How many of you ... ?

Photography by Carlo Castillo



How many of you feel isolated when communication barriers become an issue when providing access and having access involving ASL interpretation and not know other possible other access alternatives such as FM systems?


How many of you notice the ASL interpreters are not appropriate for some events?


How many of you notice the importance of needing culture relevancy in a topic interpreted than interpreting in exact English word for word as a opposed to content relevancy?


How many of you notice ASL is become a hot and popular trend of the language now than other sign languages existing?


Is it becoming the same as English?


How many of you notice?


How many of you feel isolated?


I am writing as a person who grew up able to speak clearly as Deaf individual, have sounds understanding however my hearing decreased as I grew older and older. I went to oral- mainstream school that not only leaves me to having any special form of degree. I sought no fulfillment in school life for me. I chose a life that I can put myself in where I want to be happy. However, I cannot be happy if the society continues to push and minimize being of our daily lives experience. And shifting the need of potential growth to work how to resolve the situation.


What is it that society cause my life to become connector that is driven by compassionate and thinking all the time person?


I begun to think as I remember how, I didn’t have my own choosing of getting cochlear implant. Instead, the social pressure of getting one is really striking and undermined. And now that I have it, I have no choice to fall myself in categories of bridging the communities left and right: hearing and Deaf world. That is five years in length time. Time sure flies.


On a positive note, I have choice of learning, relearning and unlearning myself as a person who may have privileges to speaking in public environment that is dominant, hearing world. I finally learn to sign for three years and still don’t say I am fluent enough as a signer. I avoid and refrain myself from speaking that puts the spotlight difference where a Deaf individual prefers to sign and only knows signs and we both sign together than oppose of me just speaking and excluding all the others at once. This creates power dynamic shift. I want to ease it and not let it become unbalance.


I try my best to guide hearing people to try finding creative ways to communicate with a Deaf person. In fact, I try to interpret back to someone who may not know ASL (American Sign Language) and try many different communication ways to get them to understand. It is all trial and error and improvised. That is something we all are new to and afraid to. The thought of the word that I learn in course: ASL and Deaf Studies in VCC (Vancouver Community College) by a teacher that taught me, schema.


In order to tell you all about myself and my work, I have to tell you these first in order to see why I am telling you this.


Currently, I am a visual artist, performer, poet, zine making, and have a huge interest in working on projects that involve movement and ASL as well as stories to relate the intersections of my life: DeafPOC- Asian Taiwanese, Queer non-binary.


I have been exposed to opportunities open doors for me as I reach and grab. I connect people from both worlds. I have watching many undergoing with workshops, discussion, panels and the last rare few would be conference. I have to learn all of these by scratch without the help of my community and without the help of friends.


All of these I have experienced with ASL interpreters. On the works, of putting my devices: hearing aids and cochlear implants because I like to see and acquire information in both ways, visually and auditory. I find the topics of every places I go, mainly with social justice, arts, BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Colour) and forms of oppressions and protests.


Can you tell me how many people would be involved in these topics and are ASL interpreters?


Or even identified part of each communities intersectionality for example, QTIBIPOC (Queer, Transgender, Intersex, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour)?


Not likely.


I then start to notice, people hire ASL interpreters don’t know exactly how to understand the meaning of why they are hiring ASL interpreters. We need to encourage ourselves each other how to not just post a blog, however have someone be on the phone, in person or online Q&A responded to respond about any questions that they are curious and learners. Have our everyday communicators to chat about “access and ASL interpreters” because it cannot be just “access” simply by hiring and not work human connectivity.


ASL interpreters are mediators of focus on the languages: English and ASL passing the message of whether it is in speech, visual diagrams, projections and as well as information in my signs. There is Deaf Interpreters, and hearing interpreters. This become much more complex because of two different languages and different skills. This means a lot of time to prep with knowledge, and topics to memorize beforehand. This is not easy. In fact, it takes huge understanding, culture, context of words, timing and contents and my sign in a whole level of meaning. Which is why they are called interpreters and not translators  


In fact, is not just me benefiting the ASL interpreters, it would be you and the participants- stakeholders who may have little to no way of knowing my language ASL to comprehend what I am meaning to tell you. What I really truly want to use my language to just be me as a whole. If one or many can understand by culture understanding and social etiquette, like writing on paper to not block my visual of my interpreters, facilitators and audiences around me because I like to grasp the whole view. Hand waving to say, pay attention or tap my shoulder to know you are behind me.


I am noticing as a Deaf performer. I am struggling with the need to prep ASL interpreters and people who hire ASL interpreters for me. They have absolutely no idea that I need more prepare than just an hour or half an hour to sign with them. And did I forget to add that ASL interpreters are ever changing like imagine your teachers in subject constantly switching out as substitute teachers? That it adds more to service is time consuming in needed of prep. Whether you are on a budget or financed. That is basically what it is like.


This not only fails, though whether they are qualified in social justice, arts mind or background and QTIBIPOC identified ASL interpreters that is trained to fully engage in a fast pace and practiced with this kind of field and in fact something that they truly genuinely love and like to do interpreting? This is why the community is so small. I am challenging people to think more on the creative to start making job posting that have these requirements than just hire any person that has just “ASL interpreters” and as well as giving agencies to look and open doors people who are able make of this requirement?


I have to say, when I participate open mic, very rare ASL interpreters were interested in that. So because of the amount of preparations and people don’t want to share their notes or last minute share the notes. ASL interpreters do not know it all. They are not magicians. They are human beings geared with knowing the language, Deaf culture and growing to become comrades to the Deaf community.


As a Deaf audience, I am struggling to feel the performer knowledge and content of the plays, performance and practice to be fully engaged. The lack of knowledge is probably one of it. The lack of understanding the stories, could be another essential component. Like most social media these days, commercialized to know that mainstream media are the highlight. Why not, promote better not only similarly with captions, transcripts, and many the involving access such as ASL interpretation, it would help a lot.


Oh? Right. Yes, Deaf people can enjoy music. All you had to do is create either captivating visuals that sync with the beats like Cymaspace did. Or another way, is to create vibration that depended on the seating and the environment to become tactile experience. We may not have hearing or experience the same as every majority’s however we can enhance more other experience yet been known and learn for us. I only just discovered and have manage something new in my own discovery that I have been trying to engage with one of light and sound composer to test out the devices that I have been using for sounds and music.


I have been using Roger pen by Phonak, it is an all inclusive wireless microphone that delivers speech- in - noise and distance performance in Bluetooth connectivity. I have been listening to this Roger pen for my own benefit for college at first and it did not work well however with another benefit is music. I am still working on looking more alternative to broaden my choices of access needs.


As we begin our selves, I would like to invite ourselves to ask ourselves and the people we are giving the comfort and access to, What does access mean to you? What is it everyday do we have that is in our struggles in our hardship or have been accessed easily? How can you apply that to yourself and others around you? I would like to continue the conversation daily to imagine ourselves if we are not curious, thinkers, connectors, stubborn, of our everyday lives:  what are we? We need to not only change our creative thinking however more of how we can expand and reframe the meaning of access in another meaning because it is interchangeable. It is not going to be forever the same and applies to all individual. It changes and is different for everyone.