Some folks had asked me why there are visual cues in my blog- many of my posts include memes, gifs (brief videos at 2-3 seconds), and describing of background information. There would be a lot of analogues and metaphors- pretty much my "special effects" tools.
The simple answer is: I'm Deaf.
Being Deaf, that means I identify myself as culturally Deaf. What does that mean? That means we see deafness as a difference in human experience, not a disability. After all, think this way- you fly to Malaysia, do you truly expect everyone to speak English? Their language is Malaysian. Hence you speaking English in the country of Malaysia- is that a disability? No, it's just a different language. That's what it is for us, culturally Deaf. We have a language, culture, norms, traditions and history- (and more)... The key word here is Visual, vision, perception, using our sense of seeing. Okay that's more than one key words! We use our own eyes and hands for communication, although not limited to sign language only. English is pretty much our second language, through texting, emailing, writing, reading. Some of us can speak. I could speak, but not much. Often, folks would ask whether we can read and write. Seriously, yes, I had been complimented on how well I write for a deaf person; I had been praised for the ability to read. All that, and encountering questions/comments, such as "I didn't know you're deaf. You type so well" or "You're kidding, right? I never knew you were deaf! You write so good!" (when I disclosed I was deaf, in chat rooms, online forums, groups, after weeks or months). There's a good article addressing that, as presented in this link: Ridiculist/Deaf people can't read or write. .
Due to us being visual, there's a love for visual sensations and stimulation. We can write a story in air, just with hands. We can dance and sing, with our bodies, facial expressions and hands as shared in this youtube video- created by Sean Forbes, a deaf hip-hop artist.
Let's Mambo by Sean Forbes, with Marlee Martin
A number of Deaf bloggers use vlogs (video-blogs) instead of writing in a blog. Why? Their natural language is American Sign Language, not English. With permission from Michelle, I got to share one of her vlogs to show what a vlog by a deaf blogger would look like, to share information as we, writers, do in our own blogs. There's no captions here, but that's what it is- in her natural language. In this one, she was addressing women's right to reproductive health.
With permission from Michelle P.
To be clear, not everyone are limited to vlogs. I'd say fairly that there's an even number of vloggers and bloggers in the Deaf community. Personally, I prefer blogging over vlogging, for many reasons- I'll share two reasons. I grew up reading and writing in English, speaking English before learning SEE (a system of manual language to teach English with exact representative in sign), and I did not get to learn American Sign Language until in my 20's. Despite exposure to ASL for more than fifteen years, I still struggle with certain words. Don't get me wrong- I can converse just fine with an individual; it is when there's an audience/watchers, I 'trip over' words, switching between SEE, ASL and gestures. The introvert in me, I guess- not liking to know folks are watching me on vlogs.
WHY do I write? I am deaf and infertile. Mostly you'll see deaf bloggers/vloggers, and you'll see infertile bloggers (are there infertile vloggers? Just checked, Yup!). But are there deaf and infertile writers? Due to the Deaf community being a small community, privacy is out the window. I like to use this example which perfectly describes how small yet close community can be. I disclosed to a friend that I love hunting ghosts. Just in 24 hours, from that person, many folks know I like ghost hunting. Kewl.... I even had some clients say "I hear you like ghosts..." Yup, that's the deaf infamous grapevine. My point here is, due to infertility being viewed as 'something not to talk about- TABOO', it's hard enough to be singled out in the Deaf community, without including physical or mental disabilities. Many had fought to show that they are not failures as society projected them to be, so adding a diagnosis, that's pretty much a scarlet letter 'A' for affliction.
So that lead many of us to 'hide' additional disabilities/illness. So I decided to speak up, to put a public face upon a deaf individual, to show that you (Deaf/hard of hearing) are not alone on the infertility journey (be it through experiencing IVF treatments, struggling with adoption, or adjusting to childless life). There's limited access to resources, due to the community's different language/accomdations, but hey, that's another post (my list of posts-to-be-written is getting longer). And so that is the same with many websites/ resource blogs out there, but hey, we have to put out the first step. I hope with me speaking up, I had started the step reducing sense of stigma of infertility in this community, whose hands draw stories in the air.
After all, if not me, who will?
(photo taken at Underground railroad Freedom Center, 2013)