The myth in the title above is surprisingly not that uncommon among our population. I have come across it many times in my life. But this particular myth is not limited to just those who can’t hear. That is what this post is all about.Read more
From looking at my post counts here at RJsCorner I see that I am pretty much ignoring my number five pillar, breaking down myths. I need to pay more attention to that topic so this post will be about a deaf myth.
It’s true that people who are deaf sometimes can read lips but lipreading is in no way an adequate substitute for hearing. In fact, only 15% of the English language appears on the lips. So in reality, lip reading is nothing more than a guessing game.
In certain circumstances, I do get by with lip reading. For instance, if I am at a grocery store checkout I can lip read “Do you want paper or plastic bags”. But if I was asked “Did you see Dancing with the Stars last night”, I wouldn’t have clue. And then the usual “How are you?”s is easily lip read. In other words, if I can expect what a person is going to say I have a greater chance of lipreading.
Let me give you a little lesson in this. The letters “b”, “m”, and “p” look exactly the same on the lips. The phrase “buy my pie” just looks like the mouth opening and closing three times. I think you get the idea. Many syllables just don’t appear on the lips or tongue.
Let’s get some other obvious things out of the way. It is impossible for a deaf person to read lips in a dark room. It is equally hard to read the lips of someone with a big mustache. Another example is someone who is constantly moving their head, or even unthoughtfully looking away from the lip reader. You’d be surprised how many people don’t realize any of these things greatly hamper what lipreading skills the deaf person might have.
Finally, I want to give you a deep dark secret of most deaf people. We often fake it instead of really trying to understand. Since lip reading is a very tiring thing, sometimes it’s just not worth the effort. In those cases, we usually just nod our heads in agreement, or so the person thinks.
The final attempt at the lesson for today is don’t expect a deaf person to really know what you are saying just because you move your lips. If you really want to get your message across, try an old fashioned paper & pencil approach. If you are tech savvy pull out your cell phone and fire up a speech to text app. Do whatever is necessary but don’t assume lipreading is the answer.
I want to continue on from my 10 Pillars post of last week with a personal story about the second pillar which is “You are not alone”.
As I have mentioned before I want deaf in 1988 at the age of forty-two, but I had been hearing impaired for years before that. I lost hearing in one ear during my early college years in the 1960s. Since I had no insurance and I couldn’t afford to pay doctor bills and college tuition at the same time, it would be a few years later when I discovered the cause of my impending deafness.
After I graduated from college and had a job including full benefits I was told that I had cochlear otosclerosis and it would eventually cause total deafness. As the hearing loss progressed I got more and more powerful hearing aids for my remaining ear.
1988 was a year of struggle for me. When I got out of bed in the morning I didn’t know if I would be able to hear or not. Finally, my doctor admitted that there was nothing else he could do for me so “goodbye”. There was no counseling, no references to others that might be able to help me cope, just “goodbye”. I felt like I was just set adrift in an endless ocean by myself.
Now, remember 1988 was before Google and such. There was a public Internet connection via AOL but it was very crude and almost worthless. In spite of that, I spent hours looking for someone to help me. Finally, I ran across an organization called ALDA (Association of Late-Deafened Adults) where I finally discovered that I was not alone in going deaf in mid-life. There were others like me out there.
Now with Google and a very robust Internet, it is quite easy, if you look, to find help and convince yourself you are not alone. But you would be surprised at the number of people who will continue to live a pity-party for the rest of their lives after their traumatic event.
I would love to hear your stories about feeling alone in the world…
I know I have been more stressed out in the last 22 months than I probably have any time in my life. It is stressful to see the possible annihilation of our democracy unfold before your eyes. It is pitiful to see the Oval Office occupied by a compulsive liar, cyberbullier, and narcissist. I couldn’t have imagined that possibility just a few years ago. I just can’t seem to be able to do much about my stress except to boycott every new source. I have for the past couple months limited my contact to the political world to ten minutes a day. That helps but it is not enough. Being a political junkie who thinks it is important to stay informed that is about all I can do.
When I came across the quote here from my Facebook friends over at the Idealist, it showed me maybe why I can get no relief. Being deaf makes even blasting my favourite music is totally ineffective. I sure do wish I could listen to Bob Dylan, Peter Paul & Mary, Don McClean, and Simon & Garfunkel. I’m sure that would drain some of this anxiety built up inside me. The last time I listened to any of them it was from those big black disks that kids today have absolutely no idea of what that is.
I do have several written lyrics from my favorite music that I pull out once in a while when I am absolutely alone and sing to myself. At least that helps a little 🙂
I like old cars and I am kinda proud of passing on some of my experiences in life here on RJsCorner. Yeah, there are things, actually quite a few, that I would like to have been different but even the undesired things are an important part of my life’s experiences, that looking back have made me who I am.
If I hadn’t been deaf I wouldn’t have the level of empathy that I do. If I had not grown up in a single very stoic parent household I wouldn’t have the understanding of such things as I do. As another quote from Will says “Adversity builds character”. It made me who I am and I am quite proud of that fact.
I see so many people today that try to turn back their odometers. They get hair transplants or cosmetic surgery to hide their years. I can truthfully say that I am proud of the way I look. It does indeed show I have traveled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.
On my post a while ago entitled “Life’s Lesson” I said there were ten things that I have learned in my life that I aim to put forward for your consumption here on RJsCorner. One of those is the title of this WeeklySquawk. It is important to me and I kinda think it should be important to each of us that when we come across myths about living we should do what we can to dispell the ones that are false.
The three primary myths I have encountered that demand my personal attention are related to are deafness, autism, and old age. Of course, I am intimately familiar with each as they have demanded much from me at some time in my life. This post will focus on the deaf myths. I could give you dozens of them but I will concentrate on six that absolutely drive me crazy.
Deaf & Dumb – This myth goes back many decades, if not centuries. It is basically that a person who is deaf can’t learn anything. Of course, this myth has been thoroughly busted but there are still many people who when they come across a deaf person just assume that the deaf person is dumb. Maybe that feeling is unconscious but the deaf person definitely perceives it.
Deaf People Can’t Speak – It is true that for some who are born deaf, they never learn to speak. But for the vast majority of us, especially those who went deaf later in life, we usually maintain the ability to speak to one degree or another. But since we have don’t really hear our voices we have problems with the volume of our speech and sometimes the quality suffers as we get older.
Deaf People Have Low IQs – I can’t tell you how many times I have been subjected to this myth. Deaf people generally have the same IQ spread as hearing people. Some of us are geniuses and some of us struggle with daily life.
All Deaf People Were Born That Way – As a matter of fact, only a small minority of those of us who are deaf were born that way. More than 80% of us went deaf later in life. Many in their senior years.
All Deaf People Know Sign Language – Only a small number of us who are deaf know ASL (American Sign Language). That version of signing is very different than spoken English in its word order and complexity. Most of us who were not born deaf, if we can sign at all, sign in English. But even those make up a less than one out of ten deaf people.
Deaf People Can Read My Lips – Less than 20% of the English language appears on the lips, so even someone who is very proficient at reading lips only has access to one in five words spoken. The rest of it is a guessing game that we generally get wrong. If it is important information that is being passed NEVER assume that the lipreader really understands what you are saying. This is especially true for those communicating critical health-related info.
These six myths are important to understanding but they are by no means the totality of myths about deaf people. I will cover more in future posts. I will just leave it by saying that for the most party deaf people pretty much mirror the general population in their abilities and intelligence.
I hope this helps…
Because I am deaf I have a game I play quite often when I am around people, especially those I don’t know. In my early years of deafness before closed-captioned TV was widely available is when this thing started. Since there was no sound to what I was seeing I made up my own storyline. It would have been interesting to discover how closely my story matched up with the writer’s version but of course, I never was able to discover that.
Getting slightly off the subject for just a little while, I never used to think that I was a creative person. I think part of that belief was beaten into me in my youth by some pretty uncreative parents. I know I tried to draw some in my youth and was never pleased enough with the result to show my parents or anyone else for that matter. It would take some years and experiences to realize that creativity is not just one thing but can appear in many different areas of life. Making up stories is one of those areas I have become quite good at.
Getting back to the subject of the day, I kind of liked the idea of imagining stories which I was not really privy to so I started doing it in real life. I can look at someone in a restaurant and make up stories about why they looked or acted the way they did. Its easy in today’s world to imagine them as selfish, self-centered or other negative traits but I kinda do the opposite, at least recently. Instead of seeing speeders as self-centered people I give them the benefit of the doubt and imagine them as doctors on the way to the hospital to save someone’s life. I am a dreamer so to me it is just more enjoyable to imagine good things than to fear yet someone else as terrorists, serial killers, or just plain selfish people.
Getting back to the starting thought of this post, It is not easy for me to start up a conversation with someone, especially someone you don’t know. It used to require them to write down what they say. Most people are just not willing to do that. Now, I have a couple of apps that turn speech into text. They don’t work great quite yet but are much better than paper notes. But even with these new tools, it is almost inevitable that when another hearing person joins the group I am pretty much ignored from that point on. So, I end up watching other people or make up stories of what I might be missing. It beats just sitting there like a bump on a log. 🙂