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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Party Responsibly

SpeakupLibrarian wants to remind everyone to party responsibly. You never know when a family member or friend may be lurking around with a camera. Heh.

Photo: courtesy of my terrific Aunt Louise who tells me this photo of yours truly was taken in 1968.

Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Deafening by Frances Itani

Growing up as a hearing child and then experiencing hearing loss in midlife it's hard for me to understand what it might be like to be deaf as a child. When I visited my local public library and saw Deafening by Frances Itani as a featured selection, I knew I had to read it.

Deafening tells the story of Grania, a Canadian girl who becomes profoundly deaf at the age of five from scarlet fever. Suddenly the world which was just beginning to open up to her becomes much more difficult to navigate. School is a nightmare. Her older sister is unable to be of much help there as she is grouped with the children her own age. At home life is difficult as well because her mother refuses to accept her deafness continually praying for a miracle to restore her hearing. Her father is clueless that his mustache interferes with her ability to know what he's saying. Only her beloved grandmother Mamo seems to understand how to help her. She is the one who insists that Grania attend the Ontario School for the Deaf even though it breaks her heart to be parted from her. There Grania learns sign language and makes a best friend with whom she can finally communicate freely.

The story continues with Grania growing up and falling in love with Jim Lloyd, a hearing man she meets through her job at the school hospital. Jim is fascinated by her world of silence and tries to explain the world of sound to her. The two marry but are soon separated by World War I when Jim goes overseas to work as a stretcher bearer in an ambulance unit. Letters and memories are all that connect them through this difficult time. Jim is trapped in a world of horrific battle sounds while Grania is confined to an unbearable wait for his return home to her.

To be completely honest, I skipped over some of the war parts. I was much more interested in reading about Grania's relationships with her beloved grandmother Mamo who teaches her to read, her sister Tress who uses home signs with her, and Fry her best friend from deaf school and the first person she can fully communciate with since becoming deaf. I liked the early part of the book the best. I felt so bad for Grania when she was sent to public school with her sister and the teachers had no idea how to help her learn. Her sister tried to help her not become isolated from the other children but the difference in their ages made that difficult. I was glad when Mamo convinced Grania's parents she needed to go to deaf school but was saddened when it meant a lengthy separation from the family and no visit home at Christmas.

My absolutely favorite lines from the book were these sentences: "Her hands, to her surprise, and jerkily at first, begin to send ideas out. Her face and body punctuate; her eyes receive. She is falling into, she is entering a new world. She is joining the larger conversation of hands." [page 84] This book is definitely pro ASL! I also didn't know before reading it that Canadians used ASL.

Very interesting to me was the discovery that the author herself is not deaf. Before writing this story, Frances Itani studied ASL and participated in the Ottawa deaf community. Her own grandmother was deaf but this is not her personal story. It's a novel not a biography.

For those interested in learning more about Deafening and Frances Itani, check out these links:
1)Christian Science Monitor's eloquent book review.
2)Washington Post transcript of an interview with the author.
3)another book review. This one directly speaks to the author's use of language.
4)a brief 44 second video of Frances Itani talking about the book.
It isn't captioned so for my deaf readers I've typed out what she says here: "The reason I wrote my book Deafening is because of my long association with my deaf grandmother. She was born in 1898 and died in 1987 and I loved her very much. And that is the reason I began to write this book. It's a book about Grania, a five year old child who becomes profoundly deaf from scarlet fever. It goes through her childhood at a school for the deaf up into her adulthood where she meets and falls in love with a hearing stretcher bearer. It's a book about World War I. It's a book about love and loss, about hope and despair, and about love in its many guises. Love between the main characters, love between grandmother and child, and between sisters and war buddies."

This book is definitely worth reading. I highly recommend it to you.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Naughty is the New Nice

Tis better to give than to receive. How true especially if you've been a tad bit naughty with your gift giving. Smirk.

Last year I found an irresistible gift for my parents who are just a little leery of receiving affection from my big friendly golden retriever. I got them t shirts that said "Ask me about my grand-dog" with a nice large paw print on the front. Tee hee.

By the way that wasn't their only gift from me. In case you were wondering.

The shirt can be ordered from this Animal Rescue website.

This year when asked what she would like for Christmas, my mother said she wanted a dish towel. C'mon, a dish towel. I could do better than that. I knew she would really enjoy getting a pair of sapphire earrings to match her favorite ring. The problem is she's one of the last holdouts on pierced ears and she only wears clip on earrings. I scoured the Internet for sapphire clip on earrings but came up empty. Hmmm. What to do. Eureka! I would get her a matching necklace instead.

I found a lovely sapphire and diamond necklace at Kohl's. On sale too. Perfect. Next I found a dish towel in her favorite color yellow. I wrapped the jewelry box up and placed it inside the dish towel and then wrapped that up. You want a dish towel you're going to get a dish towel I thought evilly.

I couldn't wait for her to open her gift Christmas morning. I was all ready with my camera and snapped this photo to share with you.

See, naughty really is the new nice.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Recipe for Holiday Cheer

Here's an excellent dish to bring to a holiday family gathering or a company Christmas party. Make sure any Scrooges get an extra large helping.

Recipe for Holiday Cheer
slightly adapted from Taylorstales Genealogy

2 cups Genuine Interest
4 spoons of Understanding
1 cup of Recognition
1 cup of Appreciation
2 spoons of Tenderness
1 cup of simple Courtesies
3 glasses of Kindness
4 spoons of Faith
1 cup of Friendship
1 jug of Laughter
1 jug of Smiles
2 mugs of Consideration for Others

Take Genuine Interest and make an effort to Understand. Mix thoroughly with Recognition and Appreciation. Blend with Simple Courtesies, Kindness and Tenderness. Add Faith, Friendship and an abundance of Laughter. Top freely with Smiles and Consideration for Others.

Be sure to enjoy the wonderful smell while this dish bakes in your heart. Just before serving, garnish with Love.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Meet Feel Good Librarian: Excellent Service in Action

Feel Good Librarian is the person we all secretly hope to see behind the desk when we come to the library for help. She's knowledgeable, compassionate, and willing to go the extra mile.

For those of you unfamiliar with her inspiring blog, here are some of her classic posts:

Picking Stone: how she taught a bipolar senior citizen to use a computer.

Among the Living: how she helped a woman who wanted to know if her husband was dead (when most of us would have been running to hide in the stacks when faced with such a question).

Long Lost Cousins: how she tactfully helped a man avoid becoming enmeshed in an internet scam.

After reading her stories, you may be wondering if Feel Good Librarian's coworkers and patrons appreciate how truly wonderful she is. Yes, they do as seen here: Psst

In this holiday season, it's good to be reminded that there are angels among us. Sometimes they can even be found at the library.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Was this Library Insensitive to Deaf Needs?

Update 3/2014: Some links that were available when this blog post was first published are no longer valid and have been removed. 

Karen of Deaf Mom Shares Her World was denied access to a close captioned video yesterday at the Naperville Public Library.
You can read the full story here.

The problem for Karen was that her daughter needed to watch a performance of A Christmas Carol for a school assignment. The rest of her class was going to a theatre to see the play live. Unfortunately the theatre was unable to provide an interpreter so Karen's daughter received permission to stay home and view a close captioned video recording of the story. Karen went over to the library where she regularly checks out nonfiction videos to get a copy of the Christmas classic.

And the library had one in their collection. And it was available. But not for Karen.

All because it was classified as a Fiction Video.

You see the problem for the librarian who helped her locate the video was that Karen wasn't entitled to the video according to library policy because her taxes are paid to another library. Here is the reciprocal borrowing policy as stated on their website:

Update 3/2014: This policy was in effect at time of posting by Speak Up Librarian. For current policy, please check with the Naperville Public Library.

A Reciprocal Borrower is one who uses a library card from a reciprocating library to check out materials at Naperville Public Library. As a REGISTERED reciprocal borrower you may check out most materials and use the online Library catalog. REGISTERED reciprocal borrowers will have the same rights and responsibilities as Naperville card holders with these few exceptions (Your home library may provide these services.):

Cannot borrow Adult fiction videos and DVD's
Cannot borrow Adult audio books
Cannot place Holds.
Cannot use Interlibrary loan Services.
No access to Online Databases remotely; you can use them in-house.
Cannot reserve computers in computer labs.

For full service at Naperville Public Library, a card may be purchased for an annual fee, giving the borrower full access to all services.

A Reciprocal borrower who has paid an annual fee of $100 is entitled to unlimited checkouts of:

Adult fiction videos and DVD's
Adult and children's talking books.

Update 3/2014: This policy was in effect at time of posting by Speak Up Librarian. For current policy, please check with the American Library Association.

Interestingly enough the American Library Association has this quote about their Library Services for People with Disabilities Policy approved in 2001. "Libraries play a catalytic role in the lives of people with disabilities by facilitating their full participation in society. This new policy will help libraries improve services for people with disabilities in their communities."

This policy specifically mentions the deaf and hard of hearing. You can read a copy of the policy here.
On page 7 of the policy under a section entitled "Open dialogue with participants" the question is posted Are there instances where the library should make special accommodations for users? [emphasis mine]

So you may be thinking why didn't Karen just go to her home library for the video. They didn't have it. The librarian found that out for her with a phone call.

Obviously in my opinion, knowing that Karen's library didn't have the video and that it was needed for school, the librarian should have made an exception to the policy to accomodate Karen's daughter's need for closed captioning. At the very least, the librarian should have offered to let Karen's daughter view the video at the library at a mutually convenient time.

What happened instead? Karen was given two choices: Fork over $100 to receive full access or Call a friend who lives in Naperville to come out in the cold and check it out for you. Which would you have chosen? Neither option was acceptable to Karen.

In this situation, a librarian chose to follow the RULES and missed her chance to be sensitive to the needs of her community. I'm saddened by it. But I hope that writing about it on my blog will help raise awareness of how well intentioned rules can be used to deny access.

January 16, 2009: In the comment section, Kay posted the link to DCMP the Described and Captioned Media Project This free service is a federal project that provides described videos for the blind and captioned videos to the deaf. Note: to qualify for the service you need to be a K-12 student who is blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. Teachers of these students also qualify. Thank you, Kay!

January 6, 2009: In the comments section, you will find a reply from Julie Rothenfluh, the Deputy Director of the Naperville Public Library. She states that Karen was offered more choices than the two I mentioned here (which I got from Karen's original post.)

Blogger Bill Cresswell has suggested this resource for subtitled DVDs: Thanks, Bill!

Another blogger has posted on this situation. Scrooged by Library Rules

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Isn't it Ironic?

All anyone has talked about at the library this week is the Blagojevich scandal. Imagine my surprise when I saw these book titles come across my desk for withdrawal today!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How do you play THAT game?

My coworker Diane called me at the reference desk with an idea for an icebreaker activity for the online class we will be teaching this winter. An icebreaker activity helps students get to know each other at the beginning of a course. She said the game was called "Name that cowlick." Say what? How do you play that? I wondered briefly before asking her to repeat what she said. This time I got it right: Name that colleague. Tee hee. I think my version sounds like more fun.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Nick & Starr Win It All

It was a tight race to the finish line but brother and sister team, Nick & Starr Spangler won the $1 million dollar prize. Separated couple Ken and Tina gave them a run for the money and touched my heart when they put their wedding rings back on at the finish line and vowed to give their marriage a second chance. Frat Boys Dan and Andrew fell behind from the start and were not really contenders. There wasn't a glimpse or a word of Toni & Dallas' fate at the finish line so they must have been still in Russia arranging for replacement passports...Sigh, it would have been nice to have a video clip of them congratulating the winners.

To find out what really happened to Toni & Dallas in Moscow and if Dallas & Starr are dating post-race, read the Reality News Online Interview here.

Thanks CBS and racers for an exciting season of the Amazing Race.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tonight's the Amazing Race 13 Finale

Last week Dallas and Toni were eliminated after Dallas lost the team's money and passports. Andrew and Dan had an astonishing second place finish even with an extra speed bump task! Nick and Starr came in first and Ken and Tina who struggled with finding the last clue box were third.

Who will cross the finish line first tonight? I predict Nick and Starr as I have since episode one. But if Andrew and Dan win instead, I will truly believe in miracles.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Candy Christmas Wreath

One of my favorite holiday traditions is making a candy Christmas wreath for my mother-in-law. I thought I would share the directions with you. Here's what you need to purchase for this craft: 2 bags of hard candies (red and green peppermints are traditional but I use Werther's butterscotches because they are my mother-in-law's favorite and they look so festive in their shiny gold wrappers.)curling ribbon for attaching the candy to the wreath. (This year I used 3 colors: red, green, and silver.) and fancy ribbon for decorating the wire coat hanger (I purchased ribbon with a metallic gold sheen to it at Michael's craft store.) Here's what else you need that you may already have around your house: wire coat hanger, scissors, hot glue gun.

Start by bending the wire coat hanger into a wreath shape. My husband did this for me. Thanks, honey! Be sure to retain the hook at the top. This will be used to hang your wreath! Use hot glue to attach the fancy ribbon to the wire coat hanger. If this is your first time using hot glue, be careful. It really is hot and it's easy to burn your fingers with it.

In years gone by, I didn't take the time for this step and when the candies were eaten off the wreath, the wire coat hanger underneath looked pretty lousy. Adding the ribbon just dresses up this simple craft a bit more.

For the next step, you will need to cut off 12" lengths of the curling ribbon (by the way, you can find curling ribbon in the gift wrap aisle). Take the cut curling ribbon and tie it around one end of the candy so the two ends of the curling ribbon are approximately the same length. (This is art not science, so don't worry if it's not exact.)
At this point I like to enlist help from my family so we can say that we all contributed to Grandma's present. It's helpful to sort the tied candy by the color of the ribbon. You want to end up with the same number of ribbons in each color.

Now you are ready to tie the candy on to the wreath. I tie it twice to make it hold securely. Then I curl the ends of the ribbon by rubbing the blade of the scissors against it quickly. I alternate the colors like this: red, silver, green, red, silver, green, ... I position the candies so some are above the hanger loop and others are below it. You can also gently slide the candies so they are as closely bunched or spread out as you like.

The final step is to attach a pair of scissors to the wreath. I used an extra length of my fancy ribbon for this. I wrapped the length around the wreath a few times so it could hang down longer as the candy gets eaten but for now would hang near the middle of the wreath. Here's what our family's completed project looked like this year. My mother-in-law was very happy to receive it at Thanksgiving!