Monday, August 28, 2006

335: monday morning rant news and coffee

I seem to have been added to the blogroll of DHH-commUNITY, a new website which takes stands by apparently refusing to take stands. I agree with their general point that you shouldn't backstab people like Ridor (Although I think it's naive: have these people watched television and politics at all in the last several years?) but we're old enough to move beyond fighting cafeteria-level fights, aren't we? So at first I thought, really great website. Maybe these will be intellectuals who will move past the shit of the past few years and write serious stuff, based on facts, like real reporters. So I started reading.

But I was disappointed. The one thing they have not yet done is mandate a factual analysis for their discussions, or indeed any textual connection. CB wrote a Deafhood article which had NOT ONE REFERENCE to the book. And everything he said was really damaging, without having any facts to back it up or any interviews, comparisons... "Oh, this is nothing new, this is the same as several years ago," etc., etc. Without any quotes, references, or anything (the writer even claims "some people" think the book is audistic, without referencing who.) This is not academic, this is libelious. I am NOT a member of the "Deafhood camp" that CB names, but I have lambasted them as well for not doing their research.

This grieves me because I have worked with Paddy Ladd. I know his understanding of his work comes from a cross-referential understanding of women's, gender, and black studies; from a deep love of literature, and from a love of Deaf people. He works with facts and numbers, he hates straw men, and he makes his points clearly. The book was meant to be used as a tool by the Deaf community to fight oppression. Clearly CB gets this, because he tries to explain colonialism, though he cleverly avoids talking about WHY the book is focused on colonialism.

Why? Because colonialists - white people, doctors, men, what have you - are responsible, in the book, for a lot of in-fighting. It's part of how they oppress people. Why are we fighting over implants? Because they gave us this language of morality around implants, language which doesn't come from ourselves. We fight based on their language. And if we took the time to think about that, we'd have to shut up for five minutes to THINK and stop flapping at each other for attention.

Ladd's certainly not advocating the behavior, moral values, or decisions of any one group of Deaf people. BUT - because one certain group of Deaf people saw the book first and started promoting it, now the ENTIRE community associates the book with them. Suppose hearing-aid using hard-of-hearing DOH individuals had got it first and said "Hey, this book shows it's cool to be who we are and we can tell you guys to shut up," it would be the same stupid fight in the same stupid other direction. And still nobody is actually reading it... What a waste.

I HAVE read the book (unlike most people, on either side of the debate.) It's a big fat JUICY academic text. It's tough to read. (Shit happens.) My copy is currently in the hands of the eponymous Demon Queen, but when I get it back (which she keeps promising me is soon) I will start writing FROM THE TEXT using quotes to explain what the fuck I'm talking about. And CB is correct that the concepts of perspectives on deafness, etc. are the BASIS for this work. People BUILD ON former concepts. It's like biology. You start with observing plant behavior and end up sequencing DNA. What the FNORD is wrong with that? Not to mention the book is INTENDED to be a textbook of sorts, and therefore SHOULD if it were any good mention all the advances we've made in theory and practice since Deaf President Now - a much stronger argument would be if those things WEREN'T present!

I hope somebody takes a cue from this. I understand CB's frustration, but this level of discussion is not acceptable. Rumor is not acceptable. We need to be investigators. Go watch the X-Files; that's how to do it. (And if all the Deaf men in America started TRYING to look like David Duchovny, I'd also be pleased.) I don't care how mad the people you don't like make you: when you just pass on disinformation you're hurting someone else, in another country, whose book you haven't read. You're also doing a disservice to the truth by not analyzing things in a calm, thoughtful fashion and yes, making references. When you don't do that, it's called BACKSTABBING - exactly what you're trying to avoid.

UPDATE: Deafhoodfan on the website also calls out the writer on this. I still think that DHH-commUNITY has violated their own practices. Worse, it seems they have banned Ridor and now a cute little graphic comes up saying he's a cyber-bully. No offense, but if these guys had some facts in their articles, they wouldn't need to worry about Ridor. Come on, let's RAISE THE BAR here a little bit. And does anyone think it's funny I talked about moving beyond fighting cafeteria-level fights then go back and find Ridor's been branded a cyber-bully?

SECOND UPDATE: Just want to point out that Paddy kicked my butt once when I showed up without references. "You can't make an argument based on a straw man," again and again, and it took me a long time to understand what a straw man was.

The Quiet is released: This is a movie about a deaf girl. Basically people whisper nasty secrets in her ear. Nobody in her family learns sign language. She grows up. Evil happens. It sounds boring.

American Army helps Deaf girl: US Army rescues Deaf girl, possible Meningitis victim. Not sure what will happen to her now she's been rescued - possibly implanted? If so, I hope someone commits to giving her the support and money she needs to be an implantee, unlike kids in some third world countries. If they don't, then she's just doomed to be an experiment.

Ugh. I am happy to say I have always had the most professional, well-behaved interpreters... or if they misbehaved and pooped on the carpet, they certainly never did anything like this!

Cafe Bustelo.

Friday, August 18, 2006

334: friday morning news & coffee roundup

Wow. It's been a great but really busy first week back at work following the AFSCME convention of last week. One of the first things I did was pick up Shame of the Nation by Jonathan Kozol which lays out EXACTLY why I felt the need to stand up and add something to that education amendment they put out there:
The present per-pupil spending level in the New York City schools is $11,700, which may be compared to a per-pupil spending level in excess of $22,000 in the well-to-do suburban district of Manhasset...Gross discrepancies in teacher salaries between the city and its affluent white suburbs have remained persistent too. In 1997, the median salary for teachers in Alliyah's neighborhood was $43,000, as compared to $74,000 in the suburban Rye, $77,000 in Manhasset, and $81,000 in the town of Scarsdale, which is only about 11 miles from Alliyah's school. Kozol, 45

Unless we say every child in America is deserving of the same amount of funds for their education, no silly "No Child Left Behind" program will be effective. I wish I could put Deaf children in here too, but the numbers are so different for Deaf schools it's ridiculous; such schools do have to account for housing, increased numbers of staff and technology for communication (plus flashing doorbells.) I suspect Deaf schools spend less per child on education than they do on edifice and technology when all is said and done. But that's just a suspicion.

I have been working on a new videoclip - may post it here soon.

News and Coffee Roundup:

Short for now, more for later. Love to you all.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

AFSCME: Day Four (and five)

The end of Day Three - I forgot to mention - had me going to the information booth with Lorraine where a wonderful member named Georges had been helping us coordinate interpreters and everything. Lorraine always approached him with her fighting look in her eye, but I was impressed by his motivation to help out.

me before the run

Anyway, Georges promised a terp for the PEOPLE run on Thursday morning. Now this was at 6 AM, and I was under the impression interpreters didn't turn into human beings until 10 am, 9 at the earliest (and with two vats of coffee.) I was nervous they wouldn't come, so I spent some time at Grant Park playing deafie and saying hi to people. A lot of them were also first-time runners (some were walkers) so conversation was pretty predictable (which means easy, which means good for Deafboy...)It was with pleasure that I saw a terp dressed in appropriate running gear get off the bus on Thurs with Lorraine! They had come over together from our hotel.

The run started way too quickly and I think I could have paced myself better. My slow shutdown of smoking has been helping but I could feel the straining in my lungs. Nonetheless I finished the 3.5 mile run 18th out of 158 (not too bad: I was hoping to be in the top 20.) Altogether we raised over $30,000 for PEOPLE! Then back to the hotel, then back to the Convention Center for the large Town Hall meeting.

me after the run

This meeting was different from any of the past four days; where before we had sat with our Locals and states, now we were stirred up and re-configured. We were assigned randomly to tables... thousands of members got to meet new people. The goal was to work through a variety of questions, issues and concerns and brainstorm on ways to actively strengthen our Union. How do we recruit new members? How do we combat misconceptions the public has about us?

Today also people finally paid attention to my statements and Lorraine's (and, it turned out, the interpreters) and my communication situation was MUCH improved. We had three interpreters (they could take a break for lunch!) sitting at my table (no more nasty monitor and eye strain) and the facilitator seemed to have some experience with interpreters (but whether she did or not, she made sure everyone spoke clearly so everyone could be involved in the discussion.)

We came up with a lot of powerful ideas. One thing I realized is any public organization must be a hell of a lot more accountable than, say, the government (which has slick commercials and donations from big companies to do its advertising.) Another thing we discussed often - really a lot of things, but they all boiled down to the concept of mentorship - was how to bring in new people, and more importantly, how to make people active - how to get them involved. We also want to get more members voting, and set up a training institute to help people become leaders. All this is part of the 21st Century Initiative for AFSCME, much of which is based on principles set out in Markos Moulitsas Zuniga's Crashing the Gate, which I read the day it came out (who else loves pre-ordering? Mmmmmm...) This is a great book. Since I read a lot of Kos' website, I knew what was coming, but any liberal or progressive interested in political organizing should check it out.

I would really love to make an online network of Deaf union members... We have heard from Moi, who is a shop steward in their Union, but are there any others? Moi, would you be willing to comment about how you got involved? Lorraine and another leader in our Union suggested I bring other Deafies next time - they were concerned because the other Shop Steward where we work who is deaf is a woman ("We have to work out the living situation so it's not improper!") but I explained this doesn't really matter, because, to be honest, we all know each other and in my experience Deaf people are pretty casual with each other. And also, sometimes it's so much easier to be with another Deaf person! An example:

That night, legs still shivering from the run this morning (I really need to get back in shape!) I passed out in bed while everyone went to some big dinner (who needs food when you have exercise?) I woke up around 10 grumpy at my roommate Gerard putting on the light. Well, the next morning I felt bad about being grumpy, ran out to get some breakfast. Eddie passed me by and started talking about the night before. Apparently Tired Joe had put on the door latch like a good New Yorker... and Gerard had been unable to get into the room! They were banging and (yes, seriously) CALLING my room (I'm Deaf... but Lord and Lady, some people take a while to see the implications!) Now I do sleep with my Blackberry, so they could have called or texted that, but poor Gerard had to go get security, which let him in. Of course I went back to my room and apologized - he laughed it off. Like I say, with these guys, when you're part of the team, you're part of the team. But I think another Deaf person would have known just how to wake me up. Still - learning experience, and the guys knew to get someone to text or e-mail me to wake me up at the end of it.

Not much to say about Friday. The excitement over terrorism was pounding at us from all sides on the television, so we decided to miss the closing ceremony (check out the AFSCME blog if you're interested) to re-pack all of our bags without liquids and go off. I was more annoyed than upset: this "red alert" struck me as funny. For starters, the perpetrators were arrested, and we panic AFTERWARDS? The whole thing was very politically motivated. Pam's House Blend and John Aravoisis are on top of this. I have to say that either it's BS or just really badly organized. Either way, is it really the President's job to PANIC rather than reassure and lead? All I saw 24/7 was CNN and FOX blaring terror-and people no longer taking it seriously. Which is even more of a concern: how long does this go on before people just stop listening to the Bush cry wolf? (For some Deaf POVs: breenie at Urban vs. Rural is on it, and so is Erin Himmelman at

I'm gonna write some closing thoughts in a succeeding blog. I do want to say that I was pleased that people kept working to improve the ability for everyone to be involved in this Convention. We tried new things (monitorts), it didn't work out (serious eye strain), they gave me what we decided was best for now: an interpreter at my table. The interpreters were heroes, working in a weird situation without a lot of support and under my VERY demanding usage (I do NOT use terps in a typical way, preferring to look at everything as much as I can to get atmosphere as well as information.) And I really, really wish there had been more Deaf people there.

AFSCME: Day Three

(Sorry this is late. Day Four I could not tear myself away from the work we were doing, and Day Five was spent in travel, unfortunately, due to the government's fear of Chanel Lip Gloss. But here it is.)

Day Three of the AFSCME International Convention was full of business; we reviewed amendments and resolutions until 2pm. For the benefit of Deafies who don't know much about Union work (and I'd love to hear questions) these amendments and resolutions decide what AFSCME will do during the coming year(s). Some of them are changes to our constitution, like allowing retired Union members a non-voting position on the international board (we supported this and I think it's neat to have senior citizen participation and benefit from their wisdom.) Some of them are resolutions about what we will fight for in the coming year. The Amendment or Resolution is read, people have a chance to comment verbally (there's big cameras everywhere, and often people CHEER LIKE HELL when someone from their state, local or district speaks - there's a ton of energy in this room!), and then we all verbally vote Yea or Nay and either adopt, reject, or sometimes (like I did yesterday to the important education resolution) we add and change it in a friendly way to make it stronger.

The interpreter situation for the morning remained the same: me, sit, chair, monitor, Tiny Terp doing their things on screen and separated by five thousand people. I was glad it was only part of the day: so were the interpreters. They had no way to know if they were doing well without being able to see me, and I had no way to be an active listener and participate in the discussion without measures like I took the day before. Interpreting can and should be considered a two-way street: the interpreter works for both Deaf and Hearing alike. I really appreciated my Local - Lorraine and Cora and Eddie and the rest kept coming over to sit with me; I don't think they liked the idea of us not being a unit at all. I don't think I've ever felt this much of a team with hearing people before. (A tear came to my eye as I said that. Even tho we had communication problems the POV seemed to be I was part of the team and that was IT.)

During the day I was lucky enough to bump into a friend from NYC who I hadn't even realized was in Chicago or the Union, Efraim. We met when he rescued me from a torrential downpour in NY; now he turns up three or four tables away from me in Chicago as a delegate to the convention. Such is the river of life. Efraim is a great guy and invited me to go to the DC 37 dinner and enjoy myself; of course I said yes. Our District Council is 1707 and has a dinner tomorrow night but I was enjoying meeting lots of Union members from all over. The more they see me the more they get interpreters and Deaf people so I'm proud to spread awareness.

at a rally

After all the business (which was very exhausting and some of the ladies and gentlemen were trying hard not to be sleepy!) we grabbed a bus to join a rally of 5,000 at Resurrection Medical Center where workers are demanding the right to organize (not everywhere has or is allowed a Union; ) Then to Hilton Chicago for the DC 37 dinner (my god, some of the older ladies at this convention can seriously dance) and then home where I read another chapter of Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams (just finished Ehrenreich's Bait and Switch which was great but depressing!) then passed out by 9 in order to wake up in time for the PEOPLE run-so nervous about this!

A note: I don't think I'll ever allow the monitor thing again, at least not in this fashion. My eyes were red and raw by the end of today, and hard like walnuts in my skull. Hearing people often don't understand: LISTENING is passive, LOOKING is active, and watching, reading and receiving ASL with the eyes is a lot more work than just sitting and listening. Listening is so passive hearing people even believe you can learn in your sleep. Plus, you really should be at least three-five feet away from the teevee, depending on its size. By the end of this convention I was honestly afraid I had damaged my eyes what with terps and monitors.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Day Two at the AFSCME international convention began early. I signed up for the PEOPLE run on Thursday morning; will be running 3.5 miles to raise money. (Got $90 - not a huge amount, but I didn't ask for more than small donations, and as you can see below I had to sit and... well, you'll see.)

Had lots of interpreter problems when I got to my delegation's table; the convention organizers decided to give me a tiny monitor which they sat right on the table. The camera this monitor was attached to focused on the far-away interpreters; as a result I had a splitting headache and bloodshot eyes in a few hours. My delegation was pretty concerned about this; they wanted to come up with something better but there wasn't much to do about it. They were fighting hard to try and improve the situation and my delegation's President, Lorraine Guest, wants to make a statement at some point about the issues of getting Deaf people in the union: in fact the whole New York delegation shows more and more concern as time goes on and the problem is visible. The more they see Deaf people the more they want to fight with us for our rights... Elba Serrano and Kim Medina are others who have been making special effort to improve the situation. We will learn from this and move on.

The interpreters themselves were frantic at not being booked properly-were told from 9-3 when it was more like 9-5, and not given any breaks. They had to eat lunch on stage while Clinton spoke. I felt bad for them. Compounding this if I wanted to make a statement about a resolution or an amendment- the terps were on the other side of the huge convention room-how could I make a statement? Was there a camera on me? And would the interpreters understand my NYC accent? My answer to that comes later.... but I tried to make myself an ally for everyone. Yes, it's more work, but it's a lot more productive than sitting there sceaming about my rights - this is ignorance we're working against, not audism; there is a difference.

I contacted Ridor today following my concerns yesterday and asked him about his thoughts about Deaf people and Unions. He mentioned CSD-Riverside school which had problems in the past and 'got the union' to represent them. It seems to me there's a lot of places where a hearing person comes into the Deaf organization to 'fix' the situation but maybe not a lot of Deaf people representing themselves in Unions. I think it's great to have the Union there to help but my experience here says Deaf people need to be involved and visible to everyone for people to really be motivated to work with us.

The day went back and forth between speeches from people and voting on amendments and resolutions. McEntee gave a great speech on a lot of hot button topics-Medicare, Social Security, what the Government is doing to hurt American workers. Clinton was a big hit with a lot of people and said something I'd never seen before-that BP was responsible for their pipeline and should be responsible for the cost of repairing it. They shouldn't put that cost on the American people. It made me think of the way Republicans try to get rid of people on welfare-they say it's the responsibility of poor people to take care of themselves. The difference is poor people often aren't responsible for what happens to them-getting fired, sick, etc. And the cost of welfare is a hell of a lot cheaper than the cost of oil. Not everyone liked Clinton-some people felt she was trying too hard to make herself look like one of the ordinary people. One woman said "Clinton said she knows what small children in Lebanon feel, running from bombs. When has she run from a bomb?" Such is politics. But how would a Deaf person feel with a hearing person claiming they know how Deaf people feel? Or vice versa? We should only claim ownership of our own experiences.

At the end of the day a resolution about American education came up. There's a Republican drive to mandate each school spend 65 per cent on education solely. This is based on bad researtch which shows the best schools spend 65 per cent of their budget on education. However I know from reading Jonathan Kozol's book Savage Inequalities that schools get different amounts of money from our government (so much for separate but equal... Schools in rich (often white) hoods get 8,000 or more per student, poor schools in minority neighborhoods get one or two thousand. It seemed to me we needed to add a resolution to make sure the government was spending the same amount on each child before they had the right to tell us how much to spend within schools... What, they want NYC public schools to go without basics like electricity and food so they can pay for the same things rich schools in Connecticut get for their kids? Elba Serrano showed me how to phrase it as a friendly amendment, but since the interpreters speak Chicago-style ASL, I decided to write down my thoughts and give them to Lorraine Guest, our President, to read; I thought this would make it clearer. They put us both on the camera and people seemed to get my point and it will be added to the resolution. I was nervous as a lame cat in a dog pound but it went fine and I'm happy I got over my nervousness to try and make a contribution-and glad people saw a Deaf person up there helping work on the issues. We need more visibility (isn't that ironic, considering we're a visual people?)

I don't have all the answers on how to participate but I know if we don't make an effort it's not going to happen... I also know I wouldn't be here without President Lorraine Guest reaching out. It takes effort on both sides. I'm looking forward to a march tomorrow and of course the run on Friday!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

AFSCME Convention: First and (beginning of) Second Day


I landed Sunday night and went to the reception on the Navy Piers for a couple hours with our President and the rest of the gang-was fun, but exhausted from my flight, so didn't stay long; back to the Palmer House for a good long sleep, then up at 6 am to head to the Convention Center. I'm going to be brutally honest about my experiences because I believe (and you'll see why below) this needs to be a process of education for everyone to benefit.

The morning was a little stressful. Very exciting since we had two senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama speak-but they had the interpreters standing on a stage and I was seated with my local in back of the (huge: think airplane hangar) room. We tried to have them move the interpreter to sit with my Local, which is how I found out I was the only Deaf person at this convention; convention organizers said they thought there might have been another woman; being unsure they could not move the interpreters. I sat on the floor in front to see Senator Obama who (despite me being skeptical) gave a very convincing and supportive speech encouraging people to keep marching, but I didn't see him actually commit to any course of action to support us, so in a sense he was just promoting exercise. Of course the interpreter difficulty meant I may have missed a lot.

I admit I was really upset at discovering I was the only Deaf person at this important convention for worker's rights. I wrote a page-long complaint. Where are Unions for Deaf schools? Do Deaf teachers not deserve protection? What about other Deaf organizations? Ridor reports on his blog stories of abuses at various places-a Union would get to the bottom of these problems (if they really are problems) and help promote good relations between staff and management. It would also help connect Deaf and Hearing people in the workplace. Let's face it-we have a ton of problems working in any organization; I've talked about the devil at the bottom line in my blog in the past. We need to have an organization to help Deaf people hold their heads up and remember our intrinsic worth in the face of being told we cost too much. We need to remind people, for example, that interpreters are there just as much for the boss to have access to the employee as for the employee to have access to their boss. Otherwise we might all just fall into the pit of employment despair and give up and collect SSI. (It's occurred to more of us than like to admit it.)

During the break I sorted out that I had to keep coming back to find out about interpreters; I took time to wander through the booths. The food was ridiculously expensive; I found a cheaper meal at the neighboring Hyatt and came back. A gay and lesbian booth was visible with resolutions to oppose anti-gay amendments, and I was pleased to see DailyKos very visible (copies of a recent Kos article were copied and placed liberally, haha, everywhere.) Kos trumpeted how the AFSCME President, Gerald McEntee, was adopting the principles he came up with for reenergizing the Democratic party: while he was speaking, however, most of McEntee's effort focused on getting support for his amendments which do include these principles without explaining them.

At 2pm they confirmed I was alone and I had the interpreters for a workshop on mobilizing young people. However-they had Chicago accents (so many people don't realize Signed languages have accents just like spoken languages) and didn't understand my NYC accent initially. But I was determined to participate and benefit from the workshop so I threw myself into it despite the problems; it helped that I'm studying to be a CDI. We did come up with a lot of cool ideas about getting shop stewards to mobilize youth by mentoring two or three new members to become active and we did make some progress identifying different and sometimes conflicting focuses of older and younger members. Then I was done for the day at 430; I was exhausted despite feeling I had achieved something. I went to the bus dispirited and bumped into Cora from our group in NYC. We agreed the buses were crowded so why not walk back to our hotel in Chicago? This was fine with me; we had an adventure passing by the water and seeing some sights. It turned out she is like me and prefers exercise and healthy food so we had a lot to talk about. Grabbed some fresh made berry and banana juice with her and just got in and in much better spirits! Hillary Clinton is speaking tomorrow; looking forward to it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

329: pregnancy

My sister is great with child. She looks beautiful, but also strange, like a soft and inflated doll. But when I touch her skin and arms I feel hardness, and she orders us all around like a Captain Commander, with blase directness.

Pregnancy has been a great part of my life, lately. I dream of being pregnant, which I know means an idea is coming or a project is in progress in the back of my head. My friend Regan recently gave birth; and there are other omens.

For myself I wait for what must come.

The world too is pregnant with change. And so is the Deaf community.

Deafhood is a process of pregnancy. It is a gestating idea. What most people don't understand - or wilfully misunderstand - is that this idea came from another country and reflects the problems that country had in terms of Deaf people. Dr. Ladd, the author of "Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood," was not trying to make a universal philosophy of Deafhood. Rather he, like a scientist, approached trying to come up with facts. There is, indeed, a universal philosophy, but it must be applied. This is where American Deaf people have made their mistakes. Rather than looking for the basic principle, and using it to interpret the American Deaf experience, they have looked at the conclusion, and used it as if it were a basic principle. This is like - ok, we have a basic principle, called Gravity. We always start with gravity, then use gravity to interpret how planets interact with each other. What American Deaf have done so far with Deafhood is to take the conclusion - is to see how planets interact - and apply this universally. All planets must interact the same way!

But what American Deaf people have done is wrong. Not all planets interact the same way. The thing to do is find the theory, then use it with the variables. You can't say that another solar system will have the same planets, the same mass, the same stars. You can use the theory of gravity to interpret where planets in another solar system, with different mass, will move.

Our country is not England. I wish it were sometimes, if only so there would be chips with vinegar all over the place, but it isn't. To use conclusions drawn by a British person about a mostly British experience and apply it to America directly is as silly as using ketchup and expecting it to be mustard. Again and again and again. More on this later. I'm pregnant with ideas.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

blogwhoring: marshallkirkpatrick's blog

So Deaf in the City got mentioned yesterday over at Marshall Kirkpatrick's blog at Netsquared - thanks for pimping DITC, Ridor! Cool interview.

I've been busy preparing for my sister's wedding and will be going out of town until August 14th - first to Ft. Lauderdale, then to Chicago for the AFL-CIO convention (did I mention I got elected to the board of my company's Union?) I think it'll be awesome. Any Deaf readers involved in Unions? Has anyone been to a convention before? I hope to have net access there so I will be blogging some experiences as I go along - I want to share what it's like working in the field as a Deaf person, raise awareness, learn as much as I can, and meet cool people, in that order (in any order is fine, really.)