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Inner Lives of Deaf Children Interviews and Analysis

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In the process of transcribing these interviews, the interpreter/transcriptionist left many of Lisa’s comments and responses blank in the transcripts, particularly at the beginning of our interview. These omissions were due to the difficulty she experienced in understanding Lisa’s voice and her inability to see Lisa’s signs from where she was positioned. Thus, after this interview was transcribed, I went back over the transcripts and videotapes and was able to fill in many of Lisa’s responses. However, where neither of us understood a word or phrase, a question mark (?) is entered to indicate missing data.

Once we get started, Lisa tells me about school, family, friends, activities, and church. She has prepared a picture of her school for me and tells me the name of her school. She has not brought the rest of the paper with her that I had left last week because she does not want to draw more pictures.

Lisa begins to tell me about the picture she has drawn of her school. She is voicing here without using any signs. “Norwood is my school . . . in fourth grade.”

Because I am speechreading Lisa and want to be sure that I am understanding her correctly, I often repeat back to her by simultaneously speaking and signing what I have understood her to say, and then I follow up with other questions.

“Good, you’re in fourth grade now. And this is your school? Tell me more about your school.”

She continues voicing. “It’s hard work.”

“It’s hard work. What kind of work do you do?”

Lisa responds but I don’t understand. Thinking she has said something about being in the third grade now and not the fourth I say, “You’re in third grade, and you do what?” Still speechreading her, I think she says “butterfly,” and I repeat that back to her as a question, “Butterfly?” Lisa brings her hands to the table and signs X. With this she voices, “Multiply.”

Understanding her, I repeat, “Oh, multiplication.”

“And divide.”

At this point, I am still speechreading her, but she is beginning to use some signs at lap level when we run into difficulty. I also continue to repeat after her to verify I have understood her.

“And division. Multiplication and division. I remember that. That was hard for me, too. Are there deaf children? Last year in the third grade, were there any deaf children in your class? In your math class?”

Lisa responds but at first I don’t understand, so once again I repeat, “In math?” Then realizing she was naming a classmate, I repeat the name and then add, “Oh, just one other deaf child?”

She signs “Me,” and speaks, “Mac . . .”

“You and Mac?”

As this dialogue progresses, it becomes clear that Lisa is explaining that she is placed in a self-contained class but then is mainstreamed with hearing children for math, gym, physical education, art, and music. She says that in one of her classes, her teacher signs, but in the regular classes, she uses an interpreter. Lisa does not use the term interpreter; she explains she has someone go with her from room to room and sign for her what the teacher is saying. I ask if it was an interpreter like the one we have with us and she smiles and says yes. Our communication has a feeling of effort. It seems that I am focusing so much on trying to understand and be understood by Lisa that the content is suffering.

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