When the CoronaVirus started, and lockdown followed, I mentioned to you that I was not going to deal with that. I am not an expert on Coronavirus, or COVID-19. Yes, I know the dangers, and the precautions.
I am not the person to over-worry about something like this, that is my nature.
I am almost always at home and, when the lockdown began, stopped going to Deaf-Blind socials, meetings or inviting my friends to my home.
My neurologist mentioned that I am higher risk than others.
I do go out to malls or take bus trips, and I wear masks, sanitize often when out, wash my hands when I get home. I can’t practice social distancing, because I can’t see the signer 2 feet away from me.
Okay, so I am an expert on DeafBlind culture, and can tell you that DeafBlind persons have a really rare deal with this COVID-19.
Let’s start with socializing; because DeafBlind persons have limited vision and hearing (of wide range), they need to stand, or sit, close to the person they are chatting with. They often need to use tactile (hand over hand) ASL, or Tracking (hand on wrist to follow signing). So with that lockdown and everything closed up, isolation sets in.
Masks: gotta love them! While I usually watch the hands signing, I know many DeafBlind persons who watch face for those Non-Manual Signals, in English, facial expressions. Which can change a sign to mean something different! I am not doing an ASL class here, so you will just need to take my word for it!
The mask is really hard get around. I went to a meeting a month ago, and all in attendance where wearing masks, yet, I felt the meeting was unsuccessful because I kept misunderstanding the conversation, there was a lot of repetitions!
Which brings me to online meetings. Be it Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, Messenger, Glide, Duo, Marco Polo or whatever tickles your fancy… I am NOT a fan of any of them!
Why? There are a host of reasons:
DeafBlind individuals who have zero vision cannot use the technology unless they have an interpreter or intervenor to relay the conversation.
DeafBlind individuals who have mild to moderate hearing loss, who are more oral than users of ASL, cannot usually hear the other person on the other end unless they are speaking into the microphone, not over-loud, or too close, as that would distort the voice of the speaker.
DeafBlind individuals who have moderate vision loss can get a real eye strain from watching persons signing. And, things like: poor wifi, blurry signs, signing out of viewer range, fast finger spelling, etc, can really strain vision!
While many in the Deaf community can, and do, use these apps, it is a great way for them to stay connected, DeafBlind community, most, are not comfortable with the technology.
A couple more comments:
Recently I attended a virtual meeting for a Deaf organization that had two interpreters for several hearing persons involved. While one interpreter was appropriately dressed, the other was not, nor was the background right. This person had a light blue shirt, and they were white. So I said, “Hey, the interpreter is not appropriately dressed, black shirt please!” This person “Whoops! BRB!” and quickly came back with black shirt (I guess they were working from home!) In another web meeting, the interpreter had a half white half black background! Hey what?
To close this blog, I will also mention that due to my limited socializing with DeafBlind and Deaf friends, my ASL seems that deteriorated a bit. Through I can turn it on like a faucet, sometimes it takes a few minutes for me to abandon sloppy ASL to fluent ASL. Think of a tap froze after a cold winter, and how the ice slowly melts… that is me on many occasions… Stuttering, sloppy, then suddenly fluid and forceful, clearly concise!
Hey, thank you for reading!
Please consider donating to my writing fund. Any amount is fine… I’m not setting up a donor button because 7%, I donut know, goes to the app or program developers. I’m already making King richer playing Candy Crush all the time!
Have a great day now!