If you had to choose…

First come the easy questions that lull you into a false sense of security. Skippy or Jif? Crest or Colgate? PC or Mac? Coffee or tea?

The answers come quickly and easily: Skippy, Colgate, PC, and Both.

But then come the big guns. Lose an arm or a leg? Drown or burn? Deaf or blind?

These are much more difficult. You’re not as confident about your answers as you were about your brand loyalty. You tend to suggest a third option: Really, I’d rather just slip quietly away in my sleep with all my limbs intact, thank you.

For the last question, however, I have no hesitation. It has always been as easy as knowing that I prefer Nestlé Quik to Ovaltine. As a child, I used to walk around the house with my eyes closed to experience what it would be like to be blind. I usually didn’t last very long, which helped me understand that I would choose deafness over blindness any day of the week. This feeling was confirmed the minute I started learning about American Sign Language. Continue reading

The end of silence

One of the latest sensations to be headed around Cyberland is a video of 29-year-old Sloan Churman, a woman who had been born deaf and lived with severe-to-profound hearing loss her whole life. Last week, the You Tube video of her hearing her voice for the first time went viral. She had undergone surgery to receive Envoy Medical’s Esteem Implant, which is similar to but not the same thing as a cochlear implant.

To be perfectly honest, I am torn about the popularity of this video. Of course, it’s lovely to see another human being experience the joy that Churman was clearly caught up in. It’s impossible not to feel happy for her.

The issues surrounding language and the deaf, however, are hugely complicated and I couldn’t help but be reminded of them as I watched Churman’s tears of joy. I wondered how many would be saddened or angered by this video for various reasons, and how many more would consider themselves to be actually informed after simply watching this briefest of views into one experience of one deaf woman. Continue reading

Pick a language, any language

There is a new women’s clothing store on the corner of 2nd Ave and 41st Street in Manhattan. Apart from the distressing orange and paisley strapless jumper displayed in the window, the thing that stood out about this store was its name: Dor L’Dor. Seeing the sign across the street all during brunch, we could not help but discuss the name. It was generally agreed that it was a dumb name that didn’t actually mean anything. The L’ gave the illusion of French, but then it should be Le Dor. But ‘dor’ isn’t a word in French, unless it’s d’or, which means ‘of gold’. Then at least it would D’or le D’or…which makes absolutely no sense.

But the word seemed very familiar to me and I was left with one of the odd situations that comes from knowing a word and what it means, but not remembering which language it belongs to. Didn’t it mean ‘difficult’? No, that’s zor in Turkish. I almost confused it for cor in Italian, which means ‘heart’. I stopped eating and adopted my thinking face so I could concentrate. I then tuned out all the laughter at seeing by my thinking face. Finally, it hit me. Continue reading