have much time before we had to be at the airport.

“I’ll pull up right in front of the shop and you and Anita can get the popcorn while we drive around,”  Karen said.

The plan was to be in and out of the shop and then on our way with the amazing popcorn we just had to try.

As Anita and I walked into the shop, I noticed it was empty. It was a perfect time to ask for samples. We had never been to Garrett’s and they had five different flavors to choose from. Anita pulled out her phone to FaceTime her daughter to ask what flavored popcorn she wanted.

As I was talking to the young lady behind the counter, a man walked into the store.

“Go ahead and help him. We are still not ready.”, I told her. The lady asked the man to go around us to the register to take his order.

“Excuse me”, he told Anita.

No response.

“Excuse me!”, he said again a bit louder.

“I’m sorry, she’s Deaf”, I said as I turned around and noticed Anita was focused on her phone with her daughter.

“Move!” he yelled.

“I just told you, she’s Deaf.” I said.

“Well, tell her to f&%$& move!”

I instantly froze.

I was upset and insulted with the man’s reaction. As I looked at Anita, I realized she still had no clue what was going on.

“You don’t need to be rude,” I said.

At that moment, I became angry.

I have a seven year old Deaf son and this is the ignorance he will have to deal with. Anita had been signing with her daughter the entire time. How did this man not think she may be Deaf? I had already tried to explain she was Deaf. Why would he decide to be so rude? How does anyone have the heart to treat someone this way?

My heart was immediately broken.

Not just for Anita, but for every Deaf or Hard of Hearing individual out here, including my Deaf son, Markie.

The man rudely got around Anita as he replied, “Its not my f&%$* fault she’s Deaf”.

I became very emotional and started to tear up. Anita looked up in confusion and asked what was going on. I briefly and quickly tried to explained to Anita, but the man continued to yell out comments. The security guard approached the man and asked him to calm down. The manager of the shop came out from behind.

To our surprise, the manager knew some signs. Not much, but enough to make Anita feel comfortable and take her order. All of the Garrett’s employees were kind and kept asking if we were okay. They showed compassion–and kept apologizing for the man they didn’t even know.

The man left the store, but he left me upset. I had heard many stories over the years, but I had never experienced anything like this myself. The incident didn’t involve me, but it involved my friend, my Deaf friend. Someone who has lived life being Deaf, someone just like my son. I am afraid for the day my son is mistreated simply because he couldn’t hear. The man was right. Anita being Deaf was not his fault, but it is not Anita’s fault either. Being Deaf may be a challenge in today’s society, but its not a bad thing. What is bad, is when someone thinks its okay to be disrespectful to someone simply because they are Deaf.

Yiesell Rayon, Director of Latino Support

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Jeff Prail: In Both Worlds

March 11, 2019

I am fortunate that I grew up and experienced both worlds (deaf and hearing) and I consider myself the lucky one for still being in both worlds. The credit goes to my deaf parents, who never held me back from the moment I came into the world. I wasn’t born as a deaf child, but lost a majority of my hearing due to German Measles and a high fever when I was an infant.

My primary language is American Sign Language, my secondary is English–and my upbringing was a difficult task when learning ASL and English (how to speak) at the same time. My mom always made sure that from the moment I was in my diaper until I graduated from high school, speech therapy was always part of my IEP (Individual Education Plan). I used to think it was the worst torture a kid could have throughout the first half of my childhood life, but now I am thankful–because I wouldn’t be who I am if it was not for my mom’s decisions.

Now, going back into 70’s and 80’s, you could say I was a child slave (just kidding!), always becoming the eyes and voices for my deaf parents because during the early era, there were no sign language interpreters or telephone/video relay services. My sister and I always went with my parents to become their personal interpreters. My folks called it “Love”, I called it, “taken advantage of” but in the end, I was always rewarded with Star Wars toys. (I shouldn’t really be complaining, because I sure do love my Star Wars!)

Looking through both worlds with my eyes, I have seen discrimination against my parents just because they couldn’t hear. Many times my sister and I would stand up for my parents, because it wasn’t their fault they could not hear. Believe it or not; even in today’s society with the American with Disabilities Act in place, discrimination still exists. The stories I could tell would turn this post into a trilogy series like Lord of the Rings.

Since there were no sign language interpreters during my childhood days, my mom made sure I sat in front of the class–and how I dreaded sitting in the front rows where we all become Teachers’ Pet. When I was a kid, I wore an FM system strapped to my chest, with wires attached to ear molds. I hated them so much that I kept taking them off and threw the FM system into the toilet and tried to flush it down. It was so big that it just wouldn’t spiral down into the sewer. The school contacted my mom and she would come to school and scold me not to do it again.

But…as the Britney Spears song goes, “Oops, I did it again.” I got into trouble more than once.

When I was in middle school, I was in a special class setting with other deaf/hard of hearing students at a hearing school. We were stuck in a classroom with the same teacher all day long; all of us sat around a round table to make visual communication easier. I disliked my teacher, who was as strict as a nun. She would correct the students over and over again until we get it right. Man, I thought I would never escape that classroom. But, looking back, I am thankful, because if it were not for that classroom, making friends would have been difficult for me as it has been since middle and high school.

Due to my hearing loss, there were many times where I was left out or could not understand spoken words. One incident that really hit me hard happened after a concert. My dad and my sister picked me and my friends up and we were heading home. All of a sudden, my sister went off on my two friends, berating them for making fun of me and the way I talked. When my dad found out, he pulled the car over and he kicked them out and told them to walk home. Then and now, trusting a hearing person is sometimes difficult for me, for I never know if they are truly a friend.

I didn’t ride the school bus; I had a personal taxi driver taking a deaf student and me to school. The driver would stop by the Nebraska School for the Deaf and drop off the student. Then he would drop me off at the mainstream school. One day, I hopped off the taxi and walked into the administration building and enrolled myself in school. It was the first time I ever advocated for myself in the educational setting. I wanted to find a place where I belong, in a culture that I truly understood! The NSD administrator called my mom and basically told her that I enrolled myself in and needed her consent. What I didn’t realize, that moment became an educational battleground for my mom and dad. The school district would not approve my transfer.I was able to remain a student for two and a half years at NSD. My parents fought the school board every step of the way and lost. The school board didn’t care how I felt; I was just a statistic to them. When I was forced to go back to the “hearing” school, I made sure I was heard loud and clear. I stopped talking and started signing in the classroom just to frustrate the hell out of all my teachers during 7th and 8th grade. When I got mad at the teacher, I would sign and express in profanity that teachers could not understand and I would just turn around and walk out of the classroom with a smile. Now, knowing sign language and turning off my voice box sure had its own perks; expressive communication! I can’t recall how many times my parents got called to the school to address the situation. My dad always told the teachers, “Perhaps its time for you to start learning sign language, this way Jeff won’t feel left out.” My parents stood up for me 100% and would not cave in!

My high school days were a riot! I felt normal for the first time because I hung out with “the hood,” concert buddies that I go to concert with. I stuck with the same crowd all through high school and that really helped me by making sure I was not left out.

There was one big change in my high school; I was tired of speech therapy and English grammar was my biggest struggle so we made a shift in my IEP to focus on using speech therapy time to learn proper English grammar and idioms instead of speech skills. I was blessed to have that as part of my therapy skills because I needed those skills to survive in a hearing world.

Now, standing firm with both feet on the ground is something my dad taught me, he would share his life experience because my parents had it worse than my sister and I so I strive myself to educate myself to become my own advocate.

Now, I already shared my first-time as an advocate, my second experience as an advocate was for my Deaf friends who attended the Nebraska School for the Deaf–the state was planning to shut it down. An executive meeting was being held at the city hall and I had the opportunity to speak on the floor. I shared my experience of what it was like being left out at a hearing school and how I felt I belonged at NSD. I also pointed out that closing this school down is an immediate educational failure for my friends because at that time there were no interpreters for mainstream classrooms. I recall telling every student in that meeting room to hold up their signs stating millions of reasons not to shut down the school. It’s their home away from home, a culture that we identify ourselves with, a culture that we belong together, and a culture where our language is understood!

The school stayed open until I graduated from high school. The biggest honor that NSD did for me happened at the high school graduation. The students I was suppose to graduate with (had we won our fight for placement at NSD); had an empty chair on the stage with the graduating class. I was in the crowd when the Valedictorian, Mindy, said in her speech that empty chair was for me!

After high school, I attended National Technical Institute for the Deaf/Rochester Institute of Technology and majored in Quality Management. I picked this particular college because, at that time, it was one of the few that offers both worlds and I felt I would fit in. I was once asked my deaf girlfriend during my college days on what would I pick if there is a checkbox that says deaf, or hearing, which I would pick. I said both because I grew up in both worlds. It was not one world or the other, because that’s the world I grew up in.

Since I shared much of my diaper days till after college partying days, I have gotten older and wiser and of course, being a parent will do that. I am blessed to have two sons who are my pride and joy, Jacob and Riley.

 

My advice to you as a parent, whether you are single, married or divorced: your child is the love of your life and you have their best interests in mind– assure that your child gets the best in life even though we all know there is no such thing as smooth sailing. Your child, deaf or hard of hearing, will face struggles in his or her lifetime. Discrimination and oppression will continue to exist, so always prepare your child to advocate for themselves, and also be there as a supportive parent because you don’t know how that feels until it happens.

Perhaps some of you already experienced the frustrations. Listen to your child because he or she may face a true identity crisis when they get older and never give your child a reason to resent you down the road, even when you as a parent believe you are doing the best interest of your child, remember, you are not in your child’s footsteps. A true-life story to support what I just said; I come from a deaf family; yet, my parents never shielded me from a hearing world and still engaged in the deaf world. They could have kept me as a deaf child, instead of hard of hearing, they could have spanked me every time I try to talk, yet, they gave me a gift, a speech therapy from the day I crawled until I walked across the stage to receive my HS Diploma. They made sure I had both worlds instead of one world. The best gift I could ever ask for–because I had never experienced those horror stories that I’ve heard through the years–but my frustrations were nothing in comparison. I challenge you to be my parents, give your child access to everything.

As a deaf advocate and even in my role with sComm, (a company that manufactures and produces UbiDuo a communication device in real time captions) I heard a lot of  stories of little or no communication access being shared with me at every trade show I do. Every time I hear those stories, it breaks my heart and literally makes me cry. In other words, do not deprive your child of  communication access.

To avoid writing into a trilogy and wrapping it up, I have been and will always be a deaf/hard of hearing advocate. It has to be something worth believing in to advocate to assure one right’ does not get trampled especially with the disability community. I was fortunate enough to work at one of the largest Center of Independent Living, Paraquad, in St. Louis where I oversaw the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Program. I worked my way up to the Public Policy Department and learned how to fight the good fight with the legislators. I have given a presentation on “HOW TO BECOME A DEAF ADVOCATE” at National Council of Independent Living Conference, and won several awards for being a deaf advocate since then.

Being a Deaf Advocate is something that you have to learn to crawl before you can walk to become an effective advocate. There has to be a passion that instills in you in order to fight the good fight, even the bad ones. Being an advocate taught me to be a leader–to be able to walk with knives in my back and also to stand firm on what I believe. I have been an advocate for as long as I remember and regretfully, my days are coming to an end where I am ready to hang up hat up and pass down the torch and enjoy the last half of my life–but not just yet. I still got a couple of rounds left in me in the ring so let’s keep on fighting… I am now one of the five Deaf Certified American with Disabilities Specialists helping and educating your ADA rights.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Katie McCarthy: Growing Up with Dual Identities

January 24, 2019

Today, I am a career-driven married woman, happily pursuing the little moments in life with a passion for human services, teaching, traveling, cooking and animals.

Ten years ago, I didn’t think it would even be possible to be married–and twenty years ago, I only had a glimpse into what life would be like for Deaf individuals.

Back then, I knew I could pursue any dream and I wanted to be a writer, however, I only met a few Deaf adults until college so I had a limited view of the opportunities that lay ahead as a Deaf individual. And back then, as a member of the LGBT community, my views were narrow, full of others’ fears and opinions thrust upon me, not my own happiness. Once I realized that I had to love myself first, that my worth and happiness were important and I was surrounded by people who saw me for who I was as a person, not my identities, my perceptions changed as I grew older.

When I was born, two identities were gifted to me. I was born profoundly Deaf, due to a premature birth, into a hearing family. I also realized I was not straight. Growing up with these two identities were honestly just like having two arms and legs, ten fingers and toes, green eyes, and a beating heart. I didn’t know any different inward. But outward, I realized quickly that growing up with dual identities was not simple. Many factors were at play – others’ opinions and social perceptions – and I had to navigate them.

I focused on growing up as a Deaf person first, and kept my second identity at bay for a long time. I thought it was impossible to grow up with two identities. It would be too much and people would look at me through different lenses if I revealed my second identity. And when that happened, I found I was still breathing. I survived. Many children and young adults do not (are not able to) speak up about it and feel safe in the process.

The five main things I would have told my younger self are:

1. Be gentle with yourself.
2. You are more resilient than you think.
3. Connect with those that you trust to be yourself with.
4. Meet others who are or have gone on similar journeys as yours.
5. Don’t change who you are for anyone else.

I want to tell these children and adults who grow up being Deaf and a member of the LGBT community – you are loved just as who you are. And I want to tell their parents that, even though it may feel overwhelming walking by your child through their identity journey when you may not have been on either yourself before you met your child, your child is just meant to be exactly who they are. Nurture the core of who they are, focus on the things they CAN do, meet other adults like them, and help them thrive. It is important to ensure the child is heard, understood and loved first, and then go through the journey with them, not above them.

Once I realized my worth, things naturally fell into place. I met my wife and we have a rich life together–full of laughter, faith and adventure. I have to pinch myself sometimes. How did I get so lucky? Then I realize immediately after, these two identities are a gift…and I embrace them wholly.

 

Katie McCarthy can be reached via karen@handsandvoices.org –she is willing to talk with families who have children with dual identities. 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Warren “Wawa” Snipe: Deaf Rapper Seeks to Make an Impact

November 26, 2018

Warren “WAWA” Snipe is a  rapper who happens to be deaf. To say he loves music is an understatement. Warren has created a brand of his own: Dip Hop–music through Deaf eyes. In an interview with AI Media, Warren explained more of the “why” behind his music:

“…what I do is expose my Deaf culture positively of what we go through, we can succeed, we can do anything hearing people can do. We just have to work maybe two times, three times, four times, maybe a hundred times harder to become equal or better than our hearing peers. So, dip hop is a really strong thing that I want you guys to be aware of.”

 

Warren was recently featured in season two of Black Lightning, (he shares his experience here: Black Deaf Actor in Season Two of Black Lightning).

In his music video, “Vendetta,” Warren and his music partner, Dj Nicar, address the topic of bullying:

Karen Putz, Co-Director of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infusion at Hands & Voices interviewed WaWa about his career:

For more information on WaWa and to check out his work:

WAWA’s World

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Charles Wildbank: Deaf Mural Artist

October 8, 2018

Karen Putz: I stumbled across Charles Wildbank a few years ago while doing a search for artists who are deaf/hard of hearing. I was completely blown away at Charles’ talent–his paintings look like photographs. What follows is a chat we had via Facebook.

Karen:  First off, I LOVE your talent. Your paintings are amazing. Tell me how you went from a school teacher to doing art full time.

Charles:  I taught for seven years both in Montreal and at Lexington School for the Deaf. I kind of burned out teaching, then made the move to do full-time painting in 1979. In fact, I am teaching a bunch of hearing artists today in Key Largo…this is a rare occurrence.

Karen: So, how did you make that leap?

Charles: I started with displaying art in store windows on Fifth Avenue, followed by doing art festivals, and occasional art galleries locally.

Karen: What was the process in which you were burned out with teaching and realized that art was what you wanted to do?

Charles: I believe and realize now that reality will reflect your current beliefs or become attracted (to those beliefs.) In wishing I was painting full time, perhaps many situations in teaching deteriorated and that convinced me to resign.

Karen: So, you’ve been doing this (art) since 1979–has it become everything you’ve dreamed it would be?

Charles:  Yes…but the dreaming/fulfillment does not finish…more to go.

Karen: What’s next for you?

Charles: I will continue to live in both studios in New York and Florida by season. What’s next is usually kept sealed until ready for release into public.

Karen:  Tell me about being deaf.

Charles: My parents swore I was deaf when I was a year old, but doctors dismissed it. My parents asked around and found out a new school was opening, Mill Neck Manor. My mom volunteered with other parents to carpool us. School was an old manor house, starting with about twelve deaf students from ages two to eight.  I made my first visit to the school to meet my new teacher when I was going on two. Right away, I had my headphones put on and was given voice instruction. All through age five, I relied up gestures since sign language was not in the curriculum.

I enrolled there from ages two to six. I am still in touch with three of those original students to this day.  I began to form words and sentences when I was six. Right then, my parents wanted to switch to a regular school close to home. Mill Neck was about a half hour bus ride then. The carpool eventually got replaced by a fleet of small, yellow school buses.

Going to a hearing school was a big challenge for me. Adjustments were made, such as moving me up to front row in the classroom and pairing me with a hearing student for note taking.

That was when I started to speak in sentences, learning from classmates in the school yard.

Karen:  Did you discover art at a young age?

Charles: Yes, I was in love with pencils and crayons, seeing their transforming power through my little fingers, I could communicate better with any drawing surface! In challenging communication situations, I would resort to drawing to get my point across. As if that was not enough, I taught myself to write.

I craved guests at our home as an outlet to the world. I would beg them to write their name, the entire alphabet, etc. So, I was ready for hearing school by first grade, I guess.

You could say I was the nerd. I finished coloring books in one afternoon, exhausting every piece of paper! So it became obvious to all that I was the young artist.

My parents got me into piano lessons after school. I was impossible, so the teacher begged my parents to reconsider and perhaps get me art lessons–at age nine.

I learned pastels, charcoal, etc.

Sometimes I would miss my deaf classmates. I was lucky to find my way–two miles by bike–to the nearest deaf classmate from Mill Neck. We both did not learn sign until we were teens. We used pantomime, facial expressions, pointing, and lipread awkwardly formed words and names. By the time I was in college, he paid me a visit and taught me some fingerspelling,

Karen: Tell me about high school–what was that like?

Charles: High school was tough. Lots of note taking, and I was getting despondent over grades. Then my parents recruited a full-time tutor on weekends. That helped my (self) esteem tremendously, almost overnight.

Karen: Did you have deaf friends in high school?

Charles: Deaf people are just as bright as others, we just need to interface! Schools with inadequate resources have resulted in many unhappy and alienated students.

I only had those two original classmates from Mill Neck until grad school! Those two classmates paired, eventually got married, and had kids. I connect through Facebook these days.

When I turned 21, I became a teacher of deaf and this resulted in meeting so many new deaf friends.

Karen: Who mentored you in art?

Charles: During my teens, I carpooled with a friend for Saturday classes, drawing in charcoal or pastels with a Japanese woman in Long Island. It involved sketching from still life or photographs. As for portraits, I guess I had to learn on my own.

My first encounter with real art was when my dad drove me to Manhattan to see Raphael’s exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum. I was spellbound… This was when I was fourteen…and my grandmother had the same copy in her home, so I connected immediately.

My grandmother encouraged me as she lived only around the block from me. She drove me to get art supplies and I got my first oils when I was eleven–actually age ten.

Karen:  At what point in your life did you realize that art was your true passion?

Charles: By my fifth year of teaching, I was beginning to regret my career choice and I was missing painting. Two years later, the straw broke on camel’s back and I commenced full-time in 1978.

When I met David Hockney in New York, I was getting envious that I went right ahead and painted his large portrait. That’s when I really felt the passion of art.

I felt as if rocked back and forth on a rough sea…with decisions to make. I was undecided and in anguish. I guess that is what it took to make a solid decision. It was as if it was a great leap between graduation from art school and the art world.

Unusual opportunities presented themselves as reminders–pointing me in my direction when I felt so blind and uncertain.

I did not have mentors. I lived 45 minutes from the art capital of the world then. I really feel it helped to get my feet wet in the real art scene while I was a teacher. I was visiting close friends from art college in Brooklyn, and I was surrounded by the art muse all over again. So 1978 was a big year for my art career–for keeps.

Karen:  What were some of the unusual opportunities that presented? I always say that sometimes going down the “wrong” path leads you to the right one with certainty.

Charles: Yes, indeed. We have to remember that these were pre-internet times–even no fax machines then. I relied on family members to help me get phone messages.  It was a formidable communication obstacle. Otherwise, I headed to the train station to commute to the big city. I observed other art graduates doing shows in Manhattan, so that is what I did–hit the sidewalks and found spaces to hang my art. I asked 5th Avenue shops–meeting with window designers–and it was GO! They immediately took my art on and sales were coming in as I placed my famiy’s phone number int he store window of Bonwit Tellers and Cartier.

Karen: That’s amazing. You simply went big.

Charles: Then I got married that year to a lovely deaf lady. At a most severe illness on my ex-wife’s part, we had to part ways after 25 years of marriage. Right now, I’m in a new relationship with Mary, who is not deaf. We both share an ardent art scene interest.

Karen: Were you always confident in your talent?

Charles: Not always.

Karen: Tell me about that.

Charles: It took years to not take it personally, what the reactions to my art were–always mixed reviews in hyperboles in either direction. This, I realized, is the province of the art world that all artists share.

Karen: That’s true of writers, too.

Charles: Yeah. It reminds me of duality. I find writers a wonderful companion in the arts, both sharing a resonating passion, we cannot do without the other.

Karen: Art speaks differently to each person and not reflective of talent.

Charles: Yes, indeed.

Karen: But it’s hard not to take it personally.

Charles: You tell me… In my advanced years, it is there, but the effects are very slight with the power level of echoes.

Karen: So, it gets better as you become older and wiser, eh?

Charles: It is there, but I learn to ignore and stay focused on passion itself.

Karen: What’s it like to begin a painting…and the middle…and the final stroke?

Charles: The artists seem to go through stages in their sequence, that of emulating the masters, then transcending them, to find the muse is ever elusive. Then the “noise” of the masses is crossed over and the artist best listens to that little voice within more.

Dedication is the real master, it transforms through manhandling the materials with increased skill and confidence. The artist gets past that struggle with the brush and attention is diverted more toward the vision and final creation. The doings become like a blur of near automatic activity…in contrast to what it will become.

Karen: Do you find when you ignore the “voice,” you become off path?

Charles: As of now, I can see any vision and put it into a future space and time, with as best-estimated matching reality…this is the hard part…just seeing the vision in its coherent whole, yet in a vacuum, all inside the head. I must have discarded many ideas and inspirations in the process. Many are daunting…so those real masters out there are really beating the odds against non-existence of a dream, yet manifest it into physical form. I am all dreams and ideas, awake or asleep.

Often what we dream has NO BASIS in reality! This is why some of our creations are met with violent reactions, good or bad. Then over time, it becomes the mundane and taken for granted, with the help of the bombardment of the mention by press and media.

Karen: What separates a good artist from great, or a mere artist from a master?

Charles: It is when wonder is replaced by capital letters in the sky….WONDER. We come from wonder and therefore aspire to offer wonder. It is just amazing when some cease to be awake and let the marvels pass them by! That “wonder of a child” is a wondrous ideal to keep maintained by everyone.

Karen: So true. Many lose the wonder, and go into routine.

Charles: A great artist is a magician, really. Every aspect of the illusion is addressed sufficient to the overwhelming of the audience’s sense. So, good artists have this uncanny ability to “get out of the box” on any given idea. Perspective has to do with this, and with that, the ability to see from outside points of view. This is probably how great art makes it through the centuries, culled through years and years of selection process.

And for myself, history will tell. Ultimately, the artist should be the first to derive satisfaction from the new creation at the point of its manifestation or its hatching–and forget the consequences be what they may–and allow the creations to continue to deliver on their own…as if they are offspring…letting them have their own life.

Karen: I am floored by your art, it as a depth and a richness that truly stands out. Who does your marketing?

Charles: I enjoy relinquishing control the moment I release the art. This perhaps enables me to stay creating. I do all my marketing. I want the art to attract the marketing. This is just me being hard on myself and to this day, I am still of the emotion that the best is yet to come. This is what perhaps gets me going and going.

I tend not to look back at my creations. I enjoy so much of the art at large out there, and this is what I dance to the tune of… I love the company of artists as we seem to have a common understanding of the responsibility we harbor.

Karen: What’s your big dream?

Charles: My dream is like that big carrot dreamt by a small carrot…I naturally expand on this dreaming in ways I could muster, perhaps an ever increasing, expanding scale…it would, of course, involve great form, colors, sensation, sufficient to staisfy me and even those I love.

Like a pencil, our lives are an instrument. Like it or not, we work with what we got and transcend our perceived boundaries just to remind ourselves perhaps we are not what we seem.

Like an hourglass, where in that glass is time, really? At the top, at the pinched middle, or any of those spent grains of sand? It is a recurring dream, that hourglass, so I may make something of it. I think of sand a lot these days…speaking of sand, going to the beach daily just confirms that.

I work in several tiers–small art pieces, some larger pieces, and for later, some big projects that the world has yet to view. But a lot still inside my head!

Karen: If you were to give a piece of advice to someone who has a deep passion, what would you say?

Charles: I would say that passion is largely a self-construction, it is something that requires good self search, especially while making ends meet. This creation at best is allowed to consume the artist and integrate with discipline into all life activities possible, in order to best sustain passion. One has to be willing to face the blows, the mistakes, the trials, the efforts–and they have no price or liability considerations. In other words, best not to weep over lost battles, but to forge on… The great lengths may not count in other’s view, but ultimately, those efforts to unwasted and hopefully get rewarded. It is a road that demand suppression of any notion of regret.

Karen: Have there been times when you struggled and almost gave up to get a “job?”

Charles: Teaching was one of those jobs, Cleaning pools, even! Restaurants, just like all those actors who made it. My greatest mastery in my regard, is the newfound ability to accept the outcome–good or bad–and move on. That is our real sovereignty–integrally whole all the way, not just in thought, but in emotion, and living it. Not caring what others think, or taking it to heart. I would hope this makes my expression of art go uninhibited.

Karen: And it applies to all aspects of life. When we step into our authenticity, there are no boundaries to what we can do.

Charles: I like what you just said!

 

For more information on Charles and to view his gallery: Charles Wildbank

An interview with Charles by Seek the World

 

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Resources for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Mentors, Guides, and Role Models

September 11, 2018

Resources for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Adults Who Serve Families:

Family Leadership in Language and Learning (FL3)

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Guidelines:

These guidelines are intended to offer suggestions for EHDI systems as to recommended practices in provision of D/HH mentor/guide/role model services to families/children.

http://handsandvoices.org/fl3/fl3-docs/DHH-Guidelines.pdf

Interviews with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Adults and Other Resources:
Families can explore these links with a wealth of diverse perspectives through stories, articles, websites and research on this page.

http://handsandvoices.org/fl3/topics/dhh-involvement/resources.html

The Importance of Families Connecting With Deaf/Hard of Hearing Adults
An interview with Janet Des Georges, Executive Director of Hands & Voices and Karen Putz, Co-Director of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infusion exploring the idea of meeting a D/HH adult who is different from your child.

http://handsandvoices.org/fl3/topics/dhh-involvement.html

 

Language, Literacy, and Social Development:

When a child is identified as deaf or hard of hearing, surrounding the family with multiple levels of support throughout a child’s journey to language, literacy, and social-emotional development adds to positive outcomes. This section covers websites, research, and resources.
http://handsandvoices.org/fl3/topics/lang-lit-soc.html

Communication Considerations: What Role Can Adults Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing Play

Family-to-Family Support
Parents who are just beginning the journey can be supported and learn from parents with lived experiences of the joys and challenges of raising a child who is deaf or hard of hearing. There is something incredibly unique and important in receiving support from other parents and families who have children that are deaf or hard of hearing and have “been there.”
This section covers support opportunities and resources, including links to other parent organizations:
http://handsandvoices.org/fl3/topics/fam-fam-support.html

Hands & Voices Facebook Groups:
D/HH Guides: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DHHGuides/
D/HH Guides, Role Models, and Mentors: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DHHMentorsGuidesRoleModels
Military Families: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HandsVoicesMilitarySupport
D/HH Plus: https://www.facebook.com/groups/deafhardofhearingplus
O.U.R. Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HVOurChildren/
Unilateral Hearing Loss: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HVUnilateral

The National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM)
NCHAM has conducted a nationwide survey to gather information about programs that involve D/HH adults as role models, guides and/or Deaf Mentors in the EHDI system and beyond.
For a state-by-state list of D/HH Adult programs:

http://infanthearing.org/dhhadultinvolvement/states/index.html

NCHAM Deaf and Hard of Hearing Adult Involvement Learning Community:
http://infanthearing.org/dhhadultinvolvement/d-hh-learning-community-home.html

Publications Related to Deaf Mentor Programs: https://www.infanthearing.org/webinars/docs/deaf-mentor-summary.pdf

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Amanda McDonough: They Think I CAN’T, I Know I CAN

August 6, 2018

They Think I CANT. I Know I CAN.
By: Amanda McDonough (Deaf Advocate, Motivational Speaker, and Author of “Ready to be Heard”)

Like most children, when I was born my parents told me I could become anything I wanted to be. After I was diagnosed with hearing loss, at four years old, I started hearing the word “can’t” a lot. It came from doctors, teacher, adults, kids, family members, and family friends. All of a sudden, the world’s expectations of what I could achieve with my life had decreased seemingly overnight. People seemed to believe that having “hearing loss” had somehow lowered my drive, intelligence, and ability to learn. At first, I believed them. I thought of myself as lesser than my peers. My self-esteem dropped. The social kid I once was started retracting into her self a little bit more with each missed sentence, each confused smile, and each uttering of the word “what?” as I failed again and again to keep up in conversations with my peers.

Every six months, my mother would take me back to the audiologist, who would lead me into that tiny grey metal box of a room and shut me in for my hearing tests. A room that felt more like a prison than anything. Over and over again I would take the same tests, repeat the same words “airplane, baseball, hot dog…” as they faded into oblivion, and chase the impossible beeps with my finger on a buzzer. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how hard I “studied,” each time I failed. I hated the feeling of “failing” more than anything. So, even though I had no control over how well I did in that little grey room, I realized I had 100% control over how I reacted to it, and how I behaved and viewed the world outside of that room. In that moment, I decided to stop being the “victim” of my story and become the “hero.”

I knew in my heart that being hard of hearing didn’t completely define who I was, what I was interested in, or what I was passionate about. Being hard of hearing was something about me, just like having brown hair is something about me. It was a contributing factor to my personality but didn’t need to define every decision and moment of my life.

I started dedicating myself more to my studies. I realized that if I kept the teacher on my “good hearing side,” studied, payed attention in class, asked questions, and read the material I could get A’s. Sure, it looked easier for everyone else, but each “A” on my report card made me feel more powerful and more in control of my own life and destiny. It wasn’t easy, this was back in the early 1990’s when parents of children with hearing loss didn’t have the resources, support, and information they do now. My parents were on their own. Therefore, I didn’t have full access to the language and information being taught to me in my mainstream school, but I had an unstoppable work ethic and had banished any memory or thoughts of the word “can’t” from my mind. I knew “I CAN.”

I ended up becoming a straight A student. Even as my hearing continued to decrease as I grew older, the work ethic I developed as a kid kept my grades and my resolve strong. I had less than 50% of the hearing left in each of my ears in high school and I still managed to graduate 8th in my class.

In college, I finally lost the last of my usable hearing and became undeniably physically deaf. Even though I wasn’t emotionally ready to accept my deafness, I still kept working towards my goal of graduating from college. I obtained real-time captioners in my classes, attended tutoring, and put in hours of work into even my easiest classes.

By 2012, I was 100% deaf in both ears as I walked down the aisle with my head held high during my college graduation to receive the two college degrees I had finished in four short years with a 3.15 GPA.

All because I knew I CAN.

The moral of my story: Never let others tell you what you are capable of. You get to decide your own path. You get to be the hero of your own story. No matter what your obstacles are in life, you CAN.

 

For more information on  Amanda: Ready to Be Heard 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Jessica Flores: Being Deaf is a Laughing Matter

July 5, 2018


 

 

Jessica Flores is on a mission: to make others laugh while she’s in the middle of her own journey of discovering her deaf self.  In a video that went viral on Now This, Breaking Deaf Taboos, Jessica shared some insight that started her on the path to becoming more comfortable being deaf:

So for a long time, I always felt really alone and isolated. I’m not gonna get into my whole life journey, but it was hard. And it was not an easy road to go down. It took me years to realize that I was not the only deaf person facing all these communication barriers and challenges every day. I seriously figured all this out like three years ago. Once I realized this, I wanted to do something about it.

Karen Putz and Jessica share a few laughs as Jessica tells more of the story of her journey:

 

 

Jessica’s popular videos:

Most Googled About Deaf People:
Can Deaf People Drive?:
What You Should Know About Hearing Aids:
What You Should Know About Captions:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Ashlei Powell: Creating Deaf Wearables

May 29, 2018

My name is Ashlei Powell and I have bilateral cochlear implants. I became deaf at eleven months from meningitis and received my first implant, on my second birthday, in 1990. I was the youngest recipient in the USA (just after FDA approved the cochlear implant for children) and the first youngest, in the world at the time, to receive a cochlear implant.


After receiving my first implant, I attended speech therapy for several years to learn how to listen and speak. Growing up, I had the opportunity to speak about my hearing experiences at auctions, in news interviews, and even with the first deaf Miss America, Heather Whitestone. After fifteen years of wearing just one cochlear implant on my right side, I felt like I was missing a puzzle piece. In 2005, I received my second implant and it was indeed, the missing puzzle piece for me.


I attended Pensacola Christian College in Florida for three years, before coming back home to marry my college sweetheart, Joe. We are proud parents of two dogs and a spunky and sweet two-year-old boy, Jackson.

My life has had a few challenges, but has been incredible and full of blessings. As being a Cochlear Implant recipient, I had to find ways to help me listen in life and in school that would work best for me. I made it work and accomplished a lot. I love being a bilateral recipient and I enjoy sharing my story to help others who are considering cochlear implants.

I have always wanted to be a nurse, but it wasn’t what the Lord wanted for me, so I tried a few classes in the medical field to see where the Lord wanted me to go. I’m now currently working as a phlebotomist at a hospital, running my own Deaf Wearables business, and also being a mommy and a wife.

In summer of 2017, I participated in a physically challenging obstacle course at Copper Mountain.  I looked everywhere online for outer wear that showed I couldn’t hear…..something I could attach or could wear on my clothes, arm or headband that said the word, “deaf”. There was not one single thing out there and I thought it was so frustrating and not fair to the deaf community.
I recently started producing of all kinds of Deaf Wearables for all ages, that can be used in all kinds of activities such as skiing, marathons, hikes, walks, etc., even daily life.  The reason why I have a line going through the ear is because it’s very simple and produces a quick understanding, like the universal symbol, to let people know the person can’t hear.  I wanted to present this collection of wearables in a fun and inviting way. I know how hard it is to do everyday activities without people being aware of someone’s deafness. My products contain: reflective vests, shirts, neon headbands, key chains, bags, stickers, etc. that have the word, “deaf” on it. My goal is to produce deaf wearables that people would be excited and proud to let others know that they’re deaf–all while being fashionably current.

 

For more information on Deaf Wearables:

www.deafwearables.com 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Kris Martin: A Passion for Racing

April 5, 2018
kris martin 5

Not Afraid (Excerpt from Kris Martin’s website)

Ask Kris Martin to do something for you and his standard response is “Not a problem.”
Stepping in a race car that reaches speeds of over 200 miles per hour. Not a problem. Speaking to over 300 hundred students who look at him as a role model. Not a problem.

Being born profoundly deaf. Not a problem.

In fact, being born deaf may have helped Kris. He learned to race by primarily using his tactile senses, and has given him a great ability to feel the track and use his instincts. Today Kris is actually able to receive partial hearing through the use of a implant he had surgically implanted when he was eight. A company Phonak Hearing Systems created an audio device that uses radio frequency which allows Kris to communicate with his spotters.

Kris certainly has the talent to race and he comes with racing in his blood. Warren Coniam(Uncle) and Doug Syer(Grandfather) are both in the Canadian Racing Hall of Fame. Kris also is strong proponent of giving back to those who are deaf and hard of hearing. A role model for many, Kris speaks to children and charities across North America. His speeches give hope to not only children, but to parents, too–that their children can defy any odds that may be placed against them.

Ask Kris if he is ready. He will tell you…not a problem.

From Kris:

Racing Family

I come from a racing family.
kris martin 1
My grandfather is my hero in my world. He is that one started our racing family history since he was 18 yr old. He had seven kids!

When I was little watching my family race, I knew that I all I wanted to do was race. It was my dream!
There were a lot of expectations because of my family’s success in racing, but I took it as a challenge to follow in their footsteps and make them proud. NOT A PROBLEM…..

kris martin go kart

Go- Karting

I loved Go Karting and I was lucky to have success and travel across North America.

I had a lot of fun racing and meeting friends at the track. It gave me a lot of confidence in life and in school to know I can be successful.

I had to learn how to drive the kart by feel. I got the feel of the car in my hands, my legs and my butt. I can feel if there is anything wrong with the car immediately. I do not need to hear anything go wrong.

One Thing I’m Proud of: 6X Time Karting Championship!

kris martin 7

Race Car

My dream has always been to race Stock Car!

I had other drivers tell track officials they were concerned to race against me because they were worried I could not hear and could not drive–and would wreck them. After seeing me on the track they quickly realized I am a driver and could handle the track.

I am able to race because of special hearing system from Phonak that allows me to communicate with my spotter and crew chief.

I raced in the Nascar Arca at Daytona International Super Speedway, LeMan 24HR Series road racing.

kris martin 6

Public Speaking

I decided to get involved with public speaking at the age of thirteen. I became involved with VOICE and CHHA organizations, and I was able to talk to children and adults that had to face challenges just like I did. I like to show them that they can overcome anything as long as they are passionate, work hard and believe in themselves. I have spoken all over the world to thousands of people. I take it very seriously to show everyone my passion that you can achieve your dreams with whatever challenge you face. NOT A PROBLEM…..

kris martin 8

Believe Yourself

I followed my dreams and I was able to achieve my dream of being a race car driver.

Everyone has their own set of challenges in their lives. I am proof that if you are passionate about what you do, then there is nothing that you can stop you. Have confidence and believe in yourself. Don’t let being deaf/hard of hearing stop you from living your dreams. NOT A PROBLEM…..

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail