Saturday, November 3, 2012

America, We Have a Problem...

America, we have a problem.  Ok, so, to be fair, America has a lot of problems.  But never in my time of study of Deaf Culture and American Sign Language have I ever read about or seen something so terrible in CURRENT oppressive forces, particularly in the media. 

More often than not, Oppression is subtle.  Stigmatizations sneak up on people, most of the time they may not fully understand what message they are sending, when they send it - this is not the case with Chelsea Handler.  

I saw on Dale H Boam's Facebook status (he's a UVU ASL Professor, and a Lawyer) how TV Personality, Chelsea Handler had made mockery of Lydia Callis - and the Language (innately connected to the Culture) of the Deaf Community.  This was orginally posted on Nov 2, 2012 around 8:00 am. 
Re: Chelsea Handler.

I was recently shown a clip from Chelsea Lately where she makes fun of American Sign Language. Specifically she lampoons Mayor Bloomberg's ASL interpreter. As an attorney who represents persons who are Deaf I was highly offended at this unfunny an offensive portrayal of a skilled interpreter using the appropriate linguistic markers as being somehow amusing.

Historically the Deaf community as an oppressed minority have suffered for their language and lack of access. I have represented persons who have lost family members because doctors refused to provide sign language interpreters, persons who have been abused by the police for failing to follow orders when no interpreter was present and the police knew my clients could not hear. I have represented students who have been excluded from classrooms because the school felt their language was too distracting.

During a time of great emergency I was thrilled to see the Mayor mindful of persons who are Deaf; persons who are at greater risk by reason of the linguistic barrier they face.

As stated, the interpreter was using proper linguistic markers and frankly did a fantastic job. Just because Chelsea Handler is so culturally unsophisticated that she laughs at the funny Deaf talk, it does not mean that rest of the world needs to share in her cultural insensitivity and generalized stupidity. Chelsea joins the ranks of Michael Richards and other so called comics who to drag their audience into degrading others to hide the fact that they actually don't have anything funny to say.

Shame on her and shame on E!

Dale H Boam
I tried my best search engine skills to find the original video.  For obvious reasons, the "owner" has taken it down. --> Cowards. 

You guys, this isn't just about one person making light of another person's language or accent.  This is a perpetuation of arrogance and ignorance for the treasure that the Deaf Community is.  The vast majority (yes, I am referring to hearing people - and yes I know I am a part of the majority)  doesn't know or appreciate what the Deaf Community has to offer, and I will admit right here and right now that I still don't fully comprehend the amazingness of the Deaf Community and American Sign Language. 

In the comments on Dale's Facebook, I read about how some people may think that this uproar (true-business, there is an uproar) is unnecessary, due to the fact that Handler is bringing more attention to sign language, and such an overt response is a result of over-reaction.  His replies were as such:
If no one complains when it is not funny, or no one tries to educate when they see ignorance... Nothing changes.
 And this, regarding the idea of spoof/satire: 
A spoof or a satire require an understanding of the subject matter and an exaggeration of a humorous aspect thereof. Chelsea was not spoofing the humor of interpreting (that was done very well on an episode of spin city) she was ridiculing how stupid she thought sign language looks without understanding the implications thereof.
 Laurie Robbins Shaffer had this to add to Dale's insights:
I find the skits very offensive to the language of ASL, to Deaf people and to the profession of interpreting. Oppression in the form of humor is still oppression.
Oh, and this just in, it isn't just Handler who is making light of Callis' Interpreting and ASL as a whole, apparently Saturday Night Live just did something as well.  More on that later... 

Deaf Echo 
Deaf Network of Texas

Also, there are tons of video responses to this topic regarding Chelsey Handler and Lydia Callis on YouTube, feel free to search it up. 

So, raise of hands, who's coming to the Oppression Conference at UVU now?  Come learn more about what Oppression really is and how we, as decent human beings, can break through the barriers put up by ugly arrogance and judgment, and engage to bring change to the stigmatizing and oppressive perspectives & treatment of minorities.

That's all I've got for now, peeps. 


Monday, October 8, 2012

Stuck on the “Error” of My Ways…

I think I am starting to really identify what slows me up when I look at doing my work for ASL classes.  I am not confident in my ability with the language. Why?  I am not confident in myself to convey it [the language].  Looking over past reading assignments, I can see that I focus too much on finding reasons for errors, which Patrie reports (via Kussmaul) that such focus is appropriate for language learning.  (CI Book, page 7-8) So either I don’t know the language – which is doubtful since I have been learning, studying, and practicing ASL since 2005 – or I am psyching myself out.  I think it is the latter. 

A few of things could be happening to me.  I could be having more seizures and therefore struggling cognitively.  I could be experiencing more severe side effects from the Depekote which can cause severe drowsiness, irritability, and depression, among other things – so I might be unsure of myself because of that.  I could be focusing on the stigma and oppression of identifying as a person with a disability, as compared to when I was younger and I didn’t identify that way – being in an oppressed minority can cause depression, can it not?  I seemed to succeed more when I was younger, but then I am studying a foreign language.  Would it not be easier for me to study something in my native tongue?  Maybe I am finally dealing with the sorrow of the loss of my Father, which I was strictly instructed to put behind me and move on quickly.  I really do miss him.  Maybe I am tired of living with my Mother and feeling I cannot assert my independence.  Maybe I am just genuinely depressed apart from everything else – I have been diagnosed as being “depressed” in the past. 

Why do I base the worth of myself in what others say?  I berate myself for any little thing that is said negative about me.  Why do I fall apart when I am rejected by a romantic prospect?  Why do I live in the past where all of my sins are?  I can’t move forward if I am living this way, but I feel stuck.       

I want so much to give up and say that I can’t do it because of this, this, and that.  It would be easier that way.  I am behind on my schoolwork and it isn’t appropriate to utilize ADA accommodations for this, is it?  No, I highly doubt it.  I just have to face my teachers and accept the consequences for not being responsible. 

Anyway, I focus far too much on what is wrong with my signing, and I worry too much that I am going to screw up the interpretation.  I worry that I won’t pass the certification exams.  I worry that, if I do become certified, I will somehow inadvertently breach the interpreters code of ethics.

So, the main question here, aside from my psychological status, is how do you go about determining the communicative function of the [miscue]?  I read the example about President Carter’s interpreter and the grave errors that s/he made during a visit to Poland.  I know that I won’t be doing anything that… (For lack of a better word) “…Important” as I start of at the Novice level, but I am pretty sure I would die (literally) if I knew that I had be the originator of such a serious miscue. 

I am so… pardon my language, but I am so damn over-analytical of myself… I really want to pursue a career in ASL interpreting, but things like this make me wonder if can I handle it?  What are the necessary adjustments I need to make in order to do so?  Can I make those adjustments in a timely manner?  Is it worth it?  Really? 

That’s all I can think about for now.

Audfairy88 over and out.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Memorial Day 2012 - A Belated Post

So, I was just thinking about family members who have passed away, and for an odd reason too.

I redboxed Captain America a day or two ago, and, out of all "hero" movies I have seen thus far, I would have to say that this is my new favorite.

Off-topic you say? Well yes, I see your point. What reminded me of my family members who have passed away was the time in which Captain America was set, as well as the twist on historical events it showed. My grandparents were adults during that time, and if I remember correctly, my grandfather was a soldier in the army.

I never actually knew Grandpa Kofford, but I feel most sure that we must've passed each other through the veil. My mom told me that, as a child, I said something to the effect of how I had known Grandpa in heaven, and how he had picked me out to be sent to my family, which I believe is entirely possible given that he passed away only a few years before I was born. 

Yes, I believe that he knew I was the right child for his baby girl. I am so grateful that I was sent tothe family I am sealed to now.

As for my Grandma Kofford, I knew her for just under half of my life, but those were sine of the best years of my life. Learning from her, spending time with her, sharing meals with her, and showing her she was able to make a difference in my life, even in her nineties.

I look at where I am at now in life, I graduated from WXHS, and next spring I will be graduating from UVU. I have learned how to be a part of the community and contribute in a positive way. I have developed many talents and skills, many of which were seeded by her life-lessons in my childhood. I only hope I have made her proud.

Then there is my Daddy. He passed away a little over 2 years ago. It's amazing how much I have grown and learned since then. I wish he was here. There are so many questions I still have for him. There is so much more I wish I could have learned from him. And I wish he was here so he could sit down with any potential dates I may have and grill 'em to find out if the boy in front of him was man enough to be a respectful, caring, gentleman to me.

I miss my Daddy.

But, in regards to Captain America, what reminded me if my dad was how he loved history, more specifically war history, and next to that, he liked classy action movies and if he were alive I am sure he would like this new movie.

Captain America was the underdog, but he stayed true to his morals and values and was able to succeed. That is something my dad would appreciate - that and seeing Tommy Lee Jones as Patton. ;)

This has been an odd blog, I know, but it was just my stream of thought. I hope you were able to get something from it.

Remember who makes you strong.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I first met Kimmie Hansen in 2010 and now that I look back at that first time it seems odd to think that it was less than 2 years ago.  Kimmie deemed me her BFF - well, her 2nd BFF - her first is her grandmother, and really, who can have a better BFF than her grandmother? 

Kimmie is 13 years old, but she has the cognitive abilities of a six year old.  Why?  Because she has Dravet Syndrome.  Nevertheless, she is playful, charming, sweet, kind, caring, and has the spirit of the Lord with her all the time.  I love this girl.  I really do. 

So, as a favor to her mom, Kris Hansen, I made a couple of videos about Kimmie.  The first is a bit about her, and the second is her wish for the "Make a Wish Foundation."  Yes, her case of Dravet Syndrome is severe enough that we don't know how much longer she will be with us. 

I remember that day, when Kris told me the news - Kimmie's prognosis.  I tried so hard to look strong for Kris, but later on I just cried and cried.  I love my sweet BFF, I love Kimmie.  I don't want her to leave.  But after general conference today, I was comforted and I realized that the only thing I can do is take comfort in the faith that I have that no matter what, our Heavenly Father will be with her, at her side or watching over her. 

Until then, the only way I know how to help her (since there isn't a cure for Dravet Syndrome) is to make these videos and share them with the world and hope that the "Make a Wish Foundation" sees it.  I know it is a big wish to ask for, but Kimmie is a priceless young lady - especially to those who know her.   

If you would like to find out more information on how you can help, please email Kimmie's mom, Kris, at

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Thanks for your support everybody!