Saturday, August 25, 2007

Interview with About.com's Jamie Berke

About.com is a web portal that relies on expert “guides” to cover a specific topic by writing articles and creating a web directory. There are currently 570 expert guides and Jamie Berke is one of them. She is the About.com guide to Deafness where she covers topics such as Sign Language, Deaf Culture, Accessibility, and interpreting… just to name a few.
Jamie was born deaf and grew up oral. She learned sign language later. She attended college at NTID, transferred to Gallaudet University and then graduated from Gallaudet in 1987. In 1990, she earned a Master's Degree from American University. In 1996, she earned a second degree from Gallaudet. Clearly, she loves education and her job researching new topics for the About.com website keeps her inspired.

About.com also offers free weekly email newsletters about Deafness including:

  • Your Deaf Child - Information on parenting deaf and hard of hearing children
  • Learn Sign Language - e-course for new signers
  • About Hearing Aids
  • Deaf People in History
  • Deafness in Our World - e-mail course on deaf culture
  • Famous Deaf People -
  • Deaf Trivia Challenge
  • Hearing Loss Causes
  • Deaf Around the Globe
  • Cochlear Implant Info - facts and other aspects
  • Accessibility Info
  • Employment Info for Deaf and Hearing

*****Read my interview with Jamie Berke below**********

SPW: Probably the first question that my students always want to know is how someone gets involved with the Deaf Community and Sign Language? As a Deaf person growing up oral, how did you "find" other Deaf people?

JB: I didn't. There were other oral deaf kids in my area. Later, I met many more in college.

SPW: Can you tell me a bit about yourself-- what do you do for a living, for fun?

JB: I work both a regular job and About.com as a part time job. For fun - good question. I like comic books, swimming, going for walks. Also enjoy watching old TV shows on DVD now that they are captioned.

SPW: How did you become interested in being an About.com guide?

JB: Long ago, I was actually invited to become one. At the time I had a couple of personal websites of my own, and the people who set up About.com back when it was called the Mining Company, searched the young internet and found me. The rest is history.

SPW: How do you come up with the ideas for the About.com pages?

JB: It is challenging. After ten years, it is getting hard as the idea bank begins to run dry once you have covered almost everything. Ideas come from things I read, from talking to people, posts on the forum, e-mails from About.com visitors, and my own thoughts.

SPW: Can you mention of a few of your "favorite" About.com pages on Deafness?

JB: My personal favorites are the more unusual ones - like the FAQ page on commercials with sign language: http://deafness.about.com/od/media/f/commercials.htm
and the article on the deafblind triplets (that one got a lot of attention when first published): http://deafness.about.com/od/deafblind/a/dbtriplets.htm

SPW: Are there any topics that you do not like to write about?

JB: Medical stuff. I do it because I know my visitors need information on causes of deafness. I'm not a medical expert, and when I write about causes of deafness, I have to keep it in layman's English.

SPW: What kind of advice would you give to young people?

JB: If this question pertains to reading and improving English skills - I would say read anything you like. The important thing is to like what you read. When I was younger, it was comic books.
Finally, I liked your blog so much I am blogging your blog.
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Thanks Jamie for the interview and the compliment... which is certainly a compliment coming from an About.com Guide who views numerous websites. She also noted to "like what you read". Check out my '100+ and Counting' list which includes many excellent books where you'll find at least a few that you'd like to read. I'll keep you posted on upcoming publications and author interviews (including an interview with comic book author/illustrator David Mack that I am terribly excited about!)

3 comments:

jodi said...

Sharon,
I had no idea about Jamie Berke's site or the amazing newsletters! There is a wealth of information and the part I appreciate the most is that the articles in deafness cover information for all choices in deafness.

My son loves comic books, too!!! Some of the things he says come straight out of the Mickey Mouse comics!
Jamie,
Congratulations on all of your hard-earned success. It is so important to have passion for what you do...Jodi

Sharon said...

Jodi, You may also want to check out Hands & Voices. It is a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to supporting families and their children who are deaf or hard of hearing, and the professionals who work with them. They are a parent-driven, parent/professional collaborative group that is unbiased towards communication modes and methods. I'm not sure if they have the organization in Italy but you could always put that on your 'to-do' list. http://www.handsandvoices.org

Anonymous said...

Sharon,
You rock! I am having so much fun and learning so many new things!! I'm determined to take a sign language course now because I want Jordan to get in touch with his deaf identity now, so he knows how important that is to us. I have met so many interesting people and it's like a new world is opening up for me. The book has been an eye-opening experience and I'm especially proud to have met you!!!
I look forward to reading your next interview.
Wahoo,
Jodi