Frankly speaking, there’s not much that I don’t like about being deaf but in the idea of how society deals with our deafness… is a terrible, sometimes amusing experience. Those moments with strangers or perhaps even in our own social circle leave us embarrassed and even infuriated at times.
“You look so funny, you talk funny, you read lips (considering it as a surprising talent), you are nosy and too curious, you are slow learner, you ask us to repeat the lines often, you are perhaps even loud and makes irritating noises, etc.” are commonly inappropriate comments that are often made about deaf people on a regular basis.
But there is also a thin line between being polite and being blatantly rude. Below are the commonly inappropriate comments. Please memorize them and never say them in front of deaf people, especially if you want to abstain from hurting them.
Its’ nothing, nothing important.
Is it really “nothing”? Then how come you all are laughing so hard? Don’t we have a right to demand a fair share of jokes and stories with you?
As much as it is shared among the hearing folks, kindly share it with us too. We could use a laugh.
Just ignore it; it’s none of your business.
The questions like, “What happened there?”, “What are they talking about?” may seem furious and makes you consider deafies as nosy. Of course, we are curious like you. And on an important note, please realize that you have also insulted us and considered as unworthy of an effort to communicate with. Your refusal to respond reflects your laziness.
She is deaf, so she might be dumb.
Dear hearing people, this is so inappropriate of you to think like that. Being deaf doesn’t mean that we lack intelligence and the ability to speak. It is in our own decision to communicate with either through our voice or through our jazz hands. Don’t talk to us like we’re mentally challenged.
Can you please read lips of that person across the hallway?
Fortunately, this is a blessed talent among deaf people and most of us are natural lip-readers. However amazed you are at our ability to read lips, we are amazed to say that you have a bad habit of snooping into other people’s conversation. Shame!
You are still wearing your aids. Then why didn’t you hear me?
Technology has seen awesome advances in hearing aids and cochlear implants, however, hearing aids and cochlear implants are not a cure. Don’t ever assume that we can hear everything with our aids. We do not hear like most people. It is in our best interest to choose to wear the aids that the random little sounds are heard. But we still prefer to read lips and sign to understand most conversation.
You are so cute, but you don’t look deaf.
Do you know my cousin brother’s younger daughter? She is deaf too.
This is the one that seriously drives me crazy. Out of 360 million deaf people all over the world, which includes 5% of world population, not everyone knows each other. Positively, we are social people and outgoing driven community and there is a lot to talk about other than this inconsistent deaf issue. Or do you expect us to belong in a deaf circle?
OH! I am so sorry. So poor thing happened to you.
I wonder what is so poor about us. Unlike you, we are never disturbed by unwanted noises and forcibly listen to inconvenient talks of general people. Really it’s not that bad or something to be pitied. So stop feeling sorry for us. And surprisingly, most deaf people are proud of themselves and who they are. We do not view our deafness as a disability or feel the need to be “cured”.
My ears are ringing I can’t hear anything.
Why suddenly assume that you are going deaf because you are sick? Just because it’s a crowded place, it’s hard to hear and definitely not the same thing as deaf or hard-of-hearing. I absolutely understand that you require someone to understand and support, but it’s irrelevant.
Wow! Your speech is so good.
Seriously, why is it that everyone assumes deaf people to be underestimated implying that we are less intelligent or aren’t trying hard enough. Of course, I do feel like being patted on my back. But honestly, it is nothing special or a big deal either.
How can you hear?
Why are you showing damn attitude by ignoring me?
Sadly, this is the biggest misconception when you didn’t get our attention while trying to talk to us. It is well said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, so don’t’ ever judge anyone before you know them. We do not even have two extra eyes on the back of our head so it’s better if you tap on our shoulder and begin the conversation.
She still isn’t getting the meaning. No wonder what will happen to her.
Sometimes we are too embarrassed to ask again because you are annoyed and failed to attempt again in a polite manner. Feel free to gesture too, they could be helpful. Again, we just can’t hear. Period.
You are an inspiration.
Though deafness is a terrible tragedy that has to be overcome, it is an obstacle that indicates that we can do anything if we try hard enough or in a different way. Fact is that deafness is a disability; a part of our life as being alive.
Try to look at us as human first, instead of us being deaf person.
So how do you drive?
Just give me your mom’s number, I will explain her.
Wait! What for? Is she a middle person and my interpreter? Talk with me. You can possibly use a pen and a paper or type the conversation in phone note. Either ways you can communicate in a polite manner.
How do you listen to music and even sing along in a same chord?
In this technological era, a world full of internet everywhere, with everything available on the go, subtitles and closed caption (CC) is something that allows us to enjoy music and sing along with our families and friends.
What is so impossible these days? Out there, there are so many talented people singing, dancing, attending rock and live concerts, playing musical instruments etc. We just do in a different way. Smile!
I wish I could sign.
Being around deaf people takes time and effort to communicate. Sometimes, it is even annoying to have to repeat for them. But remember, we deaf people are human, we feel and we think. Just like you, we have an interesting career path, we sing, we dance, we love movies, we cook, we travel, use Facebook, use Twitter, text, eat, walk, breathe… We do everything and even have found out tools and methods to carry out things in a different way, successfully.
But to have justice in the world, and to have a fairer society, this is where it starts. I just hope this helps the next time you see a deaf person walking down the street, standing in a store, or walking across the street, that you approach in an educated and polite manner. Then you can as well educate those who may not know.
At the end of the day, we are all like you.
: Sanchita Kamani