Because It Has Come Up Again
My hair has always strategically covered the backs of my ears so that my #hearing #aids remained as inconspicuous as possible. I'm starting to care less now and have a few things that I would like to share. If you're still reading, below you'll find the confessions & thoughts from 2 Deaf 23-24 year olds. Feel free to share and add more.
1. Email. Email. Email. This is the 21st century people! Phone calls are efficient, but when wanting to communicate important information and you beg between voice cracks to, "pleeeaase, I don't know what you said. I'm sorry. Can you email me whatever it is you are wanting me to answer for your security purposes?" how hard does it need to be to email? I promise, I'm not scamming you, and for legal purposes, isn't it better to have records in writing anyways?
2. Online appointment scheduling, bill pay, and ordering is FANTASTIC . We can read. I applaud all who have invested the time and money for web development that allows me to book my doctors appointment online. I will avoid calling at all cost and you'll probably find me walking in your office to schedule an appointment so that I can communicate to your face and not your voice. If it comes to this, do be kind and don't look at your computer screen while talking from behind the counter. I just likely clocked out of work early to drive across town because I want a health concern looked at. I'm not impatient or trying to ruin your day. I just can't understand you on the phone.
3. Closed captioning is amazing. I fully appreciate those friends and family who turn the captioning on before I even ask. Its not that I can't hear the TV, but I can actually enjoy watching TV without having to focus on listening so much. And hey, you may be missing more than you thought you were!
4. If you can talk, you can hear. No. "But ma'am, how did you get through the first five minutes of this conversation" With all due respect, sir, I initiated the conversation. I knew what I needed to address. When I'm in control of the conversation I can more accurately piece it together. Hearing loss is complicated by understanding. Many times I do in fact hear, but I struggle to comprehend speech. Changing directions, interruptions, or many people engaged in the conversation only complicate matters. We do our best, but it can be tiring. Please don't be offended if at the end of the day we disengage.
5. Please don't force me to play games like charades or pictionary in large group settings if I don't want to. It's not that I can't hear the commotion, but I can't pick out single voices and words when everyone is yelling at the same time. Trust me, as long as I'm with my friends, I'd much rather laugh with them instead of stressing out about when it comes to be my turn again.
6. Embarrassing first impressions follow me like the plague. I've accepted it but some days it can be discouraging. For example, the time I walked into an office for a meeting and the handsome assistant greeted me. To this day I don't know what he said, but whatever I responded with was not the appropriate response. Embracing the awkwardness is a daily challenge. We appreciate all the second and third chances.
7. When you learn that I'm deaf, don't exaggerate the way your mouth moves or the way you talk. That just makes it harder and annoying. I've done this literally my whole life so I can lip read you just fine the way you are....but kudos to those who have clean cut faces (no bushy beards/mustaches) and a variety of facial expressions (platonic faces = greater difficulty)
8. Yes, I know sign language. No, the alphabet does not constitute fluency.
9. It's not an accent. It's likely a nasal sound with some missing s's. You're likely mumbling, but we're getting by based on context, body language, and facial expression. And yes, every Sunday I’m contentious of singing. Especially new, unusual songs.
10. Lyric videos are the best thing to happen on youtube. If you suggest a song, I most likely end up searching it again later with the words so that next time I feel more comfortable listening or dancing to it.
11. I don't hate you. Let me apologize for all the times I've appeared uninterested or distant. It's not you, per say. It's probably the way you speak. I've noticed that I naturally gravitate to people who appear approachable and are easy to understand. If I'm honest, I struggle most with deep southern accents, Ebonics and the IT guys on the phone.
12. Our parents, teachers, coaches and friends were/are really amazing. I can't speak for everyone but my parents and family are a large part of how I've gotten this far. I don't see my journey as some insurmountable feat, but a lot of people do. So my response: I was made by a great and awesome God who does not make mistakes. I have parents who loved me, despite the fact that 21 years ago they thought I may never hear their voice. They not only put me in speech therapy for 8 years, but they worked on it at home with me. They did not set the bar lower just because hearing loss is a "disability". They challenged me. They advocated for me. They taught me to advocate for myself. But they always recognized my abilities over my inability to hear.
13. “What?” , “mmhmm” , and “yea” are automatic responses usually accompanied by a smile and head nod. Not always the best thing, but it has worked so far!
14. Love is universal. Kindness is too. We may have exceptional BS meters but we also know when someone is truly expressing love, kindness, or patience. Thankfully, we don't need words for that.