I’m sorry to say it to the cultural deafs, as much as everyone around me knowing sign language would make it far easier on me to communicate with people in my daily life, being involved myself in cultures that are mainstreamed in the larger hearing communities, I can’t simply expect everyone around me for 50 sq miles to learn to sign. It’s not practical, feasible nor is it reasonable.
Learning to sign is literally learning a whole new language. Besides, most people that are going to learn a second language in America are going to learn a language that they will far more likely to run into far more regularly than a signing deaf person. Here in America that second language would be Spanish.
I know the argument, and I’ve chimed it myself a few times. “Not everyone will visit a foreign country, but anyone could go deaf” yeah yeah I know. Yes, it’s true, anyone could literally go deaf for a multitude of reasons, including even a firework accident with a firecracker exploding too close to the ears (not kidding, that’s happened).
However, most people from hearing cultures would result in working towards correcting their hearing. They would fight tooth and nail to restore their hearing in some size, shape or form, even if that’s a cheap option like getting hearing amplifiers from Britzgo to aid in it.
Even a small minority of the deaf population actually sign with estimates towards 80% of the deaf population not even knowing how to sign in the first place. Rather these majority deafs rely on what residual hearing they have and listening devices (including cochlear implants) and lip reading.
Like myself, I rely on hearing amplifiers and lip reading for the majority of my conversations, regardless of my ability to sign. Know how rare it is for me to actually sign? Maybe once or twice per year at best. That’s how rare it is for me to use as a deaf person.
“But what about phone calls? Don’t you use a video call to a relay operator?”
I did at one point in time, and by one point in time I mean for like 4 different calls. The relay operator kept getting hung up on and it didn’t matter if I was ordering a pizza for delivery, calling a government office like Social Security or even checking store hours for a local store, they think I’m a telemarketer. So instead what do I do? I rely on an app called InnoCaption for the deaf and hard of hearing on my Android phone, gives me a special number they call and everything. Someone listens in that’s a professional stenography and I simply speak in return after reading what the other party says. So no signing required.
“But what about deafs who can’t talk?”
You mean deafs that choose not to talk?
“They can’t talk because they were born deaf!”
Many audiologists consider “profoundly hard of hearing” and “mild deaf” to be the same thing, others don’t so that’s debatable whether I was born deaf or hard of hearing depending largely on the audiologist. I speak and I speak exceptionally well.
I also know several people who were born profoundly deaf, never heard a single sound in their entire life, and they can vocalize and speak.
I suppose the real difference is whether or not we were abused as children. Those of us who were mainstreamed or homeschooled and went through speech therapy and taught English with some supplemental signing to assist us in language development in our early years grew up into adults who were able to speak. Then there are those of us who were abused as a child by parents who sent us to deaf schools where they valued not speaking at all and thusly never ended up developing crucial spoken language skills and additionally stunting their educational attainment.
The only people I know of who are profoundly deaf and can’t speak all have “deaf school” upbringing while those who were born profoundly deaf that were homeschooled or mainstreamed in public education with speech therapy and supplemental signing for language development ended up being able to speak.
Want to know what would really benefit? Not draining funding from other programs into little clubs for you and other Cultural Deafies to just have a place to gather once or twice a week for social get togethers and allow that funding to be used for things that are actually beneficial. You know, for things like hearing aids, cochlear implants, audiologist visits for those who need help getting it due to insurance issues, as well as literacy classes, speech therapy, things like that. THAT would actually be helpful.
These little gathering social meetup club things you guys try to drain as much resources into as you can isn’t helping anyone but stroking your own egos and you’re damaging the deaf community at large because of your selfishness and your isolationism.
It would also help greatly if you stop spreading lies and misinformation about us to people and actively perpetuating them. I’m actually sick and tired of having to explain to people that the majority of deaf people actually do speak and that the “deaf people can’t speak” bit is a myth. I’m also excessively tired of having to explain to people that “not all deaf people sign, most of us don’t” and yes I’m also excruciatingly tired of having to tell someone that “no this or that or the other thing isn’t offensive” because they were informed by another deaf person through a terp that it’s offensive to us.
I hate that people walk on eggshells when they learn I’m deaf because they’re afraid of all these little misc crap listicles that you guys have made about how hearing people need to do this, hearing people need to do that, hearing people need to remember this and that and hearing people need to provide us with blah. And that’s provided they’ve seen those videos which, let’s face it, some have and it’s scared them enough that they actually want little to nothing to do with us.
I’ve had one person who’s seen one of these videos tell me that it’s offensive to write things down for a deaf person and my first thought was “Where the hell did you get that from?” and he said it came from a YouTube video shared on Facebook about communicating with the deaf. I told him “No, it’s not offensive, it’s a really good idea and very thoughtful.” and I had to end up telling him about how deaf culture is a cancerous tumor that needs excised.
Seriously I spend more time explaining where these bullshit things come from and why they’re bullshit than actually having conversations that I want to be having sometimes. I inform someone “Hey, I’m deaf” because I want and need them to pay attention and to understand I have huge difficulties hearing them, usually because otherwise I get people creeped out by my creepy death stare, among other things like getting them to keep facing me when they speak.
But hey, if you think sign language will fix everything, fill both your hands with grocery bags and while you’re carrying them, tell me about your day.