|Sign Language: How Does People React (to) That??|
Last night, I was watching Mysterious Diagnosis on Discovery Fit and Health channel on TV, and the episode was centered on a little boy that ended up being diagnosed with Dwarfism. The kid made a comment how he was sick of people staring at him due to his short stature. It got me thinking....about my experiences, as well as my friends', with public's reaction to us signing.
1) Wow! That is so beautiful with what you are doing with your hands.
2) I know some signs. Let me try some with you.
3) I wish I knew how to sign..it is so cool to see you signing.
4) I used to know some, but I forgot how.
5) I know some finger-spelling, but I may be slow.
6) I'm sorry for not knowing sign language, but can we write so I can learn something about it?
7) What is American Sign Language Interpreter and how does that work? It looks so cool.
8) Your ears are broken, that's why you need to move your hands to talk, right? From a little kid, how cute is that.
This happens to my signing Deaf friends and me most of the time. People are inquisitive, kind, and eager to ask questions or try communicate with what they do know. I am often very receptive and open for anybody to come up to me and ask. After all, about 85% of the time, I am probably the first Deaf person that they have ever seen or met in person in their lives. Sometimes, timing is not always the best when a person approaches me and wants to show me what they know or ask questions, but I do accommodate and give them a few minutes of my time.
1) What? Huh? Why are you moving your hands? What's wrong with you?
2) I'm so sorry! Really, don't apologize for not knowing sign language or the fact that I am Deaf.
3) Awkward silence after learning that I don't speak and only sign.
4) That is so weird.
5) Acting all flustered when I approach them and inform them that I am Deaf.
6) Stammering and acting lost even when I have an interpreter with me.
7) Why can't you talk? OR why won't you talk? Is your tongue and throat in working order?
8) Oh, okay.........? CAN. YOU. READ. MY. LIPS?
This is not terribly bad, but more of an annoyance. Those people have good intention most of the time, but does not word their thoughts very well. It can get tiring for me especially on my bad days or when I am in a big rush to check out my items from a store, and I don't really want to explain or answer their questions. Really, don't apologize for my Deafness or for how you react to me being Deaf. It can be surprising especially if you have not met a Deaf person before, and it can be intimidating when there's lack of communication. Honestly, do not worry. We have it covered. We carry our little notebook with a pen with us. Some of us can talk pretty well. Some of us prefer not to speak so that's where our little notebook comes in. Just don't ask us to read your lips. You look a bit weird to us when you open your mouth and exaggerate letter movements. So, just follow our cues and you'll be golden.
1) Staring. Staring. Staring. It makes me feel like I am a caged animal in the zoo. If you are not under age of 10, then please refrain yourself from staring or at least approach me and ask me something.
2) Asking if I am mentally handicapped, or cognitive disabled. The last time I checked, my ears may be damaged, but I am not brain-damaged. Thank you very much.
3) Mimicking, mocking, or making rude gestures. That makes you look stupid, trust me, and we go somewhere and laugh at you later.
4) Refusing to accommodate my needs. Really? I've spent half of my time accommodating to your needs so why can't you do the same for me?
5) You really need to learn how to speak or need hearing aids of some kind so you can be normal like us. Hmm.....I'm already normal.
6) Laughing at Deaf people signing. Oh really, you're an adult and you laugh at me signing? Maybe I should start laughing at you and see how you feel about that?
7) Making fun of Deaf people. Rule of the thumb; only minority or disabled groups or CODA/SODA (Children of Deaf Adults, Siblings of Deaf Adults) can poke fun at themselves. Abled-people and the majority people should NOT make fun of them. It is in a poor taste. Just think of Black people and how they poke fun at themselves; it's okay but for white people to poke fun at them...not so okay. Same concept goes for hearing and Deaf folks.
8) Asking inappropriate questions. Use your common sense. I have been asked some ridiculous questions such as, Does Deaf people have sex, to name one. Really. How does that question benefit you? You don't just go up to a person and ask that person, so why are you gay or oh why are you fat? Be respectful, please, and avoid from making assumptions or asking inappropriate questions just for shits and giggles. If it is a question you wouldn't ask your own peer then don't ask a Deaf person that.
Thankfully, rude and stupid people does not appear out of blue very often. Many of us Deaf people have far more positive experiences interacting with hearing folks than bad. When a bad experience does occur, I tend to brush it off, and roll my eyes then move on because I know there are more good people than there are bad.