How are you doing? I am good and now blogging on transit! Wahoo! Thanks to bluetooth keyboard!
Anyhow, this blog is not about philosophical discussion: “Who are you?” or even an Alice in Wonderland analysis! You know, when the pipe-smoking caterpillar asks Alice “Whooo R U!” using coloured smoke coming from his fancy hookah pipe.
This blog focuses on Identifying Yourself when you meet a person who is Deaf-Blind.
We all know to introduce ourselves when meeting anyone for the first time. Right, it is common knowledge… Deaf or Hearing…
“Hello, my name is Craig, your name? (watches other person fingerspell name and then her name sign). Hello Tanya! I am fine, thank you. How are you… Did you enjoy…” And so forth. This is me meeting a Deaf person for the first time.
Now, if Tanya meets me again, lets say three months later? There are three situations that can happen, here they are:
- Tanya: Hello! How are you? Did you like that workshop? Craig: (looking puzzled) Who are you? Tanya: Oh you remember me? C: No, your face looks familiar. T: (Exasperating) Tanya, we meet 3 months ago. C: Oh right! Thank you! Yes, workshop was good… T: (sees her friend) See you later. C: Bye.
- T: Me Tanya (using both fingerspelling and name sign), Hello Craig, we meet three months ago. C: Oh Hello! Good to see you again. T: Did you enjoy that workshop? C: Oh very much, I loved…. and so forth.
- T: Remember me? C: No, your name? T: You can guess, we meet three months ago. C: No I cannot remember. T: Yes you do, come on guess. C: No idea… (sees my friend) My ride is here, see you later.
(Note: the above dialogues are in English, not in ASL. But the meaning is the same)
Which is the correct approach to meeting a Deaf-Blind person with low vision who prefers chatting at close range?
If you picked the second situation, you are correct! Here’s why?
In the first situation, Tanya starts chatting with me without introducing herself. Then gets a bit annoyed when I don’t recognize her. She then drifts away thinking (possibly) that I am unable to remember when we met and cannot carry on a good conversation.
In the second situation, Tanya introduces herself first. When I respond positively, she feels at ease and we have a good chat.
In the third situation, Tanya makes me guess, which annoys me. I lose interest and walk away.
What many people, Deaf or hearing, don’t seem to grasp is that personal images change.
When meeting a Deaf-Blind person for the first time, what they see is always stored into memory.
First time I met Tanya she had long black straight hair and glasses, somewhat short, signs with flair, with loads of makeup. Three months later, she is wearing contacts, hair is blonde and in a ponytail, she lost weight, and has no makeup, she signs more resisted, maybe an arm injury? Because her image changed, I do not know who she is.
Saying things like: Remember me or Guess who is taboo when meeting with people who are Deaf-Blind. My vision is bad, and I would simply prefer for Tanya to introduce herself. Makes everything much easier.
This rule is especially important when meeting Deaf-Blind people with very low or zero vision, who depend on tactile ASL. They can’t see your face at all.
There is a minor loophole in this reasoning: If I approach Tanya and say: “Hello Tanya (using her name sign)! How are you?…” Which negates the need for Tanya to introduce herself. Because I know who she is.
I started this on Transit and finished it at home! Typing on Skytrain can be a bit uncomfortable!
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Big Thanks and have a great evening!