It looks like "It's a Deaf Thing" post is back on the track--Layla is all pooped out from her walk so I can focus on our today's theme which is about myth busters about Deaf people! Oh, there are so many myths to bust. It is quite amazing how many misconceptions are out there about Deaf Culture. Let's get started.....
Myth #1: ALL DEAF PEOPLE CAN READ LIPS
As a hearing person, can you read lips? The chance would be a big fat no. Guess what? Same goes for Deaf people. It is amazing how many letters look alike on our lips; B looks like P, M looks like B, L and R are not even on your lips--they are accented by your tongue and we certainly can't read your tongue! Only less than 30% of spoken language is readable on your lips. Some of us have better ability to catch words on your lips. Some of us don't. Some lips are way too thin. Some lips are way too thick. Some lips are covered by mustaches. Some people mumble, lisp, and trip over their words. Some people exaggerate their lips. Your best bet? Just take out a piece of paper and pen.
Myth #2: DEAF PEOPLE KNOW SIGN LANGUAGE
Nope. Not all of us sign. Some of us became Deaf later in our lives so we rely on speaking instead of signing. Some of Deaf people are "oral" which means they are taught to just speak and rely on whatever hearing they have left. We all don't even sign the same. Just like how your voice tone is unique. Your voice is not like others, right? Some people have their own way of talking (accents, slang, speech pattern, word choices, attitude, etc). Same with us and our signing. We have choices how we want to sign (Purely ASL, mixed ASL and English sign, Homemade signs, and etc).
Myth #3: YOU NEED AN INTERPRETER TO COMMUNICATE WITH A DEAF PERSON
Having an interpreter is ideal and often required, when a Deaf person asks for one, in many situations such as doctor appointment, court appointment, or public activities such as plays, to name one. But an interpreter is not required to communicate with a Deaf person in social or causal situations (think of shopping in a mall and you recognize a Deaf person and wants to say hi). In this kind of sitatuations; when an interpeter isn't present just ask Deaf person what he/she prefers (write, gesture, speak or having an interpreter). Communication is possible without an interpreter in causal situations. Don't let this obstacle intimidate you.
Myth #4: DEAF PEOPLE ARE MUTE
Huh?! Where does this idea come from? I get how hearing folks can think this way especially if they meet a Deaf person who DOES NOT speak. While I do not speak....I certainly do use my voice to make noises or sounds. I scream. I laugh. I sigh loudly. I shrug with my voice (HMMPH). Just ask Stu or my friends and family.....they certainly can vouch that I am NOT mute. I have yet meet a Deaf person who is mute.......
Myth #5: HEARING AIDS CAN CURE DEAFNESS
Honestly? No. For a person who is profoundly Deaf; the best that hearing aids can do is provide environmental cues, and sounds that hearing people make. The sounds are not clear. The words are not understood. For me, hearing aid is more of a nuisance than helpful. For a person who has some hearing left (Hard of Hearing), they do find hearing aids helpful because they have hearing to begin with, and even so they may still not find their hearing device that "perfects" their hearing.
Myth 6: DEAF PEOPLE ARE STUPID BECAUSE THEY CAN'T HEAR
This is very stereotypical to equate a person's intelligence with their hearing loss. Too many times, I have been told by many hearing people this, WOW, YOU ARE SO SMART!, YOU ARE SO GIFTED, YOU HAVE TWO DEGREES?, THAT IS GREAT HOW YOU ARE ABLE TO DO THIS EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE DEAF!, and frankly, I find this very insulting. Are you trying to tell me that it is miraculous that I am intelligent even though I am Deaf? Too many Deaf people are boggled down with faulty education system which affects their learning ability, and their English is not always the best. But does this mean they are stupid? Certainly not. Just because we can't hear doesn't mean we are stupid.
Myth 7: DEAF PEOPLE CAN'T DRIVE
Have you checked out my post about crazy driving stories? Enough said!
Myth 8: DEAF PEOPLE HAVE DEAF BABIES
Hmmm.......let me think......the answer is mostly no. Many Deaf people end up having hearing babies. In some cases; Deafness is genetic and it does show up in strongly Deaf families (generations and generations of Deaf families). This only shows up in a few Deaf families out of many. This is just 10% of Deaf people that go on to have Deaf children. Just because you see Deaf parents does not guarantee they will have Deaf children. Matter of fact; 90% of Deaf children are born to hearing parents. My parents are hearing. My siblings are hearing. I am the only Deaf one in my family.
Myth 9: ASL INTERPRETERS ARE BABYSITTERS
American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters are not babysitters. They are advocates, and translators for Deaf people. They hear information from a hearing person, translates it into ASL/sign language to the Deaf person, and translates ASL, for a Deaf person, into spoken language to the hearing person. ASL interpreters are our ears and voices. Just because ASL interpreters are able to translate ASL into spoken language or vice versa doesn't mean they can interpret other languages such as Spanish, or French. You would be very surprised how many public services accidentally call ASL interpreters to interpret someone who can't speak English but speaks Vietnamese, Japanese, Spanish or French. Hmm......ASL interpreters mean AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE interpreters.......
Myth 10: DEAF PEOPLE ARE LIMITED BY THEIR HEARING
While there are some obstacles that we do face, there is also many amazing accessible things and accommodations that we use to get through our lives.We have VP (videophone), emails, pagers (texting), closed captioning on our TV, we go to movie theaters with open captioning, we order food, we go out with our friends, we drive, we party, we hang out, we own pets, we pay rents, own cars, houses, we marry, we have children and many more. We can do anything but...hear.