What has changed since I discovered sign language
- Cochlear implant, Deafness, Hearing impairment, School for the deaf, Sign language, Sign language circle
In this episode, I would like to talk about my story and how it has changed since I discovered sign language.
I have a cochlear implant, so it is not that I cannot hear at all when I have the implant.
However, even with the cochlear implant, I am not able to hear everything as well as a normal person.
Since I am able to speak, it is difficult for others to determine that I am hard of hearing.
I would like to talk about the sign language that I encountered while living in such a situation.
- 1. Until I was in elementary school
- 2. I started using sign language in earnest when I was in middle school
- 3. Sign language was an important part of my life in college
- 4. My working life now
- 5. Conclusion
Until I was in elementary school
At “Speech and Language Classroom
When I was in elementary school, I went to a regular elementary school, but I also attended an “ears and words class” at another elementary school about once or twice a week.
In the class, I talked with the teacher about hearing-related topics and chatted about school life.
I mostly spoke orally with the teacher, but she also spoke clearly, so I didn’t have any communication problems. I loved all the teachers at the Speech and Language Class.
About once a month, a group of fellow elementary school students who were hard of hearing or deaf like me would get together and have group activities. I remember playing games together and practicing plays and sign language songs for the annual presentation held in December.
At the regular elementary school I went to every day, I didn’t have many friends and I didn’t enjoy school life.
Therefore, going to the “Speech and Language Class” was the only thing I looked forward to.
I think the reason for this was that I felt secure in the knowledge that I had the same friends and that the teachers understood me.
My classmates in the regular elementary school were all hearing, and I felt alienated because they were different from me in some way. When I first entered elementary school, this was not the case, so I sometimes played with my friends after school, but as the school year progressed, it became harder and harder for me to talk to everyone, probably because my mind was developing.
At a local sign language dance club
For several years, from the time I was a young child entering elementary school until I was in the upper grades of elementary school (probably…), I was a member of the local sign language dance club and performed sign language songs. Especially for the recitals, I wore cute costumes and performed sign language dances.
Although I had been exposed to sign language since I was a child, I only learned sign language to sing sign language songs, so I never learned to speak it in daily life.
However, I am grateful to my mother for giving me the opportunity to present my work from a young age.
I started using sign language in earnest when I was in middle school
I went to a school for the deaf in junior high and high school
Since my elementary school was a normal elementary school, my parents and I thought that I would continue to attend a local junior high school.
However, that suddenly changed. That was the time when my sixth year of elementary school was about to end in six months.
I suddenly said to my parents, “I want to go to a school for the deaf. My parents were surprised because they had assumed that I would go straight to the local junior high school. I didn’t expect that I would be the one to say it.
Eventually my parents understood, and after observing classes together, we finally decided to go to a school for the deaf.
I didn’t know what to expect at first.
I was successfully admitted to the school for the deaf and started my first life at the school.
However, most of the students at the school used sign language. At that time, I could only say my name as a self-introduction, so I could hardly use sign language.
I couldn’t even understand the conversations of my classmates, so I had to learn sign language in earnest after entering the school.
I mimicked the sign language of my friends and teachers
I told you that I learned sign language in earnest, but I didn’t buy any sign language books to study.
I learned sign language little by little by imitating the signs that my teachers used in class, watching my friends speak, and so on.
In particular, when I saw a sign language word that I had never seen before in a teacher’s presentation in class, I remember moving my hands under my desk secretly so that I wouldn’t be seen, and imitating it over and over again.
My memory is a little fuzzy, but I don’t think I learned the fingerspelling in order, but rather as I learned the sign language, I learned the fingerspelling later. It would have been hard to learn only fingerspelling from the beginning, and I thought I could learn fingerspelling little by little later when I needed it.
I could learn a little sign language, but..
Thanks to the school for the deaf, I was able to learn sign language little by little. However, even though I had learned sign language, there was one thing that troubled me.
When I was attending the school for the deaf, I didn’t use my voice much except to talk to the teachers. (But I only moved my mouth because it was easier for others to understand me.)
When I was using sign language, I wanted to concentrate only on the sign language, and I was not good at talking with my voice.
However, when I talked to my parents at home, they would say, “Your pronunciation and other aspects of your speech are not as good as before. When I talk to my parents at home, they sometimes ask me if my pronunciation has become worse than before.
I realized that if I don’t have the opportunity to speak out loud, I will become poor at it.
Also, during the long vacations (spring, summer, and winter), there are fewer opportunities to go to school for the deaf. (Except for club activities)
Therefore, I was worried that I would forget sign language because I would have fewer opportunities to see and use sign language. Especially when I first entered the school for the deaf, I felt it strongly.
In fact, I remember that after the vacations, I would look at the signs and try to remember them, and then review them in my head. As with sports, English, and everything else, I felt that if I didn’t use it on a daily basis, I would forget it.
Reflections on the School for the Deaf
I attended a school for the deaf for six years, both in junior high and high school.
I have many memories of the school, but I can only say that I am glad I went there.
First of all, the classes were small enough for me to understand what the teachers were saying, and it was easy to ask questions to the teachers. If I had entered a local junior high school or high school, I might not have been able to keep up with the classes. If I had been in a local junior high school or high school, I might not have been able to keep up with the class. I think I would have been the only one in the class who had trouble hearing, and I would have been too embarrassed to ask questions later even if I was the only one who didn’t understand.
I didn’t make a lot of friends, but I still keep in touch with some of them from time to time. I think it was a great growth for me to be able to spend my school life with my peers who are also hard of hearing or deaf.
Sign language was an important part of my life in college
At the entrance ceremony
I had been in a school for the deaf for six years in junior high and high school, so it had been a long time since I had been surrounded by people with normal hearing.
Although I was looking forward to my first time at university, I was most worried about whether I could keep up with the classes.
At the entrance ceremony, I was given a little time by the professor of the university department to explain a little about my disability. I had learned the importance of explaining myself from the teachers in my classes at the school for the deaf.
Because of this, I was able to speak more slowly when I talked to my classmates in the department and made some good friends.
It took a lot of courage to talk about my disability, but I think I am still able to make use of that experience now that I am working.
I felt that I was still hard of hearing
In class, I received information security because it was difficult for me to hear everything even though I had a cochlear implant. The services I received were note-taking, computer-taking, and sign language interpretation. At the time when I was attending the school, there were people in the support office who worked very hard to provide information security, and I was so grateful to them. I worked on my classes with the feeling that having information security is not a matter of course.
However, there was one time when I felt that I had hearing difficulties. It was in a seminar class. In seminar classes, there were many opportunities for discussions and meetings, mainly in groups.
When talking one-on-one and individually, I could talk without any problem, but when there were three or more people talking, I almost always couldn’t understand the content anymore. At that time, when there was a sign language interpreter, she would tell me what it was about, so I could follow the conversation.
I wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t learned sign language, so I was able to feel how grateful I am for sign language. I would also like to express my gratitude to the sign language interpreters. Thank you very much.
Sign language circles have broadened the scope of our interactions
I joined a sign language circle. The main activities of the club were to perform sign language songs at the school festival and to study sign language during lunch break.
What I remember most from the sign language circle activities was one of the sign language circle events, a social event. At the social event, we interacted with sign language circle members from other universities and played games with them. I was not very good at making friends before I entered university, but I was able to meet a lot of friends through the exchange event. Some of my friends I still keep in touch with from time to time.
Thanks to sign language, I was able to expand my friendships and my horizons, so it was a good experience for me.
My working life now
I can have lunch with my colleagues who are also hard of hearing or deaf
In the workplace where I work, there are many colleagues who are also deaf or hard of hearing like me.
We work in different departments, but sometimes we can have lunch and talk using sign language, which is a nice change of pace.
I often spend my lunch break alone because I’m tired from work, but sometimes I feel like I need to have lunch with someone, so having a friend to have lunch with is a blessing.
However, due to the Corona disaster, I have not had the opportunity to have lunch with anyone for the past two years, and I am very sad.
I would like to believe that one day I will be able to enjoy lunch again, without worrying about the corona, without taking off my mask.
It makes me happy when people are interested in sign language
At work, I communicate almost entirely with my co-workers through oral communication.
However, I try to let everyone in my department know that I have difficulty hearing beforehand. As I am now suffering from coronary heart disease, I have to wear a mask, so I try to be even more careful in my explanations.
Perhaps this is why some of them want to learn sign language. I sometimes teach them sign language in my free time. It was a small thing, but I felt grateful to be able to interact with people outside of work through sign language.
Now that I am working, I have fewer opportunities to meet people due to the Corona disaster, so I have fewer opportunities to use sign language. I can still have conversations for daily life, but I don’t think I can speak as well as I did at the school for the deaf.
Incidentally, my husband also has a cochlear implant, and we talk in both sign language and oral language, but since we can both still hear each other, we use oral language more often.
There are still a lot of things I don’t know, and I think I’m still at the beginner level, so I would like to learn more sign language.
I’d like to learn more about sign language, and I hope that everyone who reads DEKOBOKO FRIENDS blog will join me in learning more.
Thank you very much for listening to my sign language episode until the end.
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