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.