A blast from the past

Hi there!

So what’s on your agenda today?

Me? I found an old article by me that I wrote for my housing co-op’s newsletter. It was published in February 1994, I haven’t read it since.

I would like to draw your attention to a few things: at the time of writing this article, I was new to the Deaf-Blind community, advocacy. I was also relatively new to Deaf culture and American Sign Language (ASL). With that in mind, please forgive my generalizations, simplistic explanations and so forth. I was inexperienced!

It is entitled Talk Talk, hope you enjoy reading this blast from the past.

Have you ever wondered what disabled people do for pleasure? Well, they do the same things “normal” people would do: meet friends, chat, play tricks, tell jokes, do an occasional insult, and anything else to seek a little limelight. Though communication might lag or slow down it still happens and there are still happy laughing results.

Okay, lets put you into the shoes of a Deaf-Blind person. You can’t see, but you can hear, you also are aptly skilled in finger-spelling but not enough to make conversation feasible. Finger-spelling is using the hand to form every letter the alphabet; it is often slower and cumbersome.

Now that the character has been briefed, lets set a stage. You want to have a good time at a cruise, which you have been planning for a long time. Now it is common that most people on a cruise can’t finger-spell and they don’t feel too comfortable getting close to you, inside their buffer zone. So what are you going to do?

Are you going to sit on the deck (preferably in a comfy lounger, as any normal person would, not on the deck like a potted plant!) and listen to the laughter and the talking? Remember you can hear bit, not enough to distinguish words, but enough to get a gist of what’s happening. Would you venture out and try to meet these people? Some would! Some of this brave would burst out and start chatting a “mile a minute.” But most people with your caliber of disabilities would not attempt such a feat.

So what are you going to do? Well there are a couple of options available to you. You could take an intervenor with you. An intervenor would be someone who matches your skill level and can hear and see good. This person, or preferably for durations, persons might be required baggage because you want to hear and see what you are missing right? This intervenor will tell you what is happening, who is talking, what people are wearing, eating, or doing, what a picture looks like and even read you a menu from beginning to end!

(Oh God! Did I actually compare an intervenor to Samsonite? Shudder!)

The intervenor will sometimes voice for you, if people cannot hear you, other Deaf-Blind, or Deaf people. Let me clarify a bit. You a re talking to another cruise participant; the communication cycle would have you, your intervenor, and the cruise-goer, makes three people. Now your first reaction might be “that is time-consuming, and the point would be lost in the delay.” But once communication has been complete the laughter still comes from you and laughter is contagious all over again.

With an intervenor you can get other people to talk to you in your language of clear and close communication. Because the other people see how the tow of you communicate, some brave soul will want to try that. Pretty soon you will have a new friend!

(Yikes! That explanation of the two previous paragraphs makes as much sense as buying a large bag of dog food, when you don’t even own a dog! Such an inept, raw, explanation of the astounding dialogue between hearing sighted and Deaf-Blind persons by way of an intervenor! I did warn you that I was green in the teeth about Deaf-Blind culture and advocacy! I’d much like to jettison both paragraphs! I’ll do a blog analyzing it! Stay tuned!)

So, the moral of this play, if you meet any disabled person, put yourself in their shoes for a minute. Try to conceptualize how they do things that you take from granted; like talking to strangers on a ship at sea. Your mind will understand (barring you don’t get lost at sea reading this article) and you will gain a new friend and new experiences!

Okay, I am done quoting that article!

Incomplete thoughts and confusing statements aside, can you find three? I believe I was trying to explain the rationale of an intervenor, how important they are to Deaf-Blind individuals. I was learning, and still am, about Deaf-Blind persons, communication, guiding, intervenor roles and so forth. However, at the time, I had no real-time experience with an intervenor, the details that I outlined above are the core of what an intervenor can do. I had probably learned of these things just recently and wanted to share my newfound knowledge to a small audience, before I went global and started advocating for intervenors!

Oh wait, when I said I did not have real-time intervenor experiences back in 1994, that was incorrect. I did have intervenors, I actually had two, they came together. Because I was 26 and trying to get a date was more important than reading mail! That is all I will say, other than: I was unsuccessful.

Thank you for reading, sharing, liking, donating and talking about this (crappy) article!

Enjoy your the rest of your day!

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