Thursday, January 17, 2013

Faking It

I have several memories of hanging out with my close friends, who were very fluent in sign language, and how sometimes they faked that they were deaf during my teenage years. Very rarely, we did this to gain something. What? We were not always completely innocent. Matter of fact, once my good friend faked at being Deaf so we both could cut in the line to ride on a roller coaster at Six Flags. Was that bad? Oh yeah. Absolutely. That was wrong, I admit it. Before you shoot me for admitting to that rare advantage that we took from being Deaf, in many cases, faking deafness among my fluent signing friends was based on more of wanting to satisfy our curiosity.

We were curious how a waitress/waiter might react to table full of signers, and not being able to verbally communicate. We were curious whether anyone would have noticed who was Deaf, and who was not. We were curious how people might react to us. Sometimes, we just wanted to be left alone so my friends turned off their voices, and signed without speaking. This was harmless. This was not to take advantage of a situation to gain something. We were all teenagers. You know how that went down.

This silliness did die out by the time we graduated from high school. I never had my good friends or people I knew that faked at being deaf after high school even for shits and giggles.When I dated my by-then-boyfriend-now-my-husband in college and years beyond college, he never got around to acting as if he was deaf, and had no desire to do so. Frankly, it was not funny anymore to be faking it. It had become immature, and childish thing to do. The more I learned about my culture, the less funny it had become, and more insulting it was to me for someone to take advantage of this for their own entertainment.  This caused a false sense of entitlement among honest deaf folks, allies, and interpreters.

It got to me not thinking about faking it in years.

This morning during my cup of coffee, I read through the newsfeed on my Facebook as my little guy bounced happily in his jumperoo, and came across this on my friend's page. My friend's name, profile pictures, and posters who replied are blacked out for their protection, and privacy. Only my name is revealed in this conversation since well, duh, I'm the author of this blog, and I'm sure the majority of you know who I am. Read on. 

Cre Limbeck-Dishaw
FURIOUS! Listening to Free Beer and Hot Wings they were talking about "hoaxes" that people might be involved in. Someone from Lansing MI, (You know the land of LCC ITP) who is a sign language interpreter wrote in. They said they pretend to be deaf when they go out of town. They said they communicate only as a Deaf person and even went as far as requiring a hotel to pay for an interpreter for them. THIS IS WHY WE AREN'T TAKING SERIOUSLY! We have to fight so hard to be seen as professionals and people keep doing crap like this. UNACCEPTABLE!
about an hour ago · Like
 Ashley WHAT? This is ridiculous, and this is why some people have a negative view on Deaf people, and think they are entitled. Yeah, in some cases, some Deaf people do act they're entitled, and should not be....and there are rest of us who are honest and decent. On top of this, it makes interpreters look bad. It does put some stain on their reputation. It's just wrong. 
about an hour ago · Like
Cre Limbeck-Dishaw I know! I'm so upset. The LCC ITP is housed in Lansing and works to make sure that all graduates treat Deaf culture respectfully. As a friend to Deaf people I'm upset someone would do that. It's as bad as putting on "black face", as an interpreter I'm furious because now I have to work extra hard to make sure that Interpreters are viewed as professionals and that Deaf people don't have to go without. Utter bullshit.
about an hour ago · LikeMarisa Hadley Mumford Ha! I just posted about that too but I was driving.
about an hour ago via mobile · LikeAshley I'm just really speechless at how far this group of interpreters had taken this. Will they get reprimanded for this behavior? I certainly hope so.
about an hour ago · Like
Cre Limbeck-Dishaw If the person's name is ever found out (the radio didn't announce who it was) they would have any RID/State certification stripped due to the direct violation of the CPC's and the State's Code of Ethics. I'm just mad.
about an hour ago · LikeAshley Good! I may blog about makes for an interesting topic seeing that this have had happened so many times in the past. You'd think that people would learn from others' mistakes....yeah right.
59 minutes ago · LikeCre Limbeck-Dishaw I agree. This is someone who is supposed to work for the betterment and equality of a community and instead they are just taking advantage of them!
58 minutes ago · Unlike · 1adfadsfadfadfadsa I know many sign (not interpreter) students who have admitted to acting like they're deaf at restaurants to order before but never someone to go so far as to have someone provide an interpreter before. That's just sick really. Students and/or signers typically "don't know better", but a certified Interpreter? unacceptable. 

This appalled me. This was not your bunch of teenagers doing it for their amusement. This group of interpreters were not fourteen-year-olds playing around. 

Being an interpreter is a heavy responsibility. You are given a multiple roles. Sometimes, those roles can overlap, and become confusing. Sometimes, people can give interpreters grief because they don't understand how interpreting works. You are an advocate to Deaf community. It is not just about interpreting. It is also about educating hearing people in the public how to respectfully work with, and accommodate Deaf people's needs. You are the bridge between the hearing and Deaf worlds. Interpreters represent Deaf people by becoming our ears, and voice. How you behave will reflect us. Therefore, interpreters are expect to act professional. 

It was bad enough knowing that some folks faked at being Deaf to gain something (amusement, accessibility, or freebies). 

With any given guess, this group of people were probably in their twenties to thirties. For an interpreter to pretend that she/he was Deaf to the point of requesting for an interpreter for herself/himself was beyond ridiculous. What purpose did this serve them by going so far? Imagine that, how would hearing folks feel if they had learned that they were duped by a bunch of interpreters that behaved immaturely? How did that reflect on Deaf community? How did this reflect on the rest of decent, hardworking, and honest interpreters? 


  1. I have no idea why someone would want to pretend that they are deaf. I find that so rude. I understand as teenagers you don't really know better, but as grown adults, seriously? Wow.

  2. How very sad. I'm ashamed of being in the same human race as people like that.

  3. What a shame. What's next, pretending to need a wheel chair? It is disrespectful to people that actually are deaf and would give anything to hear!