I still scratch my head in wonder and puzzlement at people’s reactions when they meet Deaf folks. I am one of them, and often encounter people who smile so broadly and shake my hand, but the moment they are told that I am Deaf, their hand retracts and they look at me oddly before looking at their hand, hoping they didn’t catch “the Deaf.”
I listen as people tell me that I will some day get used to it, that I will desensitise to it, that soon it won’t matter. This gave me hope that some day, I would be less troubled by these ignorant people who are unschooled in correct behaviour and common decency.
DEAFNESS is not a disease. It is simply the inability to hear. Being Deaf does not make me dumb, stupid, mentally deficient, an oddball, insane or anything else that I have been called since losing my hearing in 2009 and being diagnosed as profoundly Deaf in 2014. The skills I’d gained in legal and veterinary medicine are still valid. The proof-reading, copy-editing and publishing skills I have are utilised on a daily basis and earn income.
With over four languages in my vocabulary (two of which are signed), I can tell you that some of us can speak quite clearly. Some of us cannot. We cannot hear how loud we are or how clear we are pronouncing words. Many of us use sign language to communicate. Although AUSLAN was my first signed language, I communicate daily with my hearing husband with ASL. I choose not to vocalise outside of our home after being threatened with arrest for talking too loud in public. It still shocks people when they hear of how the Deaf are mistreated and some meet the news with literal disbelief, preferring to turn a blind eye to it.
After all of the nonsense, ridiculousness, idiocy, surdophobia and audism that I (and most other Deafies) am exposed to on a daily basis, I chose to write about it. Hopefully some day in the foreseeable future, those people who haven’t a clue about common decency and compassion will wake up to themselves and realise that Deafies are not automatically less important than they are.
Yes, I still have hope.