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DEAFinately The Outcast

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

by Aujene Jecole

I never thought I would be the outcast in a room full of outcasts. Beginning my journey of learning American Sign Language has triggered many emotions for me. Learning American Sign Language is something I want so bad. Sparks fly through my body every time I encounter an deaf person or a person that knows ASL. I utilize every opportunity to use American Sign Language. I even have divine dreams of mastering this language. I have no idea what I am going to do with this skill in the future. My goal was to learn American Sign Language so that when I began my motivational speaking journey I would also be able to sign for the deaf/hoh community. Now the possibilities have expanded beyond the horizon . I might consider being a music interpreter. I have a long way to go though. But do I really?

My journey started in the fall semester of 2021 and from there it was smooth. Everyone was hearing and on the same learning level. Becoming a deaf studies major was a smooth sailing ride in my eyes because I could see that I was learning fast in the beginning, but when I entered the classroom of American Sign Language level 2 at the college of southern Nevada hit me like a brick wall. People were signing so fast I thought my eyes were going to fall out. My wonderful teacher was deaf and there were a couple of students with the ability to communicate with her better because there first language was ASL. Her former students who were hearing even understood her even though she was signing so fast. It made me feel so bad and slow. I could only pick up two or three signs per conversation. I soon learned I needed to work on my recessive skills. Recessive skills give you the ability to understand what a person is signing in a quickly timed manner. Once the interpreters left I gazed around the classroom for hints. I tried my hardest to focus but somehow it just wasn't clicking. Before the class ended the teacher had an activity to help build are recessive skills. She would fingerspell the word and the first person to use the correct sign would be dismissed from class. Well guess who last? Yup it was me. My recessive skills were so slow I had to write on paper as she was signing just to understand the word "PANTS". Man for the past couple of days it has been a roller coaster of emotions. I have balled my eyes out crying in the car after class because I could barely understand the teacher. I've never felt so inadequate before I just broke down into a river of tears to help ease my frustration. I wish I could just understand fully like the advanced signing students in the classroom.

This experience definitely had me thinking about how life goes for the deaf person in the hearing orientated world. I got frustrated with myself because I couldn't understand my teacher and I felt left out of the conversation. My class was only two hours. People who are deaf don't have the privilege of walking away when they feel left out. Yet they still prevail!

I have learned from the Deaf/hoh community is to remember that disabilities are only bound by the perception of the authority of your ability's. What you believe so it shall be. Often people mistake deaf people as if they are helpless for their disadvantages. Little do they know, often times there lack of hearing catapults all other sense in extraordinary ways. I felt so defeated leaving class everyday but soon I learned that the root of my defeat was the mindset of my limitation. Every day I try harder and become better than yesterday , I know for sure that one day my skill will sky rocket through the roof because I have set no limitation of the capabilities of my comprehension. Everyone deserves a voice. Everyone deserves to speak their truth. Everyone deserves to be heard. Even the ones that cannot hear.

My American Sign Language Journey is important to me because this is a skill set I desire strongly. I have to remind myself to be patient because I am new to American Sign language. I know that I will get better and hopefully as I continue to work hard it will just click for me. I started this journey and I can't back out now. More importantly I don't want to.

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