#1 Hey y'all
How are you doing tonight? I have single sided deafness. Profoundly deaf on my left side and only a little bit of hearing on my right and I wear a baha! I never was bought up in a deaf community or learnt BSL. Which was great but I would like to be apart of the deaf community and learn BSL and make friends who are deaf. ;-).
I wish you luck with that, been deaf 40 years and never managed it. You will need to understand what 'norms' you are familiar with as an 'ex-hearing' person won't travel too well in an area that has always been deaf, you have to accept their lifestyles and norms to 'fit in'.
You will need advice from people who have either been there, done that and been accepted, and those who have been there done that and failed, to understand the reasons for and against, joining a deaf community does not suit everyone. Current members have grown up with it, been educated in it etc, you, haven't. I personally do not know any ex-hearing person who has managed to assimilated fully into the Deaf community, that is not to say some cannot manage a semblance of it and gain from that 'community' although it looks a little mercenary.
One needs to understand why people feel, that as they are having huge difficulties in the hearing area, they can just drop all they know and join a Deaf area instead, like going to a cinema instead of buying a DVD. WHY do you want to join a deaf community ? If you have social issues, you will still have to address those in a deaf area, even more so, as social is the be-all, end-all there.
There are more deaf people outside of it, than inside it, which suggests it is still perfectly feasible to manage without relying on an area you really have not been familiar with before. For some, it is a clear opt-out, an admittance, they can no longer manage to maintain any sense of social or community with hearing areas. As you say first you need to learn a different way of communicating as well, that isn't as easy as is suggested.
I don't think people with poor hearing are ever educated, made aware, or even assessed clinically to ascertain what really is best for them, they should be, but the system has no program of training such people. Sadly some opt to 'join' a Deaf community, then really struggle to fit in there too. It needs evaluation in part, not free choice, to avoid a lifetime of regret and even more isolation. The 'Deaf' (not deaf), community is shrinking too, one can be forgiven in thinking and reading online it is many many times bigger than it really is. That is just the power of good promotion.
Years ago 100s of deaf clubs existed, now they exist only in major populated areas. Ditto deaf schools, there are less than 21 now. With regards to learning sign language you pay your money etc, because two distinct areas now exist on learning it, one is direct sign language tuition, the other an 'inclusive' area (not necessarily aligned to the Deaf one), that includes cultural background and Histories as well as sign language, I could suggest the former is your best option, as the cultural inclusions of sign can prove contentional with some, best to stick with the communication part. You don't need to be familiar with Beethoven being deaf or issues of Milan to learn sign language.
Some deaf can resent their community being used as a 'last resort' for hearing loss people who tried everything else first ! Culture is important to them and you need to be wary of imposing your own, can you adapt or compromise enough ? The Deaf also don't approve of incomers who want to adapt their deaf world to accommodate your issues. I spent 25 years in a deaf club, they still ask me to make their phone calls and appear unable to accept I am as deaf as they are e.g. My voice became the dividing line on acceptance, just as it does with hearing areas.
Those are some of the downsides, but there are clubs that operate in a dual manner, you need to find one of those, since a dedicated BSL club would be difficult for you to manage straight off, locate a club where HoH and deaf both go, then you have the best of both worlds with less of the initial issues, and you can really decide if a Deaf community is for you or not. There is no HoH community.
First contact is crucial, if you find issues straight away it can put you off continuing. Then you are neither part of a Deaf or a hearing community. Sadly many of these things are plain ignored, no-one explains the pros and cons of what is expected when you are deaf, e.g. Now what !! For most of us, it depends on our abilities, determination, and choice has nothing to do with it. it's not easy, because you may be approaching this decision after exhausting everything else and that IS a wrong reason.
Many wait until communicational bad habits are fully established, or their hearing has deteriorated very badly, or even they are a lot older, before 'deciding' oh well I will give the Deaf thing a go instead ! That may be too late. You could end up stuck in a corner and no better off than before.
People will note my comments suggest it is negative and the 'Deaf' community (NOT the HoH/deaf community as this does not exist), welcomes all comers and is accepting, but this isn't about them, it is about YOU.