IM this article to a friend!

July 1, 2003

Author hopes book will teach world how to communicate with the deaf

From: Sauk Valley Newspapers, IL - Jul 1, 2003

Published: Tuesday, July 1, 2003

DIXON — She knows people often think she lives in silence. She wants the world to learn how to communicate with millions like her.

Angela Taylor's parents did not realize she was deaf until she was 2-and a-half years old.

She remembers her parents telling her she spoke four or five words but did not speak in sentences. She remembers being moved from school to school.

Now Taylor, 37, returns home and is gearing up for a book signing from 2 to 4 p.m. July 12 at Books on First for a reference book she co-authored. Her book, "Signing for Dummies" was released June 1 and is now available in many bookstores.

Taylor said she lived in a house with hardwood floors and she always knew when her parents were in the room because of the vibrations.

"They did not notice anything because I always responded when they were in the room," Taylor said. Taylor said she knew she was special when she went to a school for deaf children when she was 5.

"I realized everyone in my family was hearing and I was deaf," Taylor said.

During her childhood Taylor attended public schools in Amboy, Sterling, Oregon and Kaneland before going to the Illinois School for the Deaf at 11.

"I hated public schools mainly because I felt that the schools were not concerned about our deaf and hard-of-hearing education and there was a lot of rejection in public schools," Taylor said. "We had our own lunch table and played alone at recess time. We were not accepted to try out for sports and clubs."

Taylor started speech therapy with Dr. Bill Gorham, which she continued until she graduated from high school. After going to ISD in Jacksonville, she graduated from Gallaudet University, the only liberal arts school for the deaf in Washington D.C.

Now she wants to help others communicate with the deaf community. Taylor lives in Pueblo, Colo. but commutes 47 miles each day to teach. She has served as an interpreter coordinator and American Sign Language teacher for five years at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Taylor said she has found there are many people out there who are interested in communicating with the deaf rather than "segregating" themselves from the deaf because they couldn't communicate.

"People often think we live in silence," Taylor said. "I think the deaf hear a lot more with their hearts and minds."

Taylor said she hopes the reference book she co-authored will show the general public the deaf can hear, but not auditorily.

She faced some challenges in writing the book. The ASL language is a spoken language with its own grammar style, and the deaf culture is unique with its own folklore and customs.

"The deaf do not view the deafness or hard of hearing as an issue, but rather an identity," Taylor said.

This became a challenge when writing and educating the book company on the deaf community. In her book, when identifying the deaf community Taylor uses a capital, "D."

Taylor said in English she knows it's grammatically incorrect to use the capital. When referring to this book she had to convince the company to leave the capital letter in the book.

When talking about hearing loss, the group would use a small "d" but when discussing the deaf community or a deaf person in general, the focus is on the identity and not the hearing loss.

She said there is a difference between sign language and ASL.

ASL is a language the deaf have had for many years. However, it has not been recognized as a formal language.

Taylor said the deaf have struggled with general public educators in school systems in recognizing ASL as a language since it is not written. Hearing educators have developed their own sign language in English.

She claims when forced to learn signed English children are unable to process the meaning of a sentence. In signed English a child would sign the word butterfly with two separate words. They would sign the actual word butter and then fly, she said.

"That has to really throw a child off," Taylor said. "A child thinks a stick of butter is flying."

In ASL communicators gesture with both hands and form a butterfly. Taylor said for a child to learn English they have to know the sign and be able to finger spell the word.

She said 90 percent of families with deaf children do not sign.

Taylor said she feels fortunate she had supportive family, friends and neighbors in Dixon when she grew up.

"They did not treat me differently so I wanted to give back what they gave me by being sensitive to their needs of understanding the deaf community," she said.

Copyright 2001-2003 Sauk Valley Newspapers