Q: Is ‘deafie’ one of those terms that’s fine for someone who’s deaf to use, but a no-no for someone who isn’t?
Frarochvia: In general, it’s a no-no for people not involved with deaf culture to use, because it’s our way of saying deaf people. It’s not like “owning” the word, like the ‘n’ word is for black people, but it is a word used in a similar sense.
Tiphanie: Generally it’s our way of poking fun at each other- and being familiar with each other. But it’s also a way of how we perceive the world: deafies vs. hearies. That’s how it is with most of us and that is how we view the world. But will I be offended if a hearing called me a deafie – then yes – because they are not part of the inner deaf world.
Q: Do you have a special place to get movies with subtitles, or do you go to your local video store?
Frarochvia & Tiphanie: We remember when captions first came to be in the mid-1980’s. Both of us remember watching captioned programs.
Frarochvia: Since 1993, all television sets were mandated by the FCC to include a captioning chip. Before then, the captioning machine was separate and cost $200 each. I remember getting a machine in 1986.
Tiphanie: It’s a useful feature if you want to improve your reading speed. Yeah, I remember getting one in 1985.
Frarochvia: And at that time, the only captioned things were PBS, nighttime programming on the big 3 networks, and Saturday mornings until noon.
Tiphanie: That’s right, and nothing during the daytime except for religious shows on Sundays.
Frarochvia: It pissed me off as a kid.
Tiphanie: And let’s not forget Sesame Street. I also learned a lot about love from watching soap operas. Warped me a little watching characters having affairs with each other.
Frarochvia: No, soap operas weren’t captioned except for Days of our Lives. I remember because at deaf boarding school, it started at 3 pm and everyone ran to the TV. EVERYONE. Even at the boys dorm.
Tiphanie: Oh that’s right. DOOL. Haha. I remember that I was so thrilled that I watched tons of crappy TV movies. Bad and I mean BAD movies.
Frarochvia: Me too! Bwahahahahahaha.
Tiphanie: Well, now with DTS, RWC (rear window captioning) and Open-Captions, we can go to any theatre of our choice. A friend set up this cool tool, Fomdi, which enables us fellow deafies to check when a movie’s showing.
Frarochvia: You know what sucks? That not all programs released on DVDs are captioned. Even if they were on TV. Farscape was not captioned. I threw things and had a tantrum.
Tiphanie: You threw yarn? Poor yarn.
Frarochvia: It was the pre-yarn era.
Tiphanie: Well, I haven’t been to a video rental place in ages since we started subscribing to Netflix.
Frarochiva: Netflix! Love-hate relationship with Netflix. They need to more openly state whether things are captioned. I don’t have ESP.
Tiphanie: Yeah. My husband usually checks out movies at Amazon or at Best Buy to vertify that they are captioned or subtitled before we rent them from Netflix.
Frarochvia: It’s annoying that we have to do that at all.
Tiphanie: I hate it when the movie theatres moan that they are losing patrons when they show captioned movies. They already overcharge for popcorn and sodas. They want more patrons, they should charge less.
Frarochvia: I usually tell them people they should go to Israel. Four languages are subtitled on the screen for every movie. Nobody’s died yet from subtitle overdose.
Frarochvia: We could bitch about all the classic films we are still waiting for.
Tiphanie: Yeah! Sophie’s Choice!
Q: What would be the best type of sign language for me and my kinds to learn? I have heard of Signing Exact English and ASL
Frarochvia: Give me ASL or give me death.
Tiphanie: ASL hands down. I grew up using both SEE and ASL. Let’s just say that SEE is an invented rigid communication system (not a natural language) with one sign assigned for each word. Compared with SEE, ASL is more flexible with signs for a concept. For instance, in SEE, the word stand would be assigned one sign. In ASL, stand would probably have five or six signs depending on the meaning of stand being used.
I can’t stand the person!
Please stand up.
Stand up and show respect!
In SEE, one sign would be used for STAND. So, sometimes it could be confusing.
Another example is RUN. The simple word hosts multiple meaning:
See Spot run
Run in a stocking.
Q: Is Sign Language international or does each country/language have a different one?
Frarochvia: Sort of. If you’re talking about one international language, then it’s Gesunto. It’s an artificial language, similiar to Esperanto. But each nation has their own natural sign language. British Sign Language. Flemish Sign Language. Malay Sign Language. Canada has two – Les Signes Quebecois and American Sign Language.
I can read British Sign Language and German Sign Language but I can’t speak them worth crap.
Tiphanie: Agreed. I learned Malay Sign Language when I stayed in Malaysia for a short time. I tried learning Japanese Sign Language but could never get the ABCs down pat. I even picked up some Dutch sign language.
Tiphanie: And don’t forget that the handshapes used in forming signs and the ABCs are different in England and Israel.
Frarochvia: Yes, plus even countries that have the same ABC have different letters, like Kenya and Korea both have different “t” handshapes. So deafies don’t travel expecting international access. We travel expecting to work at communication. When I went to Mexico with my mother I did the communicating because she was intimidated.
Tiphanie: Yeah. I think that it’s funny that I was able to communicate more readily and more easily traveling in foreign countries than travelling in America.
Frarochvia: Funny. But very true. That was definitely my experience in Europe.
Q: Do you use a ‘terp’ at work or are you a good lip-reader and use voice?
Frarochvia: Um, for me, if it is one on one I am usually ok with lipreading and voice but usually doesn’t mean always. And? I have had barely any voice since February. Yay!
It’s important to understand speechreading is a tool and not in any way equivalent to hearing or to ASL. It is used because it is easier for the hearing person, not because it is easier for the deaf person.
In group settings, for interviews, for presentations, and for formal situations, I insist on the use of an ASL interpreter. For limited one on one situations, I find lipreading tolerable, but because you can only see 30% of sounds on the lips, I rely far more on context and on body language than anything else.
For me, the ideal for live conversations would be either IM chat or ASL.
Q: What do you think is the reason for the whole ‘your English is really good’ thing. Is it something you worked at or a different education or something else entirely?
Frarochvia: If I knew, I would be a zillionaire.
Q: Do people who are born deaf dream with sound?
Frarochvia: Yes. It doesn’t matter if a person is deaf or not. People dream about anything, even sounds. Soundless dreams are also possible. The hearing-processing area is still functional. It’s separate from hearing so there’s no reason why deaf people can’t dream in sound.
One of the most common misunderstandings is that deaf people cannot hear any sounds. Deaf can mean many different things and there are wide range of deafness from being unable to hear the boom noise made by cannons to a whisper in a quiet room.
Tiphanie: Even if I am profoundly deaf, I can still get annoyed by noise. I can be bothered with door slamming, loud noises from people tarring the roof, and movements of angry people.
Frarochvia: Yeah! I was kept up two days ago with a thunderstorm. And there’s vacuums. And drumming fingers.
Tiphanie: And the roar from souped up cars and motorcycles.
Frarochvia: And loud bus or plane engines.
Q: What is your biggest frustration when dealing with people?
Tiphanie: Ouch. I assume that she meant dealing with hearing people. After all, I’m a person too. Maybe I’m a bit sensitive but I’m a person too dammit.
Frarochvia: That’s my biggest frustration right there. The assumption that we are the Others.
Tiphanie: Ohhh. dum dum dum. The OTHERS…
Frarochvia: Good movie by the way. But we’re not dead people. That’s why I joke about being blue skinned and green antennaed.
Tiphanie: Seriously, two of my biggest frustrations is that I’m not seen as a capable person. And second, that hearing people in general are not willing to take a few minutes to just talk with me and to figure out what I want. Sometimes I feel like I’m being dismissed because it’s too much of an effort for them to talk with me.
Frarochvia: People assume that we are less and that we are too much trouble.
Tiphanie: It bothers me that they see us as separate from us- when they phrase questions in how we deal with people.
Frarochvia: You know it wasn’t intentional. But that’s kind of the problem, isn’t it?
Q: How do the deafies learn?
Tiphanie: Same way the hearing people learn. Some learn best with auditory methods. Some with visual learning, and some by physically manipulating objects. Deaf people do verbalize but in signs.
Frarochvia: I think the way we learn is the same, except with a lot more pain thanks to how non-deaf the education is.
Q: Can deafies really understand everything they lipread and can they lipread everybody?
Short answer: No.
Long Answer: It depends on the person.
Even Longer Answer: It depends on how good the teacher was inteaching a skill.
Even Longer-er Answer: It depends on how excellent the teacher was at teaching a child how to lipread. Even so, regardless how skilled the child is, the child will still be able to pick up about 30% of words by lipreading alone.
Tiphanie: Lip-reading is just a skill and should not be seen as a replacement for literacy. It’s a shame that too many parents and too many teachers emphasize the skill rather than ensuring that the deaf child will be able to write and read at his appropriate grade level.
Q: If you could pick one sound that you could hear perfectly well, which would it be?
Frarochvia: A chatchen meow. The rest I don’t care about.
Tiphanie: Probably nothing. Maybe an opera so I can get what the fuss’s all about.
Frarochvia: Yeah! Or a muscial. Evita. I’d love to hear Evita once.
Tiphanie: Why not make it one day and we can try out all kinds of music just to see why hearies are so obsessed with music and so upset at the prospect of becoming deaf.
Frarochvia: A musical, an opera, washing dishes, etc. And then we will throw up from the overstimulation and wake up fucking glad to be deaf.
Q: Would you ever consider a cochlear implant?
Frarochvia: No. It’s shocking that an operation with no guarantee of success in hearing anything at all and guaranteed complete deafness in the operated upon ear was ever approved by the FDA. No one would push an operation that guaranteed blindness and did not guarantee any amount of eyesight in the eye. I’m sorry if my statements sound extreme, but they are the perfect truth, on its face.
Our culture values any amount of hearing as a good, ignoring more salient issues of whether this audition provides benefits to the deaf person and whether this increased audition comes with comprehension of sounds and words.
Speaking for myself, I have an hearing aid that I wear maybe three times a year for things like musical concerts or movies. I have no desire to hear on a daily basis and derive no benefit from hearing sounds that are either annoying or incomprehensible, or more typically, both. How does it improve my life to hear the computer keyboard tippy-tappitying and the dishes clattering? I mean, really. Because that kind of thing is what I hear best if I bother to wear it in everyday life. Voices? Please.
I don’t wake up in the morning and go oh darnn, I’m deaf again. Do you say oh darn I’m hearing when you wake up? I suspect not. I feel whole as I am and I don’t see sounds as something I wish for or something I need, or even something I want. I mean, yarn is a deep need. Sounds? Where’s the yarn!?!
Tiphanie: I don’t think that I would want one. Why should I? I already see myself as a whole person. I guess that it’s what bothers most hearing people- that I am happy with myself. I don’t see myself missing something. I am just me- and I am a whole person. Even with our frustrations with communication issues, our employment woes, and wanting more captioned movies, I wouldn’t change myself for anything.
Frarochvia: We are whole the way we are. The problem isn’t the ears, it’s how people react.
Q: Are you more comfortable with your hearing or nonhearing friends? Do you feel that your nonhearing friends have more understanding for your situation?
Frarochvia: Um, I don’t really see people in nondeaf/deaf terms. It’s more of deaf-friendly or non-deaf-friendly.
Tiphanie: Yeah. I hate to admit this but I find myself more comfortable with deaf peers or with deaf friendly peers. My criterion is that I must be able to talk freely with someone regardless of whether the person is deaf or not.
Frarochvia: Both of us feel more comfortable with deaf-friendly peers, whether deaf or hearing, especially with people where we can be ourselves and where we can just communicate freely.
PS: Do you notice our cultural references? You say nonhearing/hearing, we say nondeaf/deaf.
Q: Do you feel isolated and how do you cope?
Tiphanie: Nope. I don’t feel isolated. I’m broke because I socialize too much. But in the working place, yeah sometimes especially if the place is not deaf-friendly.
Frarochvia: I feel isolated when people won’t talk to me because I’m deaf. Like a large gathering when I’m alone in a room full of people.
Tiphanie: From the way the question is phrased, I’m not sure what she meant. Isolation could mean different things to us deafies, people who are late deafened, or hard of hearing. So it’s hard to answer this question without knowing more background. But from what I know, I would speculate that people who identify themselves as hard of hearing or late deafened, they may feel more isolated because they rely on vocal communications and interactions with hearing people.
Q: If someone were to recognize your deafness during conversation, which is more polite: to allow you to read lips or to add signing even if the signing isn’t great?
Frarochvia: What is even more polite is asking the deaf person for her preferences because every deaf person if different. Always ask. That’s the #1 thing. Just because a person is deaf doesn’t mean she knows ASL, or can lipread. Or both.
Q: Are you able to drive? I don’t know if hearing is essential for safety reasons, such as a horn honking, back up warning signals (on larger vehicles mostly) or sirens. Usually emergency vehicles have lights in addition to their sirens, so this might not even be a valid example.
Tiphanie: I hate to say this but you hearing people scare us. I drive and I see hearing people everywhere on their cell phones, listening to music in their soundproofed cars and not paying attention to the roads.
Seriously, you scare me. Especially when I just saw that there’s a market for a DVD player that you can plug to watch a movie while driving.
Frarochvia: And let’s not mention that we usually get lower insurance rates because we are historically safer drivers.
Tiphanie: Yeah! We don’t use cell phones and we don’t generally listen to music. Some drivers should be grateful that we deafies take the time to avoid scary hearie drivers! And let’s not mention that we can HEAR and feel the sirens. Heck, we deafies even got super-vision where we can pick out the tiniest motions from the corners of our eyes.
Frarochvia: Yes. And even if we didn’t, we can see them. We’re kind of deaf, not blind.
Q: Can you tell what kind of meows your catchen are making from cat lip-reading?
Tiphanie: It’s your question- answer away- and yes I’m still laughing at the mental image of you holding the cat’s head to lipread. tee hee.
Frarochvia: Actually only Matisse meows really and he’s um, a bit shortbussed. Here he is. He’s drooling and says hello. Not hard to see that he’s happy! All of them have hand signals they use to poke me with. Like right now Matisse is making it very clear he wants me to pet him now. NOW. Later is not now.
Baba has a hand poke that tells me she wants ice cream, and Picasso has one for telling me he wants to play fetch, for example. I know who pokes me in bed at 3 am and what they want. They are highly conversant in poke-ese.
Q: A friend of mine online is blind, and I frequently find myself wanting to show him pictures he can’t see. Do people often want to send you music you can’t hear?
Frarochvia: My answer is that I did my M.A. in history minor paper on Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied Von der Erde and got the highest grade in the class. I did it because I got mad when the professor tried to waive the requirement to listen to music for the class for me, because that was the reason I’d signed up for the class in the first place.
Tiphanie: Yeah. Just because deaf are deaf- doesn’t mean that they go out and burn music CDs and DVDs.
Frarochvia: Tee hee.
Tiphanie: So it’s not really an offensive thing. If someone sent me a CD I would just send it on to my siblings or to my in-laws depending on their music preferences. My husband, who is deaf, would be thrilled if someone sent him a soundtrack for Grease.
Frarochvia: I would too. I absolutely love music.
Q: I noticed in a couple posts some repeated words for emphasis. Do you think that’s an ASL influence?
Frarochvia: I think she’s referring to how I do yarn yarn yarn molest molest molest yarn yarn yarn.
Tiphanie: Ah. It’s just a Frarochvia-induced fit when she’s molesting yarn. For her, yarn is her catnip. Let’s just be glad that Frarochvia doesn’t roll on the floor rubbing the yarn on her face. Yarn induced frenzy.
Frarochvia: Yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarnnnnnn.
This concludes our Q & A session. For another take on the questions, see Simona’s answers to the same questions. Be warned, she’s a firecracker!
WINNER: Heide! Whoo hoo! Email me!