June is National Deafblind Awareness Month. I had all of these plans about different things I could do in my blog to bring attention to Deafblindness and ASL.
And then life happened and I have been busy. But I'm trying.
Thursday I'm attending the 4th annual
<"Helen Keller Deafblind Awareness Day">
We are doing a tour of where I work, and then having a lunch and going to the French Quarter.
People may be thinking how something like this works-- a huge gathering of Deafblind people, who by nature of their condition must only have communication with one person at a time.
So the way this works is that ideally, each Deafblind person would have an SSP or interpreter or two. Two is the best so they can switch out and take breaks. These interpreters or SSPs do several things. They interpret the speaker's words. Even if the speaker, themselves is Deaf or Deafblind, and using ASL, we can't see it, so we need an interpreter to interpret what is being signed. People use ASL tactually, where we actually touch the hands of our interpreters. This is some of the most exhausting work for an interpreter. They usually have a partner so they can give each other breaks. It is just as exhausting for the Deafblind person, because there is only one of us. I am using muscles I didn't even know I had until I became Deaf!
Some deafblind people are hard of hearing and can use speech for communication. They might use a Cochlear implant or hearing aid paired with a sound loop or an FM system, to wirelessly hear the words. If the person who is presenting is voicing for themselves, they will talk into a microphone so everyone can hear, but if the presenter is Deaf using ASL, the person who is hard of hearing will have the words interpreted back into English and spoken into the microphone of their FM System.
Some Deafblind people can see well enough to read ASL visually. Their interpreters use close space signing, where they sign in a smaller area and may need certain lighting accommodations so that the Deafblind person can best make use of their remaining sight. Tracking is where a Deafblind person places their hands atop the signer's wrists. It's kind of like the bridge between close space signing and tactual signing.
Then again, some Deafblind people can see well enough to see the platform interpreter on the stage. It is also there for the people who are Deaf and sighted. So there are a lot of people, requiring all kind of communication styles. It is always so neat to see how it all works. The SSPs also help with things like getting the plates for people, orienting a person to their food on the plate, interpreting any spoken conversation at the table.
Usually when I go to events like this, everyone at the lunch table says who they are, where from, and if they are Deafblind, Hearing/interpreter, SSP, Deaf, or blind and hearing, etc.
I really like eating lunch with Deafblind people because I don't feel like eating is this huge stressful thing to accomplish before I have to stop so I can participate with hearing people.
After the lunch, we are all going to the French Quarter. I love playing tourist there! It is so much fun. I hope I can get lots of pictures taken.
I will try and post something about Deafblindness every few days. If you have any questions, nows the time to ask 'em. I don't want to write about things that people have heard before.