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)


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 twice, so I’ve picked ten of my faves from my own lists, based on how often they’ve been said to me and / or level of irritation caused.

I should emphasise that a) most hearing people are lovely, it’s just that there’s always one, and b) the sarcastic responses that follow are not what was said at the time, but mental comments or smart-ass replies…

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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;

Goth fantasies…

Thanks to I Am Eternal Darkness for the photo Goth Cool

I’ve always been into the color black. Or the non-color black, since black is really the absence of all colors. Closely related to that is my appreciation of soot gray, deep graphite gray, etc. Next on my list of colors is deep purple. In fact, I like it so much that my one piece of ink (a bracelet on my right wrist) is Celtic knot-work of black, deep blue-purple and a slightly lighter purple created with a bit of white ink. If it were up to me I’d probably dress like Johnny Cash, but I’ve given over to a few splashes of color to be less…um…somber.

Since starting training with DBCAN (DeafBlind Community Access Network) as an SSP  (Supportive Services Provider) I have had full access to a Goth persona.  No black fingernails or soot outlined eyes or anything like that. It is just that a white person dressed in black/dark purple/dark gray, etc. is more easily seen by someone with low vision as our light-colored hands make signs. I suppose my dark purple fingernails may have to go. We’ll see. I really like them and it would be a shame to waist all those bottles of OPI.

Besides being able to express Goth fantasies in my attire, becoming an SSP means I am able to be matched with a DeafBlind person or persons for up to 16 hours of support service a month.  I am already a skilled sighted guide so the training has honed my skills just a tad, given me a refresher course on relating to the customer as an adult and being aware of the confidentiality.  It also encourages me to work on my tactile sign and ASL.  I’m really looking forward to this.

The leaky cup

Once upon a time there was a leaky cup. Whether it had a little hole in the bottom
or a crack on the side is unimportant. The cup leaked. A lot. And it hated the fact it leaked.  Because it always went dry and it could not get full.

One day, the leaky cup decided that if only someone could pour enough into it that it would get full.  So the leaky cup went in search of the mythical person who could fill it up to the brim and keep it happy.

Of course, the result was predictable. No matter how much liquid of any kind a person poured into the cup, the cup was always on the losing end of things. And if there was a sort of equilibrium gained through pouring at the same rate the liquid leaked out, sooner or later the person pouring got tired or ran out of liquid and the leaky cup went dry again.

The cup argued and cried, yelled and sulked, pleaded and begged, complained bitterly about the inequity of things, became indignant and blamed the person with the liquid for not taking care of things in the right way.  Meanwhile, the bewildered pourer finally gave up pouring from lack of liquid, lack of time, or sheer exhaustion. The cup went from person to person, asking politely at first and then demanding more, more, more. And when the person could not give more the cup flounced off in search of that ideal pourer.

At various times the selected victim pourer suggested calking or other ways of patching up the leak in the cup, but the cup was greatly insulted and insisted that the fault was in the person doing the pouring, rather than in the structure of the cup itself.  In fact, the cup eventually convinced the pourers they must be mad to think the cup itself could not hold liquid.

Many persons exhausted themselves attempting to help the leaky cup. But sooner or later the leaky cup would have had enough of failure and move on to the next mythical cup filler.

The moral to the story is…If you find you cannot fix the problem with a leaky cup that has taken up residence in your bed house life heart  cupboard, THROW IT OUT! QUICK!

Letting a leaky cup tell you the leak is not his her it’s problem means assuming all the responsibility for fixing the problem.  Pouring faster isn’t the solution. It never will be.  It will only make you feel defective for being unable to fill the cup up.  It only took me 20 years to figure it out.

Like getting the last car off the assembly line on a Friday…

We all know the “truisms” about not buying the first car in production on Hang-Over Monday or the last car off the line Friday since everyone wants to leave work.  It is this “tongue in cheek” approach I take to the following…

This is the story of how I got my last hearing aid and the early warning signs I should have paid attention to. (Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!)

Mass Rehab could not find my vendor as a contracted vendor. When they found each other in the world of co-pays, subrogation and funding, they could not seem to figure out who was paying for what and when it would happen. This took … oh, several months.  Both of them swearing they could not figure out what was going on with the other. Both parties genuinely good folks.

But since I’d not used MRC as a backup before, I really didn’t pay that much attention. However, I should have known, I truly should have, when for the very first time ever, there was a serious billing snafu about my hearing aid. Now, normally, I get a large stick with bent, twisted, blood-flecked rusty nails in it and club my very excellent (and normally incredibly flexible and customer-service friendly) insurance company into line with it – although I do apply reason first and merely walk softly whilst carrying a large and scary stick.

Only this time – it was an utter mess. Before it was just the insurance company. This time Mass Rehab Commission was in the mix – and once I satisfied myself that they were spot on then another spectre reared it’s ugly head – some sort of 3rd party insurance my vendor allegedly belonged to (the vendor denies). In the end I had to put away the club without bloodying anyone (quite frustrating, considering the level of the row going on) and my vendor ended up having to fight the good fight without my being able to do a thing for them. While I didn’t have to pay the rather large chunk of change, my vendor probably took it in the shorts, which I don’t like as I rely on them over the long-term.

Of course, this entire dust-up took months. About the time things calmed down my new hearing aid’s ear piece came apart in bits. It looked as if Wolverine of the X-Men  had been clawing his way out of my ear canal and through the piece. Now, mind you, this was a soft and flexible item – I’d never experienced anything like it before.  Apparently there was all sorts of wiring inside and a microphone/speaker assembly as well so when it came apart (in my ear) I was wondering if I could get it all out or if I’d have to have the tech remove all the bits and bobs of it.  These were wires the size of hairs going all over the place.(attribution to ass666 for the image)

I was thrilled when my new hearing piece was of hard molded plastic!  It fits just the same and I don’t have to worry about it going to bits!  And my vendor said I didn’t have to pay the normal $120 fee since it should not have turned into a kit. But I digress with the good news…

A week or so ago the wee little dog reached into my purse, grabbed the hard-sided case and held it for ransom for a treat. It had a couple of tooth marks on it, but that was all.  He’s NEVER done that before – no interest in hearing aid at all.  In fact, I’ve dropped it on the floor, been looking all over for it, and he has ignored the aid itself.

Then a few days ago I opened my hard-sided hearing aid case and it split in half.  I blinked a few times and reseated the cover.  Uh-huh…

I ended up in denial.  Certainly, it must work.  No – it’s dead, Jim.  Such an
inconsequential thing, really, but considering the history of this entire transaction (it’s been over a year since my audiogram and the initial decision to upgrade) I am now wondering if there’s a “curse” on this thing.  It’s the agencies can’t work together, insurance is messed up, vendor unhappy with financial loss, hearing aid breaks and even the hard-sided holder fails curse which is testing my ability to find a certain humor in this rather perverse set of circumstances which keep returning like my psychotic desk pumpkin.  If I believed in such things I’d be doomed.

I do find it fascinating that I’ve never had a spot of trouble with funding before, or huge insurance mix-ups, or rogue 3rd party insurance companies getting in the mix with phantom discounts, or having my hearing bits look as if they’d been attacked by something with big claws.  And I’ve never had a case just fall apart as if it had been run over by a car.

I love my Phonak NaidaS, I love my vendor, Joel, I even can say I love working with my MRC counselor. I appreciate that when I called my vendor’s office, laughing, about the “Curse of the Phonak” I was offered a couple of hard cases as soon as I could get by.

I’m now wondering what the next twist or turn I’m going to encounter. Will it start playing random Christmas tunes in my ear come December? Scarrier than Halloween, fer sure.