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Inner Lives of Deaf Children Interviews and Analysis

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I say, “Sounds like a nice girl. One that I would like to know.”

“I think you would. I think you would. She’s a very nice little girl.”

“Where does Lisa go to school?”

“Lisa goes to school at Norwood. She is mainstreamed for half of the day and . . .”

“I missed that,” I interrupt. “She goes to school . . .”

“. . . at Norwood. She is in the hearing impaired classroom for the morning and with the normal class, the hearing class, in the afternoon.”

After our mock interview the interpreter tells me that, unbeknownst to me, Lisa had dropped the box of markers on the floor while we were talking, making a very loud “boom” in the middle of our conversation. Lisa giggles as Marilyn explained this.

I turn to Lisa and tell her that what she just saw Mom and me doing is what she and I will do. I ask her if it is okay if we do that on Thursday and she agrees. Her mom suggests that maybe Lisa can draw some pictures before I come back, and then she can tell me about them when I return. I add that I will leave all the art paper, markers, and pencils here for her. By this time Lisa seems much more comfortable. We pack up the camera and say goodbye to her mother, but Lisa is not in sight. As we are loading the car, the interpreter informs me that Lisa had called my name from the house next door. I look and wave good-bye, signing that I will see her on Thursday.

***

As agreed, Marilyn and I return on Thursday to see Lisa. She and her mother greet us at the door, but Lisa stays back about six feet, close to the wall. She smiles at us as we enter, and the interpreter and I proceed to set up the camcorder. Lisa sticks close to her mom as her mom encourages her to come in and sit with us. When we are ready to begin, her mom leaves the room, which encourages Lisa to talk to me on her own now.

From where she is situated, the interpreter is having a difficult time understanding Lisa’s speech. I am sitting next to Lisa at the table and have less difficulty understanding her. I rely on speechreading her, often asking her to repeat what she has said. Although Lisa usually communicates orally at home, she gradually begins to sign with me as her comfort level increases.

Initially, when Lisa does sign, her gestures are below table level near her lap. I’m unsure if this reflects her own discomfort with signing, or if sign is just not the language she and her parents use at home.


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