Body Language for NCRTM
We provided the people who produced the samples an opportunity to reflect on their work. We are grateful for them both sharing their samples and their thoughts on how it went and how it could be done differently.
Reflections from Amy
As preparation for these 4 videos, I looked at all of the resources offered. I went out onto the web to read more and particularly looked for layperson’s resources to understand better the diagnosis, symptoms, and physical pathology of what is happening for a person with diabetes. I have had experience interpreting for people who are newly diagnosed with diabetes and in their subsequent appointments with physicians, diabetes nurse case managers, and nutrition consults. All of this knowledge informed my explanations of the topics assigned.
In addition to the preparation and the professional experience, I have had casual and real conversations with Deaf people about either their own diabetes diagnosis and symptoms or a family members’ diabetes.
The topic I took on first was “Symptoms”. The interesting thing about my process in starting in with this topic was that I realized right away that I could not talk about the symptoms without talking about what diabetes is, how it affects the body, and even the fact that there are 2 types of diabetes. While this information was not flushed out in the prep in the section, it wasn’t until I turned the camera on and lifted my hands to sign that I realized that I had no basis to build the concept of ‘symptoms’ on. On the fly, I think I provided enough of a ground to set the symptoms up on but if I had been thinking of the context of the ‘symptoms’ topic ahead of time, I could have anticipated this need and prepared for it.
In each of the videos I made, I chose to set the concept of glucose levels up as a contrastive structure and this was inaccurate. By setting glucose levels up this way, I am implying that glucose is competing with something else in the body and is sometimes lower or higher than that other “thing”. In actuality, glucose is there…it is a lot, a little, or somewhere in between. Glucose is only compared to itself when talking about diabetes. A better choice would have been to establish a constructed spatial line/space and show the glucose going above or below it. Even showing a wavy fluctuating movement would have conveyed the peaks and troughs of diabetes levels in the blood more accurately.
In watching myself on video, I note that I do limit my signing space in a way that I would not if I were face to face with someone. This feature was particularly noticeable when I talked about foot neuropathy, tingling of the lower extremities, and healing from cuts/sores. I don’t know that I would have handled it any differently on video but something to be aware of when working with a Deaf patient…the whole body can be used as reference.
I struggled with how to convey the insulin receptors on the red blood cells and opted to focus on the fact that in order for glucose to be used by the body, it needs insulin to let it into the cell. I believe that that level of detail is enough information to convey the topic.
The final issue I struggled with was around English vocabulary. I am well aware that in English, people say things like “I got the sugar” or “my sugar is so high” or even “I don’t want to get the sugar like my grandmother had”. I also know that the sign SWEET or SUGAR is the generally accepted sign for diabetes. In these topics, we are talking about BOTH glucose (sugar) and diabetes and since the signs are the same, it can get mighty confusing. I was also keenly aware that the English vocabulary is important because a health care professional, websites, and educational materials will use these English words. While all of these materials may not be 100% accessible to all deaf people having some familiarity with the English words related to their diagnosis could be important. In my ASL versions of these topics, I signed things that translate as “Some people say” or “You may have seen this word”. I use these techniques to link the concepts being talked about in ASL with the English words the patient may see in other places.