Source: DO NOT OPEN « creativetidalwave.
Working in a deaf school for many years I learned the value of incidental learning. So many students lacked a lot of common knowledge often taken for granted. We are constantly learning from events and situations that are going on around us though we are often not aware or participating in them directly. Being deaf cuts one-off from a more experiences than most are aware. They are often clueless of what is happening around them because they are not alert to turn to observe due to a lack of being able to hear to know something is happening.
I don’t often talk about what it means to be deaf in a hearing world these days but the words by one of my blog buddies got my attention. I readily admit that there have been several times in my life that I just didn’t “get it”. As stated above being deaf cuts one off from more experiences than I like to admit. When I often sit silently as my friends converse about one thing or another my mind leads me in a different direction than what is actually occurring around me.
To get a basic idea on how this happens I would suggest you try the following experiment. Find a movie somewhere on your TV that you haven’t seen before and turn off the sound. Then make up a story about what you are seeing. No cheating by turning on the closed captioning now! 🙂 Now I’m not talking about a Sylvester Stallone movie here; you will need one where people are actually talking. 😉 I will lay dollars to donuts that your story will have almost nothing to do with the actual dialog taking place. If you have a DVR go back to prove my observation.
You must understand that I, and most deaf people who choose to remain in the hearing world, experience this type thing on a daily basis. I know from so many past experiences not to read too much into my conclusions about what I think is being said around me but doing just that gets me in trouble quite frequently. When I am feeling down I imagine bad things being said; when I am happy it is often a happy story.
In talking about the last sentence in the quote I always make it a point when I am working in the soup kitchen to tell every one that doesn’t know me that I am deaf and am not ignoring them if they talk to me while I am not watching them. I suspect many deaf people are labeled snobs because they don’t reply to other they don’t see.
Living in the hearing world definitely has its challenges for those of us who are deaf but I personally am never one to shy away from a challenge so bring it on! (ha).
2 thoughts on “Being Deaf….”
While I can’t completely grasp the experience of being deaf, this aspect of being an outsider in a crowd is pretty clear. Even harder than missing the content of conversation must be missing the emotion and nuance of tone that is such a large part of communicating. You must have gone through a lot of emotional pain and grief as your hearing diminished. The only bright side is that you are such a resourceful and self reliant individual that you persevered and took full advantage of all the technology and training that is now available. Think how much harder it would have been without computers, internet, closed captioning, phone texting, etc…But, you already know that. It is good that you remind us now and then that you are deaf… I tend to forget because you communicate so well by writing. We, your readers, appreciate your unique perspectives and views.
Thanks again for the kind words Jane. Like there are those who still live via their Vietnam experiences, as there are also those who primarily identify themselves by their deafness. I just don’t choose that route. I am not a deaf person; I am a person who is deaf.
But you are right all the technology seemed to fall into place around the time I went deaf so that was a good thing. I used to give some talks to national audiences about being deaf and I always used to say what I miss the most is the chit-chat. That alone tends to cut me off from others around me. But I am like Kenny Rogers, I play the hand dealt to me, you really can’t constructively do anything else…..