Archive for the ‘CODA’ Category

DeafBlog Pilot – פיילוט דפבלוג

December 28, 2009

-הערה: זהו פיילוט  – אשר עוד לא עבר עריכה והגהה – אני מתנצל מראש על כל טעות, בין אם בסימון, בתמלול, או בתרגום לאנגלית-

שלום לכל השומעים ולכל החירשים! אני שי אורבך, וזוהי ההדגמה הראשונה לדפבלוג – בלוג לחירשים. דבר ראשון, צריך לדעת מה זה בלוג. בלוג זה כמו עיתון באינטרנט – אפשר לכתוב בו כל דבר שכותבים בעיתון: מחשבות אישיות, אקטואליה, חלומות, סיפורים מצחיקים או עצובים, וכל דבר מעניין.

דבר שני, צריך לדעת מה זה פוסט. פוסט זה מילה באנגלית שמשמעותה “פרסום” – זאת אומרת, פוסט זה כתבה שמפורסמת בתוך הבלוג.

כמו שאמרתי מקודם, אפשר לכתוב או לסמן כל דבר בבלוג, ואני אתחיל את הבלוג החירש הראשון בסיפור האישי שלי, ואיך אני קשור לקהילת החירשים.

אני בן אדם שומע. אבא שלי חירש, ואמא שלי, שהיום למרבה הצער כבר לא בחיים, היתה כבדת שמיעה. השפה הראשונה בה דיברתי היתה שפת הסימנים הישראלית.

אני נולדתי בשנת 1985 בכפר סבא, ויש לי אחות גדולה בשם קרן. היום אני סטודנט לביולוגיה באוניברסיטת בר-אילן, ועובד כמתרגם אנגלית-עברית. מאז שהייתי קטן, כל הזמן שמעתי רק אנגלית מהמחשב ומהטלוויזיה, ולכן האנגלית שלי טובה יותר, וגם כי אני מאוד אוהב שפות ולקרוא ספרים. כשהייתי ילד, לא היה פלאפון או אינטרנט, וכשאבא ואמא היו צריכים משהו, הם ביקשו ממני ומאחותי לעזור להם. כשהייתי ילד, וגם נער, הייתי צריך לבוא עם אבא ואמא לבית חולים, להתקשר בשבילם, לדבר עם ועד בית ועם שכנים, ללוות לביטוח לאומי, ובקיצור, כל דבר שדרש תקשורת – הם היו צריכים לגרור אותי איתם כי לא היתה להם ברירה. בשנים האחרונות, עם התפתחות (טכנולוגיה) הפלאפון והאינטרנט, ועכשיו שלאבא שלי יש חברה כבדת שמיעה שיכולה לדבר בטלפון, אבא כבר צריך אותי פחות.

השאיפה שלי לשכנע ולעודד כמה שיותר  חירשים לכתוב דפבלוג . חירשים יוכלו לספר חוויות אישיות על חייהם כחירשים, לספר סיפורים על קהילת החירשים, להפיץ בקרב כל החברים חדשות והודעות חשובות והכי חשוב  – להיות במגע אחד עם השני – כל הזמן. הבלוג תמיד נמצא באינטרנט, תמיד אפשר לבקר והכל מפורסם וכולם יכולים לראות.

אני לא חירש, אבל אני מכיר חירשים טוב, ואני יודע שהחירשים אוהבים יותר מכל לדבר אחד עם השני ולשמוע חדשות, במילים אחרות: לשמור על קשר. אני רוצה שההמצאה החדשה הזאת, הבלוג-החירש, תאפשר לחירשים יותר מתמיד להיות מחוברים אחד לשני וגם לעולם השומע. הבלוג החירש יש בו גם שפת סימנים וגם כתוביות, כמו שאתם רואים וזו הסיבה שהבלוג-החירש הוא גם נקודת מפגש עבור חירשים ושומעים.  אני שומע שחי בעולם של חירשים, וכל החיים שלי  תמיד רציתי להתקרב עוד ועוד לעולם החירשים, אפילו שקשה לי להרגיש באמת מה זה להיות חירש. אפילו אני קשה להרגיש אותו דבר מה חירש

אני מאוד, מאוד מקווה שהרעיון שלי, הבלוג-החירש, יעזור בלקרב אותנו, שומעים וחירשים, — ואתכם, קהילת החירשים מכל הארץ

זהו סוף פוסט ראשון שלי. תודה, ואני מקווה שאהבתם  את הפוסט החירש הראשון שלי.

Hello, and welcome all hearing and Deaf! I am Shai Orbach, and this is my first DeafBlog presentation. First of all, I must explain what a “blog” is. A blog is like an online newspaper – you can write in it about everything found in newspapers: opinions, news, personal dreams, funny or sad stories, and everything else that strikes you as interesting.

Second of all, I must explain to you what a “post” is. A post is a word in English meaning “to publish” – namely, a post is a publication within a blog.

As I said earlier. You can write or sign anything you like in a blog, and I shall begin my first blog post with my own personal story, and by explaining my connection to the Deaf community.

I am a hearing person. My father is Deaf, and my mother, who sadly is no longer alive today, was hard of hearing. The first language I ever spoke was Israeli Sign Language.

I was born in 1985 in Kfar Sava, I have an older sister named Keren. Today, I am a biology undergraduate in Bar-Ilan University, and I work as an English-Hebrew translator. As a child, I was bombarded with English emanating from computers and  televisions, and this is why my English is relatively good. It is also because I am fascinated with languages and I enjoy reading books. When I was a child, there were no cell phones or internet connections, and when mom and dad needed something, they asked my sister and myself for help. As a child and adolescent, I was forced to accompany mom and dad to hospitals, make their phone calls, represent our residence, advocate their social security, and in short, help them with anything requring communication. They had to drag me with them, as there was no other choice. In recent years, with the advent of cell phones and the internet, and now that my father has a hard-of-hearing girlfriend capable of using the phone, my dad doesn’t need me as much as he did.

My goal is to convince and encourage as many Deaf persons as possible to write their own DeafBlogs. Deaf bloggers can post about their personal Deaf experience, to spread news of the Deaf community, to relay important news and messages to their Deaf friends, and most impotantly, to be more in touch with each other. The blog is always online. You can always visit, and everything is published for everyone to see.

I am not a Deaf person, but I know the Deaf well enough to say that there is nothin they enjoy more than conversing and catching up with each other. In other words: to keep in touch. I wish that this new creature, this DeafBlog, will allow the Deaf more than ever to be connected to each other, as well as to the hearing world. DeafBlogs use Sign Language as well as captions, as you can see – and this is why the DeafBlog offers a place for hearing and Deaf persons to interact. I am a hearing person in a Deaf world, and all my life, I wished more and more to be part of it, despite the fact that I find it hard to imagine what it is to truly be Deaf.

I truly, truly hope this idea of mine, the DeafBlog, will help in bringing us closer together, hearing and Deaf — as well as Deaf people nationwide.

This is the end of my first post. Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed my first DeafPost.

Do CODAs Talk to Themselves more Often?*

March 27, 2009

*This isn’t  peer-reviewed blogging, just an idea that’s occurred to me. 

 

Ever since I can remember myself, I talk to myself and think outloud. Well, actually, the latter is more fit than the former, since most of my “conversations” are merely the vocal manifestations of thoughts, being that they’re either garbled, incoherent, and, especially when I’m thinking hard – made of bits and pieces of information that’s being processed internally.

(more…)

Those Rude, Rude, Deaf People

December 11, 2008

I gotta say, this week’s ISL class was exceptionally dull, except for that bit when we’ve gone through the signs for the world’s countries (it appears that the ISL sign for Zimbabwe kinda looks like that thing they do on “Walk Like an Egyptian”.) Also, I found myself surprising the missus that there’s actually a sign for “Macedonia” in sign language. A few months ago, I couldn’t even sign “Greece”.

Usually, I find 3 out of 5 classes particularly indulgent: Ethics, Sign Language, and Deaf Culture. Like I said, SL rocked, but Ethics was rather a snore and Deaf Culture, for the first time, was also kinda dull. Maybe I was just tired, but I just couldn’t relate to the “theme” Gal, the teacher, had in mind. We were supposed to be two opposing (and apposing, now that I think of it) juries in a trial where the defendant is the Deaf Culture. Cool concept, but unfortunately, at the onset, Gal simply abandoned it and simply turned the trial into a class discussion. We’ve basically reached some very old conclusions that didn’t enhance our knowledge at all: the Israeli Deaf are aggressive, callous, crude, direct and frankly, a bit rude and often insolent.

These are facts that both the Deaf Community and the Friendly Hearing (and I think CODAs fit into that category like a glove) conceded a long time ago and normally don’t give it much thought (nor is it a knot in anyone’s knickers. There, I finally found use for that phrase!). Since Gal is the one who brought it up, nobody can say that we were assaulting the deaf “unprovoked”. I always thought that the Deaf are somewhat ruder and more impertinent than the Hearing simply because they tend to be intellectually isolated from the Hearing population, and that leads them to a sort of collective social retardation, easily alleviated by education, exposure and inoculation of the right social skills. This is probably still true, but Gal gave another explanation which I find simply fascinating and elegant:

Deaf people, like all people, are in a constant state of ignorance. To mitigate that ignornace, we ask questions, imitate, go to school, read books or even find out for ourselves the things we don’t know. Even though research and books and even schools are excellent tools for getting smarter and better, there is little subsitute to social immersion, and that, unfortunately, is the great bane of the Deaf experience. As Helen Keller succinctly put it: “Blindness distances you from scenes, Deafness distances you from people” (I paraphrased it a bit, since I couldn’t find a citation I can trust).

The problem for the Deaf, Gal explained, is that for the most part of their lives, they’re disconnected from the most important means for alleviating their horrible affliction: they’re lonely island of silence. Because of that, once they’re finally grouped together, capable of injecting in a hordes a cornucopia of (often trivial) details, they grant no quarter when they’re finally allowed a lively exchange of information and ideas. Sure, the internet allows the Deaf to communicate, sure, signed TV exposes the world to the Deaf, but there’s nothing that can replace the raw trade of ideas, feelings and interactions that exists in one-on-one communication (by the way, this is passionately animated by the new Israeli Deaf trend of using Webcams for conversations.)

So the explanation elegantly explains the cultural “vices” of the Deaf: you insert this kind of psychological pressure, that horrible affliction of social isolation, on members of a society, and you will not find yourself surprised if they skip the formalities and just fire away whatever it is that they want to ask or know. There’s no time for trying to figure stuff out behind people’s back (thought that obviously happens, too), you can’t call the other guy to affirm what was just said, you’re very much confined to the social event, which usually takes place about once a week, and you have the make the most of it at the minimum of time.

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The Power of Sign Language

November 24, 2008

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This past few weeks have been tumultuous for me. I’m constantly reshaping my view on sign language and interpreting for the Deaf. When I started studying ISL, I was determined to acquire the skills and credentials of an ISL interpreter because of a combination of my love to Mother and my life-long infatuation with the Deaf, mainly as a result of reflecting the love I have for Mom and Dad on the entire Deaf community.

At the onset, Cocoon stated firmly that “wanting to help the Deaf” is a dangerous agenda for an interpreter. The Interpreters’ code states clearly that objectivity must be had in relation to both Hearing and Deaf. In every interpretation event, the Hearing are my clients too, and as a professional sign language interpreter, I must avoid any biases against the hearing just as much (and equivalently so) as I should avoid biases in favor of the Deaf.

So how do I do it?

At first, I thought that it is impossible for me to uphold the Code without turning against my own ideals as well, but I’ve come to reshape this thought in the past week:

The best thing I can do for the Deaf is to be as professional an interpreter as possible.

This is not to say that there aren’t any ethical issues to be had, but as a basic principle, it does absolve me of the self-torturous occupation with my agenda as an interpreter.

This week’s article was all about interpretation ethics. Besides from recapping the code as we’ve discussed it in class, it brings some real-world examples of collision between the Code and a person’s own ideals and moral principles.

I will use one such example to clarify the remaining dilemma I have with the ethical code:

An interpreter was sent to interpret for a deaf patient who was visiting a gynecologist about having her uterus removed. The interpreter notices that clearly, the doctor is not giving this patient all the care (he believes) she deserves, and it is easy to see that the deaf patient hasn’t a clue that she’s being mistreated.

What would I do?

Well, if it was Mom and Dad, I’d probably turn the table and use loud-volume complaints and admonition, as my agenda is clear: I’m here for Mom and Dad, and I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about the doctor’s interests so long as he takes care of them.

As soon as I do that, I’m no longer a sign language interpreter, end of story. I’m a “signer representing my deaf parents”. Cocoon firmly stated that anyone who’s ever signed to his family (or even his friends!) has never “interpreted”. Knowing how to sign does not perforce mean “being an interpreter”.

The article offers one interesting possibility of upholding the code without hurting the interpreter’s conscience: resigning the instant there’s a clash between ethical and personal principles.

The issue, however, remains for me unsettled. In my case, I would resign and then immediately become very, very subjective and particular about what happened. I would admonish the doctor for his malpractice, I would feverishly explain to and negotiate with the deaf patient, even to the point of arguing with her that going through this or that length of research and so on would be the best thing for her.

I would be making a stand, I would be appointing myself as an advocate and guardian without receiving this appointment from my deaf client.

My instinct would probably be to self-appoint myself as a guardian for the deaf without their consent, merely because it’s a life-long habit. I’ve yet to find a deaf person who didn’t happily accept that, by the way. I’m sure that a lot of deaf people would refuse to be belittled (although I don’t actually belittle, not consciously, anyhow), and I will immediately cease playing “Signman” at their expense if they ask me to, but still, this is what I would do by default, unless requested otherwise. I highly respect and revere the Deaf, and I only feel obliged to appoint myself as their “savior” because I’m horribly empathetic to them, not because I think they’re weak or incompetent.

So, in conclusion, I would still be breaking the code, or be improper by exploiting the information I received (the doctor being an ass) to promote my personal (and the deaf patient’s) agenda.

As of right now, I have no idea what I would do that aligns itself both with the Code and with my moral principles. And that, frankly, keeps me awake at night.

In class, Cocoon suggested that it is proper (and okay with the Code) to not so much as intervene in anyone’s favor in the interpretation-scene, but to simply supply the patient with some healthy advice that doesn’t assume any actual responsibility or, heavens forbid, requires contamination of spoken content with agenda-ridden signs.

She suggested, for example, to cordially ask the patient if she’s sure of what she’s going to do and humbly recommend her to consider her actions (such as signing the form that authorizes her surgery) well before anything potentially harmful happens.

This is a prudent and somewhat cunning alternative to breaking the code or letting a deaf person rot in the course of upholding it, but I still think it’s problematic. In a way, I AM breaking the code, or at least jabbing it hard enough to leave a crack. Personally? I’d do just what Cocoon suggested because I haven’t thought of a better idea. Perhaps I’d be a bit more adamant with my “cordial suggestions”, but I admit that I wouldn’t replace Mom and Dad with the deaf patient, I have to remain professional, for everyone’s sake.

Getting more intimate with sign language and the deaf is like a dream coming true for me, but I’m appalled as I wrestle with the horrible acknowledgment of the fact that sign language interpreters and the Deaf can never be friends and “work together” at the same time. The power to mediate between the hearing and the Deaf creates a chasm between Hearing and Deaf. The all-encompassing notion that one side is impaired and depended on the other makes the politics of this situation too cumbersome. I believe that although not impossible, being a professional sign language interpreter to a Deaf friend is highly unlikely.

I find this notion to be the most tragic conclusion from this course imaginable.

Why We Sign

November 13, 2008

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The basis for the post’s title is the title of the 9th episode for the epic WWII drama by Stephen Spielberg: “Band of Brothers”. As it so happens, the episode answers the question one particular soldier asked himself throughout the war: why did he fight and why did his friends have to die for it. He got a heart-shattering answer when he and his company discovered and liberated a concentration camp. It was probably also one of the most shocking and intense parts of the mini-series.

ISL school is fascinating enough when we deal with the origin and structure of this fascinating language, and with the tenets of translating and interpreting. Not surprisingly, it’s turning out to be more complicated than I thought. For starters, being a signer, apparently, does not make you a sign-language interpreter. Also, being an interpreter does not make you a translator. What’s going on?

To begin with, everyone in the program knows how to sign. It’s about 70% CODAs, so us CODAs obviously know Sign. There’s teachers and social workers and the occasional Interested Individual (probably my best friend in the program to date). On the whole, the sign-language part comes in-built in every one of the students.

So why do we need a program? Why 2 years?

Even though the rationale for interpreting has been clear to me all these years, I’ve never put it under the microscope. To me, signing was never designed to “act as professional proxy”. To me, signing always meant: “Do as your parents tell you”. I developed a relationship with Mom and Dad and I signed so I could help them.

Apparently, sign language interpreting does not focus, at least professionally, on helping the deaf.

Obviously, signing helps the deaf tremendously. They’re practically helpless, sometimes, without it (at least the old deaf population, which is far from being techno-savvy and isn’t going anywhere for the coming decades. Also, I’ve personally interpreted for techno-savvy deaf students. They’re not independent and aren’t going to be anytime soon).

But, and this is important, Cocoon (this is how I’m going to call the program administrator, a CODA whose husband is deaf) heavily admonished me for saying that I’m in this business to help the deaf. Cocoon says that such an attitude towards interpreting is not professional. A professional translator has to be 100% objective, with no bias towards the deaf nor the hearing. How do I reconcile that? In short, I don’t.

One of most pivotal issues in the program is Translation Ethics. An issue I’ve never dealt with and, says Cocoon, is of enormous import and is probably one of the main reasons for the establishment of a professional ISL-interpreters’ program.

It seems that I’ve violated the ISL ethical code when I stayed after class and helped my student with her homework, it appears that I’ve violated the code when I got involved, personally, with my clients and became their friend, helped them better understand the material, answered their questions before tests, etc. At one time, (and this, I admit, was wrong on every level), I even signed an answer to a question in a test when my deaf student looked at me with puppy eyes and begged me to help her with the test.

Well, I don’t know if I’ll have the minerals to say “no” to a deaf student in distress, but apparently, this is part of my professional responsibility. I might even lose my license if I do that when I go pro.

And here comes to the main point of the post, which is not why “We” (the interpreters) sign, but why “I” sign. I sign to help the deaf. It’s the reason I got into the program and without that reason, I have no place there. I come to impart my childhood habit of helping my deaf parents upon non-parenting deaf individuals. I come to reflect the love I had for my parents, deaf or not, upon all deaf individuals. It’s practically barbaric, in a way, but without it, I simply don’t know how to be so fatally enamoured with the deaf community as much as I am.

So this is a secret I probably should keep hidden from Cocoon, and it’s also reason enough for me to risk my license. I come to the deaf community in order to help them.

This does not mean that I’m going to be biased for the deaf as far as the contents of the signs is concerned. I am going to sign to them EXACTLY what the hearing person said, and I’m going to voice exactly what the client signs. I am, however, going to get personal with my deaf clients, and give them advice as far as I can. Not during the interpreting session, but as a friend. The certificate is only a bridgehead into the deaf community.

I will follow the ethics and rules to the letter, but I will not remove myself from the Deaf community itself. I will come to sign for them as a professional, hopefully model translator: Impartial to either Deaf and Hearing – but after the session is complete, I will address them as a friend of the Deaf, their hearing child as I’ve always been, and the de facto parent I always felt I was to the Deaf community.

I sign because I want to help.

I sign because I need to help.

A thing for Daddy

September 28, 2008

My relationship with father is similar to the relationship I had with mother when she was alive:

every day, I would do everything I could to stay away from him/her. I didn’t want to help, I didn’t want to talk, I just wanted to make the abrasion of responsibility to be as painless as it can be for today. The CODA duty is like water hitting a rock: it disintegrates you slowly and as you watch the cold water drop, you know that each one digests you one bit further to oblivion.

Dad went to a 4-day trip today with his girlfriend. The feeling I have now is not new. I used to feel the same when he and mom went to trips (obviously, I’m not feeling the same way towards his girlfriend). The thing I have for Dad for is that I love what he is, but I hate who he is. His personality is childish, annoying, manipulative, useless. But what he is, he is my father, he’s the helpless, puzzled giant who mirrored every helplessness I ever felt and into whom I reflected every fear I have ever had to endure:

I borrow his deafness and his stupidity and his inferiority because I feel deaf, stupid and inferior myself.

And when he goes away, I suddenly stop considering what a pain in the ass he is and immediately start swallowing the pill again that he’s just like me: self-serving, terrified, embarrassed about who he is and how he looks like and what he does,

and still shamelessly trying to make the best of it.

I got a thing for Daddy and it’s hardcore love. I can’t beat it with logic,

it always beats mine.