Join LaRonda Zupp and the Bay Area Deaf Seniors as they gather in Fremont, CA to welcome Ella Mae Lentz as she helps them kick off their celebration of Older Americans Month with a presentation entitled: “Connecting Deaf Elders and Young People & Those in the Middle Through Deafhood.”
LaRonda: Hello. We welcome Seniors today for a special event: to celebrate “Older Americans Month.” This takes place in May, 2008 this year. Today we will kick off their celebration with a presentation on Deafhood, a presentation especially designed for Deaf Seniors. It will help them focus on how that can connect with younger and middle-aged people. Today we have a special speaker. She’s quite famous. Ella Mae Lentz will honor us with her wealth of knowledge, history and beautiful presentation. So, I invite you to watch and enjoy. Bye. (ILY wave)
LaRonda: (Hands waving) Yeah! Welcome! Tap each other please. Quiet now. Happy Older Americans Month.
Ella: Wow! It’s really an honor for me to talk to you Deaf seniors whose experience spans so much time. Wow! You might think it’s nothing, but I assure you, you have a wealth of experience and I’m honored! It’s my hope this afternoon, through this brief time we have together, that I can explain things that cause you to look back over time and see your American Deaf history with new eyes.
Ella: Basically, Deafhood means that we are each on a lifelong journey to rediscover and understand ourselves as a Deaf person. You have all had more years on that journey to experience and discover yourselves than I. Yet, I hope that I will give you a little more food for thought so that you can look over your journey in greater depth.
(Camera stills with pictures of Ella’s presentation…)
Dee Gaston: Many times I get e-mail and other places, information about children, Deaf children, asking me to think about the future of Deaf children, and so on. I’ve always looked at those messages and said to myself, “I’m old. My life is finished. It’s now the duty of others to keep an eye on the future of Deaf children.” But now, after seeing Ella speak today, my thinking has changed. After watching her, I know understand! I want to thank you, Ella, for changing my thinking. I think we all look at this differently now. Thank you very much.
Dan Lynch: Ella has clearly worked so very hard. I find her motivation to help Deaf people very interesting. Wow! Really!
Paula Reynolds: When I was a little girl, my father put my sister and I into and oral school. Yes, and I learned to speak. I often tried to practice talking over and over and over. And I was chosen to lead others, when I was 9 yrs. old. But my mother, my mother shook her head and said, “Don’t try to talk.” I didn’t know why she said that because I thought I could talk very well. But my mother could hear. She didn’t want me to talk, but I didn’t want to just sit there and look like a dummy. Now i have white hair, but this is a picture of me when i was 9 yrs. old. This picture makes me remember my experience, and it’s why I believe that signing should be taught first. I asked the school people and the superintendent to please let my son sign. I told them I didn’t want him to be taught orally like me. I didn’t get good grades when i was a little girl. But I continued to encourage my son to sign.
Woman: Good presentation. I was impressed and inspired. in the first place, I didn’t realize our Deaf history, but now, I can look back and see it. Wow! I look back on my own years and what I went through growing up at a school in New York. At that time, my school did not allow us to sign. If we signed in class, we were punished. We had to write something 100 times if we signed. we were only allowed to sign in the dorms. When I was growing up, there were no Deaf teachers. I only remember one Vocational teacher who was Deaf. Just one. See, I didn’t have a good education. But so far, I’ve made it through life, fine. I’m happily retired, I’ve had good jobs. But I’m retired now. Yes, I’ve gone through much of what Ella talked about. Now that I have time, I will help Deaf people keep connected to one another and not accept oppression. Rejection and oppression of Deaf people, or the criticism of our sign language can’t happen. It’s not normal. We must keep sign language ongoing. There is no way to stop it. That’s just silly.
Charlene Mullinex: Hi. My name is Charlene Mullinex. I lost my hearing when I was 3 years old, but I can hear and speak very well. My mother and father put me into Austin school for the Deaf oral program, at the encouragement of my doctor. My parents cried when they put me there. My teacher trained me to lip read over and over and for 3 years, I was in the same grade. Then as a grew more, my hearing teacher took me to the University of Texas. I still remember it very well. I stood up in front of hundreds of hearing people in an auditorium audience. My teacher looked down at me and told me to say something. I said, “OK,” and I started to say the Lord’s Prayer: “Our father, who art in heaven…” I said it all the way to the end and people stood up and applauded me. And so my teacher was proud that she trained me, but I could already speak and hear very well. I pondered that. But when I was 12 years old, I asked my parents of I could move to the manual program at the Austin Deaf school, but my mother and father didn’t want to send me. I cried and cried and through a fit! Oh, I’ll never forget it. Even today, I still feel disgruntled and disgusted that my parents. Yes, I’m still upset with my parents, but now I know I still belong to the Deaf world.
John Lupo: yes, that was wonderful! Beautiful! and so many people came here today. I’m surprised.
Rachel Ruwett: Oh, I was impressed! I really enjoyed it. I still say I’m motivated to take a new outlook every day. I still believe it’s good to focus on the education of Deaf children. We must!
Harriet McIntyre: It was long and my eyes went in and out of focus, but I really enjoyed it and I wanted to listen. I tried my best. Thank you. Bye-bye.
Evelyn Ash: I thought that was just wonderful. She gave us something to think about. A lot of what she gave us was very good and it was a very interesting presentation. It woke us up more. Awakenings are great!
Charlene Mullinex: It was a wonderful, wonderful presentation about Deafhood. wow! It made me realize, as an older person, how far we’ve come. I look back and see what a big difference, knowing now about Deafhood. There are so many ideas that have been added today, but in my time, I didn’t have that knowledge. But new information has now been added to our story. Wow! it has increased our awareness. Yes, and we should include this information in a vlog, too! (ILY wave)