A few weeks ago, RJ Walters, blogger at RJ's Corner, paid us a visit. He was in the midst of a month-long, several thousand-mile journey in his self-built mini RV. After a decade of being virtual blogging friends, he was anxious to finally meet Betty and me in person. His trip took him through Arizona so we did spend time together.
In addition to several hours of conversation, we shared a delightful meal at a local Mexican restaurant. RJ is totally deaf and has been for years. Even so, technology has advanced to the point where he can have his tablet convert someone's spoken words into text for him to read. His brain still remembers what words are supposed to sound like, so he talks very well and responds to the text he sees in front of him.
Betty is not deaf but has significant hearing loss. Her hearing aids allow her to overcome that disability quite well, but there are times when she doesn't wear them, or finds them irritating, like in a loud restaurant or public setting. My hearing is showing age-related losses, too. As soon as over-the-counter hearing aids of decent quality are available, I will get a pair.
In the meantime, RJ presented me with a challenge. He suggested that we both learn sign language. There may come a time when Betty's hearing aids, or the ones I get are no longer able to make spoken communication possible.
Before that happens, we would be well-prepared for that eventuality if we mastered the basics of signing. Since our youngest daughter is also suffering from hearing loss, there may be a time when the three of us need this skill.
Not one to turn away from a challenge, and married to a woman who believes the same, we are committed to following his suggestion. We don't have to learn it all; we need to know enough to allow us to not sink into feeling cut off from others.
We learned there are several types of sign language. The most commonly used in the U.S. is American Sign Language. Hand signs represent concepts or phrases.. Signed English allocates different signs for each word in a sentence; communication is more precise. For our purposes, we have decided to go with the ASL approach, at least to get started. After all, being married for 46 years means we already communicate in a form of old people shorthand.
I am now looking at our options: online courses or YouTube videos seem the most logical choice. Then we will commit to a few hours each week to learn and practice new signs. I certainly want to thank RJ for this suggestion. It is one I am quite sure will come in handy in the not-too-distant future.
By the way, the hand symbol pictured at the top of this post means, good, in ASL.
What a great project for the two of you to take on. LOL @ "old people shorthand." So true.ReplyDelete
"Old people shorthand" could also be referred to as old married couple language. After 46 years, we rarely have to complete a full question before the other person answers.Delete
We have a profoundly deaf granddaughter, so went through several levels of classes learning ASL. Once she had bilateral cochlear implants at three, however, she would not respond to signed language any longer, associating it with her "baby" years. She was in a renowned sign/oral preschool program at the time. I have an inherited form of hearing loss and our next door neighbor calls herself "hard of hearing" but cannot hear a smoke alarm going off over her head. She teaches ASL for private schools. I've been thinking I need to pick up ASL skills again.ReplyDelete
Back when George and I were still attending group functions, ASL came in handy when we could discreetly ask each other if we were ready to go from across the room and join up to tell our hosts thank you before leaving if so.
It seems to be a skill that can come in quite handy in certain situations, even if not between each other. I love the example of using ASL between spouses to to coordinate your actions in a social situation. I wonder if bridge partners could occasionally use it to signal the need for a particular bid!Delete
Many years ago (pre-cell phone and texting) I was in a restaurant having lunch with an old friend. Suddenly, over the speaker came a request: "if anyone knows sign language, could you come to the front please? Not missing a beat, my friend got up from our table and walked up to the anxious cashier and manager--attempting to communicate with a young, deaf man. My friend greeted him (in sign) and then proceeded to have a conversation with him. He then left, obviously happy with the results. When my friend came back to the table I asked her, "what was that about?" She said, "He just needed directions." I then followed up with, "when did you learn sign language?" "Oh," she said, "I was able to take the courses to satisfy my foreign language requirement in college. It's nice to be able to use it on occasion." I had no idea my old friend had that skill, but on that day, I was glad she did.Delete
Rick in Oregon
That is an excellent example of how this particular skill comes in handy in situations we can't anticipate. Thanks, Rick, for giving me another reason to tackle the basics of ASL.Delete
I LOVE this. My husband and I also have shorthand, mostly eye looks that say "it's time to go". But we both are having more and more trouble hearing one another and have to speak louder and repeat things. Learning ASL would be an incredible way of solving that issue as well as doing things to be continually learning. Thank you so much for sharing this!ReplyDelete
You are very welcome! Our hope is to learn enough to ease the type of problem you mention. As it is now, we do have to repeat ourselves more often than we used to.Delete
I will have a followup post in a month or two to you let you know how we are doing.
This reminds me of a funny story that involved Bob, myself, and our daughter. We were all sitting around our house, and Bob said something and I misunderstood the last word and became upset. I said something back to him that he misunderstood. So we went back and forth until our daughter couldn't hold it in any longer and burst out laughing and said something to the effect, "You have no idea what each other is saying!" To which both of us look at her and simultaneously said, "WHAT?!" 😂 I think my first three signs will be, "Oops, sorry Love!" 🥰Delete
I remember that "conversation!"Delete
What a great idea! I've got non-age-related hearing loss in one ear and my husband (not that he would admit to it) can't hear as well as he used to. This just might come in handy.ReplyDelete
I am anxious to see how it improves our communication, lessening the need for "What?"Delete
I am glad to see that my suggestion to Bob and Betty is getting such positive comments. It was my wife's idea to start learning sign language before I lost all my hearing in 1988. It helped us tremendously for the remaining 36 years of our marriage.ReplyDelete
There are now many tools to learning signing. The two I would immediately suggest is an app called "The ASL dictionary HD" You can get it for iPhone and iPad at the app store, and I'm sure it comes in android also. The second one is a hard cover book by Lottie L. Riekehof entitled "The Joy of Signing". What I like about this one, beside that it was what Yvonne and I used, is that it gives you the history and the reason why a sign is as it is. That's very helpful in remember it.
Since, comments here don't allow images, I can't give examples from these sources. But, if you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will send you more details and answer any questions you might have.
Thanks, RJ, for offering your help to amyone wanting to followup. Like you, I am pleased others are looking into the skill.Delete
I will look for the "Joy of Signing" book.
Good for you for meeting up with a blogging friend. My granddaughter is learning some ASL in preschool. Apparently that's a thing now. So you'll not only be learning another language ... you'll be cool too! Good luck!ReplyDelete
Me cool? I'll take it. I will have much better luck with ASL than, say, Chinese!Delete
As follow up to statement of getting hearing aides over the counter, a major warehouse sales is known for the hearing test and comparable to hearing aides 4X the costReplyDelete
I think you are referring to Costco and I have heard the same thing.Delete
My Costco's audiologist is wonderful, and my hearing aides fantastic, streaming content from my phone directly into my ears. At the time I got hearing aides, I was still able to play the violin and was playing with (or "alongside") my community's symphonic orchestra. Hearing aides are geared to the human voice, not musical instruments. Both because of my inherited form of hearing loss--which I didn't know I had--and my desire for music to sound as full and rich as possible, she steered me toward the best hearing aides that could best be programmed for music. Then she, together with company reps, designed a program for me for when I was listening to or playing music. Without it, my keyboard sounded like a harpsichord, for example. Rheumatoid arthritis has taken away my ability to play the violin any longer or even manage the hours of practice to be in an orchestra, but my ears have learned to interpret the hearing aides' sound as richer than it first sounded. I no longer need the special programs, but I am a big fan of Costco.Delete
Hearing "aids," of course, not actual "aides" standing by to interpret sound!Delete
Bob, Betty and RJ . . . A round of applause for all of you! You are leading by example - your ASL project is an excellent way to enrich an already satisfying retirement. It's relevant and beneficial to anyone, but certainly appropriate to those of us in our retirement years. And it's yet one more impressive example of the value of this community. RJ, that tablet if yours is a game changer - amazing!ReplyDelete
By the way, Bob, I keep forgetting to mention how much I've been enjoying the photos of you and Betty that you post in the upper right corner of your blog. They're delightful!
His tablet-based program requires a simple microphone to pick up the speech of the other person. It then translates very accurately to the screen.Delete
I used a similar app on my phone when we went out to lunch.
Thanks for the photo comment. It occured to me that we have hundreds of photos from various trips. Why not use them?
I had lunch just yesterday with two women, one of whom is deaf and the other hard of hearing. I was reminded several times to keep my hands away from my mouth - lip readers both. And today I was talking to my niece who told me her family has weekly Zoom sessions so my great niece, who is deaf, can communicate with family. My niece told me one of her kids can sign, as he took it in high school as a recognized foreign language.ReplyDelete
I find it very encouraging that signing is becoming more mainstream and a skill that so many understand can be important to both us and others. Signing on a Zoom call...obviously an easy way to communicate but one avenue I hadn't even thought about.Delete