Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Oh, You're Deaf?

Fooling but educating...perhaps? 

The spark of this idea came from when I first began dating Stu (who is now my husband). This did happen many times before I dated Stu, but I never really formed that idea. Everything happened for a reason, eh? Anyway, the situation was that I went shopping with Stu at Fox Valley Mall nearby our college. We were looking to buy things for our families as their Christmas presents. I entered Clarie's (it's an earring/jewelry store)  and I was exploring to buy earring studs for my ears. Stu was with me; walking behind me not too far behind, but not too close to be mistaken by others that he was with me, and was probably bored out of his mind. However, he kept himself occupied by observing how people reacted to me. 

The store clerk, a young woman in her early 20s, called from the storefront desk and asked me if I needed any help. Stu decided not to alert me and allowed the situation to unfold itself. He was curious how it was really like for me when I was on my own. The lady called once again to me, and once again, I did not respond. The lady scoffed and rolled her eyes. She muttered some not so nice things under her breath. Probably something like great, what a bisch or something like that. I plucked out the earring studs, completely oblivious about what had just happened, and walked up to the counter to make a purchase.

I smiled at the lady and received a rather frosty respond from her. The lady did not smile or make a small talk. I shrugged, not really thinking of anything about her response, and put my purse on the counter. I began to dig for my debit card. The lady scanned my items and spoke out loud the total cost. I did not look up. The lady made a loud sigh and rolled her eyes again. Then she made an unsavory comment about me without me knowing that she even had spoken to me. I pulled out the debit card and smiled at the lady. The lady frowned and repeated the total cost. 

I pointed at my ears and shook my head. Then I pointed at my mouth and shook my head. The lady was taken aback for a moment and she was not sure what the hell just had happened. I sensed her confusion. I repeated the mimicry of pointing at my ears, shaking my head and pointing my mouth while shaking my head.   I added a gesture of hand flapping as if it was a mouth speaking and shook my head to show the lady that I was unable to speak. 

The lady was still puzzled. 

Stu finally decided to step in and said, "Hey, she's Deaf."

The lady looked at Stu then looked at me. 

Stu stressed once again, "She's DEAF. She can't hear you." 

I smiled at the lady and nodded then signed, I AM DEAF. 

The lady gasped and gave me a huge apologetic smile. She said, "I am sorry. I didn't know that she was Deaf. I am sorry! I didn't realize!" She continued to blabber. Then she finally said, "Um, did you hear me saying stuff to her?" Stu nodded his head. The lady looked even more embarrassed. She spewed out more apologies. I had to assure the lady that it was honestly not a big deal and if it had happened to me as a hearing person, then I would have probably reacted the same as she had. It seemed to help the lady to calm down some more. We bid her farewell. Stu and I walked out of the store into the mall and started talking about the whole scenario.

It was where the idea was born.

Ever since that moment; I continued to behave in the same way as I had at Claire's, but this time around; I had complete awareness of what was going on around me. I knew the store clerk was calling at me but I intentionally ignored the person while shopping. Every time when I approach the store clerk's counter to purchase my items; I made it very clear that I am DEAF, and I loved the blabbering reaction from the store clerks. Then I explained to them about Deaf awareness, and that there was no hard feeling at all. I left them with a small lesson to remember for rest of their lives. 

It may seem ... unfair to some of you. To me, I feel it is plenty fair and very educating. Now I don't do this EVERY time I go out. I do respond to some of them by explaining that I am just perfectly good and thanks after notifying them that I am Deaf. At the same time, when I see an opportunity then I do grab it and hope to leave them with a good lesson. I try not to laugh on my way out...mind you, it's not mean ha ha ha, but a good chuckle of knowing that I have a small perk inside my pocket that I can pull out and use anytime to educate people. 


  1. This was a fascinating insight.
    Thank you so much for sharing this :)
    Love you <3

  2. Love this so much.
    In fact, I love that you have this blog. It's so wonderful and insightful!

    Lots of Love,


  3. Simply beautiful, Ash! <3

  4. You rock, Ash! That's awesome that you raise awareness in this way- I wish I could be there to witness their flabbergasted reactions followed by a very important life lesson! <3

  5. So in the store when you were reassuring the clerk you understood, how did you reassure her, she obviously didn't sign and you stated you don't like to use Stu as your interpreter

    1. Stu isn't my interpreter, and will never be. I don't rely him as my primary voice since I use paper and pen to communicate.

      In this case of Claire store, Stu did address to the woman that I am Deaf without me saying anything. Along with informal cues of assuring the clerk (smiling, nodding, shrugging, laughing with, and waving away my hand) that doesn't require voicing for, I also wrote to her on my notepad that it was honestly not a big deal at all! Was Stu present during this? Yes. Did he say something? Yes. However, was it because I was signing something? No.

      Did I view that as him interpreting for me? No because I was not signing and was not using Stu to voice for me. Stu chose to say something out of his own accord.

      Hope this helps to answer your question/observation!!! :)