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Saturday, April 30, 2011

I Watched

I watched the royal wedding live on TV. At 4 am clad in my pajamas with a blanket on my lap and coffee in my hand I watched the splendidly dressed royals arrive at Westminster Abbey. It was a wonderful way to start my morning.

Even better my husband joined me for the viewing. It was so exciting to point out to him where my son and I had sat for Sunday services last June. I was delighted by the addition of the trees on either side of the aisle for the ceremony. I loved the camera angles looking down from the great height of the Abbey. The formality and grandeur of the historic occasion stirred me. In America, we have nothing like it. Watching our celebrities strut along the red carpet on Oscar night can't even hold a candle to this.

For me, Kate's dress was perfection. She looked every inch the Princess she now is. Her sister Pippa's bridesmaid dress was stunning too. I was thoroughly charmed by the young children, both girls and boys, who accompanied Pippa down the aisle. And the hats - gasp! I absolutely adored the parade of hats on display among the family and guests.

I remember getting up thirty years ago to watch Diana and Charles' wedding in the early morning hours. Back then it was the epitome of romantic dreams for a young teenage girl. Over the years I watched as their fairy tale marriage fell apart and Charles went on to marry Camilla and Diana died before getting a second shot at matrimony. I thought that perhaps this time I would be too skeptical to get caught up in the spectacle of royal romance. Nah, I soaked up every moment of it and floated on a cloud into work yesterday.

Best wishes for a long and happy marriage, William and Kate.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Technical Difficulties at the Open Caption Movie

Last night I took time out of my busy schedule to attend a captioned movie showing at a theater which had recently changed management. Although the available times were rather inconvenient as the only showings were midweek days at 2:00 and 5:15 p.m., the film they were offering, The Adjustment Bureau, sounded intriguing. In addition, I wanted to show support for a friend's efforts to encourage the new owners to continue offering open captioned films. If no one shows up for them, it doesn't motivate the owners to offer them, right? There were 7 people in attendance at the showing last night.

When the film began, I noticed right away that the captions seemed to be positioned a bit higher than normal on the screen. But since I have been to only a handful of open captioned films, I thought that perhaps this was how this one was meant to be. About halfway into the film when the members of the Adjustment Bureau reveal themselves to the lead character, I noticed that their heads were cut off. I leaned over to my companion and said, "I don't like that camera angle!" I thought it was an effect to build suspense. But as the movie continued and even the main characters' heads were chopped off in wide shots, I knew something was wrong. Then I noticed a large black band along the bottom of the screen. I left my seat and went to get the problem fixed.

It was a long walk as our theater was located furthest from the lobby. Fortunately someone was on duty at the service desk and when I told her about the problem, she reassured me it would be a quick fix. So I returned to my seat. A short while later, a theater employee made an adjustment to The Adjustment Bureau and we could now see faces and foreheads. Tops of heads and hats still bled over the top of the screen, though. Sigh.

But that was minor compared to the next problem. About two-thirds of the way through the film, the captions started "jumping" on the screen. That was even more problematic. To read them I had to look at them right as they first appeared because after that they were bouncing up and down. Very annoying.

Naturally the film was in the most crucial parts where you couldn't walk away without missing a key part of the action. I stayed in my seat this time rather than make the long walk again. No one else in the theater went to complain either.

On the way out, I wanted to say something to the manager, but she wasn't at the service desk so I missed my chance. I'm considering writing a note describing my experience. But I want to get the tone just right. I appreciate the fact that the theater is offering open caption films and I don't want to discourage that. On the other hand, shoddy service is shoddy service. I know I'll think twice about coming to the next film because of what happened.

My friend who has persuaded the management to offer these captioned films was also in attendance at this showing. Afterwards, she texted me that she plans to contact the manager and the corporate office about the situation.

What would you do?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Discovering Deaf Worlds

I still have a follow up post from my trip that needs to be written about ANASCOR, the national deaf organization of Costa Rica. In the meantime, I hope you will take a few moments to watch this new video that explains the mission of Discovering Deaf Worlds. It's very well done and makes me proud to have an association with this organization. Perhaps you'll consider getting involved too.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Words JUMP OUT At Me


Maybe it's just me, but ever since my hearing loss was diagnosed, I've become aware of references to communication and hearing loss in all sorts of reading material. Kind of like how once I became pregnant, my eyes were opened to seeing pregnant women everywhere I went. Once that experience passed, I became oblivious to them again. Heh.

Today I'd like to share two examples from books I have recently read. These titles are not included on my reading challenge list, since I didn't check them out from a library. But one was purchased at a library book sale and the other was a prize from a Friends of the Library group. To my thinking I ought to get some credit for them even if it's only a mention of them here.

Consider these words from a short story called "Hands" that has nothing to do with deafness. But because of my exposure to ASL and deaf culture, they just seemed to leap off the page for me.

Wing Biddlebaum talked much with his hands. The slender expressive fingers, forever active, forever striving to conceal themselves in his pockets or behind his back, came forth and became the piston rods of his machinery of expression.
"You must try to forget all you have learned," said the old man. "You must begin to dream. From this time on you must shut your ears to the roaring of the voices."

This next passage comes from the book Tuesdays with Morrie and is part of an interview Morrie Schwartz had with Ted Koppel for Nightline. In this passage, he is describing his fears of what will happen as his ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) advances. Unlike the previous quote, this one is definitely related to communication and deafness. It's a short, sweet passage I might have completely overlooked if not for my own experience of hearing loss.

"But my voice? My hands? They're such an essential part of me. I talk with my voice. I gesture with my hands. This is how I give to people." "How will you give when you can no longer speak?" Koppel asked. Morrie shrugged. "Maybe I'll have everyone ask me yes or no questions." It was such a simple answer that Koppel had to smile. He asked Morrie about silence. He mentioned a dear friend Morrie had, Maurie Stein, who had first sent Morrie's aphorisms to the Boston Globe. They had been together at Brandeis since the early sixties. Now Stein was going deaf. Koppel imagined the two men together one day, one unable to speak, the other unable to hear. What would that be like? "We will hold hands," Morrie said. "And there'll be a lot of love passing between us. Ted, we've had thirty-five years of friendship. You don't need speech or hearing to feel that."

If you'd like to read more from these books:

"Hands" is one of the short stories that comprises Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. Tuesdays with Morrie is written by Mitch Albom and is highly recommended to you by me.

If you are late deafened or growing hard of hearing as an adult, let me know if certain words JUMP OUT for you as well.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spring Has Sprung!

Come see what's budding and blooming in my yard!


Daffodils also known as jonquils

These have the prettiest scent!

Daffodil closeup

We also have pink and white ones.

Sunshine on the Daffodils
Ahhh....spring at last!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Doing It 'Our Way'

....We'll do it our way, yes our way
Make all our dreams come true
And do it our way, yes our way
Make all our dreams come true
For me and you. [Laverne & Shirley]

Doing things the hearing way often doesn't work for those of us with a hearing loss. Instead, we have to be creative and come up with new ways that work for us. Recently, I was responsible for a banquet hosting a mixed group of deaf, late deafened, hard of hearing, and hearing folks. I thought I'd share my experience and the innovations/accommodations that made our dream of a successful and fun party come true.

When I met the wait staff who would be serving us that day, I explained right away that most of the group had difficulty hearing. They were glad to have that information. It seemed as though the management hadn't told them anything about it in advance.

One of our guests had a great idea. He noticed the photocopied sheet of dinner options at each plate and suggested marking each one with our choice. The waiter was able to gather them all up and that saved a lot of his time versus trying to interact with each of us individually. Some members even wrote their special preferences next to their choice!

When I showed the waiter my marked paper, he came up with his own innovation. He returned with a paper with the various soft drink options handwritten in magic marker and let each person indicate their choice by pointing or telling him. The waitress brought a similar paper with the salad dressing choices written on it. She placed a copy on each table for us to mark our choices. This turned out to be another excellent time saver. It also saved the awkwardness I've experienced when I've struggled to understand a list of salad dressings spoken aloud and needed to ask for repeats.

We had one more accommodation I wanted to share with you. For the program part of our banquet, we had a CART provider [Communication Access Realtime Translation] who would type captions projected on a screen. As our captioner was setting up her equipment, she realized that the screen provided by the restaurant, although fully extended, would come up short and that people in the far corner of the room would be unable to see it. The photo below shows the solution the restaurant manager came up with to fix the problem.

I was very pleased with this restaurant's response to our group's needs. When I unthinkingly signed as I was speaking with one of the waiters and apologized when I realized what I was doing, he corrected me saying, "No, it's okay. I might learn something." I think his words summed up our experience well. By not pretending to be the same as hearing people, we saved the restaurant time and aggravation. For their part, they learned to think about how people with hearing loss could best be served.

Have you had any similar experiences you'd like to share?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Million Dollar Marlee Matlin

I have really enjoyed watching Marlee Matlin on this season's Celebrity Apprentice. On tonight's episode, she raised a million dollars for Starkey Hearing Foundation!!! This is the American hearing aid company that donates hearing aids to needy children around the world. To learn more, visit the Starkey Hearing Foundation website.

Last year, I wrote about this organization but didn't mention that it's been a personal dream of mine to someday accompany this organization on one of their missions to Central America. Marlee, more than ever, you are my hero for what you've done tonight. Congratulations!

No matter what happened this week on Celebrity Apprentice, I was planning to write about Marlee. Why? This week I discovered this inspirational video of her on the Deaf Women in Film website. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

By the way, the men's team on Celebrity Apprentice raised money for another wonderful cause, the St. Jude Children's Hospital. Donald Trump made a deal with Marlee and men's team leader, John Rich, that the "losing" team (in terms of dollars raised) could keep their money for their charity. So, both charities won big tonight. You can learn more about St. Jude Children's Hospital at their website.

Well done, celebrities. So many children will be helped by your efforts.