I am deaf, and have been since I was a child – and after asking hundreds of other deaf people about dumb things that have been said to them, I compiled a list based on the results. In honor of May being Better Hearing & Speech Awareness Month, I thought this would be a good time to post this!
10 Dumb Things Hearing People Commonly Say to Deaf People:
1. “You don’t look deaf!”
There is no way to look deaf. You don’t need to ever tell a deaf person, “you don’t look deaf!” because really, how could you look deaf? Carry a grammaphone around? Have ears of some type of better yet, something in American Sign Language (ASL) tattooed on your forehead?
2. “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”
A lot of people shout at us. But think about that for a second. Shouting at a deaf person. Shouting at someone who can’t hear?
Okay, it’s true that many deaf people can hear in various degrees, but shouting is almost always simply an exercise in rudeness and condescension, not to mention futility.
3. “DOOOO YOOOUUUUUUUU WAAAAAANNNNTT COFFFEEEEEEEEEEE?”
Add talking uber-slowly to shouting.
4. “Oh hey! I sign too!”
I can’t count the number of times someone has whipped out their hands and their own creative interpretations of signing a cat, rain or sun… “creative” being the operative word. But on the heels of this, you probably want to remember that:
5. Not All Deaf People Use Sign Language Either!
Although I have been deaf for most of my life, I only started to learn some sign language when I was 30.
Deaf people are not born knowing how to sign and if you become deaf, you don’t automatically receive an infusion of sign language along with your first hearing aid or gulp of silence.
6. “You can talk?!”
Not everyone can talk, and not everyone enunciates like a hearing person does, yeah! Many of us deaf folk do indeed talk!
7. “So do you lipread?”
Personally, I am a ninja at lipreading. I am a fierce lipreader, so good that most audiologists are shocked when they they discover how little I really hear. But I’m not the norm – many of my deaf tribe don’t lip read at all and many more still do lip read a bit but don’t want to use it as a means to communicate with a hearing person.
It’s a lot of effort on our part and it’s exhausting – so it’s not something to be taken for granted, if someone does it at all. Just sayin’
8. “Do you drive?”
9. “Why don’t you get a cochlear implant?”
A cochlear implant is the answer for some people but it’s not for everyone. You need to be profoundly deaf with no hearing to lose to get one at all, and for many deaf folk, being deaf is not only the absence of hearing but it is the presence of a culture, the Deaf culture.
Not everyone wants to hear – and not everyone would want to give up being Deaf, or would want their children to hear.
10. “I’m sorry”
Oh, if I had a dime for every time someone told me “I’m sorry” in response to my telling them I’m deaf….. yeah….
11. “Oh, that’s okay”
– blank look –
[yay! she’s telling me it’s okay that I’m deaf!]
Being deaf has had its difficulties but most of those difficulties are related to access. It’s hard to find and keep jobs, navigate the system and receive a solid education when society revolves around hearing in the way that it does
But hey! Being deaf isn’t a bad thing and it is certainly not something to mourn – it’s wonderful being able to reach up and turn my hearing aids off and enter a realm of total silence when my kids are screaming, better believe me on that.
– the end.
Remember how I asked literally hundreds of d/Deaf people what dumb stuff was commonly said to them by hearing people? Yeah, well, the best response that I got was this:
– My husband and I (- both Deaf) – were in a restaurant and a waitress came over and saw us signing and said, “Oh you are deaf! Great! We just got some new braille menus!”