I had read another blogger’s post in regards to what things are not considered nice to say to a deaf person, “What Not to Say to a Deaf Person”, and overall I had to agree as I had a lot of them said to me out of ignorance about deafness. Yet, I feel some of them are innocent questions in which we can educate hearing people about what it’s like to be deaf. Afterall, a hearing person wouldn’t have a clue what it’s like being without hearing, as well as visa versa, except those who become deaf later in life.
I was born deaf and have never experienced hearing outside using my hearing aids. People don’t understand that sometimes it’s a struggle living in a hearing world, but I also am compassionate that I am also different and some people have no clue at all how to ask their curious questions without making us feel like we’re out of sorts.
Out of the ten that was listed in the other blog, “.. But you speak so well.” is one I have to constantly answer to many times, that I’ve gotten used to it. I was blessed with wonderful speech therapists and the ability to use hearing aids to hear most of the sounds around me. Granted, my skills in pronunciation do slip up from time to time. I do know that people are amazed that deaf people can speak clearly, and it takes a lot of work to do that. It does get old sometimes, but I’m a pretty patient person in understanding how some people can’t grasp that it is possible for someone with severe/profound loss to gain very good speech skills. As to if it is something never to say to a deaf person, I would say that it has to be taken in a good way. I think that some of the reasons to why some deaf don’t take it so well is the reason it may make them feel like their deafness is meaningless, when it really is the core of how they came to be who they are. It is a challenge, and to be able to master the spoken word is an incredible feat alone. Instead of disbelieving their deafness because they can speak so well, accept it and praise they were able to overcome such a challenge.
“Are you going to get those implants?” It’s understandable to me that someone who has hearing would want to salvage every bit of hearing they could if they had lost it, but as have been born deaf, I haven’t felt the desire to go under the knife just to get some kind of hearing with a Cochlear Implant. I had, I admit, been asked about it, and found out they would have to destroy whatever hearing is left to make the CI work. That’s not my cup of tea. Hearing aids work just fine and I don’t want to waste time and money on a surgery that might not give me the results I want. I’m pretty content with my hearing as it is, even though it’s very little. As for people asking me the question, I can understand the inquiry if it was from a close friend, but when someone just meeting me, it would make things a little awkward.
Lip reading is an ability that I love in being deaf, but sometimes some people don’t understand that I am not perfect at it. “Wow, you could probably read lips across the room!” No, not always. When sign language isn’t available to me, lip reading is what I get by to understand what’s being said around me, but I don’t always catch it right. There are some words that look alike, and sometimes the same word can be used in the same context in a sentence. It does take a little work figuring out things like this, and after a while of doing this, it does get exhausting. When someone tells me something like this, I have to laugh. I don’t mind explaining to them, since maybe it will let them walk away with a new perspective of what the world is like when your eyes have to be your ears all the time. I just hope hearing people would develop a little more patience for people like me when I try to lip-read them – especially those with accents! When I have to deal with someone like that, I become very anxious. I just pray the other person will be patient with me as I work to figure out their way of talking.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Losing my hearing would be the worst thing in the world.” I wouldn’t know! I’ve been born this way and have no other reality. To be deaf, I find to be a blessing, as I have a language, American Sign Language, and the choice to silence my world completely when I take my hearing aids out. To be honest, there are days when I didn’t have to deal with hearing aids and just live completely deaf. Buying batteries and worrying if I’m going to be able to afford the next pair of hearing aids are burdens that I deal with. My husband needs new hearing aids, as his are over seven years old! Living in a hearing world demands us to make that kind of accommodation at times. It’s a tool to help us survive, sadly. But I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. It has brought me opportunities and experiences that I don’t think I would have been able to as a hearing person.
As for the other comments mentioned on the blog, they’re all common sense blunders. Being able to drive doesn’t require you to hear, and neither does reading. I personally have not had anyone ask me about the reading thing, but as for the driving, I’ve had some honest questions that I found to be acceptable to ask. “How do you know if there’s an emergency vehicle behind you?” is the one I find to be a very good question. My answer is simple. I just keep my eyes peeled for bright lights! One day I would love to have something in my car to give me a little heads up if one is near me. I usually don’t know they’re there until they’re about 20 feet by me. My kids are good at letting me know sometimes, but I can’t always depend on them.
That’s my take on the blog. I hope it helps my hearing readers to understand a little more about how to approach us deaf/hard of hearing folks!