I figured the best place to start with this group would be an introduction thread... tell everyone here a little about yourself and why joining this group interested you. I'll go first here...

My name is Troy and I'm a Deaf single dad currently living in Minnesota. I started this group mostly in hopes to reach out to other deaf atheists who joined but also figured it would be good to have anyone here that knows sign language or even is interested in learning sign language.

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How funny that I happen to find this group today. (I will explain the irony after my introduction)

My name is Nuno. I work full time as an interpreter here in the San Francisco bay area. I probably shouldn't say bay area anymore, because I've become so lazy that I usually don't accept work outside of San Francisco proper. I'm a complete NERDA (Not Even Related to Deaf Adult). I happened into interpreting because I became really interested in the grammar of the language. Ended up taking quite a few language classes, then interpreting program, and now I've been working as an interpreter for over 7 years and 5.5 of those years certified.

Now for the irony of finding this group today. Have any of you heard of "SignWriting"? (Ok, so I'm big linguistics geek, and I find the idea of writing down sign languages cool.) Anyway, I recently saw a interview on a San Diego news station with the woman who invented it, Valerie Sutton. And it was so obvious that she saw Sign Writing as a way to bring the bible to the ASL fluent Deaf. So I actually came on to Atheist Nexus to see if I could find anyone willing to translate some atheist literature into SignWriting? Any takers?
I'm not actually familiar with SignWriting... I've heard of it but never actually seen it but that's a great idea.
Hi, Troy. I grew up with partial hearing loss in both ears and went to regular classes. I call myself hard of hearing rather than deaf or Deaf. I took a lot of sign language classes as an adult, in part to expand my skill set and to be able to communicate with Deaf people, and I'm glad I did so, but ironically, I think my brain developed and optimized itself to adapt to partial hearing loss so much that it's really been hard for me to make the switch from English to ASL. Ironically, many ASL classes are not necessarily designed well for adults with hearing loss as the hearing students are often able to benefit by hearing interpretations as they look at signs, while I couldn't do that.

I attended many ASL classes and even some Silent Weekends, and I've associating with many Deaf people through advocacy efforts or other kinds of work.

One common issue we have is lack of access to videos or workshops about atheism or related topics that aren't captioned.

By the way, I grew up aware that I didn't believe in a God, but it was also absolutely horrible to sit in church and have no idea what was being said. Totally boring and I would feel really angry about being put through that since I couldn't do something more productive with my time, like reading a book. It felt very hypocritical for the church to put hard of hearing and deaf children in that position (although my religious mother was also part of the problem by putting me in that situation).

Dana
Similar experience to me. I was raised by a strict Catholic family and was forced to attend a hearing church and couldn't understand a damn thing. I'm not actually completely deaf myself, I have normal speech and can communicate with someone fairly well in a 1 on 1 conversation if they speak clearly and there's no background noise, but I can't hear lectures or participate in group conversations without the aid of an interpreter. So church was extremely boring for me as well. Once I learned sign language around 5th grade due to my hearing getting even worse so that I could no longer hear on the phone even with an amplifier, I tried to convince my adoptive parents to bring me to a deaf church or at least one that was interpreted, but they refused because they felt I was making excuses not to participate. They didn't realize what it was like for me. Eventually I started questioning the beliefs themselves and was curious about the beliefs of other religions and why they all believe different things yet all think their beliefs are right and everyone else's is wrong. This is what ultimately lead to my atheism. I came to realize that they couldn't all be right, but they COULD all be wrong.
My wife and I started taking ASL at our local community college this fall. She works at Allstate and has a Deaf customer she wanted to be able to communicate better with. I was always partially interested but never fully applied myself to learning any other language. Neither of us have any direct friends or family who are deaf. She said her customer was a bit excited that they could communicate a bit faster now, rather than the old standby of note passing.

I have been watching youtube videos of people signing songs...its an art I really enjoy.

I am also doing my group communication project on non-verbal communication using ASL. ( The other groups choose Japanese and Chinese,how boring for them!)

Watching our Deaf teacher Thursdays nights is like going out to the movies, its a lot of fun. I know I will have to work hard and practice a lot if I want to advance my signing abilities, but so far, I find myself more willing to learn ASL than French or Spanish.
That's cool that your wife is going the extra mile to communicate with a deaf client. Not many people would do that. Most just pass notes or use an interpreter. It's cool that you're taking the classes with her as well. I'm glad you're enjoying them.
HI! This may be a forum gone "quiet, but I wanted to "howdy" anyway.
I had a taste of ASL (and consequently Deaf culture) in college. Fell in love with ASL, totally head over heels, just like I "fell" for French. I got all excited...and then found that I couldn't get much real-world practice in because every conversation quickly got around to "So, what church do you attend?".
End convo. Begin awkwardness. Not that anyone was rude or anything, but "You like the weather?" doesn't go very far for someone trying to learn a language.
It may be a special problem here (NC) because we're slap in the Bible Belt...but I haven't found any local alternatives.
I was hoping you might have some suggestions?
I wish I did. Nearly every deaf person I know personally is a Christian. I would love it if there was something anywhere for deaf atheists to meet up. Hell I'd settle for a local atheist group that just had an interpreter that could bridge a communication barrier for me. It's the main thing that prevents me from joining local atheist groups.
My name is Kevin McLeod and I've been an atheist since my early teens. I'm 48 now, married with two grown children from a previous marriage and a (literally) red-headed stepson in my current marriage. He has NOT grown horns...yet. :)

I'm here mainly to share the news that a new Deaf Freethinkers group has been created at Facebook. My friend Ashley Watson (deaf) and I (deaf) have been talking about creating a public forum for deaf atheists, agnostics, humanists and freethinkers for years, and we simply decided the time is right to do it.

We'd like to develop a community of our own and work towards eventually organizing a gathering somewhere, perhaps piggybacking on another deaf event like Deaf Expo. Our aim is social, to create the conditions that can support communication and collaboration among deaf freethinkers. As Troy as pointed out, we are a minority within a minority, so we don't expect big crowds. If we gather enough people to have a nice evening over pizza and beer, that works for me :)
That sounds great Kevin... I'll definitely check out the Facebook group. I'm sorry  it took me this long to respond. I haven't logged into A/N for ages. I should check in here more often.

Hi Kevin,

 

I wish I had seen this announcement of a Deaf Freethinkers group on FB earlier! I kept my account open on this website but left all groups in February 2010 for a while because I decided to go back to school. But now I feel ready to come back, so I've rejoined the Signing Atheists group on A/N. When I rejoined a few minutes ago, the first new post I saw was your post here immediately above. I've now clicked on the 'Like' button on the FB page for Deaf Freethinkers. Although I wonder if the Facebook group should have been for signing freethinkers to make it a bigger and more lively group, since the deaf freethinkers group only has 21 members so far.

 

For those who haven't joined the Deaf Freethinkers page on Facebook yet, here's the web address to that page: https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_30233287529

 

And BTW, Kevin, love your jobs-related column on i711.com's homepage! It's largely the only thing I read on that website while I'm waiting for my telephone calls to be completed by the telephone relay operators at i711.com (i.e., the telephone relay operators at Purple Communications).

 

Cheers,

Eric

Sorry, that's the wrong link! Apparently one has to join the group first in order to get the correct web address of that page. Or maybe that only works if one doesn't have to be approved first to join the group. Looks like anyone who's interested, you'll have to type "Deaf Freethinkers" yourself, sorry!

 

Eric

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