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The following Featured Post comes from Relationship Group 7, Thread 15.

1. Joe's Introduction
Sat, Sep 18, 1999 - /EST

My name is Joe. I am 30, white and half-deaf from birth.

I was the only deaf person throughout my school years from 3rd grade on. Before that, I have some vague memories of being grouped with some other deaf students; I am told that I refused to learn sign language, and that my parents agonized over whether to put me into the public school system, which ultimately they did. More than this I do not remember. I think I will talk to my mother to find out more, to find out how it came about that I did not become a part of the deaf culture. I've had so little contact with the deaf culture that all I know about it is brief mentions in the media about its exclusivity, so I certainly can't comment on the deaf culture. In fact, up until now, I guess I have actually shunned other deaf people, because I hated to be around other people who sounded like me.

In elementary school, I was different from everybody else in my speech; being half deaf I have a thick accent. If you heard me now, you would guess that I were a Scandanavian speaking English as a second language. My accent was much worse then, and I often did not hear all that was being said. The universal interpretation by my fellow students was that I sounded and acted stupid. The usual epithet thrown at me was "retard". I was taught by my classmates that the way I spoke was socially unacceptable. To this day, I fear public speech. Fortunately I write well, and so I took to making friends on computer bulletin board systems long before the internet got popular.

In An American Love Story, it is said several times that Karen Sims has very few friends and is very guarded towards making new friendships; it struck me how similar I am to her in that respect. I have had two real friends in the world; I married one and the other was the best man.

Joe F.

2. To Joe
Sat, Sep 18, 1999 - /EST

I congradulate you on having 2 true friends....everyone needs friends. To marry your best friend is one of the greatest gifts there is and I hope you cherish each other.

I must admit that I know nothing of the deaf culture. I would be interested in learning about it. Perhaps as you learn new things, you can educate us also. I hope that you will also feel comfortable enough to tell us about your past and help us understand your feelings and others who are hearing impaired or deaf.

3. Deaf Culture
Sat, Sep 18, 1999 - 1:10 AM/EST

The closest experience I have to being hearing impaired occurred recently at work. I invited a woman to teach the use of TDD/TTY to my adult students. (a text system for using a regular phone line) When the woman arrived with the other guest speakers and interpreters, they were all signing! I did not understand any of the conversation. I felt like an outsider in my own classroom. I wasn't sure when to get the interpreter's attention, how fast to speak, etc. And I didn't know what anyone was laughing about or raising eyebrows about. It was a disconcerting feeling, to feel left out. There was one presenter who was both hearing and sight impaired. She had an interpreter who signed our voiced questions to her. She put her hand over the hand of her interpreter to feel the signs. Then she signed her response to the interpreter, who voiced the response to the class. It was absolutely fascinating.

My class learned how to use the TTY equipment, but that was just a tiny bit of the real education that we all received in deaf and deaf/blind culture.

On the speech end of things, my nephew (28) stutters when he speaks. People often finish sentences for him. I know I used to, before I realized how disrespectful it was. He is an incredible man. I cannot imagine the courage it takes for him to go out to all of the companies that his lab contracts with and speak to people about their instrument problems. I know it must take great effort at times for him to communicate with them.

4. welcome joe
Sat, Sep 18, 1999 - 12:04 PM/EST

Joe, I am really glad that you are here! I love that you are providing an opportunity for us to look at the diversity of people that are isolated and shunned by the lack of acceptance and openness in our culture! There are so many reasons that people are mistreated in our society and we all need to start talking to each other so that we can get to the common human threads and learn more about the differences and embrace both! Leslie

5. Thank you for your honesty
Sat, Sep 18, 1999 - 4:30 PM/EST

Your words touch me. I too look forward to learning from you, as well as from/with all involved in the discussion group.I feel that it is through speaking together in a respectful manner that we learn.I have grown simply by reading the many bios and catching a glimpse into the expereinces, hearts, and minds of others.

Read more featured posts here or continue reading thread 15 from Relationship Group 7.

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