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Saturday, June 30, 2012

A deaf-blind trip to lorain

Blurb: We are deaf-blind. We are among you. We will not be

Did you know that there are deaf-blind people who live all over
Northeast Ohio? We are in Portage, Summit, Lorain, Lake and
Cuyahoga Counties. Maybe you have seen us with our special
signing into each others' hands. Or maybe not. But we are here,
and we won't hide away.

There is a new organization called the Northeast Ohio Deaf-Blind
Association )NEODBA.) I am the leader and co-founder. The
organization has two main goals. First, we present workshops to
teach people about deaf-blindness, and how to work with someone
who is deaf-blind. Our second mission is more exciting. We gather
deaf-blind individuals and assistants and go out into the
community to have fun.

On Sunday, June 24th, NEODBA attended the Lorain International
Festival. We had 4 deaf-blind people, 5 assistants and 2 guide
dogs. The International Festival committee and Port Authority
were kind enough to allow our assistants free admission for the
festival and boat ride. This is so important because our
volunteers work hard to assist us. We do not believe it's fair to
make them pay to work. I am always so thankful when the
management agrees to this request.

What can a bunch of deaf-blind people do at a festival like this?
Just about the same things anyone else does. We just need a
little help to make it happen.

For example, we went on a boat tour of the Black River. I could
feel the rocking of the boat, the vibrations of the motor, the
hot sun against my skin, the warm breeze and occasional splashes
of water when the waves got rough.

I could smell the water, which was sometimes good and sometimes
bad. I could also smell gasoline. Even I could hear the loud
blast of the boat's horn as we came to port.

I saw it all through the descriptions from my assistant. She
interpreted for the captain, as he gave historical facts about
the area. She also told me about what she could see. She describe
the houses and buildings along the shore, the sail boat and motor
boats out in the harbor, the trees and birds, the people out
fishing and even the boat wrecks visible under the water's
surface. As she signed to me, I created a mental image of
everything she mentioned. My pictures might not have been totally
accurate, but they were real to me.

Next, we hit the food stands. Everything smelled so good. I
picked up on sweet, tangy scents, hearty meat scents, barbecue
scents and even the smell of cabbage. We all got different things
to eat. I had a Greek Gyro and a bowl of cookie dough dippin'
dots. I was thrilled with the ice cream. It was the first time I
even heard of such a thing.

Finally, we went shopping. There were so many different ethic
items that we could feel and touch. I liked the African hand
drum. I could work it myself, feel the vibrations and even hear
the thud as the little balls hit the drum pads. I felt jewelry
and clothes. They had the fanciest little baby outfit and cute
tiny sandals. There were fancy crafts and hand-made baskets. Each
of us bought something unique.

I got a beautiful Henna design on the back of my hand. True, I
can't see it. But other people can, and they all liked it. I
would never get a real tattoo, but I am fond of the temporary

We were having so much fun that the end snuck right up on us. It
felt like we had only been there an hour, when it was actually
4.5 hours. That's always the sign of a good social activity.

It's nice to live in an area that offers so much to do and new
things to experience. It's Summer now, so we will do what people
around here always do in the summer. We are going to Cedar Point!
We will soar through the air, up-side-down, cork screws, flips,
drops and more. We may be deaf-blind, but we are just like you.

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