Sep 6th 2017 by Maddie_Bowman • 16 Questions • 317 Points
My Bio: My husband and I met working at a mental health group home for the deaf and hard of hearing. We are considered CODAs (Child of Deaf Adult) in the deaf world which meant that we are hearing children raised by deaf parents and fluent in sign language. Fast forward 6 years to the day our son Elijah was introduced to the world. We expected him to pass his newborn hearing screening just like all of our nieces, nephews and older sister before him... but he didn't pass. We were stunned and heartbroken, yes heartbroken. You would think that this news wouldn't be so bad for a couple who were raised by deaf parents but it wasn't that simple. We have first hand seen the struggles our parents faced with in unemployment, communication barriers and the fight for education standards among the deaf children. Don't get me wrong...I take pride in my parents and my unusual upbringing. The thought of my son facing those barriers was too much for my heart to bare. We initially ruled out cochlear implants as an option because we grew up thinking that it didn't work very well and the sound quality was sub par. Not to mention, we were also well aware of the strong opposition to cochlear implants, especially on children. It didn't take long for us to learn that there was a lot of misconceptions about cochlear implants within the deaf community. We ultimately made the decision to pursue cochlear implants after doing endless hours of research and talking to other families. We announced announced to our family and friends that we would be exploring cochlear implants for our infant son. That sparked a lot of anger within our family. Half of our family members did not speak to us for about 6 months. Two of my husbands siblings have deaf spouses and our news caused a firestorm on his side of the family. My son was implanted at 9 months old and activated at 10 months old. Our family members ended up working through their differences with us after my son received his surgery. They chose to put aside their difference for the sake of Elijahs happiness. I think Elijah has definitely changed a lot of lives with his journey.
Elijah is 2 1/2 now and he is doing amazing with his implants. He's has a fairly large vocabulary in spoken English and ASL. I still get anxious when deaf strangers see us out in public with our son. There are a lot of neutral/supportive Deaf folks out there but not very many are forthcoming about their support. My parents seem to be skeptical (but are supportive) about how well it works. They cannot hear him speak and so they tend to assume he's unable to hear speech.
One interesting piece worth mentioning is that my sons hearing aid video went viral a couple years ago. That's a whole other can of worms we opened in the deaf community.
When was the last time you felt like a leaf on the wind? Also your acting in tucker and dale kills me. Bang up job, you're one of my favorites.
There was an episode of House MD, where one of the patients was deaf and it alluded to conflicts about whether being deaf was a disability or something that made the patient unique. Have you seen it?
Also, just a fun story, an acquaintance once told me that he had a nephew with a cochlear implant, and he would just take it out whenever his parents or teachers would yell at him. I found that to be interesting.
I really enjoy mountain biking and recently I have been trying to learn how to skateboard if anything I mostly eat it. But I also really enjoy school, playing with my dog, and just being outdoors.
when I was nominated for the Emmy. It required a mantra to calm me down.
I have not seen that episode. Now I want to watch it, lol. My son tends to pull them off when he wants to play on the swing set or whenever he's in the basement. He seems to think he needs to play without his "ears" on. He has started to get defensive when we try to adjust them on his head. He's tells us "no touch, leave it on". I
Is there a specific reasoning behind other deaf people's reticence to embrace the implants or is it just a 'there is nothing wrong with me to fix' type of thinking?
Have any of the people who were initially against the implant more interested now that they have more first hand experiance on how it works and how much of an impact it can have on one's life?
Last question: How hard it it to update the implant when technology advances? Does it require another surgery or can parts be retrofit to the existing system?
@metasirena My best moment so far... Well the one that comes to mind is just that moment at the Olympics where I heard that a won. It is the most insane feeling and high. You feel happy to win, you feel months of stress being lifted from your shoulders, and you feel sad that you friends didn't land their runs and beat you. So its just a huge rush of emotions all at once that just brings you to tears.
thank you :)
I learned so much. I knew Amy from a few plays we did together back in the day. Colbert was always intimidating to me. He is so damned impressive. Amy too but Amy is Amy. I knew her ahead of time.
It's a bit of "we don't need to be fixed". It's also that they fear that technology will wipe out the future need for ASL.
My BIL is still against CIs but once we made amends he actually considered hearing aids. He's not a candidate for either though. My MIL ended up getting a hearing aid after not wearing one for 20 years. She did it for my son, which I love.
The internal piece is meant to last decades but if it fails then it would need to be replaced. The external piece( processor) is replaced about every 5 years. He would get the latest version.
How silly is that argument.
Preserve a disability to save a language.
rewatch it. mainly they are stupid. they followed a killers instructions mainly. also stupid.
Cochlear implants isn't exactly a cakewalk but it will open a lot of doors for our child. I will say that ASL is a beautiful language. It's an extremely social language and they take a lot of pride in their culture. I personally think their aggressive behavior is actually pushing parents away from wanting to teach their CI children ASL.
I know that the implants really need to be implanted at a very young age otherwise your ability to learn spoken language is diminished, which is a huge reason many parents get the implants at such a young age. Would you be opposed to him deciding that he doesn't want to use the implants in the future?
haha a horse sized duck!
I sent in an audition. Frank Oz championed me. It wasn't easy. One the best jobs I have ever had.
I wouldn't oppose it if he was old enough to understand what was is at stake. I honestly want him to be happy. He's doing really well with his CIs but if he wasn't doing as well then we would likely have him uses his CIs for environmental awareness. You hit the nail on the head with the importance of implanting early.
what are injuries or health issues that pros might have that amateurs likely wouldn't, and what are the most exotic therapies pros use to treat them?
Was going to Julliard worth it?
Absolutely. All my accents have benefitted from their dogged pursuit of vocal perfection. Hated it while I was doing it but have used it throughout my career.
Yes he is learning ASL. We have a lot of family members who rely on ASL. I know a lot of parents who let their CI children drop the ASL component. A lot of the children lose interest or the parents want to prevent them from being exposed to the anti cochlear toxic. I don't blame them. I really wish I could advocate more but I just don't want to align myself with the activists.
As being deaf myself, Is there a chance that if i had kids in the future, they can be deaf due to passing down same genes?
I was born deaf and got a cochlear implant when i was two and currently in college. From my understanding, it was a genetic fuck up that made me deaf as no other family or relatives are born deaf. It was interesting to hear your side of having a deaf family and they being opposed to the CI's while i am the only one.
Just compression sleves and such! to be honest I don't even like wearing my knee brace!
they have stated I am their lucky charm. I won't argue. Why would I? So it could be likely.
It depends on the gene. Recessive gene would mean that your partner would need the same gene to create a deaf child. For dominate it only takes 1 parent to pass the gene.
As a deaf teenager starting university next year, I'm really glad you decided to have your son implanted with CI at very young age because you'll faster at young age right? I was born deaf and received CI at the age of 2 3/4 on the left side. Stuck with hearing on the left side only until last year where I got my second CI on my right side.
I started speaking with my own voice. I learnt Australian sign language (Auslan) a bit but kinda gave up because I was waaaaay too used to speaking because I'm always surrounded with hearing people. Sometimes I regret not knowing or understand Auslan. Also, I didn't really take part of deaf community because I feel like I just simply don't belong in there. I'm sure your son absolutely wouldnt have problem with that.
Make sure you take your son to a school that have benefits for child with disabilities. They are really helpful, respectful and great guidance for the future. Without that, I wouldnt be a top student in every class. The nice thing that one of my teacher said was that she never ever would call 'deaf' a disability. It warmed my heart.
The important thing for your son to learn is that DON'T LET THE DEAFNESS STOP YOU.
Best of luck for the future!
Yes growing up in Tahoe helped me become a good skier because the mountains here are very accessible for many people and because Sierra at Tahoe my home mountain was a park and pipe hub within Tahoe. Yes we had many many great neighbors growing up, who we explored with.
Serenity .05 - they early years where e everyone looks older
Thank you for that advice. I don't get to meet a lot of young adults who were implanted young. Have you considered working with Cochlear to be a resource for parents? I'm assuming you have Cochlear since you live in Australia.
Alan, thank you for all the work you've done, ranging from Firefly, to Tucker and Dale, Dodgeball, Moana, etc etc.
I was wondering which voice acting role you found the most challenging in your career?
Is this community attitude regional, or is it generally accepted among deaf people worldwide? Have you considered moving to an area where this is not an issue among the deaf community there (if there are such places)?
I have a few role models my mother for how strong and smart she is. Beyonce because she is Beyonce. And Sarah Burke for where she got skiing and the skier and kind person she was.
wish I knew. They all have their own challenges. Disney is really relaxed though so they are supportive of everything I do. Feels like that anyway. Con MAn. season one maybe. We walked a thin line with the stereotypical Vo roles. It was meant to be perceived as racist so I really had to push it to make the comedy work. It is one of my favorite episodes.
From what I know it's pretty common in countries that have access to cochlear implants. I know for sure that deaf communities in the Europe, Australia and even Mexico are pretty against it. Its the communities that rely solely on sign language.
Edit to answer the last question: The deaf community is spread out all across the country. They do a lot of FaceTime these days. Back in the day, you either traveled to see them or used the TTY to communicate. I ended up leaving my job that worked with Deaf coworkers a few months before my sons surgery. That's how I took myself out of the deaf community.
What other taboos are there in the community that you don't agree with, or outsiders might find strange?
Wow thats impressive. I would pick my brother. And I think that two of the US Gymnasts would probably have a better chance
It's mostly the way they try to dictate how parents raise their kids. It's usually the vocal activists who try to interject. One taboo I've noticed is that you leave your hearing aids at home when you're at deaf events. Hearing aids have a love/hate relationship in the deaf community. A lot of them think it's not for kids.
What else goes into being an Olympian that we don't realize? I get there is training, workouts, etc. Any fun Team USA get-together?
What instrument do you play for Hot Gazpacho?
are there any major threads of disagreement with regards to teaching sign languages other than ASL, or neutral words with offensive signs that people disagree about whether to change?
Ya there is al ot of fun that goes into it! I get the chance to hang with others from Team USA and on the skiing side of things we all ski fun together. Check out the link in the Bio for some ski fun!
Guitar but poorly so I need two to three guitars to drown out my chord heavy strumming.
Deaf folks tend to use Facebook. They like to use the term Audism or Audists to describe a person who thinks being deaf is a bad thing. Technically I would be considered an Audists because I implanted my child. I hate that word.
The sign "cochlear implant" is used with a bent "v" to the head which implies a level of hostility. To give you an idea... A bent "v" to the neck means Vampire. There is discussion that it's more appropriate to sign it with a "u" to the head. The letters refer to the signed alphabet.
me too. it wasn't till I watched it. they are very different in my head. I got to improve more in Rogue. The Tick is tighter on lines. I am voicing over after hey have already shot the scene. There isn't any reason to MoCap so I am not there when they film to add my two cents.
That's what I've seen on FB. A lot of the neutral Deaf want to change it. My mother in law told me about it changing the sign.
I just read through your AMA about your son's CI and it interested me a lot as I also wear CIs, although they are much older. However, I am sure wether or not you will answer my comment as it's been ten hours already since you started your AMA. I guess I'll post it and cross my fingers.
First of all, I am quite surprised by how similar the deaf people's community's reaction you encountered to what my parents encountered, even if I would say it was not as extreme. t ranged from disappointment to mild disapproval and hostility. I guess not having other actually deaf people in my family helped ease the decision.
I also wanted to say I consider your son has something I could say I am jealous of. He has closely related deaf people. With the years, I have lost more and more contact with my local community, so even if I learned LSQ (Quebec signed language) when I was a kid, I lack practice and am not fluent anymore. I have forgotten a lot of signs over the last decade and would hardly be able to discuss with anyone in LSQ. You could say I am what the deaf community feared I'd become, which kinda sucks Thus, I feel like he might have some sort of luck: he will never lose that part of himself.
Something else. Have you heard of FM systems? If yes, sorry for wasting your time and interfering in what doesn't really concern me. If not, it's definitely worth taking a look. It's some sort of emmitter-receiver system which I mostly use in school to help me undrstand the teacher when there's loud noise in the classroom. If found it extremely helpful when, for instance, there was chatter and such. It has the advantage of being extremely simple of use and being undisturbing (english is not my native language, so I do not know if this word exists, but I am too lazy to chech out, sorry) for the other regular students. There is also a similar system used for TV. Mind you, I live in a country where this is all paid by the government, so it might not be as adfordable where you live.
What implant model does your son use? I have one Platinum and one Naida ( by Advanced Bionics).
Did he say how he felt when he first wore his CIs? For me, it sounded a bit like morse code (edit : dumb me, he didn't hear anything before)
Finally, how well does he cope with the whole thing? Since it's been something like 18 years since my first implant, I have somewhat lost the novelty feeling, so I'm interested by his reaction.
Yes! That is what I'm hoping to do! I want girls to see how much fun we are having doing sports and the friendships that come along with it. I believe that good role models are a part of that but also parents, friends, or siblings who encourage girl to do sports!
I have to get back to you on that. I am about to do a play on Broadway written by Steve Martin. That feels like it.
I recommend you take at least 3 years of college level classes if you want to become fluent in ASL.
We plan to use the FM system when he goes to school. It wild definitely help him a lot.
My son wears the Nadia's q90. He was 10 months activated and didn't really react to sounds until about 1 week after activation.
He's really rough with his CIs. Used to pull them off when he was bored. We often had to keep him busy to get him to keep them on. Now he wears them all day and asks for them in the morning.
What is your plan for school? School for the Deaf? Mainstreaming? Something else?
I was born deaf. My parents learned to sign, although they mostly wanted me to be oral. I spoke and heard with my hearing aids while being mainstreamed. As an adult, I threw out my hearing aids and stopped talking. A lot of people were like "But your parents spent hours teaching you to talk and hear! You're just going to throw that out!?" I'm grateful for what they did for me, but I'm mostly grateful that they gave me a choice. That choice is worth so much more than if they only gave me sign or only gave me speaking and listening skills. I think you're doing the right thing for your son.
I couldn't agree more!
He is starting a DHH preschool in a week. They do a lot of oral components but they also teach ASL. We plan on mainstream unless he is demonstrating a visual need. I think having oral skills is invaluable to finding a job. I used to work as an employment specialist for the deaf and it was extremely hard to find employment for the ASL only folks. It was really heartbreaking to see. My clients that were able to lipread or speak some were so easy to find jobs for. This was partially the reason we decided CIs. Thank you for being so kind.
Saw a post on tumblr the other day about this old woman. She hadn't spoken to anybody in thirty years because nobody in her life knew sign language. She was so thrilled to finally be able to chat up a variety store clerk.
Do you worry that one day your son might not have access to a deaf community?
It was so fun! I'm a huge game of thrones fan so I just tried to channel my inner queen!
We got along. I had a blest on that. I know there are crazy stories about many of the people on that movie but my experience was lovely.
No.. his generation will be much more accepting than my generation. I think he will do fine with peers. I do fear him being exposed the negativity of the older generations.
When you bit the gold medal, what did it taste like? Like victory?
Please clear this up for me: are you British-American or American-British or Intergalactic-Chinois?
Thank you, we wanted to give him the best of both worlds.
The difference with the deaf community is that they have a very strong and thriving community with their own language. Interestingly the Deaf community only accounts for 1-2% of the hearing loss population.
What is the longest amount of time you have spent on a set to get a seemingly inconsequential shot?
The obstacle course in season two. It was expensive and took TIME to build. We shot half of what we had to play with. Wah wah
I lived in a chicken coop fro a month learning the ways of the chicken.
How does it feel being one of the most handsome actors in the business?
(You were totally my teen crush)
Which business are you referring to? Nice of you to say. Thank you.
Alan, congratuations on your (and Mindy's) Emmy nomination! I'm pulling for you both. There's a line in Con Man about reddit. My question is, do you browse reddit on a regular basis? If so, what always gets Alan Tudyk's upvote?
I don't Reddit so much. I am always distracted by newsie things. That is a deep hole to travel down.
Do you feel like your life closely resembles Wray Nerely? I would like to think you're a bit more popular than that lol. I loved the short stint you did on Arrested Development. And of course Firefly and Tucker and Dale.
My career is much better than Wray Nerely's. I did a small role in Rogue One as a Emperial pilot. It was one scene. They were going to credit me as Wray Nerely. The scene was cut - that is a total Wray Nerely career turn. He gets in one of the best sc-fi franchises of all time and he gets cut.
Helloo, so what is the thing most people say who recognize you, so I can avoid it if I should ever get so lucky? "Hey, aren't you the dude from firefly?" And what would you prefer? Gimme some tips for the least-annoyance factor please.
Say Con Man. I will love you more.
I know you have been a fan Halo. Any plans on playing Destiny 2? Bonus points for playing in a group with Nathan, Nolan, and Gina.
No. If they call I will come.
Hi Alan, I know this subject is beyond beating a dead horse but is there anything Firefly-related for you in the future (as in prequel related)?
I hope for a prequel but animated. That is doable and can be good.
Please provide your views on Velveeta.
PS You did a very nice job on Rogue One.
Thanks on Rogue. Velveeta too velvety for me. I like a polyester cheese sometimes wool.
Do you enjoy watching movies with yourself in them, or have you given up on watching any movies ever?
Nah. I will with my wife if she hasn't seen it. Sometimes I turn on HBO or sorting and one is running and I will stay on it to watch. Firefly is the exception. I am not watching me I am watching the show. SO cool.
Hi. I was wondering what some of your toughest challenges were working on Con Man as a writer, director and actor simultaneously for the first time?
And congrats on your Emmy nomination-it's a brilliant show and well deserved by such an under appreciated actor.
Thank you. The toughest challenge was doing all those jobs at once. It took up every inch of my brain. I was like a broken robot that could only compute one thing. It changed my life. In a good way. I am so aware of peoples contribution to any project. Cut, crew, crafty, transpo etc....
Whats the funniest "oh shit, I fucked up" thing that's ever happened to you in your career?
when I set out to write all episode son season one of Con Man and Direct all epodes of season one of Con Man, also when I set out to produce all episodes of Con Man and when I set out to act as the lead of all episodes of season one of Con Man simultaneously.
What is the least exaggerated yet most unbelievable story that has happened to you while at a con? If that's too specific, weirdest real thing that's happened because you're a celebrity?
Thanks so much for Firefly and Con Man- both have been a great source of entertainment and joy in my life. I would probably faint if I ever met you, but I'll stop the fanboying while I still have some dignity.
I had a girl come into my room on accident. I answered the door and she came in not looking at me bitching about how her key doesn't work. I think she was drunk.
Any plans for Con Man Season 3 yet? Or is it a wait-and-see thing with Syfy? The season 2 cliffhanger got me right in the feels.
Season three I think depends on the response of seasons one and two. If a ton of people tune in and also watch on the SyFy website it should be a green light.
Long time listener, first time caller.
What do you look for in a script when considering a part? Which character would you most like to play again?
Wash. Wray Nerely. It's a toss up for obvious reasons. I like writing and directing. Wash because he's Wash.
I can't afford the jail time.
My daughter wants to be Moana for Halloween and her little brother wants to be Hei Hei. What tips can you give him to get into character?
I can tell him not to eat rocks. Learn to send his eyes in opposite directions
Hi Alan, I wanted to tell you that you absolutely made the Dallas Fan Expo worth it for me. I wasn't that excited to go honestly, was more supporting my friend, and I had heard Saturday was an absolute crowded mess. I went Sunday and accompanied my friend in line for her to get your autograph and you were just so kind and friendly. I didn't want to take up your time because I didn't even pay for anything, I was just standing there, but you still talked to both of us and were incredibly nice, we talked about the Firefly board game and such. I was disappointed when we couldn't get in to the packed Mark Hamill/Kevin Conroy Q&A, but making it to your Q&A made me not mind so much. You were hilarious and really good with the audience, just made the entire day and ticket price worth it.
How do you keep your energy up at conventions like that? Three manic days, going to events at the con, maybe seeing friends and family while you're in your hometown area... I would be grouchy as hell and really not into talking to long lines of people. How do you maintain a positive attitude like that and keep so engaged with fans?
I learned form the best. Nathan Fillion. Also it helps to be genuinely happy to meet people. I hear great stories. Fans have changed my life for the better. There is a natural appreciation that comes with that.
I'm excited for the Con Man marathon this Saturday night on Syfy. The gospel of Wray Nerely needs to be spread. Since they're just showing season 1, do you know yet if season 2 will be another marathon? Or are there plans for both seasons to air on a weekly basis?
Yes, season 2 marathon is in October right before NYC Comicon. I am not in control if when it is shown and how much is shown - which is actually a good thing since it would probably preempt every show on SyFy upsetting a larger percentage of SyFy fans
puppies. I have two and they rule. me. they rule me.
Why do I cry every time I hear the phrase, "I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar"?
because Joss is a brilliant writer and has a lot of practice killing your favorite characters.
Who was your favorite character to voice and why was it Hei Hei?
It was a specific silly challenge. It was ridiculously fun
Hi Alan, did you get the inspiration for Hot Gazpacho from your medium-long walks among potatoes and beets?
Try it. You will see.
Nothing. I fear nothing. Not even death. You hear me God. Do your worst. Ha ha ha ha! I laugh in your undefinable face! I am most afraid of repercussions of what I have just written
Thank you for the entertainment!
Can you come to Boise, ID, so we can take a medium-short to medium-long walk through a field of tuberous potatoes while I wax rhapsodic about how you are one of the few celebrities that I would really care to meet?
I promise to only look at you semi-longingly.
of course. I will always remember that week-end in Zanzibar.
My favorite guest appearance on Con Man was Stan Lee. I mean come on how cool is that. For me, it has yet to come out I filmed it two weeks ago.
Hi Alan! Phenomenally huge fan. Got any tips on widening my character voice repertoire?
I found my way in through theater. The roles tending to be varied and with a long run I was able to perfect accents and the like.
Alan! Do you have any other pet projects coming down the pipeline? Also, was Amy Acker the first choice for Dawn? Any basis in reality there?
Yes. absolutely. Amy Acker is one of the best actresses working today. I am sorry to skip some questions I am trying to get all the con man questions. I'll come back for some.
Hi Alan! My son Zander and daughter Kaeli are big fans. Would you mind saying hello to them? It would really make their day!
Hello you two. Your names remind me of a couple of characters I know. Have a great day.
Fillion. He has the reach and size advantage. It would be a blood bath or a puss shower
What things can a director do to make an actor's job easier? On the other end, what can a director do to make your life more difficult on-set or in pre-production?
On Con Man I found that in all areas of production it was best to collaborate not to dictate. Except with budget people. Their job is to dictate to you. With them I pushed back. Also have fun. Have fun pushing back on the $ guys.
If you could instantly become a master at any skill, trade or discipline, what would that be?
Piano. Oh the music I could make.
Alan, as someone who has worn many hats in the industry, and to someone who is very new to a very small part of the industry, what sets apart a good producer from lackluster or terrible ones? From both the point of view of crew and talent as well?
Also, where can I get some sweet shirts like Wash had?
You need to have a way with people more or less. Know hen to stay out of the way and when to share your opinions. Terrible ones undermine the creative process. The Wash shirts belong to Fox. They aren't very cooperative.