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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Deaf Group Outing to Cantigny Park

On Saturday, I went to Cantigny Park with ALDA Chicago. This was an important day for me because it was my last event as Social Chair for the group. I found I still have more to learn about deaf awareness and creating accessible events.

At the Visitors Center we viewed a captioned film. The captions were standard - we did not have to make a special request for this. When we went to the McCormick Museum, we also viewed a captioned film. I learned a great deal about the McCormick family and their influence in Chicago. So far, so good. Unfortunately, when we began our guided tour through the mansion, I discovered that the available lighting was limited. This was in keeping with the practice of the day when the house was occupied. The low lighting may have helped with ambience, but it made lipreading the guide quite difficult. I was dismayed to see several of my friends unable to follow the tour guide's speech. At the start of the tour, we were given a brochure on the home, but it had little of the information covered in the guide's narration. What our group needed was a copy of the script. I don't know whether we would have been given a copy or not (I have had the request denied before), but I wish I had thought to ask.

After that bit, the rest of the day went well even with overcast skies and a little rain. The gardens were beautiful and relaxing to explore. The First Division Museum was very informative on the soldiers' experiences in World War I.

We had lunch at the restaurant on site, appropriately named Le Jardin (the garden in French). This was a wonderful time of socializing. I think we would have liked to stay at the table forever. There were 17 of us speaking, signing, repeating, and writing - whatever was needed to communicate. This part of the day reminded me of the best of my time as ALDA Chicago Social Chair. It was gratifying to be part of making this type of social interaction possible. In future, I will look forward to participating in such events without having the management aspect.

If you would like to see additional photos from my day at Cantigny Park, you can see them on Flickr.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Communication is Essential

I found this video through DeafRead and definitely think it's worth sharing. The video is a fully captioned 16 minute speech by Rachel Kolb at TEDx Stanford. Rachel was born profoundly deaf. She has titled her inspiring message "Navigating Deafness On the Way to a Rhodes Scholarship". Her TED talk emphasizes the importance of communication and not putting limits on ourselves.

On a personal note, I needed to hear her words today as someone is shutting a door for me and I'm wondering if a window will be opening somewhere else.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cool Library Stunt

Watch as Seattle Public Library kicks off their Summer Reading Program 2013 and sets a world record by toppling the most books in a domino chain. Be sure to look for the title of the first book. Also, keep an eye out for the people posed around the area. Some held so still, they could have been mannequins! I would have had to look over at the books falling if it was me. There's also a videographer wandering around trying to capture the moment. Don't miss the word READ spelled out in books too. Enjoy and be sure to visit your local library this summer!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hilarious Hearing Mistake

I read this story today on Yahoo News. A mother ordered a graduation cake for her daughter with her photo on it. The clerk behind the bakery counter was rather busy and distracted. He looked at her strangely when she asked him to draw a cap on her head in the photo. When the mother returned to the bakery to pick up the cake, she saw that instead of a graduation cap, there was a cat drawn on her daughter's head. Oops! You can read the whole story and see a photo of the cake on this ABC news blog post.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

This Juggler Can't Keep All the Balls in the Air

I thought I could do all that I wanted to. I thought my plans were going to work out fine. I was wrong.

This past year has taken a toll on me. Starting graduate school was a much bigger undertaking than I realized. Doing it at the same time as launching Show Us the Captions and being Social Chair for ALDA Chicago was hard.

I have made it through my first two classes of graduate school. I got an A in both of them. I want to continue my studies. But for the summer, I am not taking a regular class. This is not what I had planned originally. However, when I found out that classes were going to meet twice a week and that I would be working nearly 10 hours/day most of the summer on a four-day work week schedule, I knew I couldn't do it. Instead, I've decided to try taking a one credit workshop course this summer for my masters degree. It will meet two Saturdays in a row from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I'm crossing my fingers I can handle it since the stress will be limited to the one week between the classes.

I had also strongly considered taking an intermediate sign language course. I had waited 4 years for it to be offered again. I was discouraged when I found out the class was going to be once a week for four hours in the evening. I requested to audit the class thinking that would relieve the pressure, but the professor never responded to me. That ball fell.

I've told Lauren from CCAC that I am not interested in spearheading the Show Us the Captions national campaign a second time. I am letting that ball drop too. Perhaps someone else will pick it up. If so, they have my blessing.

I thought I could keep on as Social Chair for ALDA Chicago the whole time I'm in graduate school.  But last winter I started having my doubts. Events were planned through September 2013 so I felt comfortable telling the board in April that I would step down after the June social. That has helped me cope with the responsibility knowing that it won't be mine much longer. No one has come forward to take this ball from my hands so I am trying to set it down as gracefully as I can. In February, I agreed to be the Secretary for the board so I will continue to be involved with the support group.

For now, I am mainly concentrating on my family and home life along with my job. Juggling seems easier with fewer balls in the air.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Awkward Moments

When I blog I usually share positive, upbeat news. I thought today I'd share some recent awkward moments just to keep it real.

  • At work I found myself in a conversation with two hearing people who were extolling the virtues of listening to books on tape in the car. They remarked that they get so caught up in the stories they arrive at their destination without remembering the drive. When they turned to me to see if I had experienced the same thing, I said simply "I don't enjoy books on tape." That ended the conversation. Ugh.
  • I was in a large meeting at work when the speaker said some funny things. Apparently. Everyone in the room laughed several times except for me. I felt like a fish out of water, gasping not for air, but for words I couldn't catch that would let me in on the joke. Oh well.
  • In a small group discussion at church, I reached up to my hearing aids to adjust the volume. When my hearing aids chirped everyone looked at me curiously. A bit later I shifted in my seat to try and get a view of a participant's face for lipreading. My son who was sitting next to me noticed and commented on both things in the car afterwards. So embarrassing.
  • That discussion took place after watching an episode from the History Channel's The Bible series. Unfortunately, it was not captioned.  Believe me, I asked the pastor about captioning before attending, but this "ministry" version did not have closed captions - a story in itself there! I was attending for the sake of my son and knew I would not catch it all. Turned out I missed much more than I had anticipated. When it came time to comment, I found myself commenting on a scene which did not rely on dialog - when Jesus restored the ear of the high priest's servant which was hacked off by Peter. Is it just me or was it a little lame to focus in on the only hearing related event in the movie? 
Sometimes I feel like I can never escape my hearing loss. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Update to My Kitchen

Long time readers may remember a post about my rose themed kitchen. Well, this spring, I decided to change it all up and go with a completely different look. I started checking out kitchen photos online and decided I liked the white on white look for cabinets. Achieving this was simple enough but it took a bit of courage to cover up the stencils I had painstakingly done by hand. You can see the difference in this side by side comparison:

Fortunately, I like the end result a lot.

The stainless steel countertop remains the same. The cabinets are the same with new paint. The appliances are the same. I got new window treatments - white faux wood blinds to replace the hot pink blinds. I sewed new curtains for the door with material I bought at Joann Fabrics.

Using yellow as an accent color has kept the room cheerful. I bought a new table to replace the aging booth that was falling apart. The last item I purchased was a new floor. I got a patterned gray vinyl to replace the black and white checkerboard. I love it with the dogs because the dirt doesn't show. Funny story: The first time I swept the floor, I lost my dirt pile. I was so used to sweeping it onto a white tile that this time when I went to sweep it into the dustpan, I could not find where it was. This color is great!

More photos available on flickr.