Expanded Directions

As of August 2010 I have expanded the blog site to include my writings.   Over the past year I have received enough request for where people can find more of the things I write.   It has gotten to point I realized I needed to collect what I have written and put it all in one place.  It will take me a bit of time to get it organized. As a result readers will find things gradually added over the next 3-6 months. Once I get the old stuff loaded, then I will start a category for new items that I have come up with from time to time.

As always, write me  to find out more.  I will also work on getting the Deaf Theatre information expanded as well.  As a heads up you can find a good bit of information at my university sponsored site:


More news as things move along…

What were you thinking Alex?  Your mother was deaf and you grew up with her your whole life. You saw how the experience of being deaf can be a terrible isolating one, especially as deaf people try to interact with a hearing world that does not understand in any way or form what it is like to be deaf, its’ joys and frustrations, the whole shebang.  Knowing all that how could you suggest that deaf people be kept apart from one another and not to socialize, marry, or have a culture?

What were you thinking Alex? You believed that when deaf people married deaf people it meant more deaf people are brought into the world. We know better know and if you knew would you have fallen in love with a deaf woman, married her, knowing you your marriage provided a higher probability that a deaf person would be born into your family?  Would you have married Mabel Hubbard Bell if you know what we know today?

What were you thinking Alex?  You taught deaf students yourself. You promoted the idea that speech needed to be a visual experience. You even invented a process called “Visual Speech.”  How did you let the oral movement get away with ignoring the basic concepts you understood through direct experience in the classroom?  Why didn’t you care enough to fight the good fight to get it right in the first place?

What were you thinking Alex?  You benefitted in so many ways from the invention of the phone, from your exposure to deaf people, from your use of sign language. You signed so fluently and used it in public to the point you embarrassed Mabel. Your wife asked you to stop signing in public for God’s sake.  What were you thinking to discourage the use of sign language?

What were you thinking Alex?  You received so much monetary blessings in life. You knew Edward Miner Gallaudet.  You meet deaf people from all over the place, but you never donated a penny to the National Association of the Deaf or accepted their invitation to come talk to us face-to-face in the traditional deaf way. You knew this very well. What were you afraid of Alex?

So many questions and we still don’t know you very well. You never gave us a chance to get to know you. You never gave yourself a chance to know us.  We had so many opportunities to sit down and talk this through.  Now you are demonized beyond recognition. There no longer remains any chance to be known, understood, or accepted.  We are all down to a Bushism, “Either you are with us or you are against us.” Where do we find the compassion to understand you Alex?

Objektfoto 'Pantoffeltierchen-Cyborg II'

Image via Wikipedia

Ruminations from a Cyborg

by Aaron Weir Kelstone


The act of pondering; meditation.


a human being whose body has been taken over in whole or in part by electromechanical devices

I ruminate because when you are a monkey in the middle you get it from all sides.  Each side wants something, rejects something, fears something, wonders something, or silently holds the gazing eye on the monkey in the middle of things.


Me born deaf ear 1.

Me born something ear 2. what that? No one know…

Ear 1 find deaf school, happy-happy.

Ear 2 hear something, add hearing aid, happy-happy…NOT

Time pass, ear 2 learn tolerate machine hang on body.

But others see hearing aid

me no fit full in deaf world…become HH

later become hearing impaired

later become monkey in the middle

deaf world…school love…hearing world…family no know, no connect

Ear 1 ignore, deaf culture good, sign language good.

Ear 2 hear less.

Time pass

Ear 2 hear less…less…less

Time pass ear 2 hear nothing, join ear 1

lip read learn, stare interpreter learn,

ear 1 now full boss

time pass

ear 2 tell ear 1, me miss sound sometimes

ear 1 tell ear 2, forget it, no need sound

ear 2 say but…ear 1 say shhhhhhhhhhh!

Time pass…long time pass…long, long time pass

CI come, ear 2 wonder, ear 1 say NO!

Time pass, ear 2 fearful think, ear 1 say for-for

time pass, ear 2 say discriminate stop please

ear 2 and ear 1 need connect,

deaf school, deaf culture, sign language all still good

ear 2 say me miss music, miss birds, miss hear children laughing

miss not all, just some.

Ear 1 partner with ear 2

that very good

oppress ear 1, no, ear 2, no

ear 1 and ear 2 no change just become 1


cyborg me now

join toyota prius, join honda insight, join schwarzenegger

others now see wire in head

me no fit in deaf world…become soul traitor

later me label what? Know-NOT


still monkey in the middle

ear 1, ear 2 connect

both deaf love,  deaf culture love, sign language love, music love, life love,

do-do me now?

Literary Societies

Sign language, due to its visual and kinetic qualities, often lends itself to performing arts opportunities. Within the deaf community there were frequently “natural actors” or individuals highly motivated to develop solo or small skit performances that would be performed locally at deaf clubs, school activities, and school or sports events that occurred in each active regional area of the United States. I propose that these artistic performances often were based on visual observations of their private deaf world and the external events that surrounded them. Performances would often reflect the deaf experience within their group and interpret their understanding of the external world using humor, sarcasm, and drama. This is based largely on my personal experiences growing up at the Kansas School for the Deaf which has contributed its share of successful deaf performers in the 20th century such as Patrick Graybill, Chuck Baird, Juliana Fjeld.

A textual approach to developing their material was not likely and more often their performances were created using improvisational skills. If any of the material was written down it most likely was as an outline to help the performers remember the order of events within their performances. These improvisational pieces were then refined over time based on the reaction of deaf audiences and gradually certain types of performance materials, styles, and strategies for using sign language in performance were developed. While we do not have any visual recordings of performances prior to the establishment of literary societies I think we can best discover what these kind of performances might have looked like by looking at a group of performers active later in the 20th century. Examples of work by C.J. Jones, CHALB and other solo performers may shed light on how these performances were conducted.  Using these performance examples and comparing them to the evolution of Deaf Theatre will clarify how deaf performances have changed over time.

An internet search will not easily help you find information about deaf literary societies. As some good links are identified these will be added to the blog site. For now we can simply state that a literary society is a group formed to support literature and often the group will focus on a specific genre as their main interest. Deaf literary societies, generally speaking, were formed within the residential state schools to develop debate and presentation skills by using existing literature from Hearing culture as their main source of information and inspiration.

For Deaf Theatre this was a positive element because it encouraged the development of translation skills among deaf artists. It also provided a stage for deaf performing artists to develop their skills. Finally, it created a body of work based on poems, short stories, and books. Students developed their artistic skills, and their artistic work, at each residential school. Eventually this body of work would converge at Gallaudet College where the best work would be shared and later borrowed by students and introduced back to different parts of the country. This created a national level of traditional performing arts pieces, jokes, and other works that would be handed down to deaf artists in each subsequent generation. This body of work provided a way for each generation of new performing artists to improve the existing canon of performing arts work. These improvements would then be further refined within the literary societies at school, at deaf events, deaf clubs, and conferences across the United States.

There is a negative aspect to the formation of literary societies because the focus of the work was based on textual material, forcing deaf artists to develop translating skills between English and ASL and moving the focus of performances away from a visual observation of the deaf experience and their take on the external Hearing world. In its place began a strong language focus coupled with a growing obligation to provide voice to ASL performances that was absent from performances during the early years of deaf performing arts. As the influence of literary societies and drama clubs increased it expanded the reliance on English text adaptations as  the primary resource for many deaf performances. As a result it would unintentionally create a barrier for the continuance of ASL stories and visual work. Consequently, this would cause a detour in the development of Deaf Theatre and create a new mode of performance called sign language theatre.