Sunday, 8 September 2019

I'm NOT your 'deaf friend'

All Kudos for kicking the stereotype and exposing the myth.  If only more deaf people would 'come out' and put a stop to this biased and disinformative cultural bandwagon that is causing issues for the deaf and hard of hearing.  The majority with deafness and hearing loss need to speak out, ignoring these people just enables more of the same. 

All deaf don't sign, the majority do not, it's time to create real awareness.  Start challenging the cultural and signing stereotype being applied to everybody.

"You may know someone who is deaf, but you don't know me Unless you've lived with a deaf person, you can't relate to my experiences, limitations or desires, 

I am not your "deaf friend." And I don't want to be. I'm not interested in your friends, or your parents' friends, who are deaf. If you tell me that one of your parents is deaf, I'd be happy to talk about that because I know that you'd have your own experience in what it is like to live with a deaf person. I can relate to that because my mother is deaf and that's something you and I would have in common. 

But if you just know "someone" who is deaf, that does not mean you know a thing about me. When it comes to questions, the boundary between appropriate and inappropriate is even hard for me to discern. I guess it depends on how well we know each other, and whether or not we're friends, colleagues, or strangers. Here's what I can tell you in advance: I appreciate questions about how I manage to tackle daily tasks such as the telephone, public transportation and other things you may not realize are difficult for me. But please don't ask me personal questions. 

Right before I graduated from high school, I asked my principal if she could supply me with two transcripts for my coming graduation ceremony because I wanted my mother and grandmother to be able to follow the speeches and awards as they were presented. My principal smiled confidently and told me that everything had already been taken care of, and that a sign language interpreter had already been hired for our benefit. "Oh, that's so nice of you," I responded, "except that … we don't sign." Many hearing people seem to have difficulty understanding that deaf people aren't born knowing how to sign, and that they, as natural human beings, must acquire language the same way that any other human acquires language. I was spoken to in English by my parents from birth, and I was instructed in English at school. 

English is my mother tongue. I never learned sign language in a family or institutional setting, so please don't act so surprised when I tell you I don't sign. I had been going to this school for six years; my teachers knew me and my family very well. And yet, they still chose to assume what we, as deaf people, would need, rather than to ask. We were all embarrassed. One of the most frustrating things you can ask me is: But wouldn't it be easier for you to sign? First of all, I resent your insinuation that I struggle to communicate. 

Understand that I am not obligated to learn how to sign; those who sign sometimes do so because they want to, not just because they must. And if I did choose to sign rather than speak, we'd have to use an interpreter, and no, I don't think that would be easier."

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