Being from a very small town, there is no Deaf awareness. It’s so bad the local disability resource’s Deaf Coordinator works part time and doesn’t even know sign language. Anyone calling for services related to Deafness is referred to someplace else. So no Deaf awareness… no Coda/Koda awareness.

Last fall I made it a priority to meet with my daughter’s kindergarten teacher and the principal. It all stemmed from a pre-school incident. My daughter was asked the sign for “happy”. She knows this but felt put on the spot and signed it backwards, almost like “getting dressed”. The teacher then taught the incorrect sign to the rest of the class. I didn’t really care about the improper use of the sign (this time, that’s another story) than I did about putting my kid on the spot. Just as a 5 year old does not have command of the entire English language, my daughter does not know every sign.

At my meeting I explained our bi-lingual and bi-cultural household. It went over with the teachers very well. Better than I thought actually. From this meeting the teacher asked if I would teach the students signs during calendar time. I was delighted. I go in once a week for half an hour. We started last October. After the first week the teacher commented how amazed she was. She thought some of the kids were not very interested and day-dreaming but was shocked to see they really got the hang of it and were paying attention. I was thrilled she found my participation useful.

Last Monday, the teacher said the class had a surprise for me. “OK kids, let’s show her”. They did the entire calendar segment in sign language with their voices OFF. This includes about 3 songs, counting and a Q&A time. I was completely SHOCKED! Not that the kids could do it, but that the teacher has been nurturing this entire segment. It brought tears to my eyes.

My hope is to expose my kid’s peers to sign language. I dunno, maybe I am living in my past. Kids were mean to me – you know the stupid hand gestures that didn’t look like sign, just looked like a stupid kid doing gestures. I don’t want that to happen to my kids. No one does, right?

Can you imagine if every student in elementary school was exposed to sign language? I don’t mean once a year but on a level that would give them familiarity. Providing this would heighten the awareness of another recognized language and culture. Thus, maybe… just maybe, might save a little Koda from some angst and pain. Or, heal mine.

When I started this blog/vlog last summer I knew of the different kinds of Codas out there. Non-signing Codas, late in life deaf Codas, etc. My mission is to educate all people, hearing, Deaf and Codas see my previous vlog Why.

As for the Codas I must understand that not everyone wants to be included. Not everyone fits one label. Labels can be deceiving and I think in this case, the label is meant to be affiliated to a group. A group you identify with but doesn’t define you. Also discussed previously, Not a label

Something happened to me last fall that saddened me to tears. It is a lesson I learned and will draw on in the future.

Within the regular day to day business calls, I found an “operator” that had Deaf parents. She offered services to indicating she had Deaf parents and could help my husband if he needed. I decided to call her and tell her about Coda and invite her to the next conference. It can be a touchy subject. How do you explain it? I have had some practice while serving as President of Illinois Coda. Fielding the general questions, so I felt I had enough experience without having a pushy nature. We talked about 3 minutes, she didn’t like the idea of it but was polite about it. She said, “It’s just not for me”. Well I’ve heard that before and I always keep the casual socializing attempt last. I explained, “It can be a totally social event in which we celebrate our deaf heritage and share stories with a common bond”. Well I must have said too much. She responded by saying “Look! I’m going to tell you that I grew up in an abusive household and I am repulsed with everything that deals with deafness and the signing”. WHOA!

I felt horrible. We hung up almost immediately. I cried. I broke down. I was hurt that I may have potentially stirred up painful emotions for her. I wouldn’t do that on purpose. Then I realized I was crying for something else too, I cried that she didn’t embrace the culture I love so much! Despised – such a harsh word. I never imagined having a Deaf culture could be that painful at the level of despising it. I have wanted to escape, but I never loathed it.

Things started flooding my mind – even those that despise the culture could learn from Codas. Perhaps her situation had happened to someone else in the Coda community and she could heal. But no way was I going to call back. I felt as though I had caused too much pain in three minutes. I had never met someone with such strong feelings.

Could it have been because they weren’t the best parents? Was it directly related to being having Deaf parents or perhaps oppressed? I’ll never know. It took me a long time to recover from that comment.

Here’s what I learned. We are all different, regardless of the same views, philosophy, religion or groups we belong to. Having Deaf parents allows me to want to identify with others that have/had Deaf parents. I am thankful that such dynamic individuals chose to identify with the group so I can learn from them.

I feel blessed to have Deaf culture and language in my soul. ASL is my native language. I must understand that every Coda may not feel this way. It’s difficult, but a lesson I learn to apply when needed.

I’ve seen the upcoming Pepsi Superbowl ad! I’m so excited, it’s hilarious and perfect for Superbowl commericals. There is always controversy for something or another. Last year the Kevin Federline Nationwide commercial had the National Restaurant Association really upset. Previous years struck controversies with ads such as Snickers, Bud Light and GoDaddy. National agencies were in an uproar. Here we have the NAD supporting it. I personally don’t think they just slapped their name on this without discussing it.

There have been other commercials that have sign language in it, the Johnson’s sausage commercial with the little deaf boy that smells breakfast cooking in the morning and slides down the banister. Can’t find this, can you?

There is a very low budget South Dakota Relay and then Apple MacIntosh starring Marlee Matlin. Are there others? I generally perk up when I see a hint of sign language being thrown into a commercial or TV program. It’s exciting and fun.

The only commercial I have had a problem with is the PSA featuring former Miss America. I have nothing against her or the message, but the commercial doesn’t have captioning. It bugs me every time. How you see it on youtube is how it is on TV. No closed captioning. I get that a person can deduce from the commercial to be safe with food. But it’s not clear until much later in the commercial. Someone couldn’t have captioned it?

Pepsico’s ad is hilarious, I just wish we could tape every hearing household that grabs their remotes and hits the volume up button! Mute button

Where are you? Did I miss your blog/vlog? Are you out there? I know the Olson Brothers are out there- oh and wish them luck in their various vlog nominations at the Deafread awards.

Ok ok ok, you’ve been waiting for someone to encourage you to blog/vlog! It’s official, I encourage you to create a blog. It’s really simple, free, and therapeutic in some ways. So get crackin’! Wanna learn how? I’ll help you get it rolling. Come on Codas you all have amazing stories, outlooks and visions.

Let’s make 2008 the beginning of a Coda Blog/vlog Campaign!

In light of all the news about Steak and Shake and Karen Putz, I decided I couldn’t wait to announce my new business. A formal announcement is slated for March but I wanted you all to be the first to know.

Starting a business is both exhilarating and draining. I wanted to make it something I could love into retirement. I had an opportunity to teach sign language at my husband’s job, we covered more than just conversational signs, I educated them about Deaf culture. So I decided to combine by passion of talking and the Deaf culture/community and launch Limelight Training and Consulting, LLC. I provide businesses with Deaf Awareness Training. I also include all aspects of hearing loss where necessary.

How is my business different for other programs? I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I plan to market to hospitals primarily in the launch stage, this is where the most of the complaints are critical for Deaf and hard of hearing individuals. For every hospitals and businesses I commit a relationship that will help them not only become aware, but to be an industry leader. I take pride in helping businesses understand the culture as well as keeping better customer service or patient care that will just overflow into standard qualities. How many times have you talked to someone at the receptionist desk that didn’t make eye contact? Deaf or not, I like people to look at me while speaking.

Deafread is a blessing! I love diversity and with all of your ideas, opinions, perspectives and knowledge. The topics are wide and it’s wonderful to be a part of this online vlog/blog community. Such an amazing amount of information we get all in one setting. Don’t you agree?

I’ll be posting the launch of the new website shortly (I hope next month). In the meantime, thanks for reading! My new website will be located at http://www.limelight-training.com

During the Coda Family Reunion, I grabbed four Codas from Minnesota to give me a short description on “What Coda Means to Me”. I’m grateful for their time and it gives me other things to think about. Also, thanks for voicing and signing at the same time, it saved me a great deal of work! Again, I appreciate your points of view.

It’s weekends like these that get me motivated. What a terrific weekend of laughing and crying…crying from all the gut-wrenching laughing. We had about 24 participants from Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota. It was truly cozy at the camp and I felt so relaxed.

So being with Codas again has really fired me up. This blog/vlog is quite a bit of work. So I will ease back into it with baby steps and try to avoid a long lapse again. I have had requests for the next vlog (thanks Vince) so I am going to get revved to present to you more items. I’ve been thinking about issues and have a list of topics ready.

Also, I now have videos documented on others thoughts of what “Coda” means to them. Look for those popping up shortly. Thanks for hanging in there.

I know, I know, I was on a roll. I was vloggin’ a couple of times a week. It was great. But then things started happening. Here’s an update of what’s been happening, and what to expect.

First thing, we are in the process of remodeling, we are limited on lights, I was only able to film from 1 to 5 in the afternoon with the help of natural sunlight spilling into our big window in the front of the house. Now the remodel has been taken to the next level, so dear hubby has removed the drywall, which means no fancy curtain behind me, it’s all studs. Just wood! The vlogging stops, but my plans are to bring it back by the end of the month.

What’s new? Well, my avatar is new, the logo for my new website, which is under construction… (ahem) for a while, it’s last on the list. Here’s a look for those that haven’t seen it. I love it and I have to give a big thanks to my new Coda friend, Jon for helping me design this logo.

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School has started and for my 6 year old, so has Kindergarten. Today I have a meeting with her teachers and principal to discuss my child. I might be over protective, but I want her teachers to understand she lives in a Deaf home. I don’t want them to do what her pre-school did, which is an upcoming Vlog. I’ll be sharing my ideas on Koda orientation with you soon.

I’ve also launched my own business. I am a virtual assistant, working from home, allowing my clients to subcontract the work to me. I offer services that are mostly administrative right now. Clients save money by not having a payroll for a budget that may not allow them to hire someone in their office. My business website will feature a vlog.  It will be helpful tips for business owners and aspiring businesses.  This will be announced in October. I won’t be doing a great deal of business related things here, but the announcement will be posted.

What to expect in the future? I’m still working on my first Coda to Coda interview. If any of you use any product that can capture an online video chat, that would be so helpful, send me a comment! I’ve got a great list of stories to share, some of them are cute little things I have seen my kids say, do and enjoy. With the “going back to school mode”, I’ve got a few stories and then I’d like to include my husband’s venture with getting his pilot’s license, for those that may not remember, he is Deaf. It’s been a positive adventure and he wants to share it with others.

So, I’m putting it out there into the universe, thanks to those that have been checking in, hang in there…you’ll see me soon!

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Dale Dyal was a very talented storyteller. He had such a sweet and caring heart and really was well known in the CODA community. Sadly, he passed away last week. The CODA community is mourning the loss of such a wonderfully talented man, both on stage on off. His humor was like no other. He was committed to sharing his stories with everyone. I am taking a moment to honor a man that has brought me more tears, both from laughing so hard my cheeks ached and from the tender side of his stories and his nature. I am a better person for having the opportunity to know this man.

Dale, we will miss you!

Inviting all Codas, 18 years or older. We are having a Family Reunion. Why do we call it Family Reunion? Some Codas feel that whenever a bunch of Codas get together, gives them a nice feeling of home or comfort. Others come to celebrate their Deaf heritage.

There will be plenty to do, without the need for an agenda. Some are planning to scrapbook (we’ll have an area dedicated to this craft without having to clean up your stuff). We are also planning favorites, ice breaker, entertainment, and a keynote is being organized. The Lodge boasts six cabins with a total sleeping capacity of 48, four bathroom facilities with showers, an upstairs lounge with fireplace, a downstairs meeting room and two smaller breakout rooms. A kitchen facility is available for our hospitality goodies.

If you are a Coda, 18 years or older, check out our information posted at Illinois CODA. It will be in the middle of Wisconsin, but don’t worry, there will be so much for you to do. The flyer and the registration form are posted there. Illinois Coda

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