We all occasionally say things we really wish we hadn’t, especially when meeting new people. For some reason, meeting a deaf person seems to really bring out those moments in people.
In the hopes of helping you avoid these embarrassing moments, I’m sharing a list of things you should never say or do when meeting a deaf person. All of which, in case you’re wondering, have been said to me. And my friends. More than once.
1. Thinking that screaming at a deaf person, in an attempt to get them to hear you, actually works.
Sorry to tell you, it doesn't work. If anything, it's actually possible that you're making us even MORE deaf from all your screaming. Not to mention, half the time it only makes you look like some sort of foolish lunatic who we need to back away from NOW.
2. When people speak to you slowly, as if you were a moron who couldn't understand English.
This is the exact opposite of screaming at us deaf people, but this is just as annoying. You don't need to speak THAT slowly... sure, not all of us have perfect lip reading skills but some of us can usually read lips at normal speeds. by doing this, you not only look completely stupid, but you look like a condescending asshole.
3. Upon hearing that you are deaf, they immediately say things like: "Oh, do you know Bob over in the city ___?" Bonus points if the city is practically on the other side of the world, making it completely impossible for you to have known that Bob, unless though some unusual circumstances.
Do you honestly believe all deaf people have this giant mysterious borg-like connection to one other that lets them instantly know each deaf person out there? Oh, you do? well then in that case... everyone will become deaf! resistance is futile!
but seriously, use your brain a little, please. How would this random deaf person know the only other deaf person you know of? Especially if the two deaf people have never gone to the same school, hasn't been raised in the same state at all, and pretty much lives on opposite sides of the world?
4. Jabbing you in the ribs and the like and going: "can you hear me now?" or even touching your head, or other parts of your body just to get your attention.
What is this? Are we trapped in a Verizon commercial? and what's with disrespecting my personal space? not cool! How would you feel if people did that to you?
5. Even worse, throwing things at you to get your attention.
Um, that's just fucking rude, no way around it. look, I don't mind it if you flash lights or wave your hands in front of me to get my attention. just please, respect my personal space and treat me like a person, mmkay?
also, I had my nose broken this way once. So this act can be dangerous too.
6. when people stare like idiots at deaf people signing, for as long as you are in that public place.
I know seeing sign language is rare for you, but come on! haven't your momma ever told you that it was impolite to stare at people? also, it's like eavesdropping on a spoken conversation if deaf people were ever to do this to each other. so consider this action twice as rude than ever for deaf people.
7. chewing on gum, turning their heads away or doing anything else that makes lip-reading harder for us to do.
um, hello? We are trying to listen to you speak directly to us by lip-reading your lips. so why are you deliberately making it harder for us? Don't you realize that you'll have to constantly repeat yourself a lot if you do this? then naturally this ends up in a "nevermind!" by both frustrated parties. worse, you keep on repeating this sort of behavior all the time after repeatedly being told many times why you shouldn't do this!
8. When you flat out ignore the deaf person to talk to a hearing person who is with the deaf person, espeically if the said person is a 12-year-old child.
this actually happened to me when I was out shopping with my nephew. His parents couldn't take him to get some new school clothes so I told them that I would help out by taking him to get his school clothes. The store clerk totally refused to talk to me directly, and instead spoke to the little boy.
Okay, so you're willing to treat a 12-year-old as an adult who's shopping there but you won't even speak to a 29 year old who's actually doing all the purchases for the entire family? What the heck is wrong with this picture? and sadly, this is not a isolated incident... I've heard plenty of similar stories like this. I guess we're just invisible people, or worse, not human. :P
9. complimenting deaf people for being so smart just simply because they can speak perfectly, or read... or be educated in gerenal.
um, Speaking has nothing to do with intelligence. I know plenty of hearing people who can speak perfectly too, yet they do plenty of dumb things. like do every single thing on this list.
But hearing people thinks that.... We're oh so ever smart for being able to do what every human on earth can do. That is, the ability to write, read and speak perfectly.
by being so amazed at our ability to speak, read, and write you're somehow implying that you thought all deaf people were stupider than rednecks with a third-grade education (and possibly monkeys) to start with.
10. Imagine going out with a group of hearing people and then find yourself being isolated from the group chats. You can understand everyone and can easily participate in the conversation... however every time you say anything you're completely ignored. All because you're deaf.
Okay, got it... you think I'm not a person at all. So therefore my thoughts, feelings and words are not valid enough for you to respond to them at all. in that case I have to say... BYE, I'm never seeing you assholes again! See if I ever hang out with you again. fucking asshole!
That's basically what I tell people if they start treating me this way.
11. "Oh I'm sorry to hear that" (walks away). "I'll pray hard for god to cure your deafness!" and so on forth....
I know you guys mean well by saying things like this, but.... I have to say there's nothing wrong with us! most of us were born with this, and it's definitely NOT a illness or anything that would cut into the quality of our lives. Many of us even can play and enjoy music. Most of us work, drive cars and such just like everyone else. So, there's almost zero difference between us and any hearing person. And well... after hearing such statements like that almost 95% of the time can make a deaf person feel VERY CRANKY. After all, if you were born with something that god gave you, something that never really made your life hard... wouldn't it annoy you if people kept on saying things like this all the fucking time?
it's basically like you have to walk around holding a giant sign that says: "Guys, I'm not sick or anything. please save your prayers for those who truly need it, like people with cancer!"
12. Do not ever in any circumstances, try to push colecar implants on any deaf people if they don't want to get it, espeically if they are happy to be deaf. they've been this way their whole lives, so to become suddenly hearing would be just as much a hard adjustment as it would be for a hearing person suddenly becoming deaf! Sometimes you need to just leave things like that alone. also, C. implants requires a lot of surgery.... so it would be like if I kept on telling you that you weren't good enough the way you were right now and therefore had to go into major surgery to fix everything that was "wrong" with you even though none of it was life-threatening!
also, it also makes you look like a obsessive person who insists on everyone being clones of each other. it's like you're threatened of diversity of something! gasp! can't have people being different to one each other! oh the horror!
13. Asking a deaf person, "How do you drive?"
I use my eyes. How do YOU drive?? I’m amazed at how many people think that deaf people cannot–or should not–get their driver’s license. Studies have shown that deaf drivers are no more likely to get in to an accident than hearing drivers, and actually tend to have lower accident rates.
Why? Because Hearing people depend way too much on sound instead of their sight, and is often distracted by radio, cellphones, etc. Deaf people use mirrors and their eyes, and is far more cautious than hearing people who grow complacent in their driving.
14. calling child abuse services and such just because you think deaf people shouldn't ever ride on bicycles or play basketball games outside like every other normal child, and thinks that the parents are being neglectful for letting them be normal kids.
I've said it before... but deaf people are not blind, mentally impaired or any other thing that would prevent them from being able to play safely just like any hearing kids out there. so you are only wasting the time of child services agents who could had been using this time more effectively looking into ACTUAL child abuse cases!