The Fremont Podcast

Episode 111: Empowerment and Education: Exploring the Deaf Community and Culture at the California School for the Deaf

March 22, 2024 Ricky B Season 3 Episode 111
Episode 111: Empowerment and Education: Exploring the Deaf Community and Culture at the California School for the Deaf
The Fremont Podcast
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The Fremont Podcast
Episode 111: Empowerment and Education: Exploring the Deaf Community and Culture at the California School for the Deaf
Mar 22, 2024 Season 3 Episode 111
Ricky B

Here in Fremont, California the California School for the Deaf stands as a beacon of hope, education, and empowerment for the Deaf community. Joined by interpreter Amber Hodson, we traverse the touching narratives of students and families who've found a sanctuary within these walls. From the dedicated students traveling vast distances for a proper education to the tireless efforts of families learning ASL to connect with their loved ones, we uncover the profound sacrifices made for the love of learning and culture.

With Trina, an outreach specialist, we witness the intricate web of support and challenges that weave the fabric of the deaf educational experience across 47 counties. Trina's own story, a testament to resilience and advocacy, mirrors the myriad of paths that lead to and from the California School for the Deaf. The episode sheds light on the community integration, from families making the leap from Korean Sign Language to ASL, to the critical work of Deaf Hope in navigating the criminal justice system for deaf survivors of violence. Each narrative is a thread in the rich tapestry of Deaf culture, revealing the essential role of accessible services and the power of community.

A part of our conversation offers a window into the subtleties of Deaf etiquette and the importance of terminology that respects the individual. We talk about the contrasts between Deaf and hearing cultures, punctuated with personal journeys that span educational landscapes and professional realms. By the episode's end, you'll be immersed in the celebration of diversity and the call for inclusivity, as we highlight the unwavering spirit of the Deaf community and the educators, interpreters, and advocates who champion their cause.

Check out Own It Fitness for your professional fitness solutions. You can find their website here. 

Connect with them on Instagram here. 

If you are interested in supporting the podcast, please reach out to us at thefremontpodcast@gmail.com, or you can contact us here. 


Fremont Bank has been partnering with and supporting people and small businesses for over six decades.

Also, Petrocelli Homes has been a key sponsor for the Fremont Podcast almost from the beginning. If you are looking for help or advice about buying or selling a home, or if you are looking for a realtor, get in touch with Petrocelli Homes on Niles Blvd in Niles.

Additionally, Banter Bookshop is the best little bookshop in Fremont. They are a sponsor of that podcast. And we are excited to have them as a partner.

If you are in need of services for design or printing, check out Minutemen Press in Irvington. They have been serving the community for over 20 years, and they stand strong by their work and service.

Intro and Outro voiceovers made by Gary Williams. Check out garywilliams.org.

This episode was edited by Andrew C.

Scheduling and background was done by Sara S.

This is a Muggins Media Podcast.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Here in Fremont, California the California School for the Deaf stands as a beacon of hope, education, and empowerment for the Deaf community. Joined by interpreter Amber Hodson, we traverse the touching narratives of students and families who've found a sanctuary within these walls. From the dedicated students traveling vast distances for a proper education to the tireless efforts of families learning ASL to connect with their loved ones, we uncover the profound sacrifices made for the love of learning and culture.

With Trina, an outreach specialist, we witness the intricate web of support and challenges that weave the fabric of the deaf educational experience across 47 counties. Trina's own story, a testament to resilience and advocacy, mirrors the myriad of paths that lead to and from the California School for the Deaf. The episode sheds light on the community integration, from families making the leap from Korean Sign Language to ASL, to the critical work of Deaf Hope in navigating the criminal justice system for deaf survivors of violence. Each narrative is a thread in the rich tapestry of Deaf culture, revealing the essential role of accessible services and the power of community.

A part of our conversation offers a window into the subtleties of Deaf etiquette and the importance of terminology that respects the individual. We talk about the contrasts between Deaf and hearing cultures, punctuated with personal journeys that span educational landscapes and professional realms. By the episode's end, you'll be immersed in the celebration of diversity and the call for inclusivity, as we highlight the unwavering spirit of the Deaf community and the educators, interpreters, and advocates who champion their cause.

Check out Own It Fitness for your professional fitness solutions. You can find their website here. 

Connect with them on Instagram here. 

If you are interested in supporting the podcast, please reach out to us at thefremontpodcast@gmail.com, or you can contact us here. 


Fremont Bank has been partnering with and supporting people and small businesses for over six decades.

Also, Petrocelli Homes has been a key sponsor for the Fremont Podcast almost from the beginning. If you are looking for help or advice about buying or selling a home, or if you are looking for a realtor, get in touch with Petrocelli Homes on Niles Blvd in Niles.

Additionally, Banter Bookshop is the best little bookshop in Fremont. They are a sponsor of that podcast. And we are excited to have them as a partner.

If you are in need of services for design or printing, check out Minutemen Press in Irvington. They have been serving the community for over 20 years, and they stand strong by their work and service.

Intro and Outro voiceovers made by Gary Williams. Check out garywilliams.org.

This episode was edited by Andrew C.

Scheduling and background was done by Sara S.

This is a Muggins Media Podcast.

Speaker 1:

This is Trina. We serve all the way up to the border of California. Students would have to fly out here, live here, and then that goes all the way down south to the about Fresno border and sometimes kids are bused in four hours. So families are not often seeing the children during the week. They stay here, they sleep here Sunday night through Friday afternoon and then they go back to their communities for the weekend.

Speaker 2:

Coming to you straight from Fremont, California. This is the Fremont podcast, dedicated to telling the stories of the past and present of the people and places of the city of Fremont, one conversation at a time.

Speaker 3:

There's an apartment complex that has an official park path that runs through it. It's more than just the path for the apartment complex. It's actually well, I looked it up on a map it's an actual park path that the public can use, and I use it to get from A to B all the time. It's lovely and I think there should be more of those designed into these new buildings. For a while now I've noticed that they've been cleaning the exteriors of the buildings. It's been going on for weeks and I wanted to talk to the guys who are doing. It Turns out they are pressure wash cleaning it, but then they're also repainting the entire complex. I spoke with one of the guys there. It was very nice, but I have to apologize in advance because my Spanish is horrible.

Speaker 4:

We're painting the entire apartment, making a new remodeling. This is the new one that will be left. This is the previous prototype. Water it's washed first and then sprayed with paint. The paint is washed first. It's a part wash, it's a clean first. Then a paint, then paint, then all of it, then the windows. It's a clean first. This is only this and one month, 22 days, maybe. This is finished, all of it.

Speaker 3:

From the old color to the white. From the old color to new white.

Speaker 4:

This is the white gray, this is the line, and black Thank you so much.

Speaker 3:

I appreciate your time. I am back on the path. He was very nice to put up with me. A shout out to all the workers who make this town better while we are all in other towns working. You are listening to episode 111 of the Fremont podcast.

Speaker 2:

Now here's your host, Ricky B.

Speaker 5:

I'm talking to our interpreter right now. Share your name and also the connection that you have here.

Speaker 1:

Hi, I'm Amber Hodson and I work at Deaf Hope, and I'm here in the capacity of interpreter for this lovely podcast.

Speaker 5:

I'm going to put this in just a little bit more.

Speaker 2:

Okay, it might get hit. That's good, that's all right.

Speaker 1:

We're good, we're waiting for is it was? Is it Na?

Speaker 5:

Na, and then Aeroselia, aeroselia. Okay, so we're in one of the rooms on the property at the California School for the Deaf. There are a number there's seven of us in the room, and we came together for the purpose of talking about the California School for the Deaf. We wanted to be able to share some of the things that the broader community in Fremont may not be aware of, and then also talk about Deaf Hope, which was an organization that specifically serves as an advocate for the Deaf community in the broader community. And so, karen, she's a Loni. Was it internship, I guess?

Speaker 1:

Correct, yes, very good.

Speaker 5:

And how often does. Do you know how often Loni students are over here, connected or involved over here at the California School for the Deaf?

Speaker 1:

Mrs Karen, yeah, right now this semester, it's really critical for us to be here. We need hours in our semester, okay, yeah.

Speaker 5:

Okay, is this something that you're doing in addition to another main program, or is this like you want to go into Deaf Studies or ASL?

Speaker 1:

This is Karen. Yes, I'm planning on becoming an interpreter in the future.

Speaker 5:

Excellent, that's what I'm sending. Did you grow up here? No, no, Southern California actually Okay, all right, do you like it here? I?

Speaker 1:

do. Yes, I love it.

Speaker 5:

That's great. What is? Maybe we can talk about that for a moment. Anybody's welcome to answer. What is the connection? What are the connections that the California School of the Deaf has with Loni College?

Speaker 1:

This is Aeroselia.

Speaker 5:

Aeroselia I can respond to that.

Speaker 1:

You know a lot of our students after graduating from CSD Fremont have options on where they'll go. Some want to go out of state to a university that focuses on Deaf students, like Gallaudet University. Some students want to stay local and they go to Loni College and there's a large Deaf program there with a lot of Deaf teachers, Deaf academic counselors. They want to go to Loni College and they want to go to a university where Deaf students leave CSD Fremont to go for those two years at Loni and then move on to university, and so that's a really key connection that Loni provides to the students here at the School for the Deaf. They also have an interpreter preparation program, IPP, and that's a really strong interpreter training program Students who want to become interpreters after taking ASL 1, 2, and 3, they want to go further in as a career to become an interpreter. So there's a large level of exposure around Deaf folks signing sign language at the school at Loni. It's a great connection. Nod, did you want to add anything about Loni? Yeah, connections to CSD.

Speaker 1:

A lot of parents who send students here. Often, you know the majority of those parents are hearing and so their Deaf child is the first Deaf person they're meeting. They're learning about Deaf culture and sign language and they learn a lot of that through the School for the Deaf at Fremont and often those hearing parents will take ASL classes at Loni College. My parents, you know, I moved here from another country and where my parents picked up ASL was through classes at Loni College. Wow, that's awesome.

Speaker 5:

That's great. Thanks for sharing that. I wanted to make sure we get Trina before she has something else to go to Trina, what's your role at the school here?

Speaker 1:

This is Trina. I am the outreach specialist and I connect with the community on an international level, even have folks come and visit the school. I also provide support to the California Department of Education and make sure we have the resources for the school. We have 47 counties that we serve at this Deaf school and so we're supporting the LEA Local Educational Agencies and CELPAs Special Education Local Agencies. The interpreter was struggling with that acronym and I was trying to make sure it was really clear, but we provide resources needed to those two organizations to keep Deaf kids in their school or decide if the Deaf children should be transferred here and sometimes students who are not ready to transition here. Again, I mentioned 47 counties, so we serve all the way up to the border of California.

Speaker 1:

Students would have to fly out here, live here and then that goes all the way down south to the about Fresno border and sometimes kids are bused in for hours. So families are not often seeing the children during the week. They stay here, they sleep here Sunday night through Friday afternoon and then they go back to their communities for the weekend every weekend. So they're commuting for school during the week and some students aren't ready to do that so they stay a little bit longer in their local communities and we provide resources to the staff and teachers to make sure that those Deaf kids can get the language acquisition they need and to be on a path toward success.

Speaker 1:

So, in a nutshell, those are some of the things that I'm doing, but I'm kind of the Jane of all trades here. Whatever people ask me to do, I take it on and get it done, and one of my primary roles here at the School for the Deaf is in the fall. I host an open house to the community, so I organize that open house and so we have all different deaf agencies that are represented in our Bay Area community come out to that open house and people can come and learn about the different resources available to them outside of the school Wow that's amazing, and so in the spring we also host a school play.

Speaker 1:

We have that play happening where we then can invite all of the mainstream programs in the area that have different programs. Again, I mentioned 47 counties, so there's mainstream programs throughout the state and we invite those Deaf students to come and be connected with other Deaf kids, because so often those mainstream programs in hearing mainstream schools they are not interacting with many other Deaf kids. They're very few and so they come here and then they see 350 Deaf students that they get to interact with and they can have lunch together and learn more about the programs as well and maybe they'll decide they want to transfer here in the future. So it's an area of potential that we provide for those students. So that spring play. You know, as the outreach specialist, those are just a few of the things that I get to work on.

Speaker 5:

Wow, that's a lot. How long have you been a part of California School for the Deaf?

Speaker 1:

In this capacity. I have been here for two years, but I actually joined in 2013 as a career technician, tech. Career tech the interpreter is making sure we get that right career tech educational position and so having supporting teachers to provide training on how to interview, learning, personal assessments, preparing for future careers, so really thinking about work experience for the students and.

Speaker 1:

I did that for six years, left for a brief period of time, became an ASL teacher near my home because I have two young children and so my children needed my attention at that time in my life. And it takes me about 30 minutes to commute Wow, I'm on the peninsula so I was going back and forth over the bridge and that took a lot of my time. My heart has always been here at the School for the Deaf, so as soon as the kids were old enough, independent enough, felt like it was okay. I needed just to run back to my deaf community here and came back in this position as outreach specialist.

Speaker 5:

Wow, that's amazing. That's very cool. Did you grow up in the Bay Area then?

Speaker 1:

I grew up in Redwood City and originally started an oral school. I didn't know about CSD growing up and there was an oral program that has the philosophy of not exposing sign language. They don't believe in supporting deaf kids to learn sign language. I grew up trying to learn to speak and that was a challenge because I struggled with reading and writing. I had a lot of language delays just as a result of that. In third grade, when my mom was trying to figure out different programs, what can I do? I found a program that does signing exact English C. It's not ASL, it's some form of signing, though not the best, but it's at least getting me on the road toward learning ASL. Through that process learned that we have CSD. My first real exposure to ASL and deaf culture and experience in the community was at Gallaudet University which is the only fully deaf university in the world located in Washington DC.

Speaker 5:

Wow, I did not know that that's cool. I had a struggle with knowing how to get you what you needed or put you in the environment that you needed to be able to learn and acclimate.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, it was a struggle. My mom tried putting me in 20 different programs, trying to test out each one, seeing what worked my mom loves languages, she's a musician, she was very into it and then seeing the struggle. She has an older son, 11 years older than me, and so there was a difference between our experiences. I had a cousin who was nine months apart. I was kind of an inspiration baby because of my cousin being born. She just struggled and knew something was off and was trying. These different programs were frustrated, trying to find out what will help me succeed in life. It took a long time to figure out what that was. When I was in sixth grade I took it on myself. At that point I said I'll figure out my education, I'm going to decide where I'm going to go to school.

Speaker 1:

I'm going to decide what I need to do. I'm going to get a tutor for myself. I did all of that and became a self-advocate, and thrived at that point.

Speaker 5:

Wow, you understand what it's like to come from a background where people need advocacy. They need somebody to connect and reach out and understand other people's situations and stories.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely yes. That's my way of giving back to our students here, because I want to make sure that they get that whole life experience and not have deprivation in any aspects of their life.

Speaker 5:

Wow, we'll be right back. You can hear the rest of this conversation in just a moment. If you need help navigating the local real estate market, contact Petracelli Homes on Niles Boulevard. With almost two decades of experience, this family-owned brokerage is an expert in the local real estate market. Give Jennifer Petracelli a call. With her wide-ranging knowledge of the real estate industry and expert negotiation skills, jennifer goes above and beyond for her clients. Jennifer helps her clients make smart real estate decisions that benefit them in the long run. So if you're looking for a realtor who knows what they're doing and who genuinely cares about your needs and wants, reach out to Jennifer today and discover why Petracelli Homes is the right choice for all of your real estate needs.

Speaker 3:

I wish there were more bicycle racks, more places to park your bicycle right in front of the place that you want to go, Not off in some corner, but right in front of where you want to go. You know where. There are two of them. Right in front of 3768 Capital Avenue, Suite F. Do you know what's located inside 3768 Capital Avenue, Suite F, Bantor Bookshop. Take your bike the one with the little basket on the front or the milk crate in the back Park your bike right outside of Bantor Bookshop, lock it up, go inside, buy whatever you want and take it all home.

Speaker 5:

I want to tell you about Minuteman Press in Irvington. They are your quality printer to go to here in Fremont. I have personally worked with them before and I find their services to be fantastic. Look no further than Minuteman Press in Irvington. You can find them at 44141 Fremont Boulevard in Fremont. And now back to our conversation. How many students are there, like right now, currently at the school?

Speaker 1:

This is Trina. Right now we have a total of 350, about 350 students, so those students are from K through 12 plus. So we also have what's called a real world program and that's for people 18 to 22 years old who are not quite ready to transition out into the world fully. They are still gaining independent living skills and getting some support around job training and experience, support, learning how to live independently, and so those that real world program typically is for those who have transitioned here later in life and have that additional disabilities maybe need additional support and resources as a result of their experience.

Speaker 5:

Do you find that Fremont is a great place for people to learn to acclimate into the community, or are there other challenges? I mean, I know this is where the school is and where it ended up, but is Fremont a good place for people to, when they graduate, to find a place in the community, and even people beyond the 12th grade as they go through that final program? Is this a good place for them? Or what are the challenges that you find that they face within the community here to get settled?

Speaker 1:

Well, I think it's really important to include other perspectives in this as well. I'll share mine. I feel that Fremont being you know the community that school is in and being nearby is then more aware compared to other communities, Communities that are not exposed, they're not bumping into deaf people and having the school nearby I think that can be a challenge for us in other communities. You walk into a store and you want to ask a question, you want to ask for a specific item and you'll use gestures or you'll try to indicate that you want to write it right down what you're trying to say, and the person the hearing person is just deer in headlights and they don't know what to do.

Speaker 1:

Here in Fremont, people are much more experienced, have more exposure, they know, they're ready to write something down, they have pictures available that you can point at. Not all, obviously. We still have more exposure and education to do, but thankfully in our social media that has really allowed us to evolve the exposure that we can give to people and awareness that we can do More and more. Hearing people are starting to be a little more assertive in those communications rather than just being frozen. You know, and there was a huge divide. We're seeing that divide being bridged more particularly in Fremont with the school for the deaf nearby, so I'd love to hear Naa and Aracely's perspective on that as well.

Speaker 5:

Naa, you said you came from a different country and so you're, and if I understand correctly again, I'm new to this so signing is different in different countries, or?

Speaker 1:

is there. It is, yes, it is, that's correct.

Speaker 5:

And Naa, you said you became familiar with it through an online ASL program. Is that correct?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I was. This is Naa speaking. I was explaining that. You know, moving here from another country, my parents English is not their first language. I mentioned that. My biological parents are both deaf and so that's why you know kind of what motivated them to move here to get that education and a better life for me as a deaf person here in the United States, based on their experience. So I moved here and of course, english and ASL was not their first language. They knew Korean sign language, ksl, and so they then needed to learn ASL and so partially they learned it through me because I was learning it. But they also went to Ohlone College to take classes there.

Speaker 1:

We were talking about the strong relationship that Ohlone has with the School for the Deaf, and so my parents took classes there. When I was a student, the superintendent here had a wife who was teaching ASL at Ohlone College. So there was that connection, right. The superintendent's wife was teaching classes there, and so you can just see those deep ties between the School for the Deaf and Ohlone.

Speaker 5:

That's awesome. So, being in a community like Fremont where there are people from all over the world, I would say the majority of the people that live in Fremont currently don't speak English as their first language. Anyway. Are there challenges that you have found? And I know you've come from Korea and so your parents are speaking a different language already as their first language. Then they come here and then I'm just curious, because we were saying that Fremont has been very friendly with being able to have a pad of paper or some way to be able to communicate very quickly, but also many of the people that live here, english is not even their first language either. What are some of the challenges that maybe you faced as someone who's come from a different country, from a different oral speaking tradition, and then coming here and trying to acclimate through ASL?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, this is not Again for me. My experience is different, maybe Again moving to America when I was about two not significantly later, like 14, 10, I was two, so I was quite young, and I think that makes a big difference in terms of my language acquisition. At two you're able to do that in a different way. I didn't have the same struggles around language acquisition because of my age, and so I think that really helps a lot. But you're right, Thinking about at that time, especially back then, Fremont didn't look the way it looks today and the level of diversity that we have now.

Speaker 1:

It didn't look the same, and so my parents' experience moving here was definitely more challenging, not having ASL or English as their first language. I remember I did a lot of facilitating, a lot of clarifying a lot of communication, bridging between my parents and teachers notes that they'd send home from school and they weren't able to have full access to that information and so I would have to do it in sign language in a way that they had access to, and I remember doing that and kind of becoming comfortable. I was in that role until they became comfortable reading English on their own.

Speaker 5:

Wow, you know both KSL and ASL, is that right?

Speaker 1:

Yes, do you find yourself in?

Speaker 5:

situations where you translate from one to the other, and how can it?

Speaker 1:

Yes and no.

Speaker 5:

Not really.

Speaker 1:

You know, sometimes. You know I'm here at the school for the deaf so I'm like it's ASL, it's coming out, unless I see a student who is Korean, who you know. I remember in my high school times there was a Korean student who moved here and was just kind of trying to figure it out and struggling, and so there was an immediate connection because of our shared background and she was in the process of learning ASL and relying on some oral approaches. She had not learned Korean sign language but she did know the Korean spoken and written languages. So we had to figure out other creative ways to communicate. We were able to do that better on some level because of a shared background. So, you know, other people would be super confused. They wouldn't realize, oh, you know Korean sign language or you can speak Korean or you can read lips, and so that was a unique experience for people.

Speaker 5:

Arsalia, what's your experience acclimating to the deaf community here in Fremont or I know it's not just Fremont, I mean I'm doing the Fremont podcast so my focus is on Fremont, but I know that there's a broader Bay area that people living here adjust to. So what is your experience with adjusting from, say, coming from the California school for the deaf into the community?

Speaker 1:

And this is Arsalia. You know, after I graduated from the school for the deaf, csd, I, you know, was really thinking about where was I going to go, what opportunities are available to me? And I think back then, you know, opportunities were there but compared to today it was much different. Opportunities are far more available now. So I went to Gallaudet University in Washington DC and I was there but struggled with my major. I wasn't really sure I really wanted something that was rooted more in helping people. I was looking at criminal justice but it wasn't exactly it for me and the deaf opportunities in that arena there were significant barriers. So I really was trying to figure out what career path felt both accessible and enjoyable for me, and so Gallaudet didn't quite work out for me.

Speaker 1:

I came back home and finished school here at CSU East Bay and so I went through, finished and I really tried to take a look at what job opportunities are out here in the community and I was fortunate to make a connection with Deaf Hope. And just to back up and give you a little bit of background, I had actually done an internship at the San Francisco Police Department and I saw this experience of you know. The internship was cool, but as a deaf person I knew that there was a huge difference. I could really foresee all of the barriers that come up when people are interacting with the criminal system, and so I worked with Deaf Hope. I got an offer to continue working with Deaf Hope and was so exciting for me because actually Deaf Hope was there when I had graduated high school and it was emerging in kind of 2003,. That was about the time that I was leaving the state to go to Gallaudet and so I didn't really know. The resource was here and I came back and got introduced to the organization and from that initial connection I really saw the Deaf community more. You know, I was able to see how CSD Fremont all of my peers realizing that that experience I had had as a student would give me so many opportunities.

Speaker 1:

The language development that I had, access to, all of the foundation that CSD gave me, allowed me to have these opportunities out in the community in a different way, and it became easier for me to find those because of the foundation I had.

Speaker 1:

And so, through this work, seeing all of the barriers in the system that deaf people face, it's just mind-boggling, and so the work that we're doing is really around pushing for more access, and I so appreciate living in Fremont because Fremont does have that level of exposure with deaf people.

Speaker 1:

You go to the store and people say, oh, they can sign just a little bit and it's like, oh, this is nice, I don't have to pull out my phone and type something out. I've experienced that more and more here than any other city that I've been in, and particularly lately, I think more because of social media movie exposures to ASL having that level of exposure in Fremont as a community. Then you do that in school through high school. Then more and more high school students are exposed to that and then they go out into the community. They have positions where deaf people have job opportunities. So there's this whole deaf ecosystem that can happen in Fremont. That I think is really beautiful to see how that grows and grows and it's as a result of these kids at this deaf school that then go out into a community and they're not necessarily feeling limited or seeing barriers but they're able to interact with hearing people and then that can just grow exponentially. It's more people know about the experience of being deaf.

Speaker 5:

Wow, Thank you. That's really really good, really helpful, but if you could give me just a quick explanation of what is Deaf Hope and what is the organization and how? What is it that they primarily do for the deaf community?

Speaker 1:

This is Aracelya. Deaf Hope is an organization in the Bay Area that provides services to deaf communities who experience domestic violence and sexual violence, people who experience that in their relationships, other relationships within their lives. So we provide services in an American Sign Language that are culturally responsive. We're able to help them navigate through systems to find different pathways toward healing from their experience. That, in a nutshell, in general, is what we do. We provide services on a local Bay Area level, but we have expanded significantly to a national level because there are deaf people all over the country who are experiencing it, experiencing violence. Unfortunately, other states and areas don't have organizations like Deaf Hope that we're fortunate to have here in California.

Speaker 5:

What, and this might be I mean, I actually don't even know how to exactly ask the question, but what are? Is there a particular issue or a particular situation that you often find specifically regarding violence or the things that you have to deal with to help help people? That is, that it would be unique to the deaf community, like? Are there things that you find over and over and over? That would be yes yes what would you mind sharing that?

Speaker 1:

sure? Yeah, I think the number one pattern that we see is the experience around access accessing systems, organizations not providing interpretation, police involvement, not having access to communication, deaf people you know, as mentioned before, there's a wide spectrum of experiences and abilities and you know deaf people with beautiful ASL but then can't can't necessarily write a note, that's, that's clear in English. Then you have other people who have a strong foundation in English but don't have that strength in ASL, and now they're interacting with hospitals and courts and all of these different spaces. Number one issue is access and we see a deaf woman who requests a restraining order hearing and they don't provide an interpreter. They say they can't for at least six months and now this emergency protection is postponed for a significant amount of time. They cannot proceed to get help assistance because of interpretation and this is a barrier that they face time and time again how many people work with deaf, deaf hope, how many people do you have involved in that?

Speaker 1:

well, we're actually thrilled to say we have four at our core California team. For a long time have had three team members, and now not who's here with us today.

Speaker 2:

It's actually her first day on the job, so we're expanding to four for a California program welcome now yes, thank you, thank you, and this is Aeroselia.

Speaker 1:

So again we have four for our California program, and one thing that's super, super unique about our program is that we run in a hub kind of pod manner. So we actually have two additional programs that are operating. You know, they're part of our of deaf hope, part of our programs, but they are in other states. So we have one in Wisconsin and we have one in Illinois and so they are keeping, you know, they have their own identity, they know their local communities, but we operate on a collective with collective leadership, and so for our entire team we have now eight people, so there's eight people on our national level team that's great.

Speaker 5:

I mean, one of the things that I already told you all when I came when I was you know we were getting ready for the podcast was that I feel probably a little bit like you feel in the, in the general community, you all are able to talk and communicate through ASL and I don't know what is being said. I'm in the room and I don't know what you are talking about and it doesn't bother me in the sense that I'm not offended or anything, but it also is. I don't know what's going on, and so I think sometimes the response of the community, the, the hearing community, is to just ignore the things that are happening around them. And they see, maybe, people talking in ASL and they just pass on by, and that's not the group of people that I'm gonna connect with. Are there things that the broader community could be aware of or could help with, just in regular patterns of life or even in more specific acts that they could do to help what you're doing or help prevent the kind of things that you have to intervene on?

Speaker 1:

This is Aracelya. I think the first thing a hearing person can do is just be mindful and present. What can you do? Can I have the captioning running in my establishment? Can I call for a meeting? And I know there's a deaf person, a meeting's about to start. I take the initiative to go over and tell that deaf person hey, the meeting's about to start, come over. I think a lot of times people are like oh sorry, you're deaf and they don't want to interact but reach out. Sometimes you're in a restaurant and they're calling numbers and so if you see there's a deaf person who is waiting but they're not hearing the announcement of the numbers, keep eye contact, tell them it's your number. Now Come on up, take the initiative if something's happening in the space, to write it down on a piece of paper and show the deaf person so that they know what's going on. Just having that increased awareness goes a long way with deaf survivors and deaf people in general, that level of reaching out.

Speaker 1:

I think it's also about building access collectively. Making sure if you run a budget for your organization, have a line item there for interpretation, not just for deaf people. But, as you said, fremont is this melting pot. We have so many different languages and diversity here. Be more intentional about access for everyone. When folks can be intentional about funding, then the access can come from there more effectively. And then the deaf person will say these are the things that I need to make access happen. They can tell you. Then it just flows from there. So often the barrier we hit is right out of the gate, where they say, well, we don't have funds for that. So really fighting for access can start there too. Fighting for access is hard when you're doing it on the back end. You want to do it where it comes first and we're intentional about it when you're designing the services and the budgets.

Speaker 5:

That's great, that's really great. I'll just say this. The question is are there little things that we might not be aware of that you look for, that help you to know things better? In other words, I know that I've learned from a lot of my friends that I know that are deaf, that some of them can read lips as well as wait for the interpretation. So I try to consciously turn my face in the direction of the person that I'm talking to, because that's something that they may be able to feel more helped with by being able to read my lips. Are there other small things that perhaps you're more aware of because of the way that you've got to understand what's going on around you, that we might not even think about, that we could help with?

Speaker 1:

And this is Naa speaking. I just want to go back actually to your previous question really quickly and it's connected.

Speaker 1:

I think, around our community wanting people to know how to think about how people are labeling us. I think that's number one. I think it's fascinating to see how the community tends to think certain terms are proper or the polite or respectful way to label us, and one of them that is used very frequently is hearing impaired. I think people feel that that's an appropriate word and maybe they're doing it a way that's not insulting, and our deaf community responds feeling that that's not respectful, that it's focused on an impairment, it's focused on a part of us that needs to be fixed, that isn't working, and our deaf community wants to say we don't hear. We don't hear or we can't hear.

Speaker 1:

That's the way we phrase it and we're not going to be saying there's an impairment.

Speaker 5:

That's good.

Speaker 1:

And we use the label. So many of us use the label deaf. Some people might prefer to be identified as hard of hearing, but for sure, hearing impaired is a word that most people pretty much do not want used as a label on us, that is just something that we do not prefer.

Speaker 1:

It's kind of a bad word because it is focused in on the impairment aspect and the lack of hearing. When you meet a deaf person, it's really important not to make an assumption that all deaf people are the same. It's not a one size fits all scenario, as you just mentioned. You know, some people can read lips, some people use their voice, some people don't. It's a broad spectrum and so when you meet a deaf person, don't make the assumption that everybody is the same. There's so many factors background, language barriers, what access to language they had growing up. There's such a wide range of factors that will then result in a wide range of experiences.

Speaker 5:

That's great. Wow, that's great, trina.

Speaker 1:

And yeah, this is Trina. I just am interrupting briefly. Typically, we have two interpreters who are working. We just have one, so I'm going to just check on our interpreter, amber, just to make sure we're doing. Okay, how are?

Speaker 4:

you doing.

Speaker 1:

How am I doing? I'm doing fine. I'm noticing it's about 11.

Speaker 2:

So just kind of just keeping an eye towards. That's great If we're, if we've got about a half hour.

Speaker 5:

That sounds good. Yeah, sounds good. I'm good I'm doing okay Are you doing okay, everybody's got a good pace, so that's, that's great. You're amazing. Yeah, no, you're amazing, you're your. Amber is our interpreter. I'm going to ask you can we have a conversation real quick? How did you get into this? How did you get involved in the deaf community?

Speaker 1:

This is Amber speaking and signing at the same time which is not an ideal way of communicating. Maybe we'll have Kathleen, who's also here can sign.

Speaker 5:

Since this is, kathleen is going to also jump in here and give Amber a break while she. Well, amber answers from Amber. What is your connection? How did you get involved in the deaf community?

Speaker 1:

Well, this is Amber speaking. I am actually a Makoda, so I'm a child of deaf adults. My parents are deaf and I grew up using sign language and part of somewhat connected part of the deaf community and got to know all these fabulous people through work at deaf hope. I also work there and I'm fortunate enough to be here in the capacity of interpreter for this moment, just to make sure that communication is accurate and clear. Sometimes, if we don't know what kind of interpretation is going to happen, there can be different signing, styles and forms of communication and skill levels with interpreters. So we just wanted to make sure that your audience had the best access to the brilliance of both of these people that are here today.

Speaker 5:

That's awesome. You said you were a Koda, so this is something that you have been. This has been a part of your life. This has been something that you have been doing since you probably can remember. Yes, yes.

Speaker 1:

I've been very lucky to privilege to be connected to a deaf experience. Because I have that foot in both worlds On some level, that hearing people will gravitate toward to me and will disregard the wisdom and expertise of my colleagues, and because there's a shared experience and hearing is what we know and so people will come to me first and that's what we call autism A-U-D-I-S-M autism, and it's a prioritization of hearingness as a valued way of being and disregarding, discounting, devaluing other ways of being and not seeing, you know, sharing equal power with people who communicate in different ways.

Speaker 5:

When you were interpreting, you were sitting behind me or to the side of me and I was facing this direction to the person who was signing, and I found myself. At times I wanted to watch the signing, even though I don't understand it, but I found myself turning around to see you and I'm like wait a minute, I'm not talking to you.

Speaker 5:

I'm talking to Trina and I realized that that's something that, even though I don't understand what's actually being said, it's appropriate because it's more than just sound that is communicating. There's facial, there's body language, there's so many other things that I do understand, that I can take and understand for myself.

Speaker 1:

Well, and you're describing that autism that takes place where you're sort of pulled back to where's the voice coming from, and so as an interpreter, my role is very much to stay in the background, to have communication, be directly between the people involved, and then I'm facilitating and supporting it, but really not having me be the focus for that.

Speaker 2:

So with that I'll transition back to my role as interpreter.

Speaker 5:

Trina was saying, talking about her experience, and her mom was trying to get her what she needed in order to be able to help her to succeed. Like you mentioned, there's some new advancements to be able to identify children at an earlier age who are deaf. What is the? I mean? What is that age now and what was it before that, and how long ago did that advancement take place?

Speaker 1:

This is Aracelia. I'll respond to that. A lot of times when hearing parents have a child, they find out that baby is deaf. There's sort of a normal parental response of grief and what do we do? We're not sure how to respond and you know there's hospital staff that will come and maybe talk about options and sometimes will offer medical interventions like a cochlear implant, and so often culture and language like ASL is left out of the offerings. Parents don't have a knowledge of American Sign Language as an effective way of communicating until later in life, until family members share it later in the community.

Speaker 1:

I was so, so, very fortunate to be born deaf, clearly deaf. My whole family is hearing. My mom was kind of like well, we, you know, we do the testing and we find out that my child is deaf and there is a grief process. But she took me to an audiologist and I am just so, so grateful I just happened to get the right audiologist, who is one who said to my mom hey, fremont School for the Deaf has resources, has information. You know, if the child might have some level of hearing, get a cochlear implant, don't go to the school for the deaf. I was fortunate to have an audiologist who recommended it, Wow that's great, and at the time I was living in.

Speaker 1:

We were living in San Francisco and you know my mom was struggling with the idea of having her young child stay at the school for the deaf. You know commute into the school and you know I come from a you know Latinx family. We're very close and so it took a little bit of time. But my mom decided to move us to Fremont and she had, during the intervening time I had my brother who was also deaf, and so we came out here and experienced the school for the deaf. My prior mainstream experience in those, the hearing schools, with other with a deaf program, 90% of those deaf kids would transfer out to the school for the deaf too. So it really felt like an inevitable path for me and I had so many friends who then transferred way later in life middle school, high school. There's so many things that are going on behind the scenes politics of education and parents trying to get their students to go to the school for the deaf, but the school district not allowing it to happen. So many things, so many barriers that are put in place, and for me that transition happened fairly seamlessly and most parents aren't able to get these sort of advice and resources and somebody who knows about it. If that happens at an early age, great, but if not, now the students are going through an oral program, they're kind of sucked into a system that then doesn't serve them and this is not.

Speaker 1:

I just wanted to add to that. You know, really thinking about this question it's a good one because, as Aracelia was mentioning, you know how that process happens with the educational system is really complicated and we're seeing more and more changes. We're seeing technology, we're seeing access, we're seeing social media providing that exposure, which is all good. So for so long the community was focused on, you know, just being deaf and what you know. What are we going to do?

Speaker 1:

There were, there were sort of limits to technology. That technology expanded to things like cochlear implants and you know, thinking about historically, the level of oppression that has happened, deaf people's response is to have a level of pride and that is more and more accepted and seeing the schools for the deaf transform, seeing people who choose. They can then have full information, they can make the choice around being bilingual, to have a sign language plus a form of spoken communication, and so you know, really kind of building that exposure where bilingual education is should be the norm it should be. Deaf students should have access to ASL and not be denied that.

Speaker 5:

That's great.

Speaker 1:

And I think also in answering your question too you know people like us who have earlier access to language and to communication. You see the difference in our lived experience. There's a level of competence, less shame, there's less worry about going out into the world. We I'm deaf and I can I can interact in a way that that is is filling and I can thrive. Children who have access much later in life, who who miss that important language acquisition period it shows in their lived experience that they don't have the same level of access that we would.

Speaker 5:

That's. That's amazing. I know you have, like, you have the 350 students that are on the property, the campus here. Broadly speaking, how many deaf students would there be in California? And then, like, what does that translate into? Like the broader deaf community, maybe in the state?

Speaker 1:

This is Aracelya. You you're asking about how many deaf students in California. There's approximately 17000. So we, we we were talking about the school for the deaf here in Fremont. There's also a school for the deaf down in Riverside.

Speaker 2:

Southern.

Speaker 1:

California, and so we kind of focus on the north Riverside, handles the southern part of the state, and so you know there's pretty much the same numbers 350, ish, 400 at both schools, and so now you're talking about 16000 remaining kids. Where do these deaf kids get? Get what they need? And they're sort of farmed out in mainstream programs. They what? What is the parents level of ability to take them to a program? Maybe they have resistance to deaf identity, deaf culture and deaf language?

Speaker 1:

You know, having parents, hearing parents, meet alumni like us who see where we are in our lives, who see what our journey could look like with access, Having hearing parents see opportunities that they don't even realize are there, can be hugely impactful for the deaf person's experience. And you know we talk about, you know we have deaf communities here in, you know, fremont Bay Area. There's a large deaf community in Sacramento Riverside because there's a school for the deaf. So there's numerous pockets throughout California that have, you know, high numbers of deaf people. I don't know what that number of adults looks like, you know, but there's definitely kind of that deaf grapevine.

Speaker 1:

We are connected in many ways and we know people from other communities and this is not speaking we, you know we're a small community and we use sign language, but we're loud. You know we get out there. You know we know everyone. We really have a community that's built on connection and networking. You know, I'll go to Gallaudet University after graduating here and I met so many people there in DC and now I'm connected in that too right. I have friends in other countries. I have, you know no people in many, many states, and so this connectedness that we have is really, really powerful. I have hearing colleagues and they say how do you know this person from this other country, this other state? And I say, look, our community is small but mighty. We're small but loud.

Speaker 5:

That's great, that's great.

Speaker 5:

My son was asking if the school or if deaf, if the deaf community plays football or sports or you know like.

Speaker 5:

So I think at the, at the foundation of his question is, like, what are the limitations that the deaf community might feel or understand, versus, like, how much freedom or how much access is there to the kind of things that he might enjoy?

Speaker 5:

And I told him that we had Dane on the podcast a year and a half ago and he's a coda and he was saying that his father was the football coach of here at the school and I was, and I was just telling him so I know they at least play football because they had a coach, I don't know when I, when I think about it, I didn't know how to answer him, I didn't know what to say, like this is, this is some of the activities that they do, just like us. So I think that in our, in our minds at least in my son's mind and obviously mine, because I did not answer what are some of the things that we that might be misunderstood, that we might not be aware of. That actually is pretty normal. That might maybe even blur some of the lines that we create, because this is not speaking.

Speaker 1:

Big difference between hearing and deaf experience is really around culture and language is part of that too. You know, for example, hearing folks have puns and idioms and jokes and you know hearing folks will find this funny and a deaf person doesn't really understand. And maybe because we don't hear, maybe because we have our own ways of joking, having idioms, slang, all of that that hearing person wouldn't understand. And so a lot of times deaf culture I think can be have differences, things that don't happen in the hearing world and that don't happen in hearing culture. And you know, I think one big learning for me was when you know growing up in a deaf-centered environment, having full access to communication at all times and then going to Gallaudet and having that, you know being in a deaf community fully and you can say that I grew up in this kind of very deaf-centered environment all my life. After graduating I worked for the federal government. It was a massive shift in my experience. You know, I suddenly now was the only deaf person in this large space of hearing people. I had to interact with hearing people all day and that's where I really started to see you know where misunderstandings can happen and all of the stark differences between deaf culture and hearing culture and the deaf experience and hearing experience. And you know reading and writing and you know having some little adjustments in the way my English showed up for people and you know what that meant of their perception of my language and all of these things that I think really surprised me suddenly going out into a hearing experience. And this is Aresalia sharing.

Speaker 1:

I wanted to expand a little bit on NAAA's answer. You know I mentioned I briefly was in a mainstream environment and then transitioned into the California School for the Deaf and you know it's its own world. You know you have every, everything's accessible. You go to the cafeteria and there's sign language, everything is accessible, and so the sense of barriers is you don't even know what that is because you experience access. And you know I was coming in from a hearing family, so having that sense of freedom and being able to thrive was so cool. Just to have that immediate access is something that I really find so valuable about the school. And you know you're kind of talking about sports and yeah, we have sports programs from middle school to high school and playing football and basketball and baseball, all the things right, and so that is just an example of it's. It is the same on a foundational level, you know, as deaf kids at different deaf schools are playing and they're kind of matriculating and you'll see, often more than half will end up going to Gallaudet, you know. So you're kind of growing up together in a way on this national level. Right, we, we are at the school for the deaf and then we go out into the world and we might go to other deaf organizations and now become colleagues in different ways. So it's just this interesting experience that we get to have. That's.

Speaker 1:

You know, as I mentioned before, the deaf ecosystem is very much present and this is not, I think. Often hearing people wonder, you know. For example, they think that sending a deaf student to a mainstream hearing program will give them better opportunities or it will be better for them for their future, because they have to interact in a hearing world. But I think in many ways we actually disagree.

Speaker 1:

As Aeroselia was just saying, you know, having this experience of like competing with other deaf kids in sports tournaments, you wouldn't have. That in a mainstream program. You know, being connected to that ecosystem wouldn't happen. This is Aeroselia. I can absolutely vouch for that, because when I was a sophomore. I was a sophomore in high school was when CSD established the first international studies program for this school, and so the kids would apply and we get together. It would be 15 to 20 kids and we would have a year studying a particular country where we were going to go, and so spring break we would all go out to this. You know a broad experience, and this experience is traveling. Experience of traveling at a young age, having access through interpreters, really inspired me then, during my Gallaudet years, to go backpacking around the world.

Speaker 1:

And it was this exposure that I got here that helped just launch me into this experience and knowing that I have options and that the world is mine to experience, even as a deaf person, and that international studies was one of this precious, precious memories I have about my experience here and instilled in me this love for travel that I have to this day.

Speaker 5:

Wow. So podcasting has become like a very big thing in the broader community. Everyone's listening to podcasts, everyone's making podcasts. My question is, as you were talking about the, I mean all the different tools and activities that the California school for the deaf or the deaf community make available to students as they learn to grow and acclimate to the culture.

Speaker 5:

My question is like what are some of the forms of media that you enjoy that feels more normal for you that we also enjoy? That would be a way of being like, as I'm thinking about what I'm doing and how I'm trying to help bring the community together through the podcast, I'm thinking I'm obviously missing a significant part of the community because I'm creating something that you can't enjoy. And so I'm just wondering, like what are some of the things as I become more aware of, like digital media or social media or whatever? What are some of the things that you enjoy that you spend most of your time partaking in? I guess is the best word that I could say. I want to have you in mind when I create what I'm doing.

Speaker 1:

This is Ariselya and you know, I think for the deaf community, visual media is number one. We want to see what's happening, we want to see the environment, see the person, see the expressions. This morning I was watching. Do you know the Kelsey brothers? Yes, yeah, they do a lot of podcasts, work together as brothers and I was enjoying just watching that interaction.

Speaker 5:

They have great expressions.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and they really have a lot of personality there and I felt very connected to it, and so I think that's something similar, right? You know you actually you're sitting down and you're having a conversation, but it's also visual.

Speaker 5:

I thank you. That's really helpful I well, this is Ariselya.

Speaker 1:

It is something that we often discuss at Deaf Hope. You know, how do we make our content accessible to deaf folks, to deaf communities, knowing that the deaf community has a range of how they receive information and how they can access it. So we're actually often thinking about how do we go for this coffee chat style, this coffee chat feeling right, something that's very accessible. It is interview but it's very conversational. You know, we're kind of just chatting and I think a lot of folks really enjoy that style when we do it almost like a talk show, but in ASL, and people enjoy sharing us, sharing real life experiences, real life stories, having it be very relatable, like the deaf community enjoys it when we're we've got, we're real people sitting here, talking and that's.

Speaker 5:

That's helpful. That's great. I want to be conscious of our time. It is, you know, we're almost to the end of the time that we set aside.

Speaker 5:

I think that this topic, and and the people, this community, deserves more time and attention than just a quick chat like this, and I think you guys have done a great job of helping me. I think this is a good start, but I think that we need to try to find ways to do more, to be able to again blur the lines between the things that perhaps our cultures have created, that that have created, that have generated those barriers that are there. So I want to say to you guys thank you so much for taking your time to do this and thank you for sharing your lives. I know that these things can sometimes be personal. Even as I was asking questions, I'm trying to be thoughtful of the way that they ought to be asked and I do appreciate you opening up and sharing these things for me and also for our listeners, and hopefully we can do this again. I'd love to be able to hear more. We need, we need to have follow ups on this?

Speaker 1:

Yes, for sure, and this is Aracely. I just want to say thank you to you for creating this space for us to share our experience, and this is something that we want people to know. I think the more knowledge that we share with different communities, the more they can understand us rather than being afraid, or you know, what people don't know scares them, and so I just want to say thank you for creating this space and and really putting it out there. The more hearing people that are mindful, then they can create the space too, and it opens it up exponentially for deaf folks, and we can come a long way. Thank you for that.

Speaker 3:

Thank you very much, appreciate it Yay.

Speaker 2:

This episode was hosted and produced by Ricky B. I'm Gary Williams, andrew Kovett is the editor. Scheduling and pre interviews by Sarah S. Be sure to subscribe wherever it is that you listen so you don't miss an episode. You can find everything we make, the podcast and all of our social media links at the freemontpodcastcom. Join us next week on the Fremont podcast.

Speaker 3:

I wish there were more places to pike your bicycle, because if you can't pike your bicycle, this is a Muggins media podcast.

California School for the Deaf Connections
Supporting Deaf Students in California
Acclimating to Deaf Community Challenges
Supporting Deaf Communities Through Deaf Hope
Understanding Deaf Community Etiquette
Deaf Community, Access, and Education
Deaf vs. Hearing Culture and Communication