Hey everyone my name is Amanda McDonough and I am a Deaf actor. I am also one of Rikki’s good friends. When she told me she was making a video about this topic I was so excited to add something to the conversation. Now, I make videos also for Facebook and YouTube about Deaf culture, the Deaf community, just information for both Deaf and hearing. And on my videos I get a lot of negative comments; mostly on how I choose to communicate.
Now, I was really really blessed because I became Deaf later in life and I had access to English growing up. I grew up hard of hearing. I grew up in hearing culture with a hearing family, hearing friends, and I struggled. I struggled to lip read, to do well in school, but I had access to English and was able to build the communication skills I needed verbally. Now, when I became fully Deaf I started searching for people like me, people who I could communicate with, people who understood how much I struggled with spoken language and I found them. I was lucky to find them on the set of “Switched at Birth.” They welcomed me and taught me sign language and they taught me about Deaf culture and introduced me to the Deaf community. So, I was lucky there; but that was only 2 maybe 3 years ago. So, I am still continuing to learn and grow to this day.
Now, in my videos, I can’t win. There’s three different ways that I communicate in my videos. The first way is sometimes I chose to just talk because English is my first language and it is the language I am way definitely more comfortable talking in. But if I talk in English in my videos then everyone starts saying “oh she’s not really Deaf!’ “She talks too well” or “She is not acting Deaf so there is no way she actually can be Deaf.” I didn’t know there was a way we were supposed to act; but ok. I know Rikki has a similar problem with that.
Now, if I sim-com, that’s signing and talking at the same time. Which I do and started doing because I grew up with an all hearing family and all hearing friends and I want them to learn sign language. I want them to be interested in my language and learn so that they can communicate with me better in the future. So, showing them the signs with English on my hands was my way of helping them learn. Now, in my videos I do it so that everyone has access to my videos. They can hear it or they can see it and if you don’t understand sign and can’t hear either, like I did at one point in my life, I have captioning on my videos as well. Now, if I do this you would think it’s a win for everyone right? No. I still continue to get comments about how my signing is not perfect ASL and that I am not respecting Deaf culture by not signing perfect ASL but signing English on my hands. Really? I just can’t win here.
Now, if I listen to all of those people and sign only in my video then everyone who doesn’t know sign language can’t understand me. Now I am isolating another group of people from understanding my videos. So, it can be really difficult when it comes to making these videos that Rikki and I both make because we are just trying our best. We both grew up in hearing culture, we both grew up with English as our first language. We’re just doing the best we can and we are doing these videos not only to help hearing people understand Deaf culture but Deaf people to understand hearing culture and understand us. We are kind of like “Inbetweeners” we are stuck in the middle. We have been in both cultures. We are doing our best to communicate any way we can.
Now I am a really firm believer that all Deaf people should have the right to communicate whatever way we want. Whatever way. Whatever way we feel comfortable because communication is really important. It’s really necessary for life and happiness. So, just the next time you are commenting on one of our videos just think twice, think of what we have been through, think of what we are struggling with and how we are just doing our best to give you this information and entertain you at the same time.
Learn more at http://www.amanda-mcdonough.com
Anyways thanks so much for watching! I am so grateful to Rikki for asking me to be in this video with her. She is amazing! I love everything she does. You can see more of my work on my YouTube channel or check out my latest 7up commercial on 7up’s YouTube channel. Ok, awesome, bye guys!