Quote, “Deaf people don’t know what is best for their babies” ~ Karl White
“It would be even better if they would register for the meeting and join the discusion, because EHDI will be stronger if we have all the stakeholders at the table and everyone is working together to make EHDI programs better.”
EHDI focuses on deaf babies, parents and medical professionals only. Not Deaf adults, Deaf mentors, and Deaf Stakeholders.
Video produced by anonymous and honored to post the video on my youtube account & http://lenois.com
Tags: Audism Humanity Rights ASL Deafhood educational Sign Language Education Signs children American Signing Deaf community
JON: Hello. I’ve enjoyed having gone on a trip to North Hollywood and checking it out. That’s the right sign for (North Hollywood), right?
JULES: Right, on the cheek.
JON: That’s awesome. So… I’ve been watching your short films, and I’ve been enjoying them thoroughly. Now, I’m very curious to learn about you. Would you mind telling me some things about yourself– perhaps your upbringing, how you fell in love with film?
JULES: My life started at seven years old. As it happened, my family had a reunion. My uncle had a camera– a video camera. I had never seen one before. The camera was connected to the television. You could see that it was being shot live– whatever the camera was seeing, it was on the television screen simultaneously. That was new to me. I had only seen regular TV shows or movies, but not this. This piqued my curiosity. I went up to my uncle asking about it. He handed it over to me, and once I looked through it, I was excited at the fact that I could have control of the camera and start everything. So immediately I started asking my family to help me make a movie with that camera. I could see that it wasn’t really their thing. But ever since I was seven years old, I made it my mission to get my parents to give me a video camera. My parents could see that it was important to me. They finally gave me one when I was 13 years old.
JULES: They didn’t have much money, but they gave me one for when I was 13. It was a used camera, of course. But I was still so thrilled. I’ve made movies ever since.
JULES: My parents really encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do. They never gave me limits or conditions. Like, they would say if I ever wanted to be a doctor or a singer, they would not be in my way of doing it. It would be entirely up to me. So I chose to be a filmmaker. That was my choice. They supported me the entire time. They were a hearing family, and it was still good.
JON: Wow. You still heavily pursued your passion and kept moving forward. Now, what did you do after you graduated from high school?
JULES: I went to Gallaudet University. First thing. I had been mainstreamed my whole life, basically. I was already mixed with other deaf people and used American Sign Language, so it wasn’t like I was entirely clueless to that culture and language. But the reason I wanted to go to Gallaudet was so I could have that deaf-world experience. It really helped me a lot– helped me become who I am today. Because of Gallaudet.
JULES: I majored in TV/Film there, was able to group up with– some of my friends from today were from that Gallaudet period of my life. I made movies there… and it went really well. When I was done with Gallaudet, I traveled the world a little bit. I went to Germany, then…. Spain. I moved to Florida and lived there. I decided that it was time for me to learn more about film. I felt I didn’t know enough– indeed, Gallaudet provided me with a lot, but I needed more. I knew that filmmaking is incredibly complex, a very tough process. I simply wanted to learn more. So what was next? I decided to apply for grad school, because I knew that graduate school would be heavily concentrated in film, and nothing else, so I was thrilled at the concept. So I applied to a lot of places. I found some schools, and was thinking about going to Europe film schools… and then applied to FSU. I nearly made it in but didn’t. Then one friend from California suggested that I apply to USC (University of Southern California)– I had known about that film school since high school, and knew that it was one of the best film schools in the world, and wanted to go there. I applied to it as a joke, not thinking I’d make it in. But the important thing is I tried, right? Before long, I got accepted to USC.
JULES: I was flustered and shocked, because I knew that was a big-name school. I actually questioned going. I wasn’t sure about going, knowing it’d be difficult because I was living in Florida, and I had never been to L.A. before, and that it would be a hard move. I chatted with my family and friends about it and they reminded me of who I was and what I was about. About film, and that I had been working my whole life to get there, and that I should go. I had never wavered in other directions my whole life. It was always about film for me. I finally decided, “That’s it. I’m going to USC.” It was a truly amazing experience. USC was worth it. Always has been. The reason it’s so special is that mainly everything I did there was hands-on. It was different from your regular school. It was more like a trade school, actually. This is because they teach you to do everything, directing, acting (well, understanding the process, at least) and filiming… I made so many movies there. It was a wonderful experience.
JON: Wow. So you basically stayed on track. Never wavered once. That’s amazing. This is fascinating. This requires heavy commitment, I’m sure! Now, this makes me remember that you’ve been mentioning “Beyond Essays.” Would you mind expanding more on that interesting subject?
JULES: I had learned a lot from both Gallaudet and USC, so I felt like creating a film of my own voice, my own thinking process. Let me back up a bit here. “Beyond Essays” is a very important film to me, so… I’ll be explaining shortly on why that’s the case. Now, you notice how we watch typical films with this fantastic acting moments, where we just fall in love with it?
JULES: In regards to ASL, Acting, and deafness– To be frank, I don’t feel we have enough of that quality and level of acting in this area–to be in a place where I could personally enjoy my own language in the same way. I decided to bring that experience of wonderful acting moments into this area. By doing that, I–well… I decided to audition myself, for the experience, because I specialize in directing. I wanted to switch roles so I could understand the acting perspective– to help improve the system for the actors. The acting aspect is my favorite of the entire directing experience– I love my actors!
JON: That’s awesome.
JULES: So I went ahead with the audition experience, and I discovered a big problem– reading the script. Oftentimes, a studio would hand you a script and expect you to translate that by yourself– into American Sign Language. The thing is, so many problems can root from one simple English line of dialogue. For starters, it would not have the right phrase– what we would tend to say in a situation like that… and the translation would be a big mess. This would ruin the entire acting process for the deaf actor, or the American Sign Language-speaking actor. So, I’m frustrated about that. For this, I want to avoid that process for this film, and for my actors. The first thing I would do is to “write” (not literally write on paper) ASL– create lines of dialogue in ASL but of course, with everything that’s crucial– characters, story, goals, and so on… and I won’t let the actors create the lines, because they’ll become the writer. I will write the dialogue for them, so they don’t have to think that way. It’s not their department. They’re actors. They act. So I get to create the lines– I have an team of ASL writers– we’ll be coming up with the lines that are fitting for the story and goals… and hand it over to them– I’ll film myself signing the lines — neutrally, of course, without emotion, and hand the film over to the actors. And then they’ll work from there. They can build up from there. Because of this, half of the work is done, relatively speaking– in terms of what deaf/ASL actors have done historically. Since I probably will be working with people who read English or don’t know ASL, I would take that originally written ASL, and then translate it into english on a paper script, so they can see what I’m trying to do. So importantly, my job as a director is to convey that vision.
JON: That’s a wonderful idea. I hope this is a success and moves forward. I look forward to watching that film! I hope to see more from you in the future! I want to say thank you for taking this interview, and I really enjoyed it.
JON: I wanted to say thank you for joining me for this interview. It means alot to me and the Deaf community. Now, I’m anixous to get know about you!
Tell us about yourself and what was your childhood like? Are you involved with the Deaf community?
TAMI: Ok…I was born prematurely by three months. My parents did not know I was deaf until they brought me to my grandmother’s house. My grandmother was babysitting me and my cousin, who was the same age as me, when she accidentally dropped a pot that made a loud, clamoring sound. Naturally, of course, my cousin cried and I did not. She immediately knew what this meant. After several doctors’ visits, I was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss. Right away, my parents placed me in a deaf school – Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Edgewood, near Pittsburgh. It was there where I learned the [sign] language. I learned it at the earliest onset and immersed myself completely in the signing community. Even my best friend at the time was from a Deaf family so I was exposed to the language and culture early on. Luckily, my parents, despite not knowing sign language, were already enthusiastic about taking me to Deaf community events and always made sure I was completely involved. For example, they took me to the International Arts Festival in Chicago where I met Bernard Bragg, Marlee Matlin, among many others. Oh, and Ray Parks and Chuck Baird to name some. Through that experience, I maximized my potential thanks to my parents even though they did not have proficient sign language skills.
In fifth grade, I was placed in a public school. It was a shocking change because everyone in this school was hearing (a significant change from an all-Deaf school) and I was the only Deaf kid in the classroom. It was very difficult. But fortunately, I was very pop– immediately popular. All the kids wanted to learn sign language. In fact, we started a sign language class. I remember 200 kids signing up for it. Two-hundred kids! So it was a very positive experience. From 5th to 8th grade – very positive. But it all changed when I got to high school. All the kids I grew up with from 5th grade onwards went to this nearby high school without an interpreting program. I had no choice but go to another high school that provided interpreters even though I did not know anyone. Of course, I felt lonely. I did not know anyone. No one seemed enthusiastic about learning sign language. These kids came from a different background and particularly did not grow up with Deaf peers (which is why there was a great expanse between me and them). It had an enormous impact on me.
Mom noticed how it was affecting me and immediately decided it would be better if I went to a Deaf school. This is when we just moved to Florida. I can now proudly say I went to FSDB (Florida School for the Deaf and Blind). I had the best of both; I attended the Deaf school while also taking classes at the mainstreamed school nearby. It was definitely the best of both worlds – in retrospect because my entire family is hearing and most of the friends I interacted with were Deaf. It was absolutely nice to have both worlds on an equal par.
Eventually, I went to CSUN (California State University, Northridge) from whence I graduated with a BA in English and to Gallaudet University for an MA in Linguistics. Since graduation, I have acted professionally.
Luckily, I was able to find work back to back. It is NOT easy being Deaf, let alone being an actress, but I am enjoying this journey.
JON: Wow, your story is so fascinated about your life experience.
What made you desire to be an actress?
TAMI: Interesting [question]. I was a mere two years old…like any two year old would know what careers exist out there….but it seemed innate…I just knew…I love I-T [acting]. I always went into the closet and made believe I was performing various roles. By the time I was five, I was directing plays with my cousins at my grandmother’s house in the basement. I did a lot of those and continued that by taking dance lessons and theater classes – actually, there weren’t any. For some reason, they were not available. There were many dance classes available….but just not theater. By the time I reached high school, thanks to the wonderful program Jr.NAD, I met C.J. Jones, Bernard Bragg, and a lot of other wonderful Deaf role models who themselves are actors and I learned tremendously from them. I have to say the best high school program I partook in was YSP – the Young Scholars Program based in Washington, DC. It was where I met Rita Corey, Yola Rozynek who is formerly known as a famous dancer in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tim McCarty who founded Quest for Arts, and many others who I’ve learned enormously from. I was able to find more work through these connections. But I should stress that finding work was not an easy feat. I was practically a nobody. “What, who’s Tami? Who? Forget her – we don’t know her.” I had no choice but accept volunteer work involving backstage. This one theater company named Amaryllris – let me spell that again – A-M-A-R-Y-L-L-I-S theater based in Philadelphia – came to Gallaudet University to do an ASL rendition of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, a play with a mix of hearing and Deaf actors. I was their sign prompter meaning I fed lines to the actors [during rehearsals]. Then one fateful day the actor failed to show up to do the matinee show. Most of the actors in this show did not have understudies. The company knew I was the only one that knew their lines, their blockings, everything so they asked me at the last minute. I had only ten minutes to get up from my bed, run to the theater department, and jump into the show.
Yes…it was a blessing…because the director was impressed and started to get the word out. Slowly, of course. From this experience alone, I found more professional work. I am really grateful for that. Point is…you always have to be ready. If you’re passionate about something, you have to also be ready.
JON: Keep up with your destination!
Does the ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ play impact your life and world?
TAMI: YES….it’s nice to see a positive portrayal of a deaf character because historically, there hasn’t been much positive regard. To be Megan (the character in Nobody’s Perfect) is an honor in itself because I am now participating in a positive period where people are now seeking for betterment. I am a part of that movement (a paradigm shift, if you will).
It impacts me in many ways intrinsically because…the character’s nine years old even though I am much older…my age (I’m sorry to say) is not disclosed (laughs)….the character Megan is Deaf like me…our backgrounds are similar in that her parents are hearing and her brother’s hearing, and my parents and siblings are hearing. Her family signs, whereas, my family – not so much. They fingerspell mostly and use home signs. Do they consider themselves fluent in sign language? No. We’re different in that respect, but similar in that we both experience frustrations when interacting with hearing people who may not understand deaf people or know sign. I think through her [Megan], my journey from childhood to now is made manifested to me and I can now connect the dots and make sense of things – and understand why things occurred the way they did. I am now making peace with myself as a Deaf person living in a hearing world and in my hearing family as well.
How [the play] impacts globally? Many ways. I think most importantly is that sign language is a language in its own right, a language as good as any other language. Also, having a strong Deaf person (referring to Megan) who leads the pack comprised of hearing friends lets us know that in the same way young Deaf children can have the same opportunity. That being Deaf is not sad like it has always been regarded as….that it is not about loneliness or pity…but rather, Deaf children can take the initiative and stand out in a crowd. They can if, only if, the people surrounding them have a positive attitude about it. If they have a positive mindset towards the language…I guarantee you that any Deaf child in that kind of environment will potentially grow, will flourish. Yes. I believe that [the play] will teach the world, mind you, that it is okay to be Deaf.
JON: Now you had a lot of experience in the past. What would you like to see the changes in the future?
TAMI: Marlee Matlin, a big name in the industry, a lot of people know her….having her write the book (Nobody’s Perfect) and share the message is a wonderful thing. The book has now gone international…for example, it is now being distributed in Japan. A lot of people are becoming familiar with it. Then having this story translated into a play format, thanks to Doug Cooney who is her co-author, is a great thing, also, because it is in a different medium. Rather than read the text, you can see the actual…visual, live performance. This is always good for young children to see. I believe the play will instill in the thought that sign language is a full-fledged language and that being Deaf is actually extraordinary. And third, people can learn the language to communicate with a Deaf child. I believe that [the play] will create a huge sign language revolution.
JON: Good! I look forward to see you by making a lot changes in the world.
What you would like to do in the next 5 years?
TAMI: This is a tough question because there are so many things I want to do. I definitely want to continue acting…but I want to seek more professional opportunities that will allow me to work alongside professional actors. I really want to take on this challenge. I believe, you know as a Deaf person, I can make a positive impact through that medium – acting. I want to continue that for sure. But I also want to do more volunteer work focusing elsewhere…like in other countries, more particularly the underdeveloped countries where a lot of Deaf people lack the access to education or medical services, among other things. A lot of them DO NOT have the access to these things. This is sad…a very unfortunate situation. This needs to be changed. I would love to…maybe get together with other people who are passionate about that and maybe implement a program in which we can train Deaf people to go overseas and find deaf locals, and provide them the services they so direly need. They deserve the same opportunities as their hearing counterparts…
JON: I do enjoy it very much. I want to say thank you for joining the interview with me. I hope your journey will be more triumphant!
Do you remember my vlog ‘Nobody’s Perfect Play‘ recently? I had mentioned about my thoughts of speaking English and signing ASL simultaneously in musical theater. I want to hold on that thought because I have interesting information to share on how did the book of ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ become a musical play. So I went ahead to contact Poway Center for the Performing Arts and asked how did they get interested in the play. They became interested in the play because of how the script was written and it’s related to deaf. I told Poway Arts that I need more information but they suggested that I could contact the Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences on Tour. So I did contacted them and asked if I could set up a phone interview through VRS (video relay service). I gave them a list of questions and they would have to give to another department to review the questions. I asked them if they could send me a email with the answers and they said absolutely sure. They did sent me their answers in their own English and I won’t be translating in ASL. I will show exactly what their answers were. I will sign the questions in ASL.
1. How did the musical Nobody’s Perfect come to the venue in Poway, CA specifically? Please explain the process of selecting tour venues.
“The Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences on Tour starts selling national tours to presenting houses across the country about one year before the tour is set to launch. Celebrating 17 years on the road this season, we are fortunate that many venues book our shows year after year. Poway Center for the Performing Arts is one of those venues –former Director and CEO, Henry Korn, has booked shows in the past and new Executive Director Michael Rennie continues that tradition with Nobody’s Perfect. By confirming a date early in the routing process, he helped to secure the run of Nobody’s Perfect in California.
Venues across the country that present programming for young audiences contact us if they are interested in having a Kennedy Center show in their space. That’s when the conversation starts and the presenter can look through our touring options to find the right fit for their season.”
-David Kilpatrick, Manager, Theater for Young Audiences on Tour
2. Can you please explain the transition process from merging the book into the musical? How did this musical come to be?
“The process of turning the chapter book Nobody’s Perfect into a musical came when co-book writer Doug Cooney, a longtime friend and colleague, sent a notice that Nobody’s Perfect had just been published. We were interested in doing a piece that lived somehow in the world of persons with disability, and the story seemed perfect for the stage. We secured the rights to the book and commissioned Doug to write script and lyrics. Next we approached composer Debbie Wicks La Puma to write the music and then director Coy Middlebrook came on board, who had worked on Big River and Sleeping Beauty Wakes. They were a great team, and we met for the first time after seeing Sleeping Beauty Wakes at the Taper – if I have an overriding philosophy as a producer, it is: find good people and stay out of their way. The result was, we think, a lovely show.”
-Kim Peter Kovac, Director, Theater for Young Audiences
The answers are satisfaction and I’m sharing them with you all. Now, I’m wondering what my vision of simultaneous and musical is going to be like. I am keeping an open mind about simultaneous and I’m curious how they will process. Hearing actors except for the deaf actress use simultaneous strongly. The deaf actress in the play is “Megan” and she shares her life experience as a deaf person and how she learns how to be with her hearing friends. When Megan’s friends sing in the play, they sign and sing at the same time. The whole play does not use simultaneous. Whew! That’s good thing! Megan uses ASL the whole time and sometimes it’s confusing to watch few hearing actresses to sign and interpret for one another while they sing. I did lose concentrate while the hearing actresses keep switching and taking turns to voice and interpret for one another. I have to adjust my focus to follow the play. Even they do have closed captioned props in two different places. They were too busy for me to follow with captions and interpreters at the same time. Overall, the concept of the play and the story does follows through really well. It was an interesting experience for me.
Do you know what Deaf people love when the music plays? Of course, they love loud (bass) music by feeling the vibration. So, at the play I don’t feel any vibration from the music to feel their spiritual in musical. I’m sure that hearing people do enjoy music and signs completely while Deaf receive half by just look at their sign not music. I suggest to have the theatre to turn the volume up (bass) so, Deaf people can enjoy it more. That would be equal for everyone but it might be too loud for hearing people. It would be a challenge! (chuckle)
Okay, I will have an exciting vlog next about an interview with Tami Santimyer and she is deaf and signs ASL. Her performing role in the play as ‘Megan’. That’s cool! Also, I wanted to say thank to Yvonne Dows and Michael Rennie at Poway Center for the Performing Arts Foundation (POW!) to give me an opportunity to do an interview with her.
Hello, Welcome Bruno Moncelle to America from France. Jon Savage shares with the world about the short story about how they contacted with each other. About two years ago, Bruno announced about M.A.I.N.S. that it encourage deaf people to unity on International Sign Language Day. Jon was inspired about it and wanted to discuss with him with many ideas through video email.
Jon asked,”Do you remember that?” He said,”yes”.
Last Aug 1st, 2008, Bruno came to San Diego to give a presentation about M.A.I.N.S. that Jon grabbed an opportunity to meet up with him for a discussion. Jon was fascinated with his presentation that gave out excellent information. Jon decided to set up an interview with him so the world can see what’s happening with M.A.I.N.S. Jon asked a few important questions on the video clip that might make you people to consider to get involved with this celebration. All right!
Jon: I do really enjoy your presentation. It made me to think to ask what’s important to set up of the M.A.I.N.S.?
Bruno: It’s important that there are deaf people are strong from all over the world that do get involve with Deaf community. I have noticed that some of the Deaf communities have changed over the years. I noticed the same thing with my country which is France. Now, I have a great idea to have one place in the world that all deaf people can see each other to be able to unite. Again, it’s another good reason for unity so Deaf people can celebration together.
Jon: That’s good! It’s important for all of us to understand. Next question is what’s the goal to establish?
Bruno: I do have my goals that I believe deaf people can have empowerment. I had experiences with protests for the deaf people in France. They know my reputation for protesting about anti-Cochlear Implants, Government, and Doctors. I have educated them about deaf people that they have equal rights. I realized that I have done protesting in France for a long time and been focused in my country too long. I eager to have Deaf people to get involve with the world to make a different to help each other. I requested a proposal to the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) to have a special day for the celebration. WFD thought it was a great idea to make it happen however they can not be responsible for this kind of event. WFD revitalized to many countries do make the best for their own deaf communities. I got involved to make it different and they support me because the event have positive feeling about what is best for Deaf people. Of course, Sign Language can be a unity through the world. I grabbed the idea while deaf people are already using videophone, traveling, and website where Deaf people can communicate through M.A.I.N.S. website. Also they can follow the idea by M.A.I.N.S. that Deaf people can establish their own website then they can become strong and unity with others. Everyone in the world can represent to WFD that they can give best status to the United Nations to understand what Deaf people is all about and their equal rights. Ensure that we all have the same goals and we have great support by deaf people.
Jon: That’s a very good goal! What’s your plan to have people to get involve?
Bruno: I had an idea that it is a good time to have the event on the last week of Sept. WFD announced to have the celebration on the last week of Sept annually. They would like to set it up the anniversary when the WFD was established. I highly recommend to have one week celebration instead of one day. We start to celebrate from Monday to Sunday. The week will be included meetings, presentations, performances, and many different ideas can go together. Everyone need to be aware about the celebration on the last week of Sept so we can expand the recognition of Deaf people and anyone who are interested to celebrate with them. All of Deaf people can share about deaf community to the hearing society. Deaf people know that we have been focus ourselves in the deaf community too long but we need to be open to the hearing society once a year. Hearing people can learn and can work with deaf people better. If Deaf community don’t open to the hearing society then when will the hearing people understand about deaf community? It’s possible that the deaf communities could be fade away. Compared with the Native Americans, they should have done represent strongly about themselves but now, they are fading away through out the history. I don’t want to see happen to the Deaf communities what the Native Americans went through.
Jon: Wow! Thank you! I am enjoying this interview!
This 4th video clip is produced by my friend, Doonsky that he went to Deaf Bilingual Coalition (DBC) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from June 27 to 30. Three interviewers are inspired and have comments for John Egbert, the founder of DBC and Core members.