Monday, November 19, 2012

Calling Bank through Video Relay

Video relay service is one of the best  modern technology, which has enabled deaf to have an effective communication. However, there are times where it can’t deliver all communication needs that deaf need. The reason is not that video relay services do not provide or deaf do not get access to it, but those whom we call using video phones don’t always understand the importance of it.  It has come in to my attention that, it is really hard to use video phone for calling bank to talk about sensitive materials such as  issue with your credits card.

I had issue with my credit card over the weekend, and I called my bank(Chase) using video relay to inquire  why I could not make purchases with my credit card which got denied when I tried to make purchase few times. The person who talked to me, told me that they can’t access to my account, and they will call me back.  Apparently, the lady who answered my call never had experience with video relay calls. The interpreter told her that, I am deaf and she is facilitating our communication. Nevertheless, instead of fixing the issue with my card, they placed my account on hold, because they suspected the interpreter. Thus, I was not able to buy anything during the weekend with my card- and since their office is closed during the weekend, I had to wait until Monday.

When I went to the bank and told them what happened, they called people who run credit card transaction which in return told them that they put my account on hold because of suspection. In order to unblock it, they asked the banker who called them to let them talk to me. I told them that I am deaf and if they want want to talk to me, to call my video phone. They told the banker to hand the phone to me and tell them what was the last payment I made on the card. I had to voice on the phone despite that I could not hear. I was not happy that they insisted to hear my voice instead of just fixing my problem even though I was with the banker. I was also shocked that they place on hold my card without alerting me .  While, I understand that, they do things like these   for their customer’s safety, I still think they should have a way to communicate with deaf customers. If they don’t trust phone calls, then they should not have one. Because it is  unfair for deaf customers to not to be able to call their banks when they need sensitive services.  They should have video call centers like they have phone call centers or get rid of all phone services!!.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Media Scrutiny of Interpreter Lydia callis

If you have been following  the news recently, there has been circulating story about sign language interpreter who interpreted for New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg during his news brief about Hurricane Sandy. Some news media have focused their attention on the interpreter and her facial expression  during her interpretation which i think   is not good for professional interpreters and sign language users. .

The news media are making fun of how sign language facial expression can be amusing  and how it can redirect the attention from the main speaker to the interpreter. Instead of thinking about the importance of this language, New York times writes about the interpreter Lydia,  “With her smartly coiffed short dark hair and sharp suits, she literally throws her whole body into signing, from her head to her hands to her hips”.  While this statement may sound as praising for some people,  I feel that is disrespectful to the interpreter. They did not have to talk about her look or her body. Nicole Steinberger an  interpreter at Rochester Institute of Technology(RIT)  who is also women’s senator at RIT student government says,“ While I think the world should have a better understanding of sign language, interpreting, and Deaf culture, I do not think it should be at the expense of an interpreter's self worth. Our work is our work, it's not about our hips or hair, and when the media takes it to that level, the real message is completely lost”.  I just hate how these media would do anything to make money.

Daniel Maffic, sign language instructor at National Technical institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology says ““For people who do know me but are unfamiliar with the work that we ASL/English interpreters do, please know that it takes a lot of time and training to do what we do” He further added “ I am disappointed with America's response to the "Hurricane Sandy interpreter".   The work of an interpreter takes a lot of training mentally  and physically. It has never been easy for interpreters to deliver messages in sign language where interpreters have to listen and sign at the same time.

Sign language is a beautiful  language that deaf people  use. I am glad that our beautiful sign language is getting an attention, however, at same time, I disagree with how  some media are making it as an amusing language instead of showing it as very effective and wonderful language. I am very impressed with Lydia’s skills,  and how she was able to deliver the message to Deaf people  in a perfect way. I am sure it was not easy for her  to interpreter in such difficult times.. Kudos sign language interpreters!

Friday, October 26, 2012

That Deaf Guy- Matt Daigle Presented at NTID/RIT Tonight

Matt Daigle and Bakar Ali
Matt Daigle, the famous comic deaf cartoonist  gave a great presentation at National Technical Institute for the deaf ( NTID) at Rochester Institute of Technology tonight. He talked about how he grew up and how he become cartoonist. He was mainstreamed most of his schooling. When he was young, his parents wanted him to learn lip reading instead of  learning ASL because they thought it was best for him. Luckily, he was later exposed to ASL and Deaf culture which he found to be  fascinating  method to communicate.

Matt graduated from RIT/NTID with degree in graphic design. He had a dream of becoming a cartoonist in his early teenager  but he  never thought that could happen. However, he chased his dream which is  why he is today one of the most successful deaf cartoonist in the world. His work is not just limited to Deaf culture, but he does a lot of drawings.

He shared a lot of his illustrations. The most important one that he shared was the symbol for international breastfeeding  that he designed . You can see it in the following picture.  He is advocacy for natural mothers breast feeding.  This symbol is used in world wide today which is very impressing. His wife and son had inspired him to make this symbol. He participated a contest with about 500 people and his symbol was chosen as international breastfeeding symbol. He feels blessed with that.

Matt Holding International Breast Feeding Symbol that he Designed

If you would like to know more about his work, his  website for his comic illustration is . or
If you have not liked his Facebook already, you should definitely click “like”. There are a lot of humor and funny cartoons and great comments from his fans. I like visiting his page and scrolling down with all those collection of comic cartoons.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Deaf Are not Stupid: Communicate with Them!

When someone sees my article title, if they are deaf, it is likely that they would understand what I meant by that. There are so a lot of misconceptions about deaf people and all the time when I encounter one, I ask what is wrong with these people?!  Yesterday I was with my friend at a book store in Rochester, NY. The store was about to close. We knew that it was time to close, and we were getting ready, but there was store employee who was staring at us to make sure that we were leaving without even letting us know that they were closing the store.

After we left, my friend asked me did you notice they were watching at us more than they were looking other people if we were leaving? I say oh yeah! I knew that the woman was looking at us, but I did not pay attention to it. My friend felt upset about how they watch on deaf people without trying to communicate with them.  Apparently they were not comfortable communicating with us. My friend had encountered like this incident before in this store so it was not new to her.   

Some hearing people are afraid talking to deaf a persons, because they think they are different. There are people who think the only way to communicate with deaf is to use sign language which is absolutely untrue! How many times I had someone tell me “oh sorry! I don’t know sign language with sorry face” to get my sympathy.   Deaf people are not all the time with those who can sign with them. Most deaf people have hearing families and friends who don’t know sign language. Deaf go to everywhere and communicate others using whatever communication method is available such as pen and paper. 

I was surprised that the store employees could not communicate with us. There were not any alarms to let people know that they were closing. Instead they walked to hearing people and told them they were closing. But they did not talk to us.  My friends said, “It's kind of insulting that they had to put a distance between us and them where they could have come closer and just have a paper and a pen to let us know that they are closing”.  Instead of staring us like we were an strange things fell from the sky, all they needed were to come to us with some respect and let u know that they were going to close the store.

I am sure there are a lot of deaf people who have experienced kind of this thing. Next time if you are deaf and someone stares you thinking that you are not leaving, because you are deaf, tell them you are not a TV screen.  It is just so annoying when people do kind of these things to deaf.  Misconception like believing deaf would not understand things need to stop. I have always argued that understanding  and hearing are two different things. Deaf people are not really stupid as some people think. Being deaf does not necessarily mean that deaf person can’t see things. It does not mean they are immature.  They have sights and senses like everyone else. People need to give some humanly respect!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Turn A Deaf Ear: A Great Book!

I just finished reading a blend of fiction and non fiction book  Turn a Deaf Ear which was recently sent me for free as gift by the publicist Darlene Chan which asked if I could read and write review about it. The book which was written by two sisters is mostly based on real inspiring stories.  The story begins with a little girl named Linda who lived in New Jersey.   Her father decided to leave her mother for his new girl friend he recently met. This begins with a long story of Linda’s life.   After her parents’ divorce, Linda, her brother and her mother moved to California with their older sister. One day Linda’s eldest brother Nick brought home a deaf friend named John. He was a good friend of Nick and they asked him to bring home one day. Linda’s mother who loved making Italian food wanted to share their food with John.  Linda gets fascinated by the method that her brother and John communicated- American Sign Language.  She falls in love with the man and his language (ASL). She notes about John’s language, “Although there were no words spoken, it was beautiful!”  Of course this is true about sign language. Most people find it to be a beautiful language once they start learning it. I have many friends who fell in love with sign language and chose their career as interpreters despite having other college degrees.  This begins with an inspiring Linda’s journey of love, excitement, joy and adventures.
 John and Linda began dating. After a year, they decided to get married. Unfortunately Linda’s mother who has never been exposed to deaf culture and sign language opposed the marriage. She argues how she would be able to communicate with her son-in –law and her grand children? Linda’s mother was very though mother who believed Italian Matriarch.  She always wanted to maintain dominance in her family. In fact the bigger fear that she had was losing her lead of the Matriarch family than John’s deafness. With Linda’s eldest brother and sister help, finally the mother accepted the marriage.
One day while Linda and her husband were shopping they would be accidently met by a doctor who had a deaf patient. Getting impressed with  the signing skills of Linda, he asks if she would be interested in working for him as interpreter for his deaf patient who is  named Molly. She was deaf and neglected by her parents and ended up in brothels in LA. After consulting with her husband Linda accepted to interpreter for Molly who had heart breaking story. Linda’s marriage of John and learning sign language now turns to be a career that she could pursue. During the time of the story, there were not interpreters agencies like today and most deaf people depended on friends and family for communication. Although the story was mostly based on Linda’s life, Molly’s story would be sorrowful, but enlightening. It would give you a picture what it would have been to be a deaf in that era.
The stories in the book and the way that the author’s wrote are something that you would not want to miss. It is something that you would enjoy with your free time. It is a book that covers everything about family, friendship, love, and trust.  As for deaf and hearing culture, the story in the book gives wonderful perspectives in both cultures. I am recommending that you read this book for your summer reading. I can attest that you would be pleased reading it.
The book is available in Amazon with really a great deal!!. You can look it from this link. about the book can be found on the book’s website Offer for My Blog’s Readers!The publicist offered  a free giveaway copy of the book for my blog readers in the United States and Canada. If you would like to enter drawing please comment here. The drawing will be open until July 25th . Only first 10 people would be entered in to the drawing. I will announce who won the drawing here. Good Lucky!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

When You Jump Off from The Point

I used to wonder if interpreters always interpret what I say  the way I want to. Mostly, they do really well and sometimes they make great sentences from my loose signs. But today in one of my classes there was a discussion and I was commenting. I wanted to say “Because of today’s economic globalization ,  cultures are spreading and people are becoming more accepting of other cultures”. But the interpreter interpreted as “In the summer people tend to be accepting of any culture and interact with people all over.”  The interpreter mistook my sign "because" for  "summer". Then there was a little silence in the class, because the professor’s question was not about summer. The professor repeated his questions, and I repeated my answer trying to clarify.

Sometimes I feel embarrassed when I make comments that are unrelated to what we were talking about. Have you ever experienced with that? This is part of having communication issues. In fact, it takes a lot of energy to keep following a conversation in academic classes. While hearing people can just listen what is going on when they are setting on their chairs comfortably, the deaf have to pay more attention to catch a conversation. They have to get their eyes and brain on alert. If you are deaf who uses interpreters for classroom you probably have noticed that you pay more attention like a soldier in a front line when there are interesting discussions, and you wanted to participate.

I wonder if  interpreters have to say always what they think  deaf is saying even if it is off the point. What I mean  sometimes deaf students in classes try to comment, and it is possible that they make a comment which is not relevant to the current discussion. Because they may misunderstand what the discussion was about. I noticed, it is not easy to follow when there are so many people commenting on a topic. I remember couple of times that I jumped off from the point, but always interpreters understood.  And sometimes, they asked me what I was talking about before they voiced it.

I totally understand that interpreters are human, and it is not their fault if they misinterpret sentences like my above sentence. Interpreting is not an easy job. I am not posting this to blame interpreters or make them guilty when they misunderstand. I am just sharing my experience. I always have gratitude and respect for interpreters because they are the ones that make us break communication barriers. They are the one that make possible for deaf student like me to have their voice heard in their classes and succeed academically.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fun Deaf Festival at Rochester

Today I went to Rochester Deaf Festival at Ellison Park in Rochester, New York. It was  first time that I attend kind of that festival since I moved to Rochester  last year. Thousand of deaf  people came to the festival. Pride and smile of their face could have been noticed.

I was volunteering at the festival and most of the time I spent helping people to find parking. It was interesting to see the facial expressions of some hearing people who came to the park for other events. When some of them were trying to find parking and I signed “ do you need to find parking?” some of them were like huh? what the heck is he  saying?!. Sometimes those who were very frustrated  would try to talk to me hurriedly, and when I don't understand them well and ask them to repeat, They would just drive away . They did not realize that today was Deaf festival. They must have got amused by  seeing thousand of Deaf people at the park..

Rochester is famous for its deaf culture present. in Rochester, you could find deaf culture everywhere. You might find someone who can communicate with you  with American sign language everywhere such as: restaurants, fast food and even car repair shops. I remember the other day I was getting oil change at Volvo Line and there was a guy who knew sign language. He helped me understand well when I could not understand what other guys were saying. 

Me with Matt Hamill

The festival organizers did great job. The traffic flow was well organized and everything went so smoothly.  The committee worked tireless making sure that everything went well.The vendors and other exhibitors had good booths. Matt Hamilon was there. He gave a good speech and shared his experience.. Some deaf comedian played a great play; lots of laughs!.I think having this kind of festival is great way to show deaf culture pride. I hope next festival, there would be thousands more people coming to the festival.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mix and Mingle event at RIT

I just came back  from a  fun and  enjoyable event “Mix and Mingle” at RIT ASL and deaf studies community center(RADCC). The event was organized by me and other student at RIT. It was sponsored by RADCC. Our main goal was to break the communication barriers and  encourage integration between deaf and hearing students at Rochester Institute of Technology. Our goal was to show that deaf and hearing  people can socialize and have fun with out difficulties.

We had fun games that everyone could enjoy with themselves. To break the communication barriers, we gave  papers and pen to those who don’t know ASL. This has enabled hearing and deaf to communicate by writing. This is what I usually do to communicate my friends and my coworkers who don’t know ASL. This way of communication has always been useful to me. In fact, I prefer communicating via note writing than communicating through interpreters when I am socializing with hearing people.

We “event facilitators”, typed on the computer with projector, so all people could see what we were typing. We put all the instructions of the games on the PowerPoint so that everyone could read it. I told people that to have a fair communication, I will not sign or voice. Instead I would  type everything on the board  and let everyone read it. This was so interesting, because we had many hearing students who did not know ASL.  No one felt left behind in the game unlike what happens most of the time when deaf and hearing people are in an event together. It was  great learning environment and everyone seemed enjoying  being there.  I was impressed how effective was to use this kind of communication.

One important thing that I learned tonight is that people just need encouragement to break the communication barriers between deaf and hearing. In fact, hearing and deafness cannot be a factor to separate our community  unless we want it to be so, specially at RIT which has a huge diversity students,. We should not let having a communication barriers stop us from socializing as community.  We are hoping to do more of this event in the campus. I hope a lot of deaf and hearing students in other colleges across the country could do too. This is  best way to educate people about sign language and the importance of the community integration.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Never mind, never mind!… I am tired of being told nevermind. It just pisses me off whenever someone try to talk  to me and  I tell them I am deaf, then they said never-mind. What the heck is wrong with some hearing people?!! Do they think if a deaf person cannot hear them, he can’t understand them? I was just setting in RIT Wallace library and typing a paper on my laptop. Then a guy came to me asking something. I told him I am deaf, and asked him to type what he was saying. He looked at me strangely and said "never mind" and walked way. What the heck!!. I was  patient enough to stop my work and was  willing  to help him, but he replied never-mind.

Understanding  and hearing are two different things as they are two different words. We deaf people lack of  only the hearing, but we do have  understanding capability.I have experiences  many times a  stranger hearing person stop me  trying to talk to me or asking  me something, but when I tell them I am deaf, they just say never-mind and walk away. What does my deafness has to do with my understanding with people? I simply, can’t hear you, but if you want to talk to me there is a way we can understand each other.

Deaf people don’t tell hearing people never mind when they don’t understand them. Deaf try to make their best to understand hearing people by using any possible communication methods. I remember the other day, I was with my hearing friends, and I signed “I have to go  now”. They did not understand what I was saying so they were like, “huh?”! Just what a deaf persons feels when they don’t understand hearing person. I walked to my friends and  typed in my Iphone notes, "I have to go". I did not say never-mind. But it annoys  me sometimes when my close friends are  being lazy to type or write for  me something when I don't understand them and they say never-mind. 

The hearing people lack of sympathy. They don’t know that we- deaf people are just human like them. We are just missing one thing they have which is hearing. However, there is nothing wrong with our  human being. I was an event last week with a group of my deaf friends. There was a hearing friend who did not know sign language. My deaf friends were chatting in sign language. They were having a good laugh, but the hearing friend  was feeling left behind.  I looked and felt like what I usually  feel when I am around with my hearing friends who are chatting and having a good laugh, but  I don’t understand anything about their conversation. When I saw that my hearing friend was feeling left behind, I interrupted my deaf friends and told them that they should include the conversation with the hearing friend. I asked them how they would have felt if they were with hearing people and not understand their conversation?

Hearing people need to understand that deafness does not make anyone different. if you are hearing person and become deaf tomorrow, would that make you a different person? You don’t walk on people and interrupt their work and when they try to help you tell them never-mind. This is unacceptable. Let me be clear those immature  hearing people out there; Deaf people lack only the sense of hearing, but they do have whatever else you have. We are all human-being!.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Flight Hostess Uses Sign Language

I was on flight from Netherlands to Sweden yesterday. I was  fascinated when the airline hostess used signs to give safety instructions. She used  sign language to show how to use each safety materials such as oxygen mask  and how to exist the plane in case of emergency. It surprised me how effective it was to give instruction in signs than spoken language.
Usually when I ride airplane, I never get to understand what they are saying. They always talk when they are giving safety instructions. I remember my flight from Philadelphia to Amsterdam, I was using my Iphone and the airline hostess come and told me to turn  it off. I know usually airlines ask their passengers to turn off their electronics  when the plane is taking off or landing, but how could I know when and when not  to turn my phone off? When the plane takes off, they inform passengers by microphone that they can use their phones and electronics  now. But deaf can’t hear it.

If the airlines would use  sign language to give safety instructions would be helpful to everyone. Both hearing and deaf  people can grasp when the airline hostess uses sign to show how to use safety materials and in case of emergency how to exit from the plane. Most deaf people who travel on airlines, don’t have right like other passengers to understand safety instructions and in case of emergency how to exit from  the plane. I think airlines should give all their instruction on sign language and that would be easier and helpful to all passengers. Most passengers who travel on airlines don’t speak same language. Yesterday I  met  on the flight with  people who were from different  countries  who could not understand either English or Dutch. If they had not seen hostess signing, they would not have understood how to use safely material. Sign language is very effective language which can be used by everyone to understand each other.