DeafBlind In The Community
Deafblind Community Pictures
Paralympian and NFB Deafblind Division President Alice Eaddy hurls the shot put from her right hand. Alice is a national track and field competitor on the Blind Athletes, Inc. team. Click here to read the article where this picture was originally printed.
DeafBlind Division member Dana Tarter doing horseback riding.
DeafBlind Division member Dana Tarter rock climbing on an outside climbing wall.
SSP Chrissie and DeafBlind Division President Alice Eaddy staff an NFB information table at New Jersey's 2016 Taste of Technology sponsored by Sprint, DB CAN NJ, and Helen Keller National Center.
DeafBlind Division president Alice Eaddy is an African American surfing in Long Beach, Long Island. The instructor is behind Alice on the surf board providing Haptic cues on her back.
Jon Gabry, member of the NFB Deafblind Division from New Jersey, is wearing a black cap and gown and honors cords and sash flashes a big smile and a double thumbs up upon graduating from New Jersey City University with a BA in fine art. Picture submitted by Kathy Gabry, July 2020.
Women’s Crush Wednesday
June 24, 2020
Our second Woman Crush Wednesday is Alice Eaddy.
"Alice Eaddy is an example of living up to her own high expectations and never settling for less. Alice believes that DeafBlind people should not be marginalized or held to standards beneath their abilities. "Less than" is simply not acceptable. Alice serves as president of the National Federation of the Blind DeafBlind Division. She also serves on the State Rehabilitation Council of the NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired and on the SSP-NJ Advisory Council. She strives to educate others on issues that the DeafBlind face and the resources available to assist them. As part of this mission, Alice is a mentor for youth who have visual impairments or are DeafBlind. Alice is a Paralympian in both track and field and is co-captain of the Skywalkers race walk team. She also enjoys surfing. She supports her fellow DeafBlind at every opportunity. 'Realistically, there isn’t just an I in my endeavors,' Alice says, 'as it is all about being part of a collective We. We want the DeafBlind to become what they are truly capable of, not merely what other people say they can be.' "
In the picture, Alice Eaddy is standing with her guide dog, Wanda.
Community Member Takes Action
June 5, 2020
[Doug]: Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode eight of feeling through live. Uh, we're joined today by Alice Eaddy. Alice, I'd love if you could just briefly introduce yourself.
[Alice]: I am an athlete. I'm a training teacher. I am also, I'm an advocate. I like to paint. Well, actually I do more artwork with charcoal. Um, I like books, you name it, I'll read it and research researchers. My favorite thing. Â
[Doug]: Excellent. Well, thank you, Alice. Um, and I've had the, uh, the distinct pleasure to be able to speak with you a good deal over the last few days. And I know that you have certainly lived many lives and done many, many things, and we hope to be able to get to as much of that as possible. Um, but just to, uh, kind of jump into things right off the bat here. Um, I, I don't, I don't see any way to start this conversation other than to address what has been happening, um, throughout this country and really around the world over the last couple of weeks, since the death of George Floyd, um, and the innumerable protests and, uh, movements that have been born out of that, or rather a continuation, um, of movements that have been reignited during this time. And I guess just to jump right into that conversation, I'm wondering, um, what's been your personal experience of the last couple of weeks
[Alice]: In my town or personally in my town. I stay off the street. I was advised to stay home. Don't go out for a while, um, which is fine. Um, but personally it's disturbing and because we're repeating history among other things, we are literally repeating things that have been said and done years ago. Um, the pain part, that's a progressive thing, and we've been living it as a, as persons of color that pain is, has been there, but we just brought it to a surface that it's kind of going to implode. If it's not handled properly, we know how to speak for ourselves. We know how to March the problem is can we do that without the level of violence that has already started the kinds of the escalated on both sides? And we don't need instigators to, to fuel it and make it something that it's not because if you have peaceful folks actually protesting and then the looting starts, but it's not necessarily them. So you have to be careful of who's getting judgment because it's gonna fall on all of us, even if we didn't do it.
[Doug]: You know, Alice I'm so glad you went right to that topic. I think that's been, that's been definitely a, really a layered and complicated topic as far as, uh, the protests and the nature of them in some that have turned, uh, violent at times some stat have there been looting as a part of them. And I know, again, I don't know if anyone has the, uh, the right answer here. I know there's been some contention and suspicion and, uh, really kind of lack of clarity around who's behind what who's starting, what and how really the looting or riding has begun. And really who's responsible for that in instigating that, but with that said, regardless of that, is, are you saying that your position is that the most effective, uh, protest is a peaceful protest?
[Alice]: It might be, but it doesn't mean, and it depends on who's looking because when, before we were protesting, when, um, other Caucasians were protesting with armed weapons, clearly present, they weren't perceived as a threat we're unarmed and still perceived as a threat. That's a problem. So that the, how people start the drama, it's already almost preconceived that we're going to have a problem, whether we're doing anything or not. And that's the difficult yeah. But it's historic as well. And it's never been stopped. So we were starting from the same place almost four years ago in some things.
[Doug]: So I, as someone who grew up during the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties, what, um, how do you look at what's happening today through those eyes? In that context?
[Alice]: No, I can remember going to jail with my family. So there's a lot of things that, that, that make that whole process fearful. But, and even recently, when they're using the Mason stuff there, their children involved that are getting maced equally, you know, there's the pushing and the shoving and people, elderly are being injured dramatically, and it's clearly on TV. You can't miss it. So nobody is a protected group and they're not, um, they're not managing well, if you want to call it protocol, the protocols are out. You know, when, um, some of our elected officials imply that it's acceptable to use force and imply that there's a weakness by allowing protest to start that a lot of room for a lot more judgments that shouldn't be made.
[Doug]: Yeah. That's well, put, I'm going to just take a moment to, uh, again, thank you everyone who's joining us today. Um, I want, wanna remind everyone to please feel free to ask whatever questions that you may have in the comments section. Um, if there's anything that we've taken away from the last couple of weeks dialoguing about the topic that we're currently talking about, and some other topics we'll be touching upon today is certainly, uh, something that, that can lead to a fruitful, uh, results and hopefully continue, uh, the change that's seemingly happening at this moment. Um, also if you are watching on Facebook, if you could share this broadcast right now to let you have other people join in the more people who join the conversation, the better, if you're watching on YouTube, please feel free to send the link to anyone who you feel like my benefit from this. So with that said, Alice, on the topic of change, you know, I think we're, we're still very early in this iteration of what's happening around black lives matter. Um, and this, this stage of civil rights movement that's happening right now. So it might it's, I think it's certainly far too early to say what the results are gonna be, but does it, does this does what's happening right now in your estimation? Feel like it is going to lead to change. And if so, what might that be in your opinion?
[Alice]: It depends on who you're looking for the change to come from. Um, I think that, um, I've seen some police chiefs make statements that imply that they are more willing to govern themselves. They're definitely not willing to bring in military. You know, there's already been the little bullets that have been landing people randomly. They don't want that. They don't want that to be the further memory of what's going on. They are in instances trying to, um, and commiserate with us in some ways, in some places they're, they're taking a stance and they're taking the knee and they're doing other more humane behaviors to offset. What has already been seen? We know that, you know, what happens with the police and not everybody, it's not all of them, but it's something that is profound, it's intense, and it has not been stopped for years. And typically when people have reported it, especially us, you know, we're there, we're still the now and we're still also the perpetrator. It can't be both. It's just like crying, rape the person that was raped as equally as criminal as the person that did it. And very often the person that's raped is not elite. So we have a whole picture that has to be dealt with. And you can't, you're definitely not sweeping this one under the road. So at least if nothing else, it's here to stay and they have to do something.
[Doug]: Yeah. I, I, that's a really astute point there. And I think at least what I've feel personally, but have heard echoed from a lot of other, uh, individuals and organizations is that, that the tenor of what's happening right now feels distinctly different than some other recent times in that it doesn't feel like it's just going to go away this time. So to speak, it feels like they're the persistence and the numbers that are joining in this movement, um, at least indicate that there is a demand from a large portion of this country and beyond to have there be tangible change and, and justice served, um, before there's any sort of slowing down of, or, or easing out of the protests and demonstrations that are happening right now.
[Alice]: I agree. And you've got a number of international you're watching too, because there are looking in awe that it's still happening. And they're also watching our leaders, political stances or the lack thereof. And, you know, they, other countries have viewed their people of color in a different way, or at least have not been obvious about some of it. And sometimes some of the things that our leaders are saying, really quote point that, Hey, we've been talking about this for years and yes, we're right. You can't pretend it doesn't exist anymore. It's not invisible. It's not going away. You know, there's no, there's not a rock big enough. So we have to be careful of how we speak to some degree. Yes, it, you know, the club effect might've worked the Brazilian years ago, but the club effect isn't going to help right now, you know, we need humanity. We need somebody to actually be with us except us and understand that this is a systemic thing. It's not just the police, it's a whole cultural environment that has been created and allowed to stay.
[Doug]: I'm wondering, you know, I'm just thinking about being familiar now to some degree with your, the advocacy work you do for the DeafBlind community. Um, what, if any overlaps do you see between what's happening right now with the black lives matter movement? Um, with what overlap do you see with the work you do for the DeafBlind community and for DeafBlind advocacy?
[Alice]: In a different area, we have the same problems, um, in the medical plateau and hospitals and doctor's office and all that. We still have the same kinds of difficulties that we had years ago, and we're still having, and as far as a DeafBlind person, they're magnified. So we still, I still personally have great struggles that I do regularly to try and alleviate those kinds of things that need to be taken care of. And here again, very often in the medical field, this goes to the COVID concern is that if, for instance, I were to be hospitalized, there's way too many variables, it would make me very likely not to be awakened next morning, because somebody can conclude, you know, I can have a dead battery. I'm unresponsive, I'm in a real world of crap, you know? So I have to pay attention and understand. I mean, I carry all kinds of things to assist in communication, but in protesting or in wandering around my other big concern is being safe, just walking, you know, cause I don't stay in the house. Typically I take every opportunity to go out and my fear is what happens if somebody wants my attention and I don't hear them, am I going to be randomly manhandled for something that I absolutely had no control over? Cause I never heard him in the first place. And for us, that's a big problem. It's the same thing with going into an emergency room doctor's office and even just making it through the initial outer foil where the person is asking the coconut questions and you can't answer them because you can't hear them and they are not willing to remove the mask. And you can say, I really can't hear you. I have it in writing too. I have it in communication cards that tell them, I can't hear you because of the mask. I need to know what you want. And you know, so I sometimes take a more advanced approach and just tell them, this is who I am. This is my appointment. And I'm going toward the door because I, you know, I have no Curry course if they're not going to make it easy for me to communicate with them. And that's my concern, anywhere riding the buses, I still have the same concern. And especially now because of the way that they've, um, second off access to the driver. So I can ask them a question. I can't ask them to tell me when I get to my stop because I have no way of understanding or hearing them in any shape, fashion or form. So you have created moving vehicles that are actually in essence tomb was her us, you know? So there's a lot of fear in general just by the way it was set up.
[Doug]: Yeah. Can you walk us through a little bit more, you know, I know that as someone who is a cancer survivor and certainly had your fair share of hospital visits, can, can you just, uh, expound upon what you mean about the additional risks you have say in a hospital setting?
[Alice]: Well, you start with you, there is no communication access going in. I've literally gone to for eye surgery and had to argue continuously for communication access in the beginning. Not that was, I mean for days or how am I going to get there in my County? I have to have para transportation. So I'm saying to them, you can't tell me two days before surgery I'm coming in because my, the person's providing transportation needs five days. Notice this was a monumental argument just to get that far. Then you're in the hospital. Um, I was fortunate that here in my state, the direct of SSP New Jersey came and she was my provider for all of their pretesting pre-surgery testing. And she stayed for surgery, but to have to argue continuously, not only what am I going to do, what happened to my dog? Cause I have a guide dog and my dog was going to be there. So I wanted to be sure that she was going to be taken care of. And I was not going to leave her at the mercy of animal patrol. So that's another Avenue that you have to contend with because, um, there have been mistakes made in other places and I'm not about to take the chance that my dog would accidentally get euthanized. Should I end up staying? And somebody has to rehouse my animal. So they provided someone from four H to basically stay in, hanging with my dog while I was there. Um, but part of the process of even the testing you're going in there and drawing the blood or whatever there is, they like to talk, turning around and walking sideways, anything but standing and facing you. Even in my regular doctor's office is saying to them, I'm the one that is not going to hear you. If you call me, you need to come get me because, you know, I don't want you to have an attitude because you know, the sighing and the huffing and there somehow I'm not compliant because I did not respond to you. Um, I have it in writing. I do all kinds of things to make sure that, but going to surgery without knowing is there because you have no way of knowing where your stuff went. You don't know, you know, and years ago I've had, uh, surgery, kidney related procedures and all kinds of things and had no idea what, what I was doing and what was going to happen when I was done. You're kind of like the robot and you're, they just move you from place to place. And nobody even tries to tell you what they're doing that is not only inhumane, it's scary. And it leaves for a lot of distrust in general. So when I'm going further, my distrust of the medical profession is going to stay there. But in this circumstance, knowing full well and our state does have a plan so that, um, if you're a hearing impaired or you have different disabilities, a person can stay with you. But in some places you could be by yourself, you know, um, I react to light, um, I'm extremely light sensitive so that in circumstances where there's bright light and you're talking pain, and sometimes I don't have a predictable response to bright lights and people in motion because I don't know where they're coming from. They're all connected. And you know, it's like I'm watching a space, light show so that I have fear in general. And then you're not really communicating with me. It's complicated. But for me, my worry is that, are they going to know my advanced directives and all those things? I keep that on. Anyway, I have things in my phone, completely regular ready for them to, to show because I don't want them not to know something like my allergies, um, or, you know, but you're guessing you're really technically guessing at what they want/
[Doug]: We were just speaking on the communication element of that as well and how that can be very difficult. Can we actually just take a moment? Can you explain to viewers how we are communicating right now? Â
[Alice]: You're on a screen to the left on my monitor and you have, your captions are coming in as a transcript on my side and I am, so that's what I'm doing right now.
[Doug]: And can you, can you talk a little bit about the different communication methods that you use, um, in your, in your daily life, in various parts of your life?
[Alice]: Um, I do sign, but mostly I'm the only one in my County. So there's no really nobody talked to my mom. Um, so I don't really do a lot of signing at home, but, um, I communication cards that are some are in books, like a photo album type style, and they're all I have them related to travel. I have them related to going to the bank, going to a store. And all of those particular ones are in particular books. I also have ones that are on various apps on my phone or my iPad, so that I'm readily available for anything I can think of. Um, I have a particular set for going to the airport and any of that kind of thing, verbal, but it also causes problems because the fact that I do speak most people want to refuse to acknowledge that I'm also a deaf person. So there's a dichotomy in just that area alone. And so sometimes I will travel and don't speak same struggle. But, um, as a sports person, we're always the last one getting on the plane and it drives, I mean, my coach tries really hard and we go through all the right steps and it doesn't really solve the problem. So I'm always going to be, you know, and I always ask for the Pat down, I start that way and, and it just digresses. Um, but I have since, um, signed up for, yeah, I go to Tia. I'm also on a TSA coalition. So I do get to give them input on things of that nature. I also have finally that my little pass and all that jazz, so that should make it easier this year. But, um, when I travel, I have a guide dog. I always carry my cane. You never know she might get an injury. I have to be prepared. Um, I carry I'm also, uh, have other medical issues. So I always have my glucose meter and all those kinds of things. I have one that works for me that I can use on my phone. And I have one for regular people. Should that be there that it talks, but I can guide them through whatever they have to do. So I also do that. I'm kind of like a girl scout except thing. I was a four H leader. So same idea. Um, and when my son was younger, I was also, I led boys troop. But the idea is that you're always have to be ready because you don't know. I carry buttons. I have one that says I am deaf, blind as a double word one on top of the other. I also have one for those that really look at you. It says I am deaf and blind because they really do live in one person. Um, I don't particularly, you wear them 24 seven because you don't want to be a target either, but I always wear either a scarf or something that I can flash it when necessary and hope that it works. Um, but you know, you have. To be prepared and, you know, deliberate braille this way I take with me so that because I can do my phone and all of those things with my braille this way as well, I also wear a cochlear implant and I have a hearing aid. So, you know, and that means carrying a bunch of batteries and all that other stuff too.
[Doug]: So I do want to actually get to the topic of you as a Paralympian soon before we do that, um, I have a question from Noah and he says, um, thank you for your insight. On your perspective on recent current events made a powerful statement about the way that we are watching history repeating itself before our eyes, from your perspective and experience, what lessons do you feel we as a community should have learned from our history that we need to be applying and remembering today?
[Alice]: No, technically you can go all the way back to Lincoln and remember that when he was working on demolishing slavery and all the other things, his whole principle was uniting the nation, doing economic changes at the same time, doing something with slavery, preserving the integrity of the nation, all of those things simultaneously, he didn't just, you know, it wasn't like I'm going to point fingers on one side and then delegate over here. He balanced a whole lot of issues simultaneously knowing full well that he could be taken out in a heartbeat, you know, and he still did it even when there was, you know, brothers and family split up on one side of the fence and on the other, he was still willing to lead this nation and died in the middle. So we don't have that level of, um, apparent commitment. Sometimes you sit and you look and you're baffled that we can't separate ourselves as a country from the rest of the world, because what we do, somebody is following. Some people have actually done some of the things we are slipping into. Why won't we save ourselves in diverse place. And we have to be able to remember we're international citizens as well. You know, it's a shame that way back in the day, even during the war time, there are people of color were more, um, viewed with much more honor and Valor in battle in somebody else's country than they were when they came up. That's a real problem because you can't, I mean, hero is either a hero one way and all the time or what, you know. Um, and I would prefer to keep my heroes where they belong, preferably with honor and try and honor that memory of whatever they stood for. And we're not doing it too well. Um, because we're leaving too many people behind. We're not even thinking about some of the other people that we're leaving behind. Some of us don't even know we're leaving people behind. So there's a big gap in just think that would be the first thing. Remember what humanity was supposed to be, and nobody was created to be God.
[Doug]: I'm going to just hold one moment while we do an interpreter switch. Great. Are we all set interpreter? Great. Excellent. So continuing here. Uh, so I was, I'm wondering if you could take a moment at this juncture to, to go into a bit more detail about your work with the national Federation of the blind and your advocacy work for the, for the DeafBlind community.
[Alice]: Currently I am the president of national Federation of blind, DeafBlind division. And, um, we're still growing, we're still evolving, but a lot of what we do is, and you know, I'm an information hound. So if I find something, I send it, we're still working on using technology in a more effective way. And we too are working with the zoom environment and, uh, planning a virtual convention. And for us, that means of our reports are going to be pre-read prerecorded and sign language is going to be added to be viewed so that we want to make sure the captions will be there. There are things that we intend and are working toward, but we've been growing from the time I started and sometimes growing there's growing pains, and then there's a growing that's extremely slow, but that's okay. Um, the long, the long range goal is to maintain equality and within the national Federation of gland, because sometimes it's like two separate universes and it shouldn't be because when I first came into the Federation, I came in as a blind person. I didn't come in as a deaf person. I was a, I was welcomed as the blind human being that had just lost a, a mate and needed someplace to be while I was still raising my daughter and doing the sports and following around and still working, I need a piece of me that was going to become solid. So that's where I went, because they said here, be whatever you want, you know, you can grow to whatever you want. And I took that to heart. You know, that meant that I have been in my time secretary for the guide dog division secretary for the diabetes division. I've been secretary for a chapter in our, in my own County. I have, um, done all kinds of workshops still. Do I still take questions from folks anywhere that you know, that send me email? Um, I have gone as far as Alabama, um, and other States to speak. Um, I also, well, technically even when I'm doing sports, I'm still the advocate. Cause I'm the only DeafBlind went out there. Um, but the Federation gave me a place to start. I got friends, I had people that shared, you know, like I needed more braille skills that I didn't think I needed then, but I totally do ended. And when I went to Helen Keller center, I acquired all of those things, but I had to start somewhere. And that was understanding that it was acceptable to be a blind person. I don't have to hide it. I don't have to fake it. I don't have to try and pretend that I know something that I actually don't. Um, that's somebody else's job to put those projections on me to be who I am means. It's okay. You know, and it's OK to, um, you know, everybody has an not too good day bumping into everything. You got the drop C's, you know, those are things are going to happen. What are you going to do to solve the problem? That's my job. I like solving problems, whether it's teaching or whatever. So the Federation was perfect for me, gave me a place to learn. And when I, um, my husband had passed and I was doing, um, I trained as a office administrator and of course did not get employed because when you go through a training school, they don't tell you that it's designed for you get done. If you don't go through years of experience, you're not going anywhere with it. It doesn't matter if you're Microsoft, sir. But I took those skills and I was, did all kinds of secretarial things. Now I started learning to do Facebook and stuff like that. And I did it for my state when they asked me, um, I like organizing things. So I had something to do, you know, somebody said, we need a flyer. Okay, let's do it. Somebody said, can you chair doing the, um, They call it, Um, announcements, like the kind that you do on the radio, that kind of thing. So yeah, I'll go figure it out. And so I, that was something else that I added. So I just collected things as I went, but it was an okay thing because for me, I needed, I had that energy. I had kids that were growing up now they're grown. I got all these, this empty space and then I needed something to do. But, you know, so the Federation was, was the perfect medium for just growing. Nobody said you had to stop.
[Doug]: I have another question from Christopher. He asks: Alice captioning provides access to the deaf hard of hearing DeafBlind community. Can you offer your experience going through this movement and speak about the lack of caption content and how it is essential for access for everyone to caption their content?
[Alice]: Well, we already know that we don't have enough on TV. We already know that the white house very rarely does it. I find it when I'm on YouTube and I go, sometimes I'll go to the deaf channels and look at it. I don't see it naturally being produced when he's speaking. And that's unfortunate. And I know that we've been asking, um, um, the cafeteria needs to be everywhere because I want my kids to know how to read, you know, when they start out little that's the other thing that I do, I'm also a reading teacher. So when my children are hearing young, originally people were perceiving that because I was disabled, my kids are blank, be efficient, you know? And, um, it didn't turn out to be the case, but so that, by the time my daughter was old enough to go to school, she was reading at the first grade level because I wanted her to, and she didn't seem to mind, you know, but if you to literacy starts with something really teeny mini simple, just show me the word. I don't even have to know what it is. Just pretend that it's there and you want me to see it. And sometimes that's the only acknowledgement we might get. And, you know, um, and if you can't caption like a lot of things in the Federation or audio files, and we have had discussion that said, we want the audio files in a transcript that we can use. Those of us that are using braille or any other means to acquire knowledge. You can interface, you can interface with an MP three, five, it just don't work. You know? And so I need to see it. I have gone to movies with my team and my coaches and had a great time. So I wonder when that one time, about three years and it was so cool because they had, it was the audio description was there and the other headphone was there. And my previous coach who's passed on was also DeafBlind, but he was more high functioning. So he was listening with the audio description and I was using the other, and then we trade and try and figure it out. It was great. Um, or I've gone to concerts and to be able to, yeah, I wouldn't necessarily say you have to have transcripts, but it was the first time I'd ever done it. And how, um, tactically oriented that is that you could feel it through the seats, through the floor, through your stomach or your head. It was a full body experience without you didn't need captions for that. But I had, I also had apps that I kept asking my best friend what's that what's, that what's that because I didn't, I'd never heard particular inference and needed to know, well, what is it? Or, you know, there's this thing that's called a pretty show thing that they do. And that's not actually the concert. I didn't know. So I had to ask, but I need the captions for, you know, anything. Um, especially if I'm home alone, cause I don't have anybody else to talk to. Um, so I mean, I YouTube a lot because I liked the content and I'm fished for particular things, I believe in feeding the mind and saving the body because we can, you know, being isolated is tough enough. Um, and we can do other damage to our own mental health worrying about being home alone, you know, um, being in an environment where periodically there's gunshots four blocks over, you know, I have friends that will text me and tell me and you know, but my doors are locked. I got a security system, so I'm good. But you know, I'm not going to get it from the news. I don't particularly watch the news only, usually on social media. Um, T my son got made a really big TV, but it's too far away. So I don't really try that. I prefer to do everything right up close and personal. So if I'm watching a movie it's on my laptop or something, but without the captioning, you also have no illiteracy, you know? And I also feel very equally, strongly as a blind person. Yes, I have braille, but I don't want my understanding of the English language to only be auditory because when you see it in print, then you getting in arguments. Because for instance, in heroin, tell, we used to argue about what words actually look like that you heard, because they're not spelled that way. And so you're really the English language and is not just to be acquired by sound. You need to see it to believe it. And you can argue about goofy things. Like, um, I had an argument with my braille teacher over the word, Abby, because Abby can be a place. It can be a person, it could be a thing. And why, or why don't senses in the braille book. Why aren't they make sense? They should, there should be a point to this and you know, but I need to know the English language and I'm not going to it. If I don't see it, people don't get that for us. Language is something you touch or you see on somebody's face. And even though I'm DeafBlind, I can still pick up. Um, I guess it's kind of like your aura or a sense of your facial. Like, I can tell if you're sad or you're angry and it's a feeling kind of thing. It's not necessarily a visual kind of thing, but some of us can see that and we need that. And when you're wearing the mask, we lose all of that. We not only, you know, so now we don't have, we can't hear anything projected out of your mouth. We can't see your face moving. We are totally clueless. That's dangerous for us. And then walk around being afraid that you're going to be accosted for nothing, just for being person of color. That's a horrible way is five or a for instance, in a different timeframe. Um, I've spoken at schools and I've had people ask me that I have children. I act like they do it with contempt. And I'm like, Hey, I was fortunate. I wasn't sterilized when I was a child. And it did happen, uh, years ago. So it could've, but I wasn't, and my children are normal. So why wouldn't I want to propagate nearest people that really think that, you know, we're supposed to be, um, incompetent because we're different. And you know, it just wasn't done that way. And I would never settle for that. So if I didn't have captions, I wouldn't have anything because I don't, I miss all of the other stuff because some of the, you know, unless it's a super loud thing or it's something that I'm feeling through the Brown or the floor, or in some other way, I'm going to miss it. So I need to see them. Yeah. Well, that's thank you for walking through that in such a thorough way. Um, you know, I, I know I'm skipping around topics a little bit, but I do want to make sure we cover you as a Paralympian. Cause I think that's a really important part of who you are and a large part of your life. So if you could, if you could just, uh, introduce us to that topic and that part of your life. Well, I actually started by fluke. Um, my coach had been asking me for about a year and a half and I kept telling him no, because I, I was at that time working with edge and I worked with children 14 to 21. And so we do a lot of field trips and going places and, and stuff. And sometimes we used to have gym activities and I had never, at that time originally like 2015 inch, 16 inch, I didn't go to the gym and never been in the gym, you know? And my son has matured in sports would say, you must have been great in high school. And then like, no, we weren't allowed to get off the bench. You know, you went to gym and you said where they told you when you didn't move, because they didn't want to worry about liability. So in the beginning I kept saying no. And then I went to a practice and I only went eight mainly because that particular coach was also hearing impaired like me. And so I listened, I tried, um, and the first, the first session I was on a treadmill and I did not turn it off. So I stayed where I was at until somebody came over and turned it up. But I mean, I've got endurance, which is cool, but I mean, it was, it was kind of a fluky thing because I endured because I had no choice cause I've not had no, but, um, when I ran for instance, the first track meet that I went to, he signed me up for shotput, javelin, and discus. And we went through that rotation and we had a break for lunch. And then he said, you're on for the 100, 200 and 400. And I went, okay, didn't know what he was talking about. Didn't have a clue. Um, cause I didn't know anything about sports, but I trusted him. And so when I ran the 400, he was my guide miner. And um, I don't hear the gun. So what, but I had a guide runner, so I didn't have to hear the gun. So I moved when he moved, when his hand raised from the ground, I knew that he heard the gun that meant run the front and I did well. And when after the race, he said to me, you're really good at this. And I went, what you said, run and you know, um, and I'm pretty fearless and I always improved. Um, my form is not some days it's not great, but because I didn't have anybody to copy, you know, because copying how the stylist's supposed to look into the cadence of the run, I have to touch it, feel it, figure it out and get through while around with it for a while before I figured out that what that means. Um, but going to practice, I live in South Jersey, so it's a five hour trip anywhere. So that starts your day, that five hours to get to wherever you're going to get to the gym or go to the field and do what you do and enjoy it. Um, why do I do it? Cause I totally do. Cause I'm absolutely free when I hit that track. And you say, Ron, I'm good. You know, I, you know, they do when I'm racing, they have a unofficial that taps me on the shoulder so that I know that the Dunn has been fired and there was an official at the end so that I know that I'm done because I have no clue. I don't see any people. I don't see anything I'm being light sensitive. The, the worst case scenario is I have nothing but white and pain. So I like it one day. Um, we were, I have goggles for racing and I like it because it's more painless to participate. But I mean, I don't, I'm not competing per se against another person. Cause I have no idea where they are. I can remember the last race last year. I was second. Did not know I'm crying, coming across the finish line thinking I really didn't do so well because I didn't beat the time that I had in my head. And I was in second. My coach had to go get my metal comeback and I was still crying to explain and show me that I actually was in second place, but I have no idea. So it's not, you know, I'm not running thinking I have to be first. I have to be third. I've never been anything. I've been fork once, but I've never, you know, but it's not about that. It's about being able to be there and do it. Whether, you know, I've also got to meet, did a demonstration with archery and I don't think I ever hit the little center, but I didn't miss the device. So I mean, it was fun or having a line, uh, an official to show you how to throw the javelin better. We had to figure out the language that I understood. So when he said to me, you're releasing, like you're the nail, you're hammering the nail on the, into the wood that I got. Everything else didn't make any sense to me. But when he said throw like you're releasing that hammer, I knew what to do. And last year in the javelin throw, I placed first set a record through a second throw, set another record. So I basically beat myself three times in the course of one rotation and came in first in my age group, just in adapt one. So it's that kind of a thing. It's kind of, that's all I compete for it. What can I beat? I also race a walk. So it's a matter of time. So now I, um, I like doing five Ks and I do the Philadelphia Rothman every year or I've done twice. And the beginning, I did them with my guide dog who is now a retired racing walking dog. She was never designed that way. She didn't, wasn't trained for it. She just did it. You could see valued me. And that was her job, but she completed her last race in November. And her average case was 3.6 miles an hour. So we can really bug you more out there. And um, you know, so it's fun. And I learned to be, to make friends. I learned the value of enough Knoxville took a while. I don't understand most jokes, but you know, because we're in a rotation at the invitation, I was with young kids as well. And that's the other cool thing. You get to see them and hang with them and just love on them. And we have certain kids that we see every year and they come to our group and we all hang out together and their parents like they've been waiting, see if you were coming, you know, and it's just awesome. And my daughter apparently has decided she likes the wheelchair races. So she pays attention, particularly when it's that time, you know, she will cry. She don't push you out of the way, but she'll do everything. But to view around you so that she can see with Belgium and those that there are so many different versions to different, beautiful pieces to get to check out. Â
[Doug]: I want to note that, on topic with your, your athletic prowess, how Helen Keller Services is actually doing their run walk cycle, um, in a virtual format this year, um, as for those joining, some of you might know, and some of you might not that June is actually DeafBlind awareness month. Um, and nationally the last week in June is nationally celebrated is DeafBlind awareness week. So, um, to celebrate death line awareness month, uh, Helen Keller services is actually doing their virtual run walk cycle, starting tomorrow, going through June 20th. Um, I'm going to post some information about that later, for those of you who want to partake in that, but it's a really great event. They do every year. Clearly they've had to modify it a little bit and make it virtual this year. But what the virtual experience means is really just that you're doing it, um, in, you're basically just doing it on your own rather than a big group and uploading your results to a site that I will post shortly that will have all the information on how to register, um, and partake in it. But, Alice, have you ever, uh, been a part of any of Helen Keller services race?
[Alice]: So the race walks the first year. I was, um, I finished first and as a disabled person and last year I was third. So I had a timeframe there, but in each time I got better last year, we did it in the rain and just me and my guide dog. And, you know, we don't have a guide worker Walker with us and we managed to stay on the track and keep doing what we had to do. It was great. So, you know, but I won't be doing it whether this time. So when I next time around, I'll be having a SSP or a guide person with me and doing it faster. Yeah, it's fun. And when I did it, the first time I was still in the dorm, I was a resident and people in our dorm were with us. And, um, it was a great, no, the funny part was when I won the first time and got the medal, that the little trophy, I didn't even know, they were talking about me. I was watching the dorm staff signing two other people, and then I realized they were talking about me that's so I had to go up and get, get the trophy, but had no idea. They were talking about me in the beginning because I had no clue, but it was fun. It was really, um, and the grounds are great. The route was fantastic. So, you know, um, but I didn't know. So here again, the value of sign language is very important to you.
[Doug]: Alice, I know that you're also a singer and a recently audition for a reality show. Can you tell us a little bit about that?[Alice]: I actually auditioned for a talent show here in our state and they've never had a DeafBlind person audition. It was designed for blind people. Um, and um, the first time it was in person and, um, I had an SSP and, and I had to explain it to them to justify why she was entering the room because it was non negotiable, but I, you know, I wrote it to him and told him she would be there, but they really didn't understand what that meant. And, um, I use noise canceling headphones, not for the way that you think of it. But anyway, and I had the music on my phone as a YouTube and I had given them a clean version for background music. And when we first entered into the room, it was, I needed to know how loud they were doing it because what I feel through my headphones is a barbell tactal thing has nothing to do with I'm listening. For the words, it has nothing to do with the music per se. There's something indicating and the feeling of it on the, on the, on my flesh that I can pick up. And that's my cute. So we had to, no, you can't have it that loud because then I feel your music and not what I need to feel through my own flesh. And so once they got that understood, and my SSP basically provide a communication between them and me and what they were saying is they're reaching far away and you know, it was, you know, but the experience then was I did at that time, um, it was, it was, I had a range problem because for every once in a while, I'd hear their microphone and I didn't know where it came from and it would throw me off. So when I made to the second round, they said to me, I have the option of doing an acapella, which is perfect for me because I don't need the music. You know, I need to, I need to feel where I'm supposed to be, but I don't need the music to be listening to a timing thing. Um, and so that's what we had decided. And I did wire from a dummy and then, uh, but we ended up doing it virtually. It was so cool. It was, um, complicated, but really awesome because I had to have someone to enter into the ad, give them, make sure they understood. They were going to be two people there. Me and the person that was texting me to tell me what they said so I can answer them. And then that, and that's how we did it. They, and when it was, we had two minutes of time. And so we had to, you know, we'd practiced it ourselves. And, uh, when it was my two minutes, he flashed a text and I would pick it up. I could perceive that it flashed when necessarily have to know what it said, but I knew that was my cue, that my 10 minutes was up because I did it here in my kitchen. And my phone was over by the microwave, my iPad. And I were on the opposite side of the stove. So I had a distance range of where I needed to be, so that I wasn't too loud or whatever. And I didn't want to appear to be straining screaming or any other thing. So it's, it was totally cool. And I did two versions of the, that kind of an audition and made it through. So now we're waiting. Well, I'll certainly be tuning in if there's anywhere to tune into, if this a reality show. We have a few more minutes left in today's conversation. And I'm just wondering if there's anything that you'd like to speak about in the last few minutes that we have here today, knowing the value of your own mental health is important because the minute COVID hit in the way that it did, um, being aware of who you are in yourself and being able to remember two things I discovered on my birthday, how grateful I was. I have a good circle of friends at Facebook, me all over the place to let me know that they remembered me and whatever, because some of us don't have anybody to talk to at all. Some of us don't have anywhere that we can be going. I go out of my house because I can't stand being in. And I'm a kind of person that will typically do a five and a half mile walk regularly, um, to just to clear the air and sometimes to vent. And sometimes just to go leisurely with my dog, we might stop along the way by an ice cream foam XLE, you know, do something goofy and then get serious. I don't have to be competitive about it because I wanted to have fun because when I'm stressed, your dog is also stressed. They know, um, that's another tidbit along the way. And, um, but knowing you gotta find your happy place. And if you have one, make one, find that happy place pictured in your head when things are really getting rough and hang on to it for your life, find somebody that can be your outlet. You know, it, you can text or call or whatever, anytime a day, you know, whatever you need that. You need to be able to know. I had to learn my daughter yelled at me because she didn't want me going into the grocery store. So I had to learn how to do walmart.com. She explained, and she said, if you can buy stuff online, you can do this. So I learned, yeah, I also was taking classes with Helen Keller over during Colbert. And so we, I found more information on exactly how to do it. And so I do, or I might present a problem to someone and say, how can I solve it? You need those people to bounce those things off of. And don't watch the news too much. It's too crazy. It's too, you know, it's, you could have a nervous breakdown just watching while enough it, you know, um, you can create fear in yourself that you can't get out of. You don't need extra. Knowing who you are, knowing that, okay, I'm going to go to the doctors and I'm going to get there. I'm not going to stress out. I might, you know, I might even grow up on the way, but I'm going to get there and be as civil as I can and survive the whole ordeal. But I have to do it with dignity. So I will say to you, if you're in a nurse that came in with an attitude, go back out and come back in, trust me, you don't want to go there because I need you to listen to me, you know, or I also tend to be super high, my blood pressure. So why don't you come back and try again, after the third try, my, some of my doctors don't even bother until it's almost time to leave because I already know. I start with hi. Um, so you got to know yourself enough to say it's okay. It's okay to be inner doctor's office and really not know, but forced them to acknowledge you forced them to write it down. They don't have to like it. I have been, I've even gone to doctor's offices with somebody on audio, FaceTime to listen and text me what they say. And I don't care that you don't like it. This is no option. I'm here. I'm not leaving this room. Not knowing what happened. Those are the steps you have to be able to take. And hopefully you got somebody to do that because that's what I've had to do because I don't have any other choice. So I I'm, I'm a improvising person, you know, I don't care what it is. You give me an idea and I will play with it until I make it, do something I want it to do. And you can't be of that. You can be afraid of people, but you can't be afraid of being alive.
[Doug]: You got that. Right. Well, Alice, thank you so much for joining us today. You're definitely going to have to come back and join us again soon. I know there's, there's so many other things that we could talk about if you had more time. So you'll definitely have to come back again, but really appreciate everything you shared today. Thank you, everyone tuned in. Um, if you have been enjoying these episodes, please tell your friends and family, anyone you think might be interested in joining us. We're going to be here every Friday at the same time. 11:00 AM Pacific time, 2:00 PM. Eastern time. And, thank you so much. Thanks again, Alice.