Last week the school I work at hired a deaf teacher. I am so excited because now I have another adult to model ASL with. She is a perfect fit for us and we couldn't be happier. We have a very open attitude with each other since my son is deaf.
What is interesting is she is the first deaf adult that the other teachers have met.
We had our first staff meeting yesterday. We meet every month at a restaurant to pig out and get work done. This meeting was at a really great place in north Portland. Gravy is very busy and can get noisy. When we first sat down I noticed that our new teacher was talking very quietly. I asked her about that and she explained when she was married to a hearing man he taught her to talk softly in restaurants. He would drill her again and again until she got it right. I told her that sounds like a lot of work! She had that oh my god you get it expression on her face. "yes!" she replied. The other teachers are learning a lot.
When it was time to order the server asked if she wanted hash browns or potatoes with rosemary. She looked to me for clarification. I signed it to her. She then told the others that all her life growing up she never got the food she thought she ordered. During the meeting we talked a lot about being deaf. She was raised oral and mainstreamed without an interpreter. She tells us she never had any idea what was going on in class. As an adult she had to start from scratch and learn from the first grade up to get her GED so she could go to college.
I tell her I have never really had many oral friends and that most of our friends are Deaf. She tells me how sometimes Deaf people treat her like she is not good enough. This bothers me. She tells me I am the only parent she has met that signs with their deaf child.
While we all talk I fill in with ASL when someone turns away from her or her voice is to quiet to be heard in the noisy restaurant. The other teachers are learning. The great thing is her being deaf is just a side note. She was hired because of her personality and talent. We have had a high turn over with this position always settling. She is the first person whole just fit in so seamless from the moment she started.
We laughed about how the two of us hadn't even touched our food and the others were finished. You need your hands to eat and we were busy signing. We also talked about how I start a conversation talking and signing then stop talking while I eat and continue in sign forgetting the hearing staff hasn't learned enough ASL to follow.
What I love is how comfortable we all are. We can talk about deafness without politics, judgement or agenda. My hearing friends are learning a lot. They never really understood Haddy's life and now they are starting to get a glance into how we live. Best of all we finally have a complete team and we couldn't be happier.