Tag Archives: talking

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Image Credits: YouTube

This week I read 1 Corinthians 14 and it made me think a lot about the history of American Sign Language actually. In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul is talking to the church of Corinth about speaking in tongues. He acknowledges the ability to speak in tongues as being a spiritual gift from God, however, he strongly urges the church of Corinth not to practice the speaking of tongues unless everyone can do it. Paul explains this by stating, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.” Men that possess the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues can use it to speak to God, yes, but they shouldn’t use it to speak with the rest of the congregation because they won’t be able to understand him. When we enter the church it should be to honor and glorify God and to help our brothers and sisters and Christ to do the same and to better come to know God and his words. If we can’t even understand what the members of the body of Christ are saying then how can we really come to know God and learn at church, let alone properly worship him in his home?

Paul went so far as to suggest that speaking in tongues could be the equivalent of just making noise without understanding what that noise actually means in verses 7-11. Here he states:

And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? For ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me (1751).

Wow, definitely a lot of things going on in these verses! Let’s look at the first part of this first, verses 7-8:

“And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”

A deaf person may never hear the sounds of a pipe, harp, or trumpet. You could blow that trumpet as hard as humanly possible and that deaf person may never prepare himself to battle if that’s all he has to go on because he’ll never know. To him, the sound of a trumpet is completely meaningless.

For me prior to getting my cochlear implant, I missed out on many sounds. I’ve discovered many of them since getting my cochlear implants, but every day I am also still learning more and more sounds. It’s not uncommon for me to jump a little in class as a train goes by or someone talks or fidgets or I hear an unknown sound. I’m constantly trying to define the source of the sound and what it means. This is what the congregation must’ve been like back in Paul’s time when they tried to understand what the speaker was saying when he spoke in tongues that they did not understand.

I also relate this to ASL. The Deaf community needs ASL so that they can understand what is being said in the church. To them, the verbal communication means nothing. They have no idea what the pastor is preaching without the use of ASL. They will never hear the gospel or understand the message that day. The pastor might as well be speaking in tongues because they’d never know otherwise. Here, Thomas Gallaudet’s arguments for using sign language in the church makes sense.

But hold that thought…

Thomas Gallaudet and the manualists didn’t just think that the use of sign language in the church would help the deaf to better understand sermons; they took it a step further. Gallaudet along with the other manualists felt that sign language would bring the deaf closer to God. In Tracy Morse’s dissertation, “Saving Grace: Religious Rhetoric in the Deaf Community,” she quotes Douglas Baynton’s Forbidden Signs when she says:

For manualists, this view was interpreted in Protestant terms: sign language was an original language and meant “closer to the Creation,” not inferiority (Baynton “Savages” 98). However, for oralists, sign language was associated with lower evolution or “inferior races” (Baynton Forbidden 9). Oralists made arguments that deaf students needed to learn spoken English and lip reading or they would be viewed as animals or savages (Morse 51).

Now, let’s look back to the scripture and focus on verse 11 which states, “Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.

The word “barbarian” here is what stands out the most to me. Do you know who else really loves the word “barbarian”? Alexander Graham Bell who was NOT a manualist like Thomas Gallaudet, but rather an oralist that believed that the deaf needed to move away from sign language and instead learn to speak verbally and read lips and live in the hearing world.

So, what am I saying here? Do I think that this verse is saying sign language is barbaric? Absolutely not, but at the same time, it could be absolutely so. So it’s a yes and a no for me.

Here is what I think that verse is saying, or what the core message Paul has for the church of Corinth is:

We need to speak in a way that people can understand what we are saying in church so as to not cause confusion or anything that can inhibit man’s understanding of the gospel and man’s ability to honor and glorify the lord.

Back in the time of the church of Corinth, speaking in tongues was a barrier for people in the church because it might have benefited the person speaking it, but it did not benefit the church. Paul is calling for the unity of the church – everyone needs to unite as the body as Christ and work in a way that best serves God and not themselves and that involves speaking a universal language they can all understand.

What does this mean for the deaf in the church? Should they be forced to lip-read and practice the oral method? No. I think the deaf should have a right to hear the sermon in a way that is the most accessible to them. Many churches offer the hearing loop to help hard of hearing and deaf people to hear (depending on the degree of hearing loss of course). If a deaf person needs an interpreter, they should have access to it.

If the majority of church attendees are Deaf and rely on sign language, then perhaps that church should consider doing full sermons primarily in ASL, as that is what will benefit that church and help the attendees to learn and honor and glorify God the best.

We don’t have to worry too much about the speaking of tongues in modern day. 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “Whether there  be tongues they shall cease”. People cannot speak in tongues today (I acknowledge that many claim they do – I have my own feelings on that but I’ll be nice and go the route of “no comment” on that…). I think that whereas the church of Corinth had to worry about the speaking in tongues today our issue is more or less about what language or what style/tone to use in church. I think it all depends on the congregation and choosing what is the most accessible to your church goers.

Going  back to the discussion on the deaf community…

In Baynton’s Forbidden Signs he explains how many oralists feared that by relying too heavily on sign language the deaf community would isolate themselves from the rest of the world. He stated:

Like their contemporaries in other fields of reform, oralists worried that the lives of people were diminished by being a part of such communities as the deaf community; they would not, it was feared, fully share in the life of the nation. The deaf community, like ethnic communities, narrowed the minds and outlooks of its members. “The individual must be one with race,” one wrote in words reminiscent of many other Progressive reformers “or he is virtually annihilated”; the chief curse of deafness was “apartness from the life of the world,” and it was just this that oralism was designed to remedy. Apartness  was the darkness manualists redefined for a new world (Baynton 32).

Sign language was (and still is) very different from spoken English or any spoken language, really It’s different from what the majority is speaking and when people can’t speak our language, either they or we miss out. Isn’t this the same as what was going on in the church of Corinth in a way? Paul wanted to see the church of Corinth come together to honor, serve, and glorify the Lord and to unite as the body of Christ. Speaking in tongues was something very few church members could do that caused a separation or divide between those who could speak and understand it, and those who could not. It became a distraction that kept people from coming to know God.

Is sign language a distraction that keeps the deaf from doing things in their daily lives? It is obvious that it causes a divide from the hearing and the deaf worlds. In the church, it can make things better for the deaf and I can see how it can strengthen their personal relationships with God, but if we only signed and didn’t speak spoken English, the rest of the congregation would suffer. I don’t see sign language as being a form of language that brings a person closer to God in the sense of it’s a superior or holier language than standard English. I think it’s just another language that for some is their primary and therefore the best and for others is just another language in the world that exists but one they don’t partake in or use in their daily lives.


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Image Credits: Advanced Bionics 

I mentioned previously that I got the AquaCase for my trip to Disney. However, I never did a review post on it. This post will be more of a first impression that a full-blown review, because I still have not had the chance to fully utilize it enough for a full review.

My first impression? I thought I would love it, but I really didn’t.

I didn’t realize how different hearing with the AquaCase would be verses hearing from my normal processor. The sound didn’t seem as loud or as clear. It reminded me a lot of how when I first had my cochlear activated, things sounded unnatural and unclear. No one told me  it would be the same thing again with the AquaCase.

I knew that the AquaCase would involve putting my processor in a little waterproof box-like case, but it was still really weird to me to have the processor in a box clipped to my shirt rather than resting behind my ear. I kept trying to touch my ear and feel it. It felt like something was missing.

Having the microphone inside my headpiece rather than on the processor was also very weird to me. I think this might explain why sound didn’t seem as clear to me.

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Image Credits: Advanced Bionics

Despite getting the AquaCase and making sure I had it set up for my Disney trip, I didn’t use it at all in Disney. On my first full day in Disney I initially had it on. I will admit I felt a little self-conscious with the wires. I knew my boyfriend wouldn’t mind at all. He’s already seen them. But I was also with my boyfriend’s family who wasn’t used to all of that and who didn’t know me as well and it did seem a little awkward around them. However, I probably would’ve kept it on if I could hear better out of it.

I tried to call my mom while wearing the AquaCase on the first day. It was not raining and I had no plans to go swimming, but I was in Florida where it is known to be hot and I was going to do a lot of walking and more than likely get sweaty, so the AquaCase seemed like a good idea to protect my cochlear from sweat and moisture. I had a problem with this when I tried to work out at the gym with my cochlear — all the sweat and humidity shortened it out and I had to send it out for repairs. This was exactly the kind of problem I was looking to avoid. However, I was extremely disappointed when I realized I couldn’t hear anything at all on the phone while wearing the AquaCase. I immediately switched back to my normal processor withoutthe AquaCase and was then able to hear every single word again.

That was it for me using the AquaCase in Disney. I always brought ti with me just in case it rained or just in case it got too hot (we were blessed with very nice weather while we were in Disney. We avoided the rain and the hottest day was just under 90 so heat wasn’t too big of a problem) or if we went swimming or on a water ride. None of those instances ever really came up.

I did however use the AquaCase when I went home, especially at the gym.

My first time using it at the gym was a little annoying. I think I may need a stronger magnet in the head piece. It has three magnets which is the same as my regular processor has, but I think the AquaCase calls for stronger magnets since the headpiece is a bit thicker. Also, as I got sweaty it seemed to cause the headpiece to become slippery and fall off a few times. The sound quality also wasn’t too great. I could hear sounds but I probably wouldn’t have been able to have a conversation with anyone. Sound still seemed extremely distorted to me.

After coming home from the gym that night I got a shower like I always do only this time I purposely didn’t blow dry my hair. I kept it soaking wet and used my AquaCase because I wanted to work on getting used to it more. I was able to talk with my family, but it definitely wasn’t as easy as it was with my normal processor without the AquaCase.

The second time I went to the gym with the AquaCase was a much better experience. Sounds began to sound more normal and I was able to hear people and voices and hold conversations better. I still did have a little bit of trouble getting my headpiece to stick on the whole time though. But I hated the AquaCase a whole lot less. I came to the conclusion that just like with my normal processor, the AquaCase is going to take some getting used to. I think my brain needs to train itself to hear with the AquaCase. I am not sure why that is, but one of my theories is that the microphone in the headpiece vs. having the microphone on the processor may play a factor in it. It was disappointing to me at first because nobody told me that I would have to adjust to the AquaCase or get used to it. I was under the wrongful impression that it would be the exact same thing as my other processor — just waterproof. I can’t blame Advanced Bionics or my audiologist for not telling me though. I honestly don’t think they knew and I am unsure if this is what everyone experiences with the AquaCase. This is just how I felt personally.

I think the more I use the AquaCase the more familiar I will be with it and the more used to I will get. I think my brain will learn to process the sound and it will sound more natural and I’ll be able to hear as well with it as I do with my normal processor. I think it’s just a process. I am very excited to go swimming with it on. Previously, I have never been able to hear while I go swimming because I’ve had to take out my hearing aids. I couldn’t really talk to people when I go swimming which can be a bit disappointing and frustrating. So being able to hear when I swim thanks to the AquaCase should be a whole new world for me and definitely a bit of an exciting experience and a true blessing!

Unfortunately, I had to send my processor back for repairs so I don’t have the AquaCase to work with at the moment, but I am hoping to get my processor back from Advanced Bionics soon so I can explore swimming with the AquaCase. Stayed tuned for a follow up post on that experience and how I progress with the AquaCase!


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Image Credits: Cell Construction Limited 

Before I say anything let me just say my employer is most definitely an equal opportunity employer. They have always been extremely accepting of my hearing impairment and willing to work around it. My hearing most certainly never held me back at my job. I remember way back when I applied for a job in July of 2013 explaining to human resources how I couldn’t do a phone interview without a translator since I couldn’t hear on the phone. They were more than happy to email me a copy of the questions they would’ve asked me on the phone — this may sound simple, but trust me it’s something I have learned is extremely rare and unheard of from most other companies.

I was on a handful of calls prior to getting my cochlear implant. Ask anyone at my work and they will tell you my biggest strength at work falls into one core area — guest blogging/relationship outreach. Sometimes when I find these great opportunities the bloggers or companies want to set up a phone call to discuss different options first. While my hearing impairment made it so I couldn’t hear on the phone and do the calls on my own, I was always able to get a hold of a manager or someone else from my department to help me out and act as a translator for me — again, this is something I am extremely grateful and blessed to have at my current job since I know most companies wouldn’t do this for their employees.

I was never denied opportunities or promotions because of my hearing. My work always encouraged me to reach for the stars and work my hardest. I did receive promotions before ever getting my cochlear implant. This mainly includes being promoted from an Inbound Market to a Social Media Marketer. There has never once been a time when they told me I couldn’t do something because of my hearing. Instead they did everything they could to support me whether it be helping me with calls, speaking more loudly/clearly for me, slowing down and looking at me while they speak, or otherwise helping me.

When it came time to tell my work I was considering getting a cochlear implant, my boss at the time couldn’t have been more excited for me. Actually, excited may not be the best word to use quite yet. I kind of scared him at first. I told him I wanted to talk to him alone for a few minutes after having our weekly department meeting. This is not something common for me to say. I was always almost on the shy side and avoided confrontation at all costs. It wasn’t that I was shy or didn’t like people — it’s just that I couldn’t hear people well — especially my boss at the time, and trying to converse with them was often a difficult and awkward experience. But I have already taken a couple of days off and flex days and had many more coming with pending doctor’s visits, medical tests, and of course the actual surgical procedure and recovery period. I needed to talk to him to let him know what was going on and why I was suddenly requesting so much time off.

My boss was very supportive and understanding. He knew that even if I had to take some time off, I’d get the work done. I always do. I don’t know how much he understood about what cochlear implants are or how they work, but I told him if all went well I’d be able to hear and he was pretty excited about all of that.

As everything started to come together with my cochlear and it seemed more and more likely that I would be able to go through with it all, I began to blog about my journey right here in this very blog. My first entry was on October 27th, shortly after meeting my surgeon for the first time. I began to talk to my co-workers and let them know what I was going through and I shared my blog with them so they could follow along with my experience. I have received many comments on my blog of people saying they love reading about it and asking if I’d write a book (which is a big “yes!” from me!). I am very blessed to have such caring and supportive co-workers.

Recovery from my surgery was a bit brutal. In a perfect world I’d have a very easy recovery that wouldn’t make me sick or dizzy or sleepy and I’d be back to work within two days top. Unfortunately, that definitely didn’t happen. I was in a bit of pain. My medicine knocked me out. I got very very dizzy. Long story short, I missed a whole week of work post-op. But my boss understood and supported me and my co-workers joined forces to help me with my workload and fill in for me during my absence.

When I did return to work, it still wasn’t easy at first. Fortunately, my company was in the process of moving (talk about good timing!) so I was able to work from home most days. Unfortunately, the days when I did have to come to the office could at times be quite brutal. I had no hearing in my left ear at all for a month. When I was in the office it was “social media day” and we almost always had a meeting to catch every body up with what was going on. I couldn’t hear much in meetings before, and without even having a hearing aid in the air and little to no residual hearing left, I really couldn’t hear now. I couldn’t even tell when people were talking. It bummed me out quite a bit. I would talk to the social media managers (I was not a manager at this time — just a social media marketer) and ask them to send me any notes they had or IM me anything important since I couldn’t hear. They were more than happy to oblige.

That month totally sucked, but things got much much much better in time. A month later I had my cochlear activated and that is when I really got to see the benefits of my cochlear implant.

On the second day that I was activated (my first full day of activation), I had a job interview for a new position at my current place of employment. The position was for that of Assistant Project Manager (now called Assistant Digital Marketing Manager). This is a position I have wanted and have been watching out for openings for for well over a year. I couldn’t apply fast enough once I hear they were looking to promote from within for it. I remember legitimately dropping everything and sending my resume/applying the minute I saw the opening.

I applied in December back when we were still at our temporary office on Federal Street. When I had my interview I was so nervous. My hearing was better than it was on day one. I had a lot less of that “baby crying sound”. Voices were starting to become clearer, but a lot of things still didn’t sound natural to me. Naturally, I worried about how well I’d be able to hear my co-workers/future bosses who were conducting the interviews.

I hear every word. I only had to have them repeat something to me once. I knew without them saying anything that I was getting the job. When you know, sometimes it’s obvious. You just know.

Sure enough, my job offer came a few weeks later after we moved to our final location on Aquarium Drive. I couldn’t accept fast enough. My new bosses said they were both very excited to welcome me on the team.

Becoming an Assistant Manager was a big and exciting change for me. I finally had the direct constant contact/interaction with the clients I have wanted for the last two years. I think E-mail will always be a preference for me when it comes to contacting clients simply because it’s been my crutch for years. When you HAVE to rely on email because phone calls are not an option, you become naturally pretty good with them. But I had to do a lot of phone calls, too. Working as an assistant manager means that I work under a project manager and offer assistance to him and her. When we do calls, especially when I first started, the project manager is almost always on call and I do more listening than talking a lot of the time. This definitely helped me to become more comfortable and familiar with how phone calls work (don’t make fun of me. I never had much of the ability to hear on the phone — so yes, I am in a lot of ways learning how phones work).

I think sometimes I might have talked a little too much on the phone. I am still working to develop my listening and speaking skills. I am in a horrible habit of interrupting people. I think some of it initially was too that I was so excited to have the option to speak and get my ideas out in the option with the clients like that. But I am getting better. One of the project managers I work under heard me on the phone on my own a couple of months ago when a client called my direct number. He was fascinated with the way I was able to take the call (he knew it was something I could never previously do on my own) and he said I was much better than I was in my earlier days when I had weekly calls with one of his clients. It was a compliment that definitely meant a lot to me. Just as everything else with the cochlear is a process, so to is learning to use the phone.

Ever since I got my cochlear I feel like there has been so many big changes being made with my career. It is so exciting and I know that it all thanks to the grace and glory of God who has bestowed these blessings onto me. I have been getting more and more comfortable in my roll as an assistant project manager. Sometimes my project managers I work with aren’t available. They take a personal day or go on vacation or take a sick day. They can’t be there all the time. However, that doesn’t stop clients from having questions or calling. I have been able to take their calls and rely information to clients in my project manager’s absence. Once I was even able to gather information about a client who recently created an exciting partnership with another company and needed a new website made. This involved changing their contract around — which was a bit of an upsell from the business side of things. I was able to handle this and help make this all go through successfully on my own while my project manager was out. If it was not for my cochlear I wouldn’t have been able to make that call and help get things moving with this.

Today was an even bigger opportunity for me as an assistant project manager. One of the clients I am an assistant manager for came in for a client visit. Per their current contract, they receive a bunch of web maintenance and training each month to teach them how to make updates on their website. Today they wanted to come in and meet us in person for a training session. Of course, I was a little nervous. I mean I only ever met a client in person once before and this was a client that’s been with us for a very long time for a training session on something that is a bit of a weakness for me (Thank god for the web department at my work and the wonderfully talented people who work in it. I would be so lost without them). But I was far less nervous than I normally would have been. I knew I had nothing to worry about too much — I could hear! I’d be able to talk to them! It would be far less awkward than it would’ve been had this happened 6 months ago or so.

The meeting went very well. I didn’t have much talking to do since web maintenance is certainly not my area of expertise, but I was able to take very detailed notes on just about every single word that was said which I think will be extremely helpful especially for my project manager. And towards the end they asked us a bit about the social media audit we did. This was actually something I did as I am now a Social Media Project manager. I was able to jump in here and explain what Google+ was and how it differed from Facebook which helped them out a lot. It was a very exciting moment for me because I know just a few months ago I wouldn’t have been able to hear them at all. Sure, I had the knowledge about Google+ and Facebook 6 months back, but having knowledge isn’t always that helpful when you can’t even hear well enough to realize who is talking or if anyone is talking at all.

Thinking of social media, just two or three months after becoming an assistant project manager, I worked my way up to Social Media Project Manager as well. I am definitely still very much in the process of learning things. I have about 7 or 8 clients now. Not nearly as many as one of the project manager’s I serve as an assistant to, but my client list has been growing and I’ve been learning more and it’s been such an exciting journey being able to fully manage my own clients now. I set up my own calls with just me and the clients (I don’t have an assistant of my own). I answer my own calls. I manage my own team of marketers on the account. I now constantly have social media marketers at my desk asking for advice or questions about tasks for my clients. It is so exciting being able to converse with my co-workers like this. I always had to rely on my instant messenger or email in the pass which is so much less personal. I feel like now I can really connect with and get to know my co-workers for the first time.

And in the process I feel like I am finding my own voice as well. In September I will have been at my job for two years. Most of our employees have not been with us for 2 years, but there are a handful of people I like to refer to as “vets” who’ve been with me since I started and well before I started. It’s so cool to see things progress with my cochlear now.It’s like for years I seen these people in the office and I had many of conversations with them online, but now that I can talk to them in person it’s a whole new world and I think they feel the same way about me. I feel like a lot of people were under the impression that I was shy initially. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. I am anything but shy. I am the true definition of deaf and loud. I have a lot of ideas and thoughts and I can be very sarcastic and playful. But these sides of my personality often didn’t come out especially during meetings because I couldn’t hear and often times had no idea what was even going on in meetings. Now I am always aware of what’s going on and what’s being said. I can offer my thoughts and opinions and I can joke with my co-workers and engage in the occasional small talk. I am finally, after two years, able to connect with and really get to know the people I work with.

My cochlear implant has definitely opened many new doors for me as far as my career goes. It made some tasks easier for me and my overall work experience more enjoyable. I feel like ever since I got my cochlear implant my career has been steadily rising. And the best part of all? This is still only the beginning. It only goes up from here.