S2 Episode 18 with Jamon Freeman

April 16, 2023 01:14:39
S2 Episode 18 with Jamon Freeman
Disability Empowerment Now
S2 Episode 18 with Jamon Freeman

Apr 16 2023 | 01:14:39

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Show Notes

Jamon Freeman,  B.K.A. A “triple threat” black, Deaf & physically challenged. He’s a generous guy who’s multi-talented, an athlete and a poet making a difference in both communities by bridging gaps within the deaf and hearing community. His goal is to open multiple doors for the youth. As a poet, Jamon is working on a […]

Disability Empowerment Now is produced by Pascal Albright

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Episode Transcript

Keith: Welcome to Disability Empowerment Now, Season two. I'm your host Keith Murfee-DeConcini. Today I welcome back Jamon Freeman and Allison Jones. Welcome both of you. Jamon: Thank you. I'm glad to be here. Keith: Thank you. Let's start out with a visual description of what we are wearing and where we are for any low vision and blind listeners. Jamon: Okay. I'm wearing a black shirt with my old high school mascot, Cardinal for the deaf department. It's Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind. So we have two departments in one school. So this is the logo of the deaf department and it is on the shoulders. Shoulder wise, it is red. I'm wearing glasses, I have headphones on and my background is blue. I'm black and yeah. I identify myself as, yeah, of course, black. And I'm disabled. I'm in a wheelchair and I'm deaf. I am deaf but I can talk very well. So that's all. Keith: So I am in an office, you can see it clearly. I'm wearing a white shirt with the podcast logo that you can't see. I have a beard. I'm wearing khakis and yeah, that's it. So Jamon, you wanted to clarify some things in the first episode. What were those things for the listeners and I to better understand your back story? Jamon: The main thing I want to clarify is what I have said about the regional, I mean, our first national tournament, we were hosting it in Buffalo, New York. I mean, not Buffalo, New York, but it was in New York. I think it was Buffalo. I don't remember it was a long time ago. I wanted to clarify the area where I said that I was playing like an MVP in that tournament. What I meant by that, I didn't mean that I received the award, the most valuable player award. No, I have played my heart out at that tournament. Even though we lost every game, every single game. But based on my performance, I was able to draw a crowd and everybody was in awe about my performance and how many saves that I have made. I played, oh, first of all, let me point out. I played the Gold League Prediction. I made a lot of saves and I believe that I made more saves than any goalie in that tournament. That's what I wanted to clear up and point out. I did not win the MVP. I played like the MVP, and some of my teammates had told me that I deserve to be the MVP. That's all I wanted to clear up. Keith: Thank you. Jamon, in my first episode with you, you told us how you are from an athletic family and you are also deaf-disabled, so naturally you turned to athletic sports and have had quite the career in this area. Tell us how that has helped you. Jamon: Playing sports in the condition that I am now like being disabled and deaf, and that's all at once. I had a lot of struggles growing up. Sports, being involved in playing basketball, all types of sports really, that is like my outlet of my struggle, like I've been frustrated cause I couldn't really communicate well with others without an interpreter that goes on the team as well, but I always explain that later. I use that as my outlet. It also motivates me in the classroom as well, because I know that based on not getting good grades, I can't play. So I want to play, so I have to perform well in the classroom. That really led me to being ranked number two in my high school class. Okay, next question. Keith: Hold on a second Jamon. Jamon: Okay, cool. Keith: So I think I know the answer to this next question, but I'm going to ask it anyway. Would you, as an athlete who has had a very long career in adaptive sports, sorry, I got tongue tied there for a second. Would you recommend that all people with disabilities get involved in adaptive sports and how does one go about it? How does one find programs to join? Jamon: Okay. My advice to people with a disability is that they should be involved in any type of sport because it's great for your mental health and being able to socialize with other people, that will be your outlet, so you won't be isolated, like stuck in your room or in your house being by yourself all the time. That will switch your mind over to doing something that you really don't wanna do. Sports is good for everyone because we can meet different people. We can learn different backgrounds, we can express ourselves playing sports, whether it is a team sport or an individual sport. You get to meet multiple people of multiple backgrounds, and learn their culture and their life and what they go through. Based on that, you will find out that, oh, I'm not the only one that's struggling with whatever I'm struggling with. There's other people struggling with the same thing or the same concept or the same patterns. So if I can help them, they can help me and together we can be successful in life. Keith: So the host is gonna out himself and say that I'm not in adaptive sports and probably never will be. Famous last words, right? What are the best organizations to approach to get involved? Going off the last question, Universities, Paralympics, Sportable, in NRH Ambassadors. If you know these organizations, could you tell us about each one? Jamon: Okay. About those types of organizations like Sportable. I'm gonna put them out, for example, later, they are last. NRH Ambassadors, which is now the Punisher. They're like the top level 14. They're in division one, so very, very good players play for that team. And the other one, what was the third one I forgot? Oh yeah. Paralympic. Yeah. Those are where the NRH players play if they make it on the USA team. The question was, I forgot the question. What was the question? Keith: So for the listeners who may not know anything about the organizations, if you could give a quick word about each one as a reference point in case they come up later on in the episode. Jamon: Okay. Well with NRH. That's the program. It's division one basketball, but let's go over to the NWBA, National Wheelchair Basketball Association, which has three divisions, division one, two, and three. Now, by being in division three is more recreational. I mean players that know basketball, but they're not really, they don't really want to compete. They're good, but they don't want to compete, so they play at that third level, their own way. I mean, division two level is more of a competition wise level. The college level is considered division two. Competition, in order to compete or you have a goal of making it to divisions one the Paralympic level and that division one and two, both of them can go to that Paralympic. So division two is more of a competitive division. Division one is the top level. You are competing and you know you are good. You are more of an elite player. So those are the three different divisions. Now, with Sportable, Sportable is like a wide range. They have players that can compete in their own Paralympics, like they have a weightlifting class. I know a player that is in the Olympics, but I, oh, tennis is a big thing now. Tennis is a competitive sport, so Sportable has all of that. They have basketball, tennis, rowing, and it's more competitive and recreational, like wheelchair lacrosse, that's what I played, wheelchair basketball Allison plays that and it's really, Sportable is really a wide range of everything. It's like people who don't just want to socialize and to participate in something just to have fun. Like rowing, rowing is something that we do, we get on the James River and we row. What's the other sport? I forgot the name of that. Oh, archery. Archery. That's another recreational sport. You don't have to be really good to do it. You can just do it to have fun. And then the other one is with the ball. Gold ball. It's for the, like the gold ball and the other one b, I can't pronounce that. Can you help me? Allison: This is the interpreter. Bocce. Jamon: Okay. That. I mean, it doesn't have to be competitive. You can have fun. We have all those activities and to speak on for people who are not athletic, I mean, they can do a lot of other things like play chess. I mean, going out, doing, like I like poetry, I write poems and stuff. They can do that, they can meet up with other people with common interests and do something. So that is like, I'm getting out there, I'm meeting people with the common interest and that is better than being alone. Keith: So in listening in the last episode you mentioned that you were specifically on a wheelchair basketball team for most of your career. The team name was, is still the Rim Riders. Putting aside my curiosity with that name, please tell the listener why you left the Rim Riders after a very long career in wheelchair basketball. Jamon: I didn't have an interpreter. I was always, I would say two, three steps behind. So whatever they were doing, I was playing catch up. I was trying to keep up. So I personally felt that it was unfair because I couldn't disclaim my full potential, my talent, I was a very good shooter. I played well on defense, and my basketball IQ is high. I could see the play before it happened, I couldn't share that with the Rim Riders. I couldn't display that on the Rim Riders. That's because at home, I didn't have an interpreter. I didn't have anybody to keep me up to pace. They're always like five steps ahead of me. So I'm like, I'm trying to catch up. So based on doing the best I could, like playing wise, the best I could. I tried everything, but I ended up being like a bench player. I stayed on the bench and to a point where they just basically glued me on the bench. So I felt that, okay, I'm useless here, so let me get out of the way so y'all can move on. So it wasn’t a wise choice. I could have done things differently if I knew what my rights were and I could do things like getting an interpreter and all that stuff if I'd known that I would've still played. Keith: So this is the second time, you've mentioned an interpreter for a sport and pardon my ignorance but I have seen a few documentaries over the years about wheelchair sports and how does someone get an interpreter for wheelchair basketball or wheelchair anything sporting wise and how is that interpreter different from an interpreter who is translating my speech? Or is there a difference? Jamon: Okay. Compared to an interpreter on our sports team and an interpreter in its group, like we are having now. On a sports team, the interpreter is just there to interpret what the coach is saying. Calling plays and telling the team what the playbook is like, explaining it, talking to everybody. An interpreter is there to translate that so I can focus on them. I can know what's going on, what's next, what is, you know ahead of me. So the interpreter will help me understand that so that when I'm on the floor, I'm on the same page and I'm not just guessing what will happen next. I know what's going to happen because the interpreter translated that for me from the coach, based on what the coach was saying. The interpreter will interpret that, and I wouldn't know. So I'll be on the same page as everyone else and the outcome is different. I'm on the same page. So now that I'm on the same page, all I can do is display my talent, my skills. What I can do on the floor, versus trying to understand what is next, trying to estimate, okay, I can go this way, then go, I can't second guess everything and play. I need to know what's going on so I can display my talent. So that will help me be the best player I can be. Keith: What was the high point of your career in basketball and has a similar high point translated over to your lacrosse career, or are they different? Jamon: Oh, okay. The same thing has showcased basketball and lacrosse, but my experience, no, my level of play is much higher in basketball. Lacrosse, I got involved in that, I had no experience whatsoever. I never, I didn't grow up playing lacrosse. I knew nothing about lacrosse. I didn't know the rules. I didn't know what to do. I was just second guessing everything but once they put me in the goalie position, it turned out I was a natural. That was my talent and I was doing everything right. I was just making saves until they brought on coach Nick, coach Nick and John. Well, Nick was my personal coach because he used to be a goalie I think at North Carolina State University. Boo by the way. But he had taught me the little things like going from post to post and how I need to move to make this save more than trying to use my stick and leaving the goal wide open. If I use my body, I have a higher chance of making the save more than just using my stick. So when I learned that and how to move, I became pretty much, I would say a dangerous goalie. I was making save after save. Every time I moved. And I notice that when I stay in one spot, the goal becomes bigger. If I move around, the goal becomes a lot smaller. Keith: Another thing that was a topic of the last conversation was the lack of adequate funding for adaptive sports. In your opinion, in order to secure more funding, what needs to change? What do non-disabled people need to know about adaptive sports to become more invested in it? Jamon: Oh, that's a hard question, but let's stay on yeah, the funding. Well, I'm gonna use Sportable as an example. The funding is based on donations from companies, and businesses. I mean, that's good for like, I mean, Sportable is like a wide range. They have a whole lot of different sports and stuff, activities to put the money towards, for example, basketball only and lacrosse only. Because it's a team sport, as a team, we need to have an inside for fundraising, like for the team only, like for traveling purposes. Interpreter purposes, but that should be going to the organization. But for traveling, well, uniforms and eating and staying in hotels, and that's included in traveling. So as a team, we need to like to get out, create a fundraiser, like selling stuff, make a fundraiser with a restaurant. We get money from them and we can raise money by bringing people to that restaurant. And we have tailgates and all types of different activities to raise money for those purposes, for traveling. If we do that, we will have more money for everybody to go and not just the ones that are able to go. Even though I know that Sportable has scholarship type funding, like players that apply for that get money in order to travel to tournaments or games and stuff. That's good, but lacrosse is an expensive sport. You need to have gloves, helmet, chest pads, shoulder pads, mouth guard, all those types of stuff. It's expensive. So I would think that having like a little team fundraiser would help put towards that and the tournament all together. Keith: So moving away from sports, I remember from the other episode that you'd said you were a writer and about to publish your second book. I believe you'd said you were a poet. What drew you to poetry in the first place and how did you get your first book published? Are you following the same path in getting your second book published? Jamon: Okay. I do write. My first book that came out right before the COVID hit, in 2019. It came out that August, that summer. The timeline based on my experience with that book did not go as well as I thought it would, but it's a great book. To follow with the second book is concept wise it's a different title and it's basically pretty much a transition over to the second book. So what was in the first book will be in the second book, but extra. The new pieces that I have written, some pieces that I didn't publish, I decided this is going to be in the second book just because the process of the first book wasn't successful. So I'm just going to delete that, but I'm gonna keep it right there. I'm going to the second book to showcase the same talent, the same story of what my poems are about, and I extended the way that I write poems. Like for example, I play with words a lot more in the second book. I use the wordplay more in the second book than I did in the first book. But at the end of the first book, I was doing a little of that. So the second book would be more of word playing, all that stuff I believe, breaking into stuff. It's just like how you write a song or how you write a rap or how you write music, lyrics. So this book will be more of that, but in a poetic format. So now, the publishing company is different. The first company I was with. I can't pronounce that. The second company is Gotham Books. Gotham books has, based on the two companies, the difference is, Gotham Books had offered me a hundred percent of royalty, which means that I have a hundred percent to do what I want with the book. Like I can put 10%, 20% into making the book develop in the book and then sell it. Back then with the other company, I only had, at the time I didn't know much about it. I was getting like 30% from them and the other direct was going to them. And I was like, later, after years after I was thinking, wait a minute, I did most of the work, basically all the work, and I created this book. Why I'm getting so little, I mean, so little money from that book. And I was like no, I needed to take control in that. So that's what I did with the second book. So I'm getting everything, but I'm doing everything on my own, like getting the books made and going out, kind of promoting the book and all that stuff. So the difference between the first and the second. The first book, a deadline was put on that book. The price had come from the company. Now versus me. Right now, I'm getting a hundred percent. So I'm doing everything. I don't have a deadline on this book, I don’t. And with this book, I'm able to like, excuse me, the first book, I wasn't able to accept the price. The price in the first book. I couldn't. The second book, I always accept my own price. I will make it reasonable for people to buy the book. And since I'm not a famous poet, like I'm not up there yet, so my price shouldn't be cheap. It should be reasonable enough to get out there more, and at the same time get a little funding back so that I can continue to do that. Keith: So speaking more personally, would you talk about the social aspects of being a part of the deaf community and do you prefer to interact with people within the community or outside the community or both and why? Jamon: Okay. Myself, socially I prefer to be with the dead, but however, the hearing community, I prefer to be with my family because they're all hearing and bringing the two together is the main goal is to bridge the gap between both communities and have understanding within both communities. Because I believe if we both come together, we can do big things together, great things will happen. That's how I view it. But personally the deaf community is for me, because that's my home. That's where I belong. That's where I came up, I grew up in the deaf community. I can relate to the struggles. I can relate more with them. Now the hardest part about being in the deaf community and being disabled in a wheelchair. So that led me between the two communities. The hearing community, however, knows that I'm deaf. They know that I'm in a wheelchair, but they don't, most of 'em, not all of 'em, but most of 'em, they don't care about that. They were willing to work with me. In the deaf community. For me being deaf is good, but I'm in a wheelchair. They be like, uh, we don't know about this. They second guess me a lot of times, so I have my struggles in both communities. I try to prove it, I may be in a wheelchair, but I can do this. I can do that. I can do anything. For example, I went to Gallaudet University before I decided to try out for their Gallaudet Dance Company I sat down with a couple of my friends and I was like, you know what, I'm gonna try to do that. Some of my friends were like, yeah, go ahead. You can do it. Go ahead. My other friends were like, uh, nah, you in a wheelchair, how do you want to perform on the stage in a wheelchair? And I'm like, you know what? I'm like, I can do whatever I want if I put my mind to it. But it's funny how, okay, in the deaf community we deaf, we go to, in the hearing community, we have to prove to them that we can do anything except for hearing. So as for me in the deaf community, I'm like, yo, we both are deaf. You both have this similarity and struggle. You can understand this more than anybody. Why are you giving me such a hard time? That's how I feel within my own community. So anywhere I go is a struggle, anywhere really basically. I'm like, I feel like I'm split in half, the deaf community and the healing community both. I can't really choose which one I should be in. I know I belong in the deaf community because I get along with most of 'em well, but there are some certain numbers that reject me because of that. Because of the fact that I can talk, I do get some rejection in the deaf community because of that, oh, I'm not deaf enough because I can talk, I can speak. The thing behind that is, yo my family is hearing. My family talks. That's how I communicate with them. So it's kinda a split between the two communities for me. Keith: So are you a part of the Gallaudet Alumni community and is it helpful having a connection there even though you are no longer a student? Jamon: I still have a connection there and I still go to, before Covid hit, I go to their own homecoming, their own parties, and yes, they have events and stuff. I still go there to the Gallaudet Dance Company performing. I go there. I still have that connection with Gallaudet, plus I have the majority of my deaf friends who are from Gallaudet. So I still keep in touch with them. I still have that collar bond with them and my fraternity at Gallaudet, even though it's not, I don't know what you call it anymore, but I still have that brotherhood bond from Gallaudet with those people. Even though some of 'em live in New York now, some of 'em are in DC and some of 'em that move back to Maryland, all that, they're all over their place. I still keep in touch with them and I have gained my relationship with the hearing community because not only that, I went to Gallaudet. I went to Edinboro University too, that's in Pennsylvania. I went there and I gained a lot of friends there. A lot of friends. I mean they respect me because of my personality, how I present myself. I show that I'm not afraid to make new friends. I'm not afraid of who I am and what I do. And most of that comes from playing wheelchair basketball. At the University it was a struggle because one, when I went there to play basketball, I was older. I was not the oldest on the team, but I was like up there. I wasn't young. And number two, when I went there and played basketball, that's when I found out that I had muscular dystrophy because that's when everything started to go downhill for me. Now, I mean, I played hard. I pushed harder. And again, interpreting, interpreters, they only had like, what, two interpreters in the entire area of Erie and Edinboro. Those two, I mean, they had two interpreters. They didn't have no interpreters, like after school hours, like doing basketball practice. I fought for that and they said, okay, they are going to try to present me with an interpreter at a team meeting. That's the only time I had interpreters, but the other time I didn't. So it was kind of a challenge for me. I mean, I just kept the attitude of, I can do that. So I kept playing. I kept pushing. I kept going beyond my limit just to show people that, look, you are not the only one. I'm not the only one. We all can do this. It's all a mental thing. You have to push harder. If you have to work harder, do whatever you want to do, however you want, if you want it badly enough, you will achieve it. That's how, that's how I see it. Keith: So the relationship between an interpreter and a deaf person, it must be very special, and very close. You mentioned, just a second ago, that there were times where you didn’t have an interpreter and you really needed one and felt that you would have done better if you had one. When you travel around, does the same interpreter follow you or do you get paired up with a different interpreter and what is that like? Tell me about that bond because that's something that I'm completely ignorant about and I want to understand that bond better. Jamon: Okay, the bond between my interpreter and I, it starts from day one. We met and we had developed an understanding in each other and my interpreter understood me and how I go about things. My attitude became within that interpreter so she can dictate. I mean, she can show that, you know, the way I respond to things, the way I talk, the way I want her to present things. We have to develop that relationship. So just getting any interpreter, I would rather know that interpreter first and that interpreter knows me and knows how I sign because every deaf person, like every hearing person, every deaf person, doesn't sign the same. Some of 'em go fast. Some of 'em go slow. Just like a hearing person. Some of 'em talk fast, some of 'em talk slow. Some of 'em are, you know, it's just like up and down things. It's the same thing. So interpreters have to know and relate to the deaf person. Not like interpersonal, on a personal level, no, but professional wise you have to know how to interpret their attitude and the emotion, the body language has to be the same. That's the way I pronounce it. So, to answer your question, getting to know, I mean the bonds between interpreters and the deaf person are very, very extremely important. Keith: And so when you travel around, let's say hypothetically you do travel for a big sporting event, does your interpreter go with you or do you have several interpreters you work with? Yeah, that's the question. Jamon: Okay. Oh, my bad. Okay. Unfortunately, I never had that experience. The interpreters only interpret when I'm at home, like in practices and stuff. When I go on the road to play games and stuff, I don’t have an interpreter, unfortunately. I'm very good at reading lips and understanding. Unfortunately, I was the player that had to come off the bench because of that. So yeah, it was, it was hard back then. Cause I did not know the stuff that I know now back then. If I knew the stuff that I know now, back then, I would've had an interpreter on the road with me. I would've fought for getting funding for that. I would've done a lot more stuff back then if I knew what I know now. My rights and all that stuff. I probably would've, heck, I probably would've been a much, much greater player back then if I knew the stuff that I know now. Keith: What do you wish non-disabled people knew and were aware of more about the deaf community? Jamon: Everybody non-related to the deaf community. What they need to know about the deaf community is how, basically how we react to things, our language, or how we do things. When we sign, we point a lot. We're like this, that. That’s a part of our routine. In the hearing community, pointing is not a good thing. I went through that in my family. Cause when I point at people like, no, don't do that. I'm like, what? It's part of me. That's how I define a person is when I point, like when I point at you is like I'm saying a man, a boy or a man. I point at a man or a woman. I'm pointing all the time at the school, but when I come home, I have to, don't do that, that's wrong. So now I just want the hearing community to understand that concept and be more flexible. Say, oh yeah, you know, he's talking about the person, not that person, but that person's identity, like you are a male. I'm pointing out a male or something like that. That's the only thing I know, but based on my experience. But there's a lot more stuff. Keith: So what is your advice to someone who just became deaf and how to navigate or adapt to their new way of living? What are some resources that that person can use utilize to get used to their new way of living? Jamon: That's a hard question. Based on my experience, now, we have a player, a lacrosse player who had just lost his hearing. He lost his hearing, and now he's wearing a cochlear implant which is a debate in the deaf community. As for me, I will understand. Okay. It depends on the person. If this person has recently lost their hearing and wants to be involved in the deaf community, the first thing I would tell 'em, just get around with us and learn sign language. If they just lost their hearing, and they would ask me about cochlear implants, just like my teammates had asked me. I said, he was questioning why I didn't get it, and he wanted it. He got it already, but at the time, he wanted that. Well, he asked me why I didn't get it. Why? I'm like, okay, there's a difference. It's because I've been, I've been deaf for so long. I only had been hearing when I was real, real young. So that time, that time span, I mean I could get a cochlear implant, but I don't know if it would help me or it would affect me even worse. I don't know that so, and plus I have a little bit of hearing now, so I would rather have this much hearing now than not having any hearing at all. Because if you get the cochlear implant, that means you are completely deaf until you put that in your ear, you can hear more. So without it, you can't hear anything. As for me, I wear hearing aids that are not as high as the cochlear implant. No, but it helps me. I hear more. Without it, I don't hear a thing, but with it, I hear more. It is just like a female, like a high pitch sound, like a female boy. With hearing aids, I can hear their voice, but without hearing aids, I can't hear them at all. The same thing with birds. With my hearing aids, I can slightly hear them. Without, I can't hear 'em at all. So, when a person asks me about a bird, how they sound, I can't define it because I can't hear them. I don't know the different volumes that they use. I don't know, but cochlear implants the person that just, just became deaf. If they were hearing for a long time, It would depend on how much hearing they lost. If they had lost a lot of their hearing, the cochlear implants, I would recommend for them. But if they lost, like me, like 20%, 30%, they don't need that. They can live cause having a cochlear implant is just about the same level as a 20 or 30% hearing loss person. It's just about the same or maybe a little more, but it's no different. But if you become profoundly deaf as you've been hearing for your entire life, I would recommend that. But if you lost a little hearing, I would recommend you try hearing aids. They have other resources. You don't have to go there cause the cochlear implant is, you can't, when you play on sports like wheelchair lacrosse, you can't leave that in and put your helmet on. You cannot do it. You have to take that off and be good. So I wouldn't, I wouldn't, I mean, it's up to the person, but you know, If they lost their hearing profoundly, I would like, but for all of them, I would recommend them to, yeah, just to get in the deaf community because you will have the deaf and the hearing community together. You can be a person to bring them both together. You can be the person that elevates that between the two communities. Keith: So another personal question, and I hope you don't mind, you mentioned it a little bit earlier, that you were born into a hearing family. How did you adapt to that and how did they adapt to it in what was that like growing up? Jamon: Well, I wouldn't say we had to adapt to one another because when I was born, I was born as a hearing person. I lost my hearing based on ear impact. That ear impact happened when I was like a baby. I don't know how young, but a baby, based on what my mother was telling me as a baby, I did not cry as much as most babies do. So she didn't know what the problem was until it was too late. So that's, I mean, growing up basically my own family had never known that I had a hearing problem because when they talked to me, they never knew that I was reading their lips. That happened when I was little, I would always look at their lips and read their lips and respond. That's what happened naturally for me, until days that I was not looking, I turned around. I was not looking at them. They would call my name over and over and over and when they yelled, I heard them and I turned around. They would be like, that's odd. And another thing they were becoming suspicious about is I used to stick close to the TV so that I could hear it because we didn't have closed captions back then. So I was stuck close to the TV and they thought I had a vision problem, but that wasn't the case at all. Oh then they felt, oh, he can't hear. Cause the doctor would recommend me get a hearing test as well because his eyes are fine. So when they got me, when I got a hearing test, they were like, oh, that was the problem. So based on what the doctor had been telling them, they got me hearing aids and ever since there was never an issue with me and my family. I will always understand them. They understand me and it was like a natural thing for me and my family. Keith: That's very important. Thank you for sharing that. Wrapping up the interview, I have just two questions. What are three action points you will give to advocates listening to the episode who are maybe just starting out in their professional lives as advocates? Jamon: I would recommend to them the basic thing is to have an open mind. Be open-minded to the fact that they're physically disabled. Be open-minded to the fact that they're deaf, and just to let them know that not every disabled or deaf person, physically disabled or deaf person, they're not every person is the same. They're all different, different degrees, different levels. So you just have to be open-minded about what comes directly to you, deal with it based on what you see, not based on what the book tells you, oh, this day, but this is the way, this is the thing you should do. You could keep that in mind, but don't follow it. Go along with who you are working with. Because if you can meet that person's needs, it will help them and help you. Know, oh, okay, this person needs these types of things. And the next person that comes along, this person needs these types of things, but not, so you are, be open-minded to who you meet. That's the only advice I can give them. Open minded. Be open-minded. Keith: So the last question is, well, I'll begin with a statement, I like to think that this podcast reaches both advocates with disabilities and people who have yet embrace their own disabilities. As my guest, what do you hope that advocates would take away from this episode and what do you hope that people who haven’t discovered and embraced their disabilities yet take away from this episode Jamon? Jamon: That’s a tough one. Well. Keith: I ask tough questions. I apologize. Jamon: Can you repeat that question again? Keith: Absolutely. So I'll break it down into two parts. What do you hope that our listeners who are advocates with disabilities take away from this episode? Jamon: As well, for them too, is to keep an open mind, and they might be going along with, they might relate to the type of thing I'm going through. But there are some things that they can't relate to. I would recommend them if they don't understand that they ask questions, educate themselves, learn more. Because the more you learn about another person with a disability, the more you will know within yourself and you will gain that knowledge and you know, sensitivity towards another person with a disability. Keith: And what do you hope that people who aren't yet disabled or haven't discovered their own disabilities take away from this episode? Jamon: My advice to them is to seek help and you know, if you are struggling with your own disability and you don't understand what's going on, it's good for you to go to a person for help that knows the same type of disability you are going through, and socialize with them. For example, you know you have a disability. Go to Sportable. Not only that, Sportable will connect you with sports and stuff. No. They will connect you with the people that have the same disability as yourself and you can learn through sports, you can learn more about yourself, your disability. Oh, you can learn more from other people. So getting involved, like with an organization like Sportable is a great choice, a great selection because you'll find more about yourself within the organization. Keith: Jamon and Allison, I want to thank you for coming back on Disability Empowerment Now and enriching the conversation around the deaf community and adaptive sports? I wish both of you a very lovely weekend. Or a very lovely week, and weekend. Jamon: Okay, Keith. Can I leave off with a poem that I just wrote? Keith: Absolutely. Jamon: It's unedited and it's really a sad poem, but I would like to share it with people. It's called Trap to Death. Arthritis plus MD for Christ Sake, what are you doing to me? So much time wasted. So much for being patient. Unrealistic goals as I grow, oh quickly. Muscular dystrophy is gaining ground, persistently. My emotions, digging into the darkness, deeply, depression. What I don't use or lose due to my. Slow down or you trigger your muscle. A power share will level out the pain. In between. Feeling stuck. I can no longer push, Without curling up insanely, nor can I relax without a loss muscle. Stairway to heaven's door. Just put me into an electric chair. Screaming. That's it. Thank you. Keith: Thank you very much. I hope you come back to the podcasts again soon. Jamon: I will be back. Anytime. I will be back. Thank you very much. Keith: You have been listening to Disability Empowerment Now. I would like to thank my guest, You, our listener and the Disability Empowerment Team that made this episode possible. More information about the podcast can be found at DisabilityEmpowermentNow.com or on social media @disabilityempowermentnow. The podcast is available wherever you listen to podcasts or on the official website. Don’t forget to rate, comment, and share the podcast! This episode of Disability Empowerment Now is copyrighted 2023.

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