Sunday, October 29, 2006

Gallaudet-- The Board Votes

Gallaudet University's Board of Trustees met on October 29 and voted to terminate the selection of Dr. Jane Fernandes as president.

Perhaps now Gallaudet can get back to the business of educating students. But sadly, the weeks of mudslinging has left Gallaudet with a host of issues that will need to be addressed before any true progress can be made.

The next president is going to have to be one heck of man/woman with an iron heart (to deal with all the stress) and be someone who is going to be able to handle the laundry list of issues that have been showing up in blogs/vlogs around the internet.

Hopefully the next president will be one that embraces every student who attends Gallaudet, regardless of communication ability, use of technology or amount of hearing.

Only then, can true unity begin.

Photo courtesy of Maureen Conroy / Daily Nexus

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Gallaudet-- Chicago Tribune Article

This morning, a friend sent me the link to Listening to the deaf [this is the exact way the title appears on the page] by Clarence Page. It was printed in the Chicago Tribune yesterday and it shows a large picture of smiling protesters and a smaller portrait of Jane Fernandes.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Found a Rather Interesting Thing Outside

As I walked down the driveway to get the mail the other day, I did a double-take:

No, that's not an X-rated picture. It is a pair of mushrooms growing in my yard. Mother Nature has a great sense of humor!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Another Kid, Another Birthday

Eleven years ago, I was hooked up to pitocin and laboring away with my second child. My first child, David, was born via cesarean and I was hoping for a VBAC (vagnal birth after cesarean). I had labored all day and all night. The doc came in at four in the morning and tried a couple of tricks, but nothing worked.

Lauren was born via cesarean and after my husband said, "It's a girl," that was the last thing I remembered. Despite my birth plan of staying awake and not being tied down, the anesthesiologist refused to allow one hand free and he ended up drugging me through the rest of the surgery. I woke up in recovery two hours later shivering, breaking out in hives from the epidural and feeling terrible. What should have been a joyous time with a new daughter got off to a rocky start.

It became even rockier for several months-- what was diagnosed as the "baby blues" was actually post-partum depression. You can read more here: What You Need To Know About Post-Partum Depression.

Thanks to a VBAC support group, I was able to work through my feelings and enjoy my baby daughter. Today, Lauren is celebrating her eleventh birthday. She's a girl after her mother's heart-- a budding writer and a lover of books. She recently taught herself to knit and has discovered volleyball, a sport that I played for many years.

Lauren was born with hearing in the normal range and when she was four, she became sick with a high fever and ended up with a moderate-to-severe hearing loss at the same time her two-year-old brother, Steven did. For Lauren, this was a hard blow. She quickly became frustrated because she couldn't hear her friends on the phone. There was a long period of adjustment, but today, she's a happy kid who learned to use the phone again (love that Captel!) and regularly runs up the phone bill yakking with her friends. She loves email and IM, and uses the videophone to chat with her deaf and hard of hearing friends.

So Happy Birthday to my Pumpkin!

Monday, October 23, 2006

SIGNews--A Newspaper Worth Reading

I discovered SIGNews by accident one day after doing some heavy internet surfing. Browsing the site, I saw a link for a free issue and I promptly signed up for it. After receiving the first issue, I quickly sent in a check for a subscription and I've been enjoying it ever since.

SIGNews has a writing style that is similar to the Deaf Success magazine that ran a few years back but discontinued publishing after the first few issues. In every issue, you will find inspirational stories of deaf and hard of hearing persons in many different kinds of jobs. The current issue features nurses who are deaf.

SIGNews is a publication of CSD (Communication Service for the Deaf) based in South Dakota. While the focus is on those who use American Sign Language, I have found the newspaper to cover a wide variety of communication styles, including a recent article covering a conference for those who use Cued Speech.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Construction Worker Gets An Eyeful

I had lunch with my friend Mary recently. Mary grew up hard of hearing and became deaf as an adult. She is one of the early founders of ALDA--the Association of Late-Deafened Adults.

Mary lives in a beautiful old home that was undergoing some restoration by a company that they've used for several years. One early afternoon, the crew took a break for lunch and Mary decided to take a shower. She looked out the window and saw that all of the trucks were gone, so she figured she was alone in the house. Since it was a short distance from her room to the hall shower, she stripped buck naked, grabbed her clean clothes and headed off to the bathroom.

She came face to face with a lone construction worker who stayed behind to finish up some work.

Startled and red-faced, she continued her short run to the shower.

Fortunately, Mary has a great sense of humor and was able to look back at this and have a good laugh.

As for the construction worker, he probably had a smile on his face the rest of the day.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Gallaudet--On The Outside, Looking In

A fellow writer from Epinions recently sent me an email asking "Do you know why the students oppose the new president so fiercely?"

I was in a hurry and quickly replied, "Protesters don't like Jane-- they say she can't lead, that she's cold and that she's "not deaf enough"(even when it is denied, this comes up). They're also saying that the search process was flawed and racist (many felt that a person of color should have been one of the finalists) and that Jane was hand-picked by the current president."

In a nutshell, that's what I've gathered from a couple of months of reading blogs.

In 1988, the protest back then was about selecting a president who had one thing in common with the students, faculty and alumni: the absense of hearing in the normal range. When Jordan was selected, it seemed that many gathered together to celebrate and a sense of unity developed from the "Deaf President Now" movement. As a result of that movement, many deaf and hard of hearing students from all over decided to enroll in Gallaudet and some of them were students who would have never considered Gallaudet before the protest.

Many people like my friend from Epinions are expressing confusion at the selection of the first female president who has an impressive resume and happens to have a hearing loss. Mike McConnell recently posted Not Deaf Enough--What The World Sees on his blog and his post echoes the feedback that I'm getting from others on the outside.

One of the major differences between the two protests is that anyone off the streets has the ability to blog and post things on websites. The internet is now one huge information source, including vast amounts of gossip and postings that amount to slander. It is difficult to sort through factual information and the stuff that should appear in National Enquirer instead.

What started off as a complaint about a flawed search process has turned into a protest that has a list of issues that are popping up all over and it all has me wondering-- is Gallaudet going to be a place that my three deaf and hard of hearing kids are going to consider? Will Gallaudet be a place of diversity that embraces every deaf and hard of hearing student that wants to attend there?

We'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Jordan Cancels "Talk of the Nation" Broadcast

I. King Jordan has been involved with Gallaudet University for forty years and I'm saddened to see the turn of events as he prepares to leave Gallaudet. I have found him to be a wonderful leader who has done a lot for Gallaudet. I recall meeting him for the first time during a visit to campus and he graciously made time to talk with a group of us who were Deaf Services Coordinators from all over.

He was scheduled to be involved with "Talk of the Nation," but canceled due to the escalating protest on campus. A transcript of today's talk can be found here: Talk of the Nation.

I hope that Gallaudet students, staff and alumni can work together to restore peace at Gallaudet soon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Out of Puppyhood-- Into Adulthood

Early in January this year, we brought home a new family member. On October 6, Kaycie, our West Highland White Terrier celebrated her first birthday. The little puppy is now a full-fledged, potty-trained adult.

There were days when I thought the potty-training would last forever. This was pretty much the same feeling that I had with all of my kids. At least with kids, you can put on diapers and protect the stuff around the house. Puppies like to decorate white carpet with yellow puddles. Kaycie was especially fond of making nice little circles under the dining room table whenever one of the kids left a gate open.

Kaycie joined our family in the middle of winter, which meant several trips outside during very cold weather. The little bugger was smart. She would wait until I gave up on her and we'd head inside. As soon as no one was looking, she would deposit a brown gift on one of the rugs. She eventually learned that she could make the family members very happy if she squatted outside instead and was quickly awarded a treat.

Kaycie amused herself one day by unrolling the toilet paper in the bathroom. She took great delight in rolling around in it. For a couple of months after that, we had to store the rolls on the counter. After a party one day, we discovered that she no longer messed with the toilet paper. Around the same time, we realized that she had stopped decorating the carpet and left the rugs alone. Apparently the mischievous puppy grew up.

Kaycie was quite the escape artist and loved to take off running. We had a close call one day when she headed for a busy road near our house. She was just a few months old and wouldn't respond to the "come" command. As she neared the busy road, I felt my heart leap and I started to scream. Each time I came near her, she would run away. I tried to run away from her to entice her to follow, but she kept edging closer to the road. Cars were zipping by. I continued to scream, and the neighbors came out and tried to help. Fortunately, one little neighbor girl called out to Kaycie and she came running right to her, jumping all over. Someone else grabbed Kaycie and right at that very moment, I was reminded how much I truly loved the bundle of fur.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Wasting Life Away?

My cousin sent me the following:
(read through it, I've got some thoughts at the end!)

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn't already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder.

I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being.

She said, "Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I'm eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?"

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, "Of course you may!" and she gave me a giant squeeze.

"Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?" I asked.

She jokingly replied, "I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids..."

"No seriously," I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

"I always dreamed of having a college education and now I'm getting one!" she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake.

We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk non-stop. I was always mesmerized listening to this "time machine" as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she revelled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet.

I'll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor.
Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, "I'm sorry I'm so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I'll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know."

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, "We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing.

There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You've got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die.

We have so many people walking around who are dead and don't even know it!

There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up.

If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don't do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight.

Anybody can grow older. That doesn't take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets.

The elderly usually don't have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.

She concluded her speech by courageously singing "The Rose."

She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.

At the year's end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago.

One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep.

Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it's never too late to be all you can possibly be.

Whether or not this little ditty is true or the stuff of urband legends, it sends a valuable message to us all. I hear the same thing over and over from friends who are in their 40's and 50's: "If I start a new path in life, I'm gonna be too old and who wants to hire an old, deaf/hard of hearing person for a job?" I've encountered frustrations with job hunting and I know there have been some situations where discrimination probably happened, but I sure as heck hope that I never stop living and allow my life to waste away.

I want to be like my Grandma Griffard who kept herself busy until the day she passed away at 91. My mom is more fit in her 70's than she was at my age. My father is 82 years old and still works on a farm. Just a couple of a weeks ago, we were taking my boat out of the lake and he was able to crank that baby on to the trailer as if he was twenty-five. And there I was behind the boat, huffing and puffing away. Go figure.

So, my dream is to live a life of lots of adventure and few regrets. Meanwhile, I'm digging into a brand new box of Fannie May. Want some?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Socialization and Deaf/hard of hearing kids

Last Friday, our school district participated in an Advocacy Day at a local high school. Deaf and hard of hearing students from several districts came together for a field trip to learn how to advocate for themselves and their communication needs. A football coach at a private high school shared his experience of being hard of hearing and handling communication issues in his daily life. In our district, my son was the only one to attend this event.

So this all has me wondering about deaf and hard of hearing adults today--did many of you have contact with other deaf and hard of hearing kids when you were younger? What do you wish your parents had done differently?