Thursday, October 7, 2010

Feet on Both Shores or Stuck in a Row Boat Between

As a late deafened adult with progressive hearing loss, I often find myself with feet on both shores.  By that, I mean that I am hearing in many aspects, yet I am not.  I struggle to belong in the world of the hearing. 

Year by year, month by month, week by week, even day by day, I find it harder to survive; yet I don't feel comfortable or accepted by the deaf community because I do not fluently speak their native language (ASL) either. 

Without my hearing aids, I am severely and somewhat profoundly deaf.  With them, I am moderately deaf.  I cannot discern the direction of speech and I miss a lot of what is said around me.  Without them, I cannot understand speech at all.  I can read speech from your lips if I am aware of the context; I can decode your body language and facial expressions to understand your tone,  I can put it all together and manage to do what is expected of me, but I know that I miss a lot.

As my loss progresses, I try to become more involved in the Deaf community.  I am learning ASL and SEE.  I am trying to decipher the ridiculous politics involved with the Deaf community. I have sought out my own local Deaf community and found them to be practically non-existent unless I wish to drive an hour one way. I have taken steps to ensure my employability (is that a word?) by earning teaching certifications in deaf education and learning sign language.  I have volunteered at deaf schools and the Deaf Action Center only to be turned down or completely ignored.  I started this blog in an effort to educate my friends and family and to reach out to the online Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities as well as chronicle my experiences so that others who follow in my path or who find themselves in a similar situation might have some sort of guidance. 

But here I am, still wondering if I'm hearing or Deaf, still trying to find my place in this world, wondering if I have my feet on both shores or if I'm just adrift at sea in a row boat in between.