Being Mainstreamed As A Deaf Child ft. Jessica Flores (American Sign Language Vlog)
October 14, 2019
[pencil writing] [Pokemon game sound] RIKKI: Hello! Who is this? JESSICA: I’m Jessica Flores. RIKKI: We’re collaborating. We’re discussing deaf stuff, really. We’re discussing growing up mainstream, our experiences, if it helped us later in our lives, or if it didn’t. JESSICA: So, I grew up in mainstream schools. I was the only deaf person I knew there. And the only deaf person my teachers knew as well. It was hard because I knew I could get away with a lot. RIKKI: Playing the pity card.
JESSICA: Yes! JESSICA: But that was bad because- RIKKI: Eh, we were young. JESSICA: But I missed out on a lot of learning because I would be like, “Sorry, but I can’t hear you so…” and the teachers they don’t know how to communicate with deaf and hard of hearing kids. RIKKI: Did you sit in the front or the back? JESSICA: The front. For me, mainstream schools were fine until high school because- I ended up going to three high schools. RIKKI: Why three? JESSICA: The first two didn’t know what to do with me because I was deaf. They knew a little about the FM systems, but that’s all. My first high school told me that I needed to learn Spanish. I told them that it was too hard because I already in the past had speech therapy. (Spells out) Speech therapy. Is that the right sign? (Fingers got tongue tied) I told them I already had speech therapy back then for English. So when I was in Sh- I mean Spanish class- I told them it was hard because I didn’t have speech therapy for Spanish, I only had the teacher speaking in Spanish. JESSICA: Damn it! I really need to learn that sign.
RIKKI: #FingerspellingProblems JESSICA: So I failed that class and got bad grades. So my family and I decided that the high school was horrible and that I should go to a different high school. The second one, oh boy… RIKKI: That one was worse?! JESSICA: It was still the same thing, they didn’t know what to do with me. Or how to really communicate with me. Those high schools, the first two, They both thought I was the same as their hearing students. RIKKI: Because you voiced. JESSICA: Yes. RIKKI: Mainstream problems. JESSICA: So since I was using my voice, they thought, “Oh she can learn the same way as the hearing kids.” RIKKI: Speech does not equal hearing ability. JESSICA: So, going to a mainstream school was hard because, a lot of teachers think that deaf or hard of hearing students can learn the exact same way as hearing students. But that’s not true. RIKKI: Not in the same way. JESSICA: Because deaf and hard of hearing students often end up doing twice as much work. They end up working harder than the hearing students. Why is that? Because we have to put in extra effort trying to make out what is being said. RIKKI: We have to focus more. RIKKI: Do you wish you had gone to a deaf school? JESSICA: Yes! RIKKI: Do you think that it would have helped you more knowing ASL and having language acquisition? JESSICA: Yes. At my third high school, there was only me and my teacher. RIKKI: Ah, the special ed class! JESSICA: Independent study. So I was teaching myself. RIKKI: I don’t know if I want to say “regret”, but do you regret being mainstreamed? JESSICA: Yes and no. I’ve accepted who I am now. I’ve accepted where I’m from, how I grew up, it’s fine. RIKKI: You’ve accepted your life now. RIKKI: Do you think now you’d be making YouTube videos? JESSICA: My path would have been way different now. But you know, now I have more access: interpreters, VRS (Video Relay Service). I still learning how to use that though. But something that helped me out a lot (since I was mainstreamed) was the Deaf community. Because most of the time I felt like I was the only one trying to figure out how to cope with my problems as a deaf person. And that was not good, coping by yourself as the only deaf person. Like who am I going to talk with about my problems, no one. And what made it even harder was the fact that I couldn’t sign with anyone. So because of that, for a long time I… I was really depressed… constantly struggling… I was really hard on myself, because there was no one who knew what I was going through. Learning ASL, about Deaf culture, and community. That helped me out a lot and helped me find my Deaf identity. Sooner rather than way later on in life. I probably would have been more happier growing up if I had ASL as my main language and a Deaf community to fall back on. Like a LOT more happier. RIKKI: I understand. JESSICA: But you know it’s never too late,
NEVER too late to learn ASL and finding a Deaf community. RIKKI: It’s a Lifetime movie now. RIKKI: I was in mainstream schools all my life. There was a deaf school about
30-40 minutes away from me. I had seen it a few times, but
I never thought anything of it. I mean, I was a kid. I didn’t think about anything related to my deafness. I didn’t care about anything except
Pokemon and playing outside, being a kid. It was high school when I was
more conscious about figuring out who I was. And my hearing got worse. I guess being mainstreamed was fine, but
looking back on it, if I had gone to a deaf school, learned ASL,
that would’ve been better. I remember I was sitting at home once and
there were two people: a deaf girl and a hearing boy. They were going door-to-door
and offering to teach ASL. They knocked on our door and my dad answered it. The girl was signing and
the boy was interpreting for her. She said, “I’m offering to teach people ASL.” And my dad just goes, “Oh, no, thank you,”
and closes the door. He didn’t angrily close it or anything. JESSICA: He just wasn’t really thinking about it. RIKKI: Right. It was a calm,
“No, thank you. Have a nice day!” That type of thing. When I found out what it was about, I was like- that’s when I started to think
and feel what and how I was. My grades were absolutely awful. I actually graduated with a 2.6 GPA. I couldn’t understand a lot.
I missed out on a lot. I had friends, but not like best friends. I had some friends, but it wasn’t the same
like everyone else in school had. I didn’t have those strong connections,
didn’t have a group like everyone else. And when I graduated, I had nothing to do,
so I had a lot of time to think. A lot of time to think about who I was,
my interests, anything. I just didn’t have a real identity. When I first started YouTube, I liked and did makeup. That became part of my identity, but what else?! I had wanted to be a makeup artist. I wanted to move to LA and be popular. Yeah, that didn’t happen. But that was my dream then. I was thinking that there were no deaf makeup artists. There is, by the way! But I didn’t know that. But I was looking for them online and saw that one. And when I saw her, I wanted to be like her. When I saw other deaf people on the Internet
for the first time, I was like, whoa. JESSICA: I reacted the same way! RIKKI: “I’m not the only one!” I mean, yes, I was born from a deaf woman, but she was also mainstreamed and oral. When I found other deaf people and deaf culture,
I was like, “What the hell is that?” My mind was blown. The song “A Whole New World” applies here. JESSICA: A champ world! RIKKI: So I was asking questions and learning a lot. I read other people’s stories. I realized not only was I not
the only deaf person, but that there were deaf people
with the same stories as me. That meant even more to me than other stories. It was just… wow. JESSICA: It’s funny you mentioned that you couldn’t really find any Deaf makeup artist. For me, I graduated college for… Animation. And I really wanted to become a full time story artist. But I couldn’t find any… RIKKI: Deaf role models. JESSICA: Yeah, none. All of them were hearing, which is fine but… RIKKI: It’s not a bad thing it’s just not the same… JESSICA: And because of that, I felt like my dream as a story artist started to feel impossible. It’s never going to happen because animation is really competitive. And for a hearing person, it’s a little bit easier to compete, but for a deaf person who doesn’t know sign language, how are you going to make it work? RIKKI: You’re stuck. JESSICA: Yeah, you’re stuck. Because if wanted to work as a story artist, they work in groups. It’s a lot of group work. And they do a lot of story pitching. But they do a lot of group work and usually they work with a lot of people in one room. And everyone is talking over one another, passing ideas quickly. RIKKI: It’s hard to understand all that. JESSICA: So I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with all those people because… RIKKI: It’s too much. JESSICA: Yeah, and I didn’t even know ASL so it’s not like I could get an interpreter. Now it is different, I can get interpreters. Communication is getting easier, I mean I am still learning ASL. But, anyways, it is just funny you brought that up, because it reminded about that. RIKKI: Things are easier when you’re a kid because everything is like, whatever. but then after you graduate, it’s like now it’s time for the real world. And as far as you know, there’s no role models for you. The only person I knew of a few years ago was Marlee Matlin. I had no idea who she was until after I graduated! JESSICA: Same! RIKKI: Just one person! I mean, yeah, there were likely more,
but she was my first one! JESSICA: Four years ago, I found out about her
and I was like… W-T-F?! Why am I finding out about her NOW!? RIKKI: And then finding out about famous
deaf people was something else. Now, I’m not really mad that I was mainstreamed. Before, I really was, and
sometimes, I have my moments. Like I said before, it’s kind of like,
“What would I be doing now?” Would I be doing YouTube now? Would I be sharing stories of any kind now? JESSICA: Would you still be doing makeup? RIKKI: Would I have been inspired to help
other deaf kids like me now? ‘Cos, you know, now there’s still a
lot of deaf kids who don’t have role models. They don’t know of anyone. JESSICA: I think that being mainstream is fine but you need to give your kid access to the Deaf community… sign language… RIKKI: Got to give them options. JESSICA: Because they might not
have anyone to cope with. And having that Deaf community helps a ton! RIKKI: There are deaf people who don’t care. They’re fine with being mainstreamed.
They don’t want to use sign language. And that’s fine. My only issue has been if they’re
not given knowledge of all the options. You do whatever you want. I just think it’s fair to give them their options. I worked with someone at Google who
wears two cochlear implants. She doesn’t use ASL at all. I think that’s fine.
I respect that. JESSICA: We all only know what works best for ourselves. So if hearing aids don’t work for you, implants don’t work for you or signing doesn’t work for you, that’s fine, but make sure you make the decision, not other people. If you are parents of a deaf or hard of hearing kid, make sure to check in every now and then, and see what’s up with your kid. Like, ask them how they like their hearing aids. RIKKI: Have discussions with them. JESSICA: It’s important because, you know, hearing aids don’t always work for everyone. RIKKI: Same with implants. JESSICA: And even lip-reading, it doesn’t always help kids. So make sure find out and see what they want to try. RIKKI: Just give them all the options. JESSICA: That. RIKKI: If you have stories that you want to share,
write them down below in the comments. RIKKI: Let’s discuss some more.
JESSICA: We want to know. RIKKI: There is a video on Jessica’s channel,
so make sure you go there and watch that. And also subscribe to her channel. Thank you for coming here! JESSICA: Thank you for having me here! RIKKI: We’ll see them later? BOTH: We’ll see you later. Bye!