The difference between ASL and SEE

There has been quite a bit of linguistic debate between ASL and SEE. Many people do not understand some of the fundamental differences nor do they understand the histories of these two different communication methods. Both ASL and SEE are valid communication choices, there is nothing wrong with choosing one over the other, yet parents and students alike need to understand the differences between them so they can make the appropriate choice for themselves and or their families. This blog post will go over just a few of those differences.

Before I begin explaining the differences, let me dispel one large myth about sign language in general, its universalism. Sign languages are not universal. While all sign languages have some things in common they differ greatly across the world. The same can be said about spoken languages; they share some things, and differ in many others. The only thing that is universal between sign languages is the use of the hands and facial expressions to get concepts across, just as the only thing that is universal in spoken language is the use of voice and tones to get concepts understood. even in countries who share the same base language, their sign languages will differ greatly. Take the United States and Britain. They both are predominately English speaking and use the same alphabet, but ASL and BSL (British Sign Language) are vastly different, even to the point of using different signs for their alphabet.

 

ASL Alphabet

BSL alphabet

 

Signing Exact English (SEE-II) is a manually coded English. There have been multiple different forms of SEE, the first of which was actually called Seeing Essential English (SEE-I). This is the form that generally isn’t used any longer, and instead of a single sign for butterfly, a person would sign butter and fly. SEE-I was created by David Anthony, who is a British deaf man who was born to deaf Parents. His first language is British Sign Language. He created SEE-I, which is also known as Morphemic Sign System, to attempt to solve an issue of poor English skills among deaf children, who were learning English as a Second Language. When Anthony created SEE-I he never intended it to be used as every day communication, he intended it to be used purely for Literacy instruction, as he had told me in a conversation. SEE-I seen as incomplete and inadequate, so others changed it, creating SEE-II. This manually coded English system incorporates ASL signs, English structure and some of its own. SEE-II (Commonly just referred to as SEE) uses word endings, such as –er, -ed, and -ing. It signs each and every word that would be spoken or written. Words such as Van, Car and Truck are signed differently in SEE-II using an initialized system, as are Beautiful and pretty, which in ASL are the same sign. Due to SEE being a manual system of English, it is also quite literal. In English, someone would say “Beat around the Bush”, and in SEE, this would be signed. If a person looks at it conceptually, they would see someone hitting something around a bush, and it could make very little sense to them.

American Sign Language is a distinct language on its own. It has its own complex grammar structure, idioms and phrases. It is separate and distinct from English. Many people to this day still see ASL as purely pointing this couldn’t be further from the truth. Other people see ASL as a manually coded English, this also is false. ASL doesn’t share a grammatical structure with English, the grammar used to interpret this post in ASL vs the grammar used to write this in English would be different, just as if I were to translate this post into Spanish. (in another post I will explain the difference between interpretation and translation, as these are commonly confused as well). ASL is also a naturally developing language, and a living language. What I mean by this is it is not a code that was developed, but was grown from the use by deaf individuals. ASL began its development when Laurent Clerc and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet brought OSF (French Sign Language) to the states and started teaching using it. In this way, you can say ASL is got its origins from French Sign Language, (and still currently share over fifty percent of their signs) just as English is derived from other languages. Since this time, it has grown, changed and become its own distinct language. ASL uses a time, topic, comment grammar structure, whereas English uses as subject verb object structure. Just as in English there isn’t a strict rule as to how the words must be placed, the same goes for ASL. It is also important to note, ASL doesn’t use variations of “to be” like English does, there are no signs for words such as: am, is, are, or were. Verbs are also different in ASL, there is no runnING, or teachING but rather it depends on the sign as to how you signify it is a verb, the general rule is to perform the sign twice, but there are always exceptions to the rules.

While neither of these are the one way to go when instilling language in a deaf child, the important thing is to get language. There are other manually coded systems of English, such as Cued Speech. Each of these communication strategies (or for lack of a better word, languages) have their place and appropriateness. No one is better than the other, but the distinctions are important. It is important to note, that SEE-I and SEE-II are not languages themselves, but are manual systems of English. ASL on the other hand is a language on its own. There are other systems, such as CASE (Conceptually Accurate Signed English) that attempt to combine the two even further.

For more information, you can look here (http://www.signingsavvy.com/blog/45/The+difference+between+ASL+and+English+signs) Here (http://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/evolutionofsignlanguage.htm) here (http://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/signedenglish.htm) and many other places.

How the time passes, a new year

As I sit writing this, there are just over 8 hours until 2014 comes, a new year, which will bring new joys, new sorrows, new challenges, new adventures, new friends and hopefully much more of the same happiness I have had this year. I want to take this time to recap the year.

While most of 2013 was a blur, there are a few things that stand out.

In February I was diagnosed with a rare brain disorder that threatened to take my precious eyesite. I was diagnosed with IIH, which I have written about here, herehere, here what it feels like, and a little bit here. And while it isn’t getting better… it is only sometimes getting worse. And the best news I could hope from with this… as of right now, my eyes are safe.

Come May… my most common thought was how to make the things in my head more appealing, how can I show them off? How can I… honestly… make them LESS BORING. And I came up with magnetic decoration! I still have, and occasionally use these.  I also, was moving. I moved from my home in Colorado to my new home in Arizona at the end of May. I am still working with the same company, but have moved locations a few times.

In August I confronted a prejudice I have, when it comes to communication, visual communication actually. I will admit, and did admit, I had seen Cued Speech as a lesser form of communication, I thought it was weird, I thought it didn’t work, I thought it was… useless. I don’t think that anymore. I feel it has its uses, I feel there are times for it. And while I will not be using it as my main method of communicaiton, I have been learning it.

In October I wrote about my Left CI failing, and while it happened at the end of August, I’m not counting that as an august post. It was hard, it was annoying, but it was replaced in November, just 2 days short of my 25th Birthday.  November also was activation which went remarkably good. And I am now doing well with my implant.

This month I have written an N6 Review and I still love it. I also have been to the dentist what feels like enough to make up for the many years I went without seeing one… something I will NOT be doing again any time soon. I will be going to the dentist for my 6 month check up just as I should.

Another very exciting piece of news… my sister is getting married June 1st!!! This will mean a trip to Colorado! It will also mean I will have to wear a dress and figure out how to keep my Cis on with an up-do.

I think this is enough for now (read back if you have to) and I will try to post more often in 2014.

Adventure at the Dentists

The same day I had my left CI activate, I also made a visit to… the dentist. If there is one thing I’m scared of, its dentists. I had called ahead a week and scheduled the appointment, informed them I would need an ASL interpreter, and was told that would be no problem. Making the call was hard for me, and I was imagining how difficult it would be actually going. With my CI’s, although I can hear and understand fairly well, when I am nervous, upset, scared, hurt or otherwise indisposed, my comprehension goes from good to absolutely pitiful. For this reason I needed and wanted an ASL interpreter.

 

I was able to muster the courage to go to the dentist, it was only because a friend of mine was going with me. When I arrived, signed in, I was then informed, there would be no ASL interpreter for the first visit… because… “there was no communication” in that first visit. Not only was I scared, but now… I was livid. The one thing I was counting on to make this visit at least a little bearable was that I was finally going to be able to understand what was said, 100%… That didn’t happen. The dentist was a jerk, he talked down to me like I was a child, I only understood about 30-50% of what was said… and that was only because my friend was helping me. I decided to show him why an ASL interpreter was necessary, I turned my voice off, and started just signing, he looked petrified. He told me that they didn’t schedule interpreters for this appointment because about 50% of them didn’t happen. I informed him of other options than a live interpreter for appointments where they don’t know if it is going to happen, such as VRI from companies like Purple or ZVRS. Then I got xrays that hurt like heck and scheduled a second appointment to review. I was mad, and I was very close to not going back.

 

When I talked with my partner, who had visited this office, I was told, I saw the wrong doctor… so I called and changed the appointment to the right dentist, and hoped for the best. I told them I would REQUIRE an ASL interpreter, and informed them of the law.

 

Well, Monday I went, and… there WAS an interpreter… I have to say being able to take my Cis off, and not having to hear the drill like I did before my hearing took a complete nose dive, and not wearing my hearing aids during the appointment to attempt to understand, but being able to SEE what was said… made the appointment much much less evil. I have to go back and have a bit more done, but I finally got my front tooth fixed I damaged when I was young, it seems it was damaged to the point where it needed a root canal.

 

I have to say… it wasn’t as bad as I had thought. The best thing was being able to understand everything, and STILL be in complete silence. When I didn’t have to use my HA’s to attempt to understand what was being said while he was in my mouth, but instead could take my CI’s off and see everything that is being said, I felt much more comfortable.

 

I have another appointment next Thursday… and thankfully with this dentist at Comfort Dental, Dr. Abe Miller, was nothing like this… which is how I picture all dentists.

 

Surgery… Again

Sorry this is so late, but Its been a crazy month.

I had left revision surgery on Nov 14, 2013. Surgery was scheduled for 11 AM, and I had to be at the hospital at 9AM. This surgery was with a different doctor, and there were some very noticeable differences, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I arrived at the hospital at 9AM, when I arrived, there were two interpreters there for me, one was sent home as there was no need for two. Both interpreters were very nice, the one who stayed was about 6 months Pregnant. Inserting my IV was much easier, and even though they put it on my hand, it was much better than any of the surgeries I have had in the past. They asked me questions about sleep apnea this time, and oddly, measured my head for research they are doing.

The time leading up to the surgery was very easy, and relaxed. I had very few questions for my surgeon, because I’ve been through this before. They wheeled me back, and I fell asleep instantly (a talent of mine, even without the sleep medicine). The next thing I remember was not being able to breath, signing” I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” and being very upset by it. No one could understand me, so I started yelling “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” they held my hands down, and I kept screaming, fighting them the whole time. My surgeon called this… “Waking up like a tiger” and looking back logic tells me I could breathe because I was yelling, but logic + waking up from surgery do not equal reality. I also remember being very thirsty, and them not allowing me anything to drink, because I had already vomited a few times. Finally I was given ice chips, and… vomited again. At this point, it wasn’t worth it, and I went back to sleep. I was in so much pain, they gave me as much pain medication as possible, and it didn’t even make a dent. They ended up giving me morphine, which made me so cold.

KaciMy mom eventually informed me that if they couldn’t get my pain under control, they were going to have to keep me overnight… this was something I was 100% against, so even though I was in so much pain, I lied… I told the my pain was a 3 on a scale of 1-10… when really it was at least 2x that. They let me go home, and I was given 3 medications. 1. antibiotic, 2.  Pain medication, 3. Anti-nausea medication (my least favorite, but helpful… it was a suppository, so not fun to use). My head was also wrapped up, and I was given Kaci the Koala!!!

Right After Surgery

Right After Surgery

I went home and slept, watched TV shows on Netflix, and slept more. Both my mom and my love were there to help me after surgery, which was so wonderful. 2 days later, Nov 16th, was my 25th birthday. We went to my loves aunts house for “Fake Thanksgiving” and played cards. It was fun, exhausting, but fun. Her aunt made me a rice crispy treat cake (I can’t eat gluten) and it was wonderful and so very sweet.

I was able to take my bandage off the morning of my birthday, and that was a huge relief. They didn’t shave much hair compared with my other surgeon, and there were also no stitches, but it was glued and steristripped together. When the bandage came off, I felt much better… but was a little sad I couldn’t see the progress of my head healing. I was also very swollen, my head was a little oddly shaped for a few days.

no bandage

I had thought about going back to work on Monday… but that plan didn’t pan out. I went back Tuesday, and was a little wobbly (This time I was a little dizzy after surgery… but I did expect this, even though my other surgeries I have not been dizzy).  The sterristripps kept trying to come off, so I had to get some extra to try to reinforce it. Everyone at work was wonderful about everything, and while I was gone, they knew not to expect as much as had been the standard of service.

I was happy I was able to shower on my own this surgery, because of the sterristrips and the glue instead of stitches, which made me feel much better. I had post op on Nov 25th, as well as activation. My surgeon removed the sterri strips and this is what he found! He said it looked perfect. Such a smaller incision than last time. Next up… activation.Tape Gone

A journey to cueing

I admit, in the past I have been very… biased. Mentally I looked down upon things such as SEE or Cued Speech, which are modality of English and are not full languages. I can see how each would be helpful now though. I can see how SEE can be helpful in learning the grammatical structure of English, personally it is much too slow and a little convoluted for me to use on a daily basis. Cued Speech I was also biased against. I wasn’t nice to it… I thought that it had no place, that it was forcing the oral method onto people; that it was confusing; that it was wrong. I have been forced to eat my words… it has a place, it has a time, although right now… it’s still confusing.

How the phonemes are shown

How the phonemes are shown

I started on a journey to cued speech shortly before I moved to Arizona.  I had started thinking… people tell me again and again that ASL is less, and I know differently… but then after looking at myself, I noticed, I was doing the same thing with modalities of English… I was looking at them as if they were less, as if they had no place and that the people who used them were less than I, that they couldn’t master the complexities of conceptual thinking, of visual thinking, and they were stuck in a rut… boy was I wrong.

Right before I moved, I met with Aaron, of Aaron Cues, and his wife for a short Cue lesson, to get my hands wet, and to figure out if it was something I was interested in continuing. It was exhausting… eye opening… and a lesson in eating crow. These two people could communicate easily, in real time, just as I can with ASL. I thought cueing would slow things down, I was wrong. I thought it would be confusing for a child to learn, I was wrong. I thought it would work best (like lip-reading) with some sound… I was wrong. It was lip-reading with hands. With lip-reading alone, only 30% of what is said in the English Language is shown on the lips, the rest is up to you to figure out and make sense of. With a person who is proficient at cued speech, the 8 hand shapes and 8 Locations, turn the 30% into 100%. For me… right now… it turns the 30% into about 10% because I might be focusing on it a little too hard…

But I’m trying to learn, to give myself more opportunities. In the first night that I sat with Aaron and Mary-Beth, I learned many things, like I am saying words wrong. I think that Cued Speech would be very helpful in all speech therapy classes, especially for those who are dhh… because it shows things at a phonemic level, words that sound the same to a person who is dhh, may actually have different phonemes, such as a and ate commonly sound the same to me. With Cued Speech, I will be able to tell the difference between them. “A” would be cued 5C-5T (5 Hand position from the chin to the throat) while “ate” would be 5C-5T 5S (5 Hand position from the chin to the throat then a 5 on the side). Words that are hard to say, such as seven, would also be easier to learn to say if you have the phonemes mastered in other words.

Learning Cued Speech is going to take me a while, with lots of patience, lots of mistakes, and lots of practice. But, it’s a journey I’m willing to take, and something I am looking forward to. Never stop learning… and that’s what I’m trying to do.

If you are interested in learning more about Cued Speech, click on the picture above, it will take you to the National Cued Speech Association or Visit Aarons Blog posted above.

finally an update!

Ok, so I know its been a long time since an actual update, but my world has been a little crazy, and turned upside down a bit. I have a few updates… sorry for the book of a post.

1. Location 2. Ears 3. Eyes. So here we go!!!

1. Location, location, location

Weaver's Needle Hike

I have moved. I moved from sometimes snowy Colorado to the almost always hot Arizona Desert. This move has been coming for a while now, and although I was apprehensive about it at first, I’m really enjoying it, despite the heat.

I’ve transferred with my company, at a new location with a co-worker who is great, and knows just as much as I do. We have different areas of strengths, with many overlapping (the core of our work over lapping) so we push each other and educate each other, it’s amazing! My love accepted a position as an Admissions advisor for South University, and is really loving it as well! We both work within 30 minutes of our new place, so we have more time to spend together!

We moved from a 660 sqft 1 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment to a 1048 sqft 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment, and our rent didn’t go up very much! Because of electric, we are going to have to rearrange the budget just a little, but we can totally do this! Its really odd having so much space, but its been a huge help. We only had to get one more piece of furniture, and it wasn’t even a necessity, more of a convince and comfort thing. We ended up getting a used couch from goodwill (I know… I know… but just keep reading). It was dirty… but in good condition, I had no idea how to clean it though… until I remembered a blog I saw a while back… this to be exact, by One Good thing by Jullee. This worked wonderfully! The couch doesn’t look brand new, but its no longer dirty, and I’m not scared to sit on it at all.

14 Ft Uhaul with a Tow Trailer

14 Ft Uhaul with a Tow Trailer

The move itself went fairly well also.  I stopped to see some CI friends in my stopover in Albuquerque for the night, with one friend being so very amazing and letting me spend the night at her place, so I didn’t have to pay for a hotel! The journey itself was long and a little lonely, normally when driving I choose not to have my CI’s on, because they distract, but this trip, I decided to give it a go, and boy, having the ability to listen to music while driving… that sure did help keep me awake. While still in Denver I had hired movers to help me load the uhaul, as my extraordinarily heavy bed would not allow me to move it myself. There were only a few casualties of the move, one being our trusty George Foreman grill (but this was 100% my fault…) my Loves parents found us a “new” smaller one at a thrift store though (which will be very much cleaned before use… are you seeing a pattern?)  We had an amazing assortment of friends and family to help us move in, with particular thanks to my Brother-In-Law(in-law?… my loves sisters husband), my father-in-law, and my 2nd Cousin! These three did most of the work on their own… thank goodness for these guys and their strong work ethic, their big muscles and their willingness to help.

We are mostly settled down in the new place, we still have a few rough edges to smooth out, but mostly, we are in a good spot. The day we moved in, I found out we also have a neighbor who is Deaf too!!! Haven’t met them yet, but can’t wait to! I’ve also found a Deaf Community here! They meet much more often than I had expected, I am use to a 1x a month gathering, but this is 1x a week!! I’ve been to the last two (They are on Fridays and we moved in On May 25th) but think I’m going to skip this weeks to hang out with my love.  We have been kayaking (once with my ears on… but that’s another post) and hanging out with my loves family, as well as some much needed time with just the two of us. I was away from my love for 3 weeks prior to my move for many reasons.

2. Ears… the journey continues.

All-Ears

So my ears… I have good days and bad days. Some days are much better than others. I have found a new audiologist, although I haven’t seen her yet, so judgment is yet to be passed. My next MAPping is July 29th, although I may have to move it up sooner… as things are sounding a bit off… I don’t know if it has to do with my IIH, the altitude change, condition change of here vs Colorado or if it has to do with my brain just not wanting to use my CI’s… I think I will need to call and check to see if we can move the appt up some. My new audiology clinic, should I decide to keep it is Arizona Hearing and Balance with the Audiologist I am going to be seeing Ashleigh E. Marley, AuD., CCC-A, who if I am reading their page correctly… knows ASL as well as Deaf Culture. So this will hopefully be a plus and a check mark in the good category.

Speaking of my ears, currently I am using my backup processors, why? Because I can’t determine if I am hearing better with the backups or if I am hearing the same. I noticed the change with my main processors so part of me is scared to use them. In a new place, with a new coworker, and 100% new clients… I need to be able to understand as much as possible… I think I may try the black (main processors) again tomorrow… but keep the handy dandy white ones with me… just in case.

Cochlear also replaced my batteries, because they weren’t really functioning to my liking… with one of the white ones lasting only a couple hours after a full charge, and the black ones deciding that blinking on the charger would be fun… but Cochlear, to their magical powers of awesomeness, they replaced them.

3. Eyes, oh what changes you have made (a side line on IIH as well)

MRI in Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension

So, on the eyes front, it’s getting better. It’s not perfect, but it is getting better. There is no more black (doing a happy dance), but it is still very fuzzy. I’m going to have to see an eye doctor about it again… but I want to wait until it stabilizes, every week or so I see (literally!) some improvement, so once I stop seeing improvement, I’ll go back to the eye doctor. I also left my amazing Neuro-Opthemologist Dr. Kelts behind in Denver, and my insurance doesn’t cover any of them here in Arizona… so I’m looking into finding a good Neurologist, as that may be the key to getting me feeling up to par again.

My vision for the most part is getting better, it’s a slow but steady journey, but at least it looks like on the eye front I’m at least going in the right direction. Now… My eyes are 100% connected to my IIH (Idiopathic Intercranial Hypertension)… and that… well it’s like a Katy Perry song. IIH means I make too much CSF (Cerebral Spinal Fluid), and my body freaks out and thinks I have a brain tumor… and I get all the lovely side effects to it such as migraines, blurred vision (see the connection with the eyes), nausea, appetite and mood changes. (I sometimes also wonder if my occasionally awful memory is a part of this too… my love would tell me not to blame that on my IIH too) While I was moving, my Meds got all messed up… and I’m trying to get them back on schedule… and it is mostly working… but still while on the meds, it’s still a Katy Perry song (This one…) When I have high pressure being up helps, but I’m exhausted… so it isn’t easy to be up. My back is also in a lot of pain with the high pressure too… so again, it doesn’t make being up easy. When I have low pressure (due to meds suddenly working too well, attempting to over compensate my meds, or a blow out) laying down helps… but I can’t just lay down all the time now can I? No… I have to work, I have to go up and down our stairs (oh… we are on the second floor now), I have to drive, I have to listen. Both high and low pressure also come with varying degrees of confusion, light or heavy headedness, and I am constantly light sensitive… which might not be the best idea when it comes to living in the Arizona Desert. I’ve also come to wonder if my IIH plays a role in my ability to comprehend… not hear per say, but the clearness of the words. I’ll have to ask someone if they find this as well, the IIH group on FB maybe (that is based out of the UK… but I’m still allowed) , or maybe its just a CI + IIH thing, in which case, my dear deaf with CI friend at A Picnic with Ants may be able to shed some light on that as well… we shall see.

Anyways… I need to do things, and this post is entirely too long to start with. I will be updating on Kayaking! With and without my CI’s on next.

A world of black and white or a world of color?

I saw a short film a while back, from Australia where a now adult explained living before and after she received a CI, she explained it as before she was living in a black and white world, and now she had colors… This is how I feel… but about ASL, not my CI.

Before I learned ASL and was a part of the Deaf community, it felt as if I were living in an old foreign film, where nothing was clear, where the world around me was muffled, where I was alone, without friends, without true understanding. I was able to grasp a word here and there, I was able to understand some simple things, but never with fluency, never with the ability to really grasp it.

When I learned ASL, became a part of my Deaf community, my world suddenly had color, had vibrancy, had understanding, free flowing comprehension, exchanges of ideas, flow. It became a masterpiece, it became reality, and what a beautiful reality it was. It was something I had always dreamed of, no more struggling to understand, no more lip-reading people who had accents, no more having to ask professors and teachers to stop walking around the room and stand in one place, to pick a place, any place and keep that place for the semester, to not talk while writing on the board, and god forbid… have a teacher with a mustache… or BAD teeth… no, I would sit comfortably, without having to struggle, and watch my interpreters. I could have free flowing conversations with my professors, without having to ask them to repeat time and time again. I could ask them questions without wondering if I was pronouncing a word correctly, of if they would even understand what I was saying. I was free to soak in the message, without having to worry that if I looked away for just a second to make a note of something to remember or look up later I would be lost. I was finally in a place I was free to be me. I was finally surrounded by the world, the community, the freedom, the ability I had been searching for.

My CI didn’t give me that eye opening experience that learning ASL did, my CI didn’t allow me to freely understand no matter the circumstance, my CI didn’t give me the ability to understand the first time, and not just smile and nod. My CI gave me other things. If the world before ASL was an old black and white foreign film, the life after ASL was a modern day High Def Open Captioned movie. Life after my CI… when only using my CI, is like watching TV with Rabbit ears.

Some days, some circumstances, it’s good. The picture is mostly clear, the captions come a little late, but it isn’t that crisp picture of HD. Other days, you struggle to get reception, wondering how you will watch the show when the only time you can get a decent picture is if you are holding the ears, but the moment you let go… the quality goes away. I can understand if it is quiet, if there isn’t noise in the background, if I am expecting speech. I can understand best if I know the voice, if it’s not in a whisper, but also not yelling, crying, too slow, too fast, too old, too young, too foreign, too high, too low or anything else “funny”. Add any of those circumstances, and you are back to trying to adjust those rabbit ears, trying to get the right signal, trying to get clarity.

I live in a colorful world, one where ASL provides me color, provides me access, provides me clarity, and sometimes I have to adjust my ears, my rabbit ears so the hearing world can come in a little more clear… and yet other times, I ignore the hearing world and live in my world of color!! The one place I will NEVER go back to is that old foreign film, of black and white, of pain and fear.