Tag Archives: asl slam

Getting Involved in the Deaf Community

getting-involved-with-deaf-hoh-community-01So you’re interested in Deaf culture and want to connect with the larger community. Great! But how do you go about taking that first step?

Everyone has been in a situation where they feel completely out of place. Maybe it was the first day in a new school or at a new job. These moments, as uncomfortable as they might seem, often provide us opportunities for personal growth. For hearing people, the thought of entering a Deaf space — a place where all conversations happen in American Sign Language— can be a little intimidating. Ultimately, however, stepping outside of ones’ comfort zone is a priceless experience that has the potential to open our minds to a whole new reality.

getting-involved-with-deaf-hoh-community-02If you are nervous or shy, just take it slow. A good first step is to get involved in an online community where Deaf people dictate the conversation. This is an excellent way to “get to know” people without feeling too much social pressure. The way you connect with others will depend on your personal and professional interests. Try searching the #Deaf hashtag on Twitter, or find an active community on Facebook or LinkedIn. Follow the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), World Federation of the Deaf, Deaf Nation, and Deaf World as a place to get started.

getting-involved-with-deaf-hoh-community-03The internet has given deaf people a public voice like never before! From online discussions you can get a feel for the tones people use to communicate with each other, the types of things they find funny, and what issues they find important. Like and share content created by deaf individuals to amplify their voices, and don’t be afraid to follow new people and jump in on discussions if you have something to contribute. Help bring attention to issues that are “hot topics” or in need of support. Pay attention to what is being discussed, what rumors are going around, and what events are coming up in your area.

Be sure to add some Deaf-created content to your RSS Feed or Blogroll to get educated while exploring the many dimensions of Deaf culture. Follow news and views from d/Deaf/ HoH activist Rikki Poytner, watch the hilarious “Don’t Shoot the Messenger,” or explore any number of other YouTube channels for videos that help bridge the culture gap. “Fridays” is a new ASL web series about two deaf best friends just trying to figure out life and relationships, it’s written and produced by Shoshannah Stern and Josh Feldman. For cute and totally relevant comics about Deaf and CODA life, follow “That Deaf Guy” Matt Daigle.

getting-involved-with-deaf-hoh-community-05Getting involved with the online community will make it easier to take the next step, which is to get out and meet new people! Some people find that using Meetup, a site and mobile app that allows users to form groups and arrange meetings, offers a comfortable transition between online discussion and in-person engagement. Look for a Meetup group in your area and, if there isn’t one, create a group! You never know, there might be other likeminded individuals who are looking for the exact same thing.

getting-involved-with-deaf-hoh-community-07If meeting people off the internet isn’t up your alley, there are plenty of other options to connect with the Deaf community. Try Google searching for a Deaf coffee chat or Deaf club in your city. If you live near Rochester, NY, check out the National Technical Institute of the Deaf (NTID) campus. Or, if you live near Washington, DC, look for events at Gallaudet University. Don’t be afraid to reach out to local deaf organizations or the local interpreter training program for more information, you will find that most people are happy to help.

Attending Deaf Expos is an awesome way to meet new people and immerse yourself to an environment where ASL is the primary language. These expos are growing in popularity, making their way from major cities to more regional venues. Learn about all the services, events, and cool things happening within the Deaf community. Another option is to find out if there is an ASL Slam or Deaf cultural events coming up nearby. Maybe there’s a monthly Deaf coffee meetup, or another type of casual social meeting that is open to the public. There are deaf-owned and operated restaurants popping up in major North American cities, such as Mozzeria in San Francisco, Signs in Toronto, and DeaFined in Vancouver where you communicate with mostly deaf waitstaff. Remember that it’s perfectly natural to be nervous the first time you do something, but that should never prevent you from seizing the opportunity to expand your horizons.

getting-involved-with-deaf-hoh-community-08If you are training to be an ASL interpreter, sign up with your local RID chapter. It helps to not only be connected with the Deaf community, but also to participate in the Interpreting community. Learn about upcoming workshops and events. Meet other interpreters from all backgrounds, expertise, and experience levels. If anyone understands how scary it can be to push yourself outside your comfort zone, it’s others who work in this field.

If you want to get involved with the Deaf community, there is no reason not to. Deaf people spend their lives marginalized by the hearing majority culture, so taking the initiative to form a connection is generally appreciated. Start by practicing your ASL and learning about the different methods of deaf-hearing communication, which will lessen any anxiety about engaging new people. Educate yourself on Deaf issues, understand what it means to be an ally, and attend an upcoming event in your area. Then just find a friendly face in the room, and strike up a conversation!

If you are in an interpreter training program and looking for ways to get involved with the Deaf community, consider mentoring through LC Interpreting Services. Our mentorship programs are individually designed to offer exactly what you need to feel confident as an intepreter, from strengthening skills to providing guidance, and everything in between!

Inquire about mentoring services

 

The Internet Provides a Window to the Deaf World

new-internet-online-deaf-entertainment-links-01While mainstream media still struggles to integrate diversity into programming, the internet offers a vastly different experience. People around the globe, of all backgrounds and abilities, are uploading original new content every day, smashing boring stereotypes and changing the way we view different cultures. With a larger number of deaf and hard of hearing people sharing their opinions, ideas, and even their jokes, wider audiences are opening up to the real experience of deafness and deaf communication.

new-internet-online-deaf-entertainment-links-02Thanks to the web, the lines between deaf and hearing entertainment are beginning to blur. Because it is so easy to add captioning now, deaf video creators are sharing their blogs, their art, and their lives with audiences who they may not have been able to reach in the past. By making their videos accessible, deaf people have the opportunity to frame their own experiences and creatively express themselves without being filtered by hearing editors and producers.

new-internet-online-deaf-entertainment-deaf-nation-03DeafNation, founded in 2003, is home to some of the most diverse deaf video content on the web. The site hosts and creates videos in sign language, and their recent decision to add closed captioning makes DeafNation inclusive for those who use other communication methods, too. A unique travel show that will surely appeal to deaf and hearing audiences alike is “No Barriers with Joel Barish.” In this fascinating series, Joel takes audiences along to explore new cultures, uncover history; and specifically to see how people who are deaf live, work and play in different parts of the world.

new-internet-online-deaf-entertainment-you-tube-04Since popular media only seems interested in covering Deaf culture when a sign language interpreter is going viral, or if a deaf person’s rights have been abused, the ability to access news and views from the deaf perspective is rather refreshing. DeafNation’s DN360 is an ongoing news-style program which discusses health, current events, and conducts interviews with Deaf community members. Their recent “Deaf Culture” short video series offers hilarious and honest takes on some common situations deaf people find themselves in. iDeafNews is another reputable source of news and information on a wide variety of topics. Their news content is captioned so it can be understood by all, but it is designed, first and foremost, for deaf viewers.

YouTube is a platform that many people who are deaf utilize to connect with others from all walks of life. The format of the site is open, allowing users to upload content about pretty much anything— from health tips to homemade music videos— and closed captioning is simple to add. Deaf and Hearing Network, DHN is a news agency that makes excellent use of YouTube to share information in a fully accessible way. Their videos are high quality and use ASL, voice, and captions in each broadcast to ensure all viewers feel included.

new-internet-online-deaf-entertainment-links-05ASL Nook” is an educational YouTube series which teaches ASL and showcases a Deaf family. Both parents and one daughter are deaf, while their other daughter is a CODA, and ASL is their primary language. For those who have never interacted with a deaf family, “ASL Nook” is a nice way to expose oneself to the communication between family members and to see how empowered deaf people are when they can comfortably express themselves.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger” is an upcoming YouTube comedy series which centers around the awkward moments and daily misunderstandings of an ASL interpreter living and working in New York City. The creators of the series are deaf and, because the main character in the series is an interpreter who interacts with both deaf and hearing people, “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” will definitely appeal to wider audiences.

new-internet-online-deaf-entertainment-links-06For those who want a more straight forward perspective on the world through the deaf/HoH lens, there is Rikki Poynter’s  YouTube channel. As a hard of hearing beauty blogger, Poynter discovered there were many barriers to web access, as many people choose not to caption their video content, so she began advocating for better online accessibility. She now uses her popular channel as a platform to discuss the experience of being HoH, social issues, and to promote equal access. She still also discusses everyday things, such as Pokemon and makeup.

new-internet-online-deaf-entertainment-links-07Facebook, of course, has been another medium for deaf people to connect and interact with others around the world.  ASL Slam uses the Facebook video feature to post a wide variety of deaf-created video content, and their Instagram account is also full of great clips. ASL Slam was founded in 2005 to provide a platform for literary and performing artists in the Deaf community; they hold poetry slam events in major cities across the country. The ASL Slam Facebook page is full of ASL poetry, stories, and deaf jokes. This kind of exposure to ASL art and literature gives hearing people a glimpse of how witty, intellectual, and well-rounded Deaf culture can be.

new-internet-online-deaf-entertainment-links-08As the hearing world becomes increasingly fascinated by Deaf culture and ASL, it is important for us to recognize the many deaf people who are already out there sharing their authentic experiences. Mainstream media hesitates to hire deaf consultants, directors, or talent, so networks continue to struggle with portraying diversity in film and TV. But Americans are growing tired of the same stale majority culture formula. More and more people are turning to the internet for new perspectives, and with such a wealth of deaf-created video, they are sure to find the type of genuine content that they’re looking for.