learning asl as a blind person

Hi everyone,

So a project for me off and on has been learning sign language. I guess I’m probably a bit over fascinated with deaf people and how they communicate in the way sighted people are with how blind people read and braille and stuff. It’s probably hard for people with these opposing disabilities to really understand the others experience. Like I’m sure a deaf person couldn’t imagine what it would be like to not be able to see even more than a sighted person who’s hearing would, because they depend on sight so much. And I as a blind person can’t imagine not being able to hear or talk with my voice because those things are so important for me in how I live.

Then there are those that are deaf and blind. I’ve never known any deaf blind people and would love any thoughts about dealing with these two issues day to day to day.

In addition to all that we have three deaf residents in our building. Ever the advocate for people with additional disabilities along with mental illness, I really want to understand how things are for them. If like myself and other blind people I know they have additional challenges with for example getting services, getting people to realize they don’t have depression due to their disability ETC. It’s frustrating not to be able to communicate with them. It’s even more frustrating that these three have been there for years and years and very few staff have bothered to learn even basic signing. The clinical director is pretty good at signing and is very into the idea that so long as the person doesn’t come in thinking that this building is specifically for the deaf/ blind or whatever, if their issues fit what is treated here they get the same right to come here as anyone else. So anyway he’s said that if someone else came along who was deaf, or blind he’d take them if they met criteria. Besides him though like I said very few seem interested. This kills me because if I were deaf I would be constantly writing to people and being like you guys need to learn to sign right now!

But it seems the three are used to it. They’re also very different in terms of their hearing issues. One signs but also reads lips and speaks quite articulately if loudly. She gets the unfortunate task of interpreting for the other two. This other girl who’s in her thirties. She signs mostly. I think she also reads lips. She can say some words but not very clearly at all. She’s the one I want to know the most because most of the time she seems like a really nice person. The clinical director here does know the importants of getting someone in who speaks ASL as a caseworker. The first one he got was amazing! He was so nice and compassionate and plain awesome as a caseworker firstly. Then he had spent years as an interpreter and actually went on to do that. Anyway this girl once he got there was wanting the two of them to go around and play this card game with questions about yourself. It was nice to just talk with her and get a sense of per personality. She admits to having a temper which is obvious at times. I learned that she’s very religious but respects others differences. A couple of times outside of that interaction she’d come over and take my hand or hug me. Once after the clinical director told her what room I was in she took me upstairs. I so wanted to talk to her.

It really made me think about people who were deaf. I hadn’t really thought much about them before. I thought deaf people maybe had it easier because there’s so much on tv like closed captioning and stuff. But then I’ve seen so many people just in this building who don’t care at all about signing or who make fun of the way they talk and it’s just sad.

Because of that and as a kind of statement to the lazy sighted people who won’t take the time to learn it I’ve decided to learn to sign.

My bestist friend Robbie went to a school for the deaf and blind. So he’s been around a lot of deaf people and understands things as much as a hearing person can. Jess and I are doing most of the learning though. We tried once and stopped because she wasn’t very patient. But now we’re trying again. I have a hard time with letters. So I decided to start with words. Just start learning what I want to say without going from complete scratch. Probably not the best way to learn but yeah.

So here’s my video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WtXM0Wnfdk

Robert captioned it for me.

I’m excited about this. I hope I’ll make new friends. It’s also an alternative way to communicate secretly like with Jess or Robert or anyone else who knows it or when I’m too overwhelmed to talk. I think a blind person learning a visual language is just really cool.

So any thoughts about any of this is welcome!

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