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From:  Nancy Cole
Date:  Fri Jun 2, 2000  3:13 pm
Subject:  Re: Chami

Hi again,

It was really great hearing from you again. I love reading from the sign
list, and it's wonderful to hear from our parents of Deaf/HH children.
That's funny about you living in Alaska, because I wanted to work there for
the Deaf Institute. I found out they use a Bilingual approach, and I really
want to be apart of that. Our school program is moving so slow, and I find
it difficult to team teach with teachers who use SEE (Signing Exact English).
I team teach alot better with hearing teachers in a normal classroom, with
my students. I might be doing that next year for 1/2 day. There is such a
diversity (some good some bad) at our school, and the Deaf students are
always left out of things, and I'm hoping for a change. But I received a job
application from Anchorage, Alaska, and I've still not filled it out. I have
3 kids and haven't decided how I would move them and where we could possibly
stay. I have just started using Sign Writing with my students, but it
incorporates Bilingual Education, while using ASL the native language of the
Deaf in promoting English literacy. I teach English as a second language for
my students, but I never use SEE to explain it which I have seen in the K-2
classes. I feel comfortable explain English grammar in ASL. For my students
this is a first, and SW is helping so much!

Ok, alittle about myself. I wasn't born Deaf, but Hard of Hearing....that's
what I say because even though my hearing was severe enough to not understand
speech I had parents that didn't sign, and I never knew there were any Deaf.
I thought I was not normal. I learned written English through the help of my
Father, and that goes for Speech too. I only speak directly using my voice
to my Parents and to my kids who are hearing. I find myself very embarrassed
using my voice in public situations, and it doesn't feel like I am talking
without my hands. I got so tired of people giving me funny looks and asking
my kids "what did she say?" So, I'm more comfortable using pencil and paper
communication or interpreter. I didn't meet any Deaf until I was around 12
years old. I was extremely surprised to meet another Deaf girl, and I was
excited. But my parents did not want anything to do with sign language or
it's Deaf members, so I didn't see her for long. It wasn't until I was 25
years old and with a very young baby girl that I needed to do something with
my life. At home my daughter and I used home signs. My parents who have
given up on speech therapy have resorted to using out tty to communicate with
each other or pencil and paper. We also have a good friend of my Dad's that
knows alittle sign, so he comes over when I do. They have realized that sign
language was important, but now feel it is too late for them to learn. I am
36 years old and just now finding out about my parents, like having and Aunt
and Uncle whom I never knew exsisted! I just met them last week. So, as my
daughter was growing older I wanted to go back to school and become a
Teacher. Her real father had left us when she was about a year old.
Anyways, I met another interpreter who had a Deaf husband. I became actively
involved into the Deaf community in Belen, NM, and learned ASL from them and
also from classes at the university. I met my present husband from Deaf
Camp, and he was very helpful. Richard my husband was born Deaf, also has
usher's syndrome (vision difficulties-nice word to say haha I can't think of
how to explain it, and different story). He grew up in the Deaf Institute in
Santa Fe, NM, and helps me very much! He has taught me how to tell stories,
and so much more. We are both learning how to use Sign Writing. Oh and we
have 3 hearing children. My daughter Krista is now going on 11 years old,
and then there is Charlie who is 4, and our baby Shelby is now 4 months old.
We use voice with our kids, and we also use ASL. We also fingerspell alot.
Charlie started fingerspelling when he was 2 years old. Krista is very fast
and fingerspells most of her signs. People tend to think she can easily
translate ASL into English, but when she "interprets" she tends to
fingerspell. She still doesn't know the ASL translation for many English
words. We are just now teaching her that, since she has decided she would
like to become an interpreter when she grows up.

One thing I would strongly suggest is please sign all the time when your
child is present. Even when you aren't talking to her. I have noticed
(especially in my classroom with the other hearing teachers) is they never
sign when they talk to each other when I am in the room. It is considered
rude to Deaf members, and it's whispering. If you are having a private
conversation it should be in the hallway, or out of sight from a Deaf person.
I have just found out from my assistant at school, that they never realized
what they were doing, so I thought perhaps I would pass the tip to you.

Well, I sure did talk alot here!!! Are you still awake haha I hope it wasn't
too much for you! Anyways, I sure wish I could show you SW there!

Nancy Cole
Las Cruces, NM

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