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Fri May 13, 2022, 05:06 PM

DeafBlind Communities May Be Creating a New Language of Touch




https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-inquiry/deafblind-communities-may-be-creating-a-new-language-of-touch

No paywall
https://archive.ph/FdPx2

When John Lee Clark was five years old, in 1983, he entered a small Deaf program within a public school near his home in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Clark was a dreamy kid who dressed in tucked-in button-downs and pressed slacks. He came from a large Deaf family—his father and brother are DeafBlind, his mother and sister are Deaf and sighted—and the family had communicated in American Sign Language (or A.S.L.) for generations. On Clark’s first day of kindergarten, his mother, worried, followed his school bus in her car. When she surprised him at school to ask if he was O.K., Clark said that he was fine but that the bus driver had forgotten how to speak. His mother laughed and reminded him that the driver didn’t know how to speak: she was hearing! “This is a common story among Deaf families,” Clark told me recently. “The gradual dawning that all those mutes could actually talk with one another, but in a very different way.”

In third grade, Clark began a bilingual Deaf program. Instruction was in A.S.L., but students were grouped on the basis of their ability to read English, a second language that Clark accessed only in print. “My literacy was abysmal,” he said. He still has a workbook from that time, in which he answered questions—“What is your favorite sport?” “Who are the members of your family?”—with drawings instead of in English. But he was gifted in A.S.L., and teachers would ask him for help with tricky words. He sometimes pranked them by inventing ostentatiously elaborate versions. The word “heaven” is difficult for A.S.L. learners, involving a precise looping of the hands; Clark added several gratuitous loops.

At twelve, Clark began attending a residential Deaf school, many of whose students came from Deaf families. But, around this time, he began to go blind. Hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. have some combined hearing and vision loss, but most are older adults and have spent the bulk of their lives hearing and sighted. A much smaller group—about ten thousand, according to some estimates—become DeafBlind earlier in life; a leading genetic cause is Usher syndrome. Clark, his father, and his brother have Usher, which can cause a person to be born deaf and to gradually go blind. At fourteen, Clark started to lose track of A.S.L. conversations. “I was this boy who always said, ‘Say again?,’ who might collide into you,” Clark told me. “So pathetic.” He began reading in Braille, which his father had encouraged him to learn as a child, and started walking with a white cane.

In high school, Clark stopped trying to follow A.S.L. visually and began using tactile reception, feeling words with his hands. This helped, but miscommunication was common. A.S.L. is a fundamentally visual language. The dominant-hand gestures for the words “stamp” and “fun,” for instance, look very similar, except that “stamp” begins near the mouth, whereas “fun” starts at the nose. Yes-or-no questions are signified with raised eyebrows, and sentences can be negated with a shake of the head. When Clark would reply in A.S.L., he’d have no idea how the person was responding, or whether she was still paying attention at all; he said that it was like “talking to a wall.” He attended Gallaudet, a Deaf university in Washington, D.C., with his future partner, Adrean, a sighted-Deaf artist. “It was really when I got married that I noticed more serious problems,” he told me. He would come home from the store without the items that Adrean had requested, and misunderstood the timing of their appointments: “It’d blow up on me, how that information in ASL had failed to register.”

*snip*


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Response to Nevilledog (Original post)

Fri May 13, 2022, 05:50 PM

1. I have nothing but the utmost respect for these people, who have to deal w/ multiple handicaps

such as the loss of eyesight and hearing both. I've got most of my eyesight (but am getting older, so don't see as good as when I was younger) and lost most of my hearing as I got older (nerve damage when I was born), w/ a 90% and 95% loss. Even w/ hearing aids, I'm still missing quite a lot of the conversations. My most important sense is my lip-reading abilities, which I use for a majority of my communications w/ the hearing world.

I've heard of a body mesh, a sensor mesh that the blind and/or deaf could wear (or maybe it was just for the blind). They are coming up w/ new technologies constantly and it is amazing what's going on.

As for using touch to help one in hearing. I can sense when someone enters a room, I'm sensitive to the airflow, and perhaps my other senses too have become more sensitive, as I can sense when someone is stomping around, walking. Perhaps it's true for these folks too, that their senses besides hearing and sight, have become more sensitive to other stimuli.

I can't shake a rock at these people, they are my true stars and celebrities in my world.

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Response to SWBTATTReg (Reply #1)

Fri May 13, 2022, 07:12 PM

3. There is a very interesting Star Trek (original series) episode...

...called Is There In Truth No Beauty? It guest stars Diana Muldaur as Dr. Miranda Jones, a blind telepath. Her character wears a net garment over her clothing, embedded with sensors that enable her to function independently. Because she is blind, she serves as an escort to an alien ambassador who is said to be either to beautiful or too ugly to be looked upon, and anyone who does will go blind.

The idea of body mesh sounds like the fictional garment in this Trek episode.

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Response to 3catwoman3 (Reply #3)

Sat May 14, 2022, 12:43 PM

4. Wow. Thanks for reminding me of this episode, I watch ST religiously and didn't even think

about this particular episode.

Isn't it amazing how foresighted some of these ST episodes are?

Thanks!

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Response to SWBTATTReg (Reply #4)

Sat May 14, 2022, 01:37 PM

7. That episode was one of my favorites in the original series.

I am eagerly awaiting my food replicator and transporter. 😉

There are now handheld ultrasound devices, so maybe a full medical tricorder is not to far off - 🤞

Years ago (mid 1970s) I went to a couple of Star Trek conventions. Gene Roddenberry was the keynote speaker at one of them. What an inspiring man. I’d love to go to another now.

Did you know that there is a new Trek prequel series? It’s called Strange New Worlds, and the time frame is during Captain Pike’s command. The actor who plays the earlier Spock is a grandson of Gregory Peck, and he has a wonderful deep voice, and is quite easy on the eyes. Most of the casting is good, but the actress chosen for Nurse Chapel seems way off.

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Response to 3catwoman3 (Reply #7)

Sun May 15, 2022, 12:36 PM

8. Yes, I finally watched (and what a coincidence too), Strange New Worlds last night of all things.

It was the one story where a ship was missing after visiting one world (when it was determined that the world in question developed Warp technology), and they sent Pike in to investigate, and Pike discovered that these two sides on the one world were on the verge of destroying themselves, developing a weapon such as a Warp bomb, and were at each other's throats, not wanting to talk etc., and Pike rescued the day by ignoring the Prime Directive, and talking to both sides, and getting them to truly reconcile, become members of the Federation.

Which, by the way, is why when people say why no contact today between us Earthlings and the rest of the Universe, IMHO, think that there is a Prime Directive in the real world/real universe too, it makes sense, especially when you view it via the long and torturous history that so many cultures suffered at the hands of the Europeans (Africa natives, those in South America and North America with the deaths and extinction of so many tribes on these two continents).

Sometimes I do wish that the edicts/culture of Star Trek would make it into the real world. We sure could use it with all of the crap going on in the real world. I am enlightened though, by the near 100% support that the Ukrainians have from the world community, against the Russians and their invasion, and their bold-faced lies to support in their minds this ill-advised invasion. There are those that claim that WW3 in on its way now because of this, and frankly, IMHO, NO. I'd like to think that the world as it is today has indeed moved on to better days.

Ah, I can remember when we all got together back in the 70s, on Fridays, to watch the newest release of Star Trek. It brings back good memories sitting w/ my friends, and enjoying the show.

Take care and Prosper my friend. By the way, I can't wait for the transporter or food replicator too!! Whoever invents such devices (and more) would be the next Elon Musk, or other rich person that we seem to have too many of these days.

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Response to SWBTATTReg (Reply #8)

Sun May 15, 2022, 01:01 PM

10. A funny Star Trek story.

I was in the Air Force nurse corps for 4 years, as a peds nurse practitioner. During my first 2 year tour, I was stationed at Wilford Hall, the big hospital that is part of Lackland AFB in San Antonio. In the pediatric clinic, we had a smidgen of freedom with our uniforms because of working with kids - we could wear colored lab coats, and have a pin or badge or whatever on a lapel to make things a bit more kid friendly. I had a pink lab coat, a yellow one, and a blue one.

Being a Trek fan, I sewed a science officer patch on the blue lab coat. I had purchased it at a little shop in San Antonio that specialized in Trek memorabilia. One day, someone thought it was a military decoration/award of some kind. I explained that it was from Star Trek, and the person asked where I had gotten it.

In all seriousness, I said, "I got it at Starbase 1," which was the name of the shop. The person looked at me like I'd lost my mind, at which point I realized how absurd that must have sounded, even tho it was true.

Peace and long life to you! Always good to "meet" a fellow Trekker.

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Response to 3catwoman3 (Reply #10)

Sun May 15, 2022, 01:11 PM

11. Ha ha heh!!!!! I laughed at your story!! A good one, a really good one. And I wonder, just how

many people would actually think that there is a Starbase 1? You'd be surprised how many people would believe this!

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Response to SWBTATTReg (Reply #11)

Sun May 15, 2022, 02:05 PM

12. With the new pace force branch...

…of the military, maybe some day there will be -

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Response to Nevilledog (Original post)

Fri May 13, 2022, 05:57 PM

2. I just thought of the book "Johnny Got His Gun"

-- Dalton Trumbo, 1938.

How to communicate when you have no way to communicate.

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Response to JustABozoOnThisBus (Reply #2)

Sat May 14, 2022, 01:32 PM

6. Quite a book.

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Response to Nevilledog (Original post)

Sat May 14, 2022, 01:31 PM

5. I remember seeing an interview with a husband and wife who were both hearing and sight-impaired.


They were amazing. They had friends who were like themselves but also had friends who could see and hear. They said they decorated their home -- which was beautiful -- so that both sets of friends would feel comfortable in iit.

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Response to shrike3 (Reply #5)

Sun May 15, 2022, 12:36 PM

9. Neat!

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