Month: November 2012

What would you do if…

You got pulled over by the police in outer Uzbekistan and you didn’t speak the language.  But they thought you did.  And in order to be accommodating – and hopefully be able to eventually speak to someone from the American consulate – you were very agreeable.  And ended up in jail.  Where you tried to teach one of the guards the ABC’s – and got the snot beaten out of you for being a snitch, after which you were placed in solitary confinement.

Welcome to the world of the Deaf in the criminal justice system in America.  So far as I can tell, there are a significant number of the deaf – perhaps as many as 20% – who are so incapable of understanding English and the concepts of Miranda as expressed in English that they were actually incapable of participating in their own defense and should never have been brought to trial. I’m not saying that they didn’t do whatever it was – maybe they did, maybe they didn’t – but even if they did, they were not competent to stand trial based on a lack of understanding.

It’s like sending someone who speaks only English to court in Uzbekistan without any concept of what is going on because no one speaks the language.  And that situation is compounded after incarceration in jails and prisons.  Only to make it even worse, they get their hearing aids taken away – returned broken or not at all.  So they can’t hear a da*n thing and they end up being targeted by both guards (as troublemakers) and prisoners (as snitches or someone wanting special treatment).

Because of the lack of ability to communicate inside prisons they can’t get education, drug treatment, psychiatric care, better jobs, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.  Two men sentenced to prison for ten years – one hearing and one deaf have such a different experience that it is as if one man serves 10 years with perks of education, rehabilitative treatment and the possibility of parole while the deaf one serves the equivalent of 50 – at hard labor.

Apply head to desk, lift, repeat as often as necessary… Thanks to Bric123 for the graphic

The research on the subject presents an appalling picture.  Individuals who cannot understand their rights not to incriminate themselves.  Individuals who cannot participate actively in their own defense, who cannot even understand their lawyers, who may have untreated drug and alcohol problems, who cannot understand the trial nor the questions asked, and who cannot even participate in prison society without alienating either prisoners or guards.  What are we doing?  How can this even be referred to as “justice?”



It is actually not long until March.  If I am to present a 20 minute discussion on Substance abuse, the Deaf and it’s impact on arrests and prison time I must get to it.  The research so far is older and sort of disheartening. If you have information for me, belly up to the bar, boys and girls.

Time, time, time

I’m fully aware we’re all allotted the same 24 hours in a day. I also know my present feeling of sensory input overload must be how I am allocating them. It seems that time has been at a premium and I’m not getting done what I need to get done let alone what I want to do. Even sleeping is interrupted by the dreams of everything stacking up in my to-do list. Yikes!

However, I’ve just concluded my DBCAN training to be a certified Support Services Provider. I’d have my cert in hand had I not been laggard (hanging head in shame) about providing some of my documentation so my CORI has not been completed yet. Yet, the failure to provide all that was wanted at one time had to do with – yup, that time thing.

That being said, I am incredibly thankful I went through DBCAN training. Yes, it was a long drive and long hours. It was intense and wonderful and I was so thrilled to meet my fellow students. I met three incredible DeafBlind trainers and probably half a dozen very talented interpreters. Working with the DeafBlind is great, IMO. And I’m fully pre-trained in the privacy and confidentiality arena to the point I don’t even wish to be identified as a paraprofessional in public since that would be an invasion of the privacy of the consumer.

At any rate, as regards time, I’ve freed up 18 hours a week to do other things! Yes! And I will be able to use all of it raking up the leaves and bagging them for collection. (rolls eyes) I did about 4 hours yesterday before burning out. I’m told I can borrow a blower but the sound just kills me. I may do it anyway.

I’m also finishing up with MRC in Boston on a series of workshops and I’ve finished a VLP/Boston Bar mentoring session (for me) so my time in Boston will be dramatically reduced – less time on the road and the T. More time freed up. Thank God for small favors, since I need a good 40 hours of quality time to wrap up some issues hanging fire and I need to do it in the next 10 days or I’m going to go ’round the bend.

The mentoring session was another one of those things that was just perfect – the perfect confluence of events, the perfect meeting of the minds, the opening of doors and windows of potential opportunity.

And so, as we approach Thanksgiving I’m thankful for completing so many time drains, even if they have been productive. I’m happy with door and windows opening into my life. I still don’t know how to address the time thing and keep my sanity at the same time, but I think it is starting to come together.

Time, Time, Time, see what’s become of me, While I looked around for my possibilities. ~ Paul Simon

Starting to retitle

When I began Another Boomer Blog it seemed a whimsical name for yet one more Boomer commenting on life, the universe and whatnot. But over time I’ve found myself focusing on Hearing Loss, Deafness, Hearing Augmentation and all that goes with it. Oh, there are times other information wanders onto the page, but largely it is about hearing issues from the perspective of a Boomer. Who knew it would morph like this?

There is now an iPhoneography blog rather than scattering photos in this blog – and it has taken off a life of its own. I’ve pondered changing the name of this blog, but that would probably end up being a cluster-you-know-what regarding anyone finding it again. Instead I changed the tagline. Next time I need a crystal ball to see into the future – darn, but I do not have one. Maybe BitcoDavid of DeafInPrison will have some ideas.

I recently discovered I am presenting at a symposium on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Criminal Justice system in March of 2013. There is a certain part of me that would have liked to know prior to my name going out statewide (laughing) but I’ve got plenty of time. I hope to work more closely with and other sites seeking justice in the criminal system – and this despite the fact I’ve nary a criminal client in my portfolio with the exception of an old 209A defense. Apparently I am meant to move in this direction – how to get clients though? Not sure.

I’m intrigued that Apple is coming out with an iPad for the DeafBlind and I’m trying to find out what that is about and how it works. Yea, Apple! Someone suggested it is a film on the screen. Anyone know how to do braille on an iPad? Not me.

I’m falling behind on ASL practice, although my receptive skills remain good. Just a reminder here, folks, it is a language and we can learn it! Who needs brain exercises when you’ve got it all with ASL?

I’m happy that I can contribute my exercise proficiency to DBCAN (assuming a consumer wants to exercise). If s/he does my readers will never know since it will be entirely confidential. And I’ve added a week’s worth of black tops to my wardrobe so I will be appropriately garbed. I now feel a bit like “Goth girl.”

Stay tuned to the world of a Hard of Hearing Boomer who passes as hearing and really gets through life better than one would expect. Small blessings.

Add your thoughts here… (optional)


I am so behind on my posts. My review of Portsmouth Bookfest – which was amazing by the way – is still in drafts, and I have a busy week coming up so what to do? I know, I’ll cobble together a light-hearted fluffy (well not that fluffy, some of my mental comments are quite cutting) post out of two previous posts.

There’s a logic to this, since it seems that lately there’s a theme going around – 10 things not to say to deaf people – with several bloggers coming up with their own versions. I’d just like to wave my hand and mention, humbly, that I did it too, way back in January, inspired by various ‘shit … people say to …’ memes at the time and a deaf person who made their own version. In fact I fear I may have gone off one slightly… or perhaps that should be

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The Limping Chicken

Many of us hearing-aid wearers who went to mainstream school will remember feeling tired at the end of a long day trying to listen and lipread above the din of a rowdy classroom.

Now, Ecophon Saint-Gobain, supplier of wall absorber systems have produced this infographic to make sense of the statistics surrounding classroom noise (and of course, set out the reasons more schools should buy their products!).

They say: “The acoustics of a classroom can have a massive effect on learning rates, teacher-pupil relations – as teachers have to shout to be heard – and even the physical well-being of teachers, and yet this is a subject that receives a fraction of the attention that other, more visible, teaching obstacles receive.”

Take a look below…

You can join the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #AcousticMatters

The Limping Chicken is supported by Deaf media company Remark!, provider of sign…

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My You Ear Love

At a workshop with ASL interpreters present for several folks a woman decided I was totally deaf and wanted to talk with me.  In the ladies room, on break, she bravely strode up while I was washing my hands, tapped me on the shoulder, and as I looked up into the mirror she signed:  My You Ear Love – or possibly, My You Hearing Love.

I blinked as I tried to sort out what she was saying to me in the mirror and voiced, “You love my ear?”

She shook her head and replied orally, “No, no.” She shook her head and then folded her arms over her chest  You’re my hero.”

Without going into the rest of the conversation, I’d like to give her props for trying her best to come up with meaningful, self-created signs, for what she wanted to express.

I ended up thanking her for her compliment and teaching her “Thank you” and “Welcome.”  I pondered if I should tell her than in the quiet of the ladies’ room I could hear her well enough using my hearing aid and lip reading.  Then I let it go.  She wanted to reach out to me in what she perceives of as MY language.  She tried her best and we communicated. I appreciated her willingness to give it her all.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we all tried that hard to communicate with others?  Maybe she’s the hero, even if her hero looks like Love. 🙂

asl sign song video by Dan J. Castle; asl song; peformed at Dan Castle show 4/7/07 at Riverside Comm. Center for Spiritual Living;