Communication and accessibility are basic human rights.
Will you join me in the fight for equality?
Will you join me in the fight for equality?
Hope House is one of the many projects run by the Projects for Asia organization. Projects for Asia is a missionary organization based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. My church does yearly mission trips to Chiang Mai to work at Hope House and I have personally met the amazing couple that founded Projects for Asia and live at and operate Hope House. They are an amazing couple that has made a tremendous impact by obeying the calling that God has placed on their lives.
Hope House is an orphanage that is currently home to 75 children. The children that live at Hope House are from various hill tribes in Thailand. The people in these hill tribes are permitted to live in Thailand, but they are not citizens of Thailand. As a result, they are very poor and do not have access to basic needs such a food, clothing, shelter, medical care, etc. Girls in the hill tribes are typically married in their early teen years and bear children soon after. When these parents cannot support their children, they often abandon them. Many children would die fending for themselves in the hill tribes if it wasn't for Hope House.
Thailand's climate is also very conducive to growing and selling drugs and, because of extreme poverty, many people in the hill tribe resort to growing and selling drugs. Often, they are caught by the government and imprisoned. There are no programs in place in Thailand to provide care for children whose parents are in jail. So, these children are abandoned as well. Many of the children who live at Hope House have one or both parents that are imprisoned.
Hope House goes beyond providing basic needs for the children they care for. They teach the children both Thai and English, which greatly improves their chances of getting a good job when they reach adulthood. There is also a school on the Hope House campus where all children receive a Christ-centered education. The loving couple that runs Hope House trains the children to be disciples of Christ, and many of them go back into their tribes and preach the gospel to those living there.
Hope House has been in operation for 11 years; they have been in the same location for 8 of those years. However, they have now been informed that their property is being sold and they must relocate. As you may imagine, finding an adequate space for 75 children and all the adults that care for them is extremely difficult. Real estate in Chiang Mai is in high demand, which drives up the prices and leaves properties on the market for only a short time. By the grace of God, the couple that runs Hope House has located an affordable property. But, the buildings on the property are not currently viable; they need a lot of work to be made suitable for living, school, etc. Also, Hope House has a goal of having 100 children by the end of this year! Please follow the link at the end of this post to learn more about Hope House and the tremendous amount of good that they do. It is my hope that you will pray for Hope House and that, if you feel led, you will donate to help rebuild Hope House! 100% of what you donate will go directly to Hope House--there is no middle man. You will be making a difference in the lives of these children and the people that they will encounter throughout their lives.
Learn more about Hope House and their project to rebuild here.
Watch a video about Hope House here.
I've decided to start a series called "Disability Storytime"; in this series I plan to share my real-life experiences as a person with disabilities. I intend to share both good and bad experiences. The experience I'm sharing today, however, is a bad one.
The disability I'm referring to in this story is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). While my TBI is not formally diagnosed, there is no denying that I have significant short and long term memory loss, along with other cognitive issues, directly following a medical procedure. Sometimes I need people to rephrase or repeat information so that I can fully understand. As you can imagine, not all people are as accommodating as I'd like.
It was a quiet day at work. I was sitting at my desk organizing a few things when a woman walked in and asked to order books for the book club. I was still relatively new at my job and I hadn't encountered this task yet. I politely asked the woman to elaborate, and she was appalled that I didn't know anything about her book club. She kept saying "It's for the book club!" raising her voice a little bit each time she said it.
By this point I had been able to piece together a little bit of information based on this woman's rambling. I realized I needed to order multiple copies of the same book (which makes sense, but I was so flustered by the woman's tone and her rambling). First, I thought the woman wanted me to order multiple copies of the book under her name. But, when I started that process, she became more irate.
By piecing together bits of information from the woman, I was able to figure out that she wanted me to order a copy of the book for each person in the book club. As long as she provided the information, I was happy to do that. Before giving me the names, she said "maybe you should just wait until someone else gets here who can do this right."
At this point, my brain was completely overwhelmed and I was on the verge of tears. And now it was time write down all the different names and make sure they were spelled correctly. I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen. The woman started spelling the names far too fast for me to remember. When I politely asked her to repeat herself, she became frustrated. At this point, I said to her "I'm sorry, but I have a disability and I need you to go slower so I can get the names spelled correctly." My goal was to be vague enough to maintain my privacy, but to also get this woman to be a little more accommodating. Her response? "Oh, everyone has a disability!" She then continued to make it very difficult for me to complete the task.
This went on for about a half hour. By the time the woman left, I was choking back tears. I began to cry a little after she left. I was feeling so inadequate, yet so angry that people can be so insensitive. Since this incident, I have complied a list of all the people in the book club and placed it somewhere where I can pull it out each time this woman comes in; that way, I don't have to have her spell the names each time. Now, I write down the book she wants, and then get them all ordered at my own pace so I don't feel pressured and, as a result, get distracted. This is one of many accommodations I've created for myself at my job to help me be more efficient as a person with disabilities.
In today's world, we have more ways to connect with people than ever before. We can call, text, post on social media, video chat--I think the only thing we're missing is teleportation (which I would totally be up for, by the way)! Of course, technology enhances our lives in many ways. We can connect with people on the other side of the world, with the click of a button, that we would never know existed otherwise! Video chatting technology has increased accessibility for D/deaf and hard of hearing people. Voiceover technology has done the same for blind people.
That being said, sometimes having so much technology at our fingertips can backfire. It's a bit ironic that loneliness and isolation remain pressing issues despite the fact that we're more connected to each other than ever. One of the reasons for this, I think, is the fact that people just don't visit each other anymore! Whatever happened to spontaneously stopping by a friend's house for a chat and a cup of coffee? What happened to taking some cookies over to your neighbor? Sometimes, we get so caught up interacting each other on screens that we forget the vital component of face to face interaction.
There are many distinct aspects to face-to-face communication that aren't possible to get through other forms of communication. For example, when we type via texting or social media, intonation is completely lost. The inability to indicate tone makes misunderstandings quite probable. I'm sure many of you can relate to trying to figure out what a text really meant or wondering if a text you sent might imply a message you didn't intend.
When talking on the phone or video chatting, the ability to indicate tone is present again. However, there are still some components missing. With the phone, you can't see the person you're talking to, which means you lose out on non-verbal communication, which is more important than we often realize. Video chatting allows you to see the other person and pick up on some non-verbal communication, but it still doesn't allow for physical touch. Very often, the ability to put a hand on someone's shoulder, give/receive a hug, or even just sitting next to someone can really help strengthen relationships and lift our spirits.
There's no doubt that technology makes our lives easier. We can communicate with more people more often, which is definitely a plus. But, I encourage you to remember that no technology can fully satisfy our need to physically be in the presence of other people. So, go visit someone you haven't seen in a long time. Invite a friend or two over to your place for some coffee/tea and snacks. Take the time to enjoy the physical presence of your family and friends.
Do you feel that technology is often used as a substitute for being in the presence of other people physically?
On the flip side, what benefits have you gained from being able to communicate via technology?
Last post: My Goals for 2018
In 2017, I really enjoyed sharing my goals with you all in January and then updating you on my progress in December. I hope you all enjoyed it too. So, here are my goals for 2018.
1. Lose weight and improve physical health
I realize that, at this point, this has become a clichè New Year's resolution. However, taking a Biblical, practical approach to weight loss and healthy living needs to be a top priority for me this year. I have about 60 pounds to lose. From a physical standpoint, my weight is greatly impacting my health. From a spiritual standpoint, I want to honor God with my body.
2. Dig deeper into the Bible with topical studies and memorization
Since I fell a little bit behind with mg Bible in a Year reading plan; I should be finished by the end of this month, though. I've struggled with how to best engage with the Bible after completing this plan, but I intend to pray about the topics I need to dig deeper into and allow God to lead me to the right topical studies. I have already read two short plans about grief and I am currently going through a plan about approaching weight loss Biblically.
Also, since I focused on memorizing verses in 2017, I would like to focus on memorizing larger chunks of scripture this year, although I'm still debating where to start.
3. Continue to improve my ASL skills with a focus on interpreting
Since I focused a lot on expanding my ASL vocabulary and grammar skills in 2017, I want to focus specifically on interpreting skills this year. This will most likely involve a stronger focus on grammar and idioms, as well as lag time, fluidity, speed, and the vocabulary and code of ethics used in the field of ASL interpreting.
4. Visit people more and participate in more outreach
I intend to do a separate post about the importance of visiting people and engaging in face to face communication, despite all the technology we have at our fingertips these days. But, for now, suffice it to say that God has put it on my heart to spend more time visiting people that I don't typically see often. I am also aiming to remain "others focused" in other ways by participating in outreach and service projects as God shows me exactly how He wants me to serve.
5. Expand this blog
There are so many things I want to do with this blog that, honestly, it's a little overwhelming! But, the short version is that I want to keep up with posting content twice a week on the same days each week (this will be Mondays and Thursdays--the past few weeks have been different for various reasons, but I intend to go back to that schedule). In addition, I would like to publish more vlogs on my YouTube channel. Also, I am trying to learn more about the business side of blogging. If I can learn enough and build enough confidence, I may even be able to purchase my own domain so that I have more freedom to customize the site and better meet the needs of my readers.
Do you have any goals for 2018? Let me know in the comments. Let's support and encourage one another in our efforts to have a great 2018!
I know that it's a bit clichè, but I love reflecting on my year during the week between Christmas New Year's. In January of this year, I wrote a post on my goals for the year (check it out here ). So, in this post, I'll share with my progress throughout the year. I'm very proud to say that I've acheived many of my goals and made significant progress on the ones I haven't quite achieved yet. Now, I'm in the process of fine-tuning my personal, spiritual, and professional goals for 2018 (that will be another post).
1. Read through the Bible
6. Reevaluate possessions at least once a month and maintain a minimalist lifestyle.
7. Spend time with friends at least once a week.
8. Publish at least one blog/vlog post per week.
Keep an eye out for my next post about my goals for 2018.
Did you have any specific goals in 2017? Do you feel like you met them?
As a Christian, my quiet time is the most important time of the day. It's the time that I set aside to read God's Word, pray, and listen for God's still, small voice. Quiet time is essential if we want to become more like Christ and grow in our faith. God is always speaking to us, but we can't hear Him if we don't take the time to listen. God is always willing to work in us and through us, but He won't force himself into our lives; we must surrender ourselves to Him first.
The question is, if quiet time is so important, why is it often the first thing that gets pushed out of our schedule when things get chaotic? In our minds, chaos and quiet time cannot fit together, but nothing is impossible with God; His ways are higher than our ways.
The most ironic thing about our misguided priorities is the fact that when life is chaotic, we need our quiet time the most! In life's most difficult seasons, we need God to guide our decisions and our actions more than ever. We need His love, peace, strength, mercy and grace to sustain us. If we don't take time to read the Bible and listen to God, we cannot receive everything that He has for us.
While adequate quiet time is very important, it's also important to remember that none of us are perfect. I have yet to meet someone who has a perfect quiet time every day, without fail. We are human and failure is a part of our life on this earth. But, God's grace is more than enough for all of us. If you truly love Him and trust Him, you can rest in that. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Do you have a daily quiet time? Are you happy with the quality of your quiet time? Do you have any goals to improve your quiet time? Let me know in the comments! Let's share our goals and ideas and encourage each other!
In November, I posted a video about my experience with a very unethical doctor. If you haven't seen that video yet, check it out here. This video is an update about what has happened since I filed a formal complaint. I am not at all satisfied and plan to pursue this issue further. This video is in English and has Closed Captions. I will also provide a transcript of the video below for anyone who may need it.
Hey everyone! So, some of you may remember that, in November, I posted a video about
my experience with a very unethical GI doctor.
If you haven't seen that video yet, it's pretty crucial to understanding this
video, so I will link it in the description box down below.
You should probably go watch that first before you watch this because this is a follow up.
I did file a formal complaint and I got this fabulously frustrating letter back from them.
Now, I'm not gonna show you the actual front of the letter because
I don't want to get in trouble for, like, sharing confidential information or
using the facility's name. I don't know. But I am going to tell you
what they said and talk about how I plan to continue to pursue this issue
because this is this is definitely not satisfying at all, because almost
everything they said is wrong. So, as for the doctor, we'll just call him doctor unethical.
We'll just call him doctor unethical so that he may remain anonymous.
So, this is the letter that I got from the manager of
digestive diseases and network endoscopy.
This is what she said: "I am writing in follow-up to
you and your mother's complaint regarding your visit with Dr. Unethical on 11/8/17.
I completed a review of your concern on 12/ 6/2017."
Ok, good you reviewed it. Let's see what happens now.
So, "your input gives us the opportunity to review our services and make changes when necessary"
Except that you're not going to make any changes.
"Your complete satisfaction is very important to us."
Obviously not, as you will see later in the letter.
"Upon reviewing your appointment time and the associated registration times on two occasions
with Dr. Unethical, it appears you arrived a few minutes late each time."
Okay, let's stop there for a moment. I was not late on either of these occasions.
The reason that this manager thinks I was late is because their system doesn't show you as checking in
until they finish checking you in and getting you all registered for the appointment.
And every single time that I've gone to this office, they take at least 15 to 20 minutes to check me in.
I think it may have even been around a half hour one time,
because they cannot seem to manage to get my insurance information and my
name correct. So I'm not sure how that's my fault.
My name changed a little over a year ago so you think they'd have that under control right now.
My insurance changed, I think, almost a year ago so they should have that under control by now too.
Let's continue: "It's important for patients to be on time. . . "
blah blah blah blah I was on time so I already know that.
So, the first occasion that I was supposedly late,
which I'm pretty sure is the time that they took about a half an hour to check me in,
"Dr. unethical did fit you back into his schedule." Wow, what a hero.
"Unfortunately it was after a patient who had a 60 minute appointment this is what caused the delay."
No, no, that is not what caused the delay. Because I remember that particular day,
and I had my mom there with me. So, even though my memory is not-so-hot
I have someone to back me up on this one.
for at least a half an hour, maybe even 45 minutes, I was sitting in "the little room" as I like to call it.
You know, after they call you out of the waiting room and you're in the exam room.
I sat in the exam room and Dr. unethical was sitting at his little desk on his computer for 30 to 45 minutes;
Probably about 45 minutes. And, I had waited in the waiting room for almost an hour before that so that just doesn't add up.
He wasn't with a patient. He was sitting at a desk
and he didn't even look like he was really on the computer. He didn't look like he was doing anything.
So, he was not in with a patient and I wasn't late, so those are both wrong.
"In regards to the second occasion on 11/ 8/2017"--this is the day I had the major issue and walked out
as you can see in the video down below. if you haven't seen it yet.
"It was reported to me you were yelling at the provider upon overhearing doctor Dr. unethical
talking to a nurse about your late arrival."
Ok, two things about this. First of all, I did not "overhear" him.
He whipped opened the door and started screaming at the nurse that was in the room with us.
There was no "overhearing". He was not, like, in the hallway saying I was late--
even if he was that still wouldn't really be okay, but no. I was changing into a gown
and he burst in the room and started yelling about how we were late.
And, in regards to me yelling at him, uh yeah I did yell at him.
Yeah, that's the only thing in here that they're right about. I did yell at him because he was yelling at me
where here they say I was yelling, and it was "also reported that
Dr. unethical did not raise his voice at all." Oh, he's so wonderful isn't he? No!
He came in the room screaming at the nurse right in front of me; burst in the room
opened the door, slammed the door, started screaming right in front of me.
I did not "overhear" and he most certainly raised his voice. And then yes I did raise mine,
which is the only thing they're right about in this letter.
And then they always like to wrap these things up with, like, a nice little sentence at the end,
Like it's supposed to make you, you know, satisfied again.
"It is our commitment to do everything possible to ensure your experience at this Center--
I won't name it I don't want to get in trouble--is positive in every way."
Yeah, obviously that's not your commitment since you told, I think, like three or four lies
in this thing here and you're not doing anything about this doctor. So, I actually
plan to appeal this further to the medical director of the facility, and I
will let you all know how that goes. And, I realize that they may not do anything,
but I intend to take this as far as I possibly can, simply because I don't want
other people to have to have this experience.
And other ways that I plan to try to help other people to avoid this kind of experience
is writing online reviews for this particular doctor. I know that when I need a new provider,
I typically go online and look at the reviews, and if they have some bad
reviews, sometimes it can cause you to kind of look twice. And I definitely want
to make people look twice before they go to this guy and possibly get treated the
way I did. So, that's what's happening with that.
Thanks for watching my video. I'm gonna try to start posting here more often.
It'll be a mix of English videos and ASL videos but everything is always captioned in English,
regardless of if I'm speaking or if I'm signing.
And you can click that subscribe button down there. And ,next to the subscribe button, there's a little bell.
And if you click that bell you'll get notified every time I post the new video.
And, sooner or later-- probably later because it's a doctor's office-- you can find out how
this whole thing is going. But, in the mean-time, I'll have some other content for you guys as well.
Thank you for watching, bye!
With the holidays quickly approaching, many of us will be attending get togethers with family and friends. Many of us look forward to sitting around the table or standing around socializing with our loved ones. However, these types of gatherings can be difficult for people who are D/deaf or hard-of-hearing (HOH).
At these types of gatherings, background noise, such as music or many people talking at the same time, is inevitable. For D/deaf and HOH people who have some residual hearing, background noise makes it more difficult (if not impossible) for them to utilize their residual hearing to help them understand speech. Also, if you're standing around with a group of people or sitting around a table together, the speaker tends to change frequently. People jump in and comment on what someone else just said and they will probably talk over each other at times. In this scenario, by the time the D/deaf or HOH person has time to figure out who is speaking and to focus on them enough to try and understand what they're saying, someone else has already started talking. This can leave the D/deaf or HOH person exhausted and frustrated--they are putting in so much effort, yet they may be unable to get meaning from or contribute to the conversation.
The good news is, you have the power to make your loved ones who are D/deaf or HOH feel more included during group gatherings. Here are four tips to remember for holiday get togethers--and for group settings in general.
1. Repeat yourself if asked
I have heard it said that the biggest swear word in the Deaf community is "never mind". If a D/deaf or HOH person asks you to repeat yourself, DO NOT say anything along the lines of "never mind"," I'll tell you later", "it's not important", etc. The person is showing that they want to know what you are saying and they felt safe enough to ask you to repeat yourself rather than just pretending they understood you the first time (which I know some D/deaf and HOH people do a lot). Shutting them down by refusing to repeat yourself is a huge slap in the face.
2. When repeating doesn't work, rephrase.
If you've repeated yourself more than once and the person still hasn't understood what you've said, odds are that you're going to have to try something different. This is a good time to rephrase what you said. When you rephrase, the person may be able to pick up more words and understand you.
3. When rephrasing doesn't work, write or type it.
If rephrasing doesn't work, a good next step is to either write down what you've said on a piece of paper or type it on your phone and show it to the other person.
4. Look up the sign--Google is your friend! (If this person uses sign language)
If you google "[word] in ASL", you will probably get a decent sign to help the other person understand you. Even if you can't sign a whole sentence, just a few key words might be enough to give the D/deaf or HOH person some context to figure out what you're saying. Also, utilize any sign language you already know. For example, if you know the alphabet, try spelling a word or two out.
5. Let the D/deaf or HOH person call the shots
This is super important! If you don't already know how the D/deaf or HOH person prefers to communicate, ASK them! It is much more polite to ask than to assume you know what works best for them. For example, maybe they don't read lips and/or don't use their voice and would prefer that you just write or type back and forth rather than having you repeat yourself or rephrase what you're saying. Or, maybe they don't use sign language, so relying on some combination of the first three tips is the best option. But, again, don't assume. Ask the D/deaf or HOH person how they prefer to communicate and let them lead the way.
I have never done a book review on this site before. But, I thought it might be fun to try something new. As I was brainstorming ideas for content, I started thinking about some different topics I could throw into the mix. Since I am very much a bookworm and I'm always reading something, I thought it would be fun to review the most recent book I read. I'm thinking of making this a series--picking one book each month that I've read during that month and reviewing it here. Please provide feedback in the comments and let me know if you think this is something I should continue doing. When I introduce something new, I want to make sure it's something that my readers enjoy!
I finished reading "My Story" this afternoon. Most of you are probably somewhat familiar with Elizabeth Smart's story. But, in case you're not, I'll provide a little bit of background. In June of 2002, 14 year old Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her own home, at knife-point, in the middle of the night. The next 9 months of her life were so horrific that most of us can't fully understand her dire circumstances. She was chained up to a cable for months, allowing her only about 20 feet of mobility. She was raped every single day, sometimes multiple times a day. She was deprived of food and water on a regular basis. She was forced to drink alcohol until she passed out and, later, woke up in her own vomit.
In the book, Smart provides a detailed account of her 9 months in captivity. She discusses the horrors she experienced at the hands of her captors as well as her own thought processes throughout her own personal nightmare. For me, the way a writer delves into their own thought process makes or breaks a book. I think the ability to get inside the author's head (or the character's head if it's a fictional book) is what often gives books an advantage over movies. In my opinion, Smart did an excellent job explaining the gamut of emotions she experienced while being held captive.
I was also drawn to this book because, from what I had heard about her story, I was inspired by the fact that Smart seemed to never lose her faith during her captivity. Due to denominational differences (Smart is Mormon, I am non-denominational), there were times when I didn't agree with statements she made about God. However, I couldn't discount the fact that Smart's devotion to her faith, which enabled her to never lose hope, was what ultimately led to her rescue. One part of the book that I found truly inspiring was when, on Thanksgiving, Smart was able to mentally come up with a list of things that she was thankful for, even though she was living a nightmare! Despite theological differences between Smart and I, there is one thing we undoubtedly agree on: God never left her during her 9 months of captivity.
If you like biography or memoir style books, a story of someone beating the odds, or even a reminder to be a little more grateful for what you have, then I recommend this book. If you're interested in purchasing the book, I've provided a link to the book on Amazon at the bottom of this post. This is an affiliate link which means that, at no additional cost to you, I get a small amount of compensation for recommending the book on my website, which helps me continue to grow this site and create more quality content.
Question: Do you think I should do a book review once a month on this site, as I mentioned above? Please leave your feedback in the comments.
I am very excited to announce that this page now has a new accessibility feature--alt text! Through networking with other bloggers, I have been learning new techniques to expand this site and, also, to make it accessible for everyone. This is the main blog post that helped me learn the ins and outs of alt text. As an advocate for accessibility, when I learn of a new way to make my content accessible and it's within my power to do it, I'm going to do it!
All images on this site now have alt text descriptions. Alt text is a description of a photograph; the purpose of alt text is to make images accessible to blind and low-vision individuals. Blind people typically use a screen reader or voiceover program to access online content. Without the alt text manually added in, it will simply read "image" or "picture". When I started adding alt text to the images on this site, I realized that they all say "picture" by default. Obviously, that doesn't help them understand what is in the image at all. But, when you add alt text to an image, the screen reader picks up on that and reads the description so that the blind person has equal access to the content.
Alt text is not visible unless you are using the appropriate software. It's kind of like an invisible caption. Here's an example of what I would write for alt text:
This is what I wrote for the alt text for this picture: "White and grey background. Text reads 'inaccessible', showing an eraser erasing the 'in'". That's a lot more helpful that "picture", don't you think?
Alt text is also used to improve SEO (search engine optimization). When alt text is provided, search engines can "see" the images on your site, making it more likely that your site will show up in search results. However, many people believe that this is the primary, or the only, purpose of alt text. So, it's important to educate people on how to use alt text correctly. It's definitely a benefit that alt text boosts SEO, but the problem is that many people will focus on putting words in the description that will trigger a search engine rather than making sure the description is clear for blind and low vision individuals.
I am always looking for ways to put my words into action by making my content accessible to everyone. If you have any suggestions on how I can improve accessibility, please feel free to let me know and I will do my best to make it happen.