Conference paper 2.0

Hi there!

If you read the blog Conference Paper and felt unsatisfied, as it was sorta incomplete, and left a great deal to be desired, rest assured, your appetite will be fulfilled! I am redoing the presentation that I did at the 2001 Helen Keller World Conference!

The Right to Dream 2020


<ahem, clearing throat, flexing hands, shuffling papers, looking at everyone as if they are wearing nothing but underwear, stopping myself from chortling, averting eyes to a distant spot at the back of the room, ahem…>

We as Deaf-Blind people are, or were, often told we cannot do things, things as simple as travelling independently, to something more complex like taking graduate school. We are told, by hearing/sighted persons, the Enemy, that we can’t do something. They might infer that you cannot see or hear, so you cannot accomplish that something. This Cannot is the kernel of motivation. This can lead you to dream of accomplishing that something, or it can lead you to agree with the person who stated you can’t do it.

The right to dream is about you, and what you want to do with your life! Do you want to learn a new language, finish high school or complete a masters? Do you want to have a good paying job? Do you want to create a use for old furniture? Do you want to use power tools to make fine wood cabinets? You, as a Deaf-Blind person can do these things!

The person who said CAN’T is really the person who said CAN, if you make it so.

Now I will give you examples:

Remember my Judo friend, he wanted to participate in the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games because he had participated in a few other Paralympic Games, including Seoul, 1988, and before that. Also, Greece is right next door to Italy, which is where he is from. So if he qualified, he would stop in to see his family. So he went into training, it did not matter that he had not competed for a while, but he tried!

There was a DeafBlind youth, who, this was years ago, wanted to learn to either ride a unicycle or juggle. I cannot seem to remember which, or maybe it was both? I don’t know if he actually was successful, all I recall is people telling him “can’t.” I believe he did not let that stand it his way.

There is another Deaf-Blind person who wanted to go to university, and was told they cannot. No this is not me, it was Mae Brown, who went to University of Toronto during the late 1960s. Sadly she passed away in 1973.

And, yes, now me. I was told by one person that I could not go to college, my grades were really low. This was before my hearing deteriorated so much that I couldn’t hear a fire truck if it weren’t to the right of me! So I said, I will prove this person wrong! First I enrolled in night classes, something to do with business. I did not have an interpreter. After passing that course, I went to college, got admitted, started slow, then started to work towards University transfer. In the months leading up to my eventual transfer, I had a funding meeting with the same woman who told me “Can’t” the first time. While I don’t recall her actual expression or feelings at the time, I believe she was impressed. She provided me with full payment of my classes, and provided me with a nice monthly stipend. She wanted to offer more, but her final words were “That is all I can give you.”

I still know her name, and mutter it to myself whenever someone says Can’t to me. That is the plan anyways!

All these examples where successful because we had support, my Judo friend had support coaches and others who could sign, the Unicyclist had support who trained him. Mae Brown had an intervenor, the world’s first person to use that title. And this intervenor recently celebrated her 100th birthday! While in college and university, I had a strong phalanx of interpreters, tutors and other support to help me throughout the ten long years! But I never gave up!

So, in closing this fake presentation on the Right to Dream, you, as a Deaf-Blind person, have the right to do what you want to do. Even if someone tells you cannot do it!

Of course, what I said above is always my opinion. You will have your own “Right to Dream” interpretation! Please Share with me! I might put it in a blog!

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