Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Super Deaf Vision

I jokingly say that Deaf people have a Superman's eyes.

Well, maybe it is not entirely a joke. You see, us Deaf people are super visual people. Our eyes are our life line. Because we have lost our hearing, we depend on what we see, and our eyes have become our ears. Our vision is even enhanced. We have an ability to pick up littlest movement from the corner of our eye. You see, hearing people pick up on movements if they are directly in front of their visual path. Deaf people can do that, AND pick up things in our peripheral vision. It is a life-long skill that we have acquired. We are able to pick up a movement instantly, process it whether it is necessary for us to turn around and look at it, or ignore that cue.

 Hearing signers or non-signers does not have that skill because they have not practiced long-term on this, and also because they rely on their hearing. They are able to detect if it is worthy to look at or not based on their hearing.

Deaf people are better witnesses. We are 17% more accurate than hearing people when it comes to reporting stories, and events that had occurred. We have amazing memory of what is seen, and we can remember locations from a quick glimpse based on their appearance even years, and years later. This brings us to....giving directions.

Deaf people rely heavily on visual cues rather than worded directions. It is in our nature to look around, pay attention to the larger surroundings, and focus on the landmarks as we drive. It is interesting because if I take a road trip now, the very same way that I had traveled as a child, then I am able to pretty much remember things that I had seen as a kid unless if the landmarks have changed due to construction, and changes to the lands over the years.

I have often caught myself giving directions based on visual cues instead of worded directions!

 photo tumblr_lx5e4azgNH1qmijb2o1_500_zps640c96ee.gif

When you drive south, you will see this huge Harley Davidson store, then you turn left. From there, you just keep on driving, and you will see this hospital on the right. It means you are on the right track. Just keep on driving. You'll see a McDonald on the corner, and turn right. That's how you should get there. 

This is when a hearing person looks at me as if I had grown a third eye in middle of my forehead. I realize my mistake, and smile as I hit my forehead with my palm. I nod my head, and say, oh you want street names not landmarks, right. The hearing person nods his/her head, and smiles rather tentatively. 

A classic Deaf blunder, I tell you. Or should I say it is a classic Deaf thing. 


  1. I give directions the same way you do, and I'm not deaf or hard of hearing - so girl you aren't alone :) Ha! I'm a visual person by nature though as well, always have been. I have to see something before I truly understand it, vs reading or hearing it. Love that drawing!!

  2. Some people are hyper visual anyway. My mom is an artist and she insists on drawing me a map with landmarks if I need to get somewhere, even though I tell her I need something that reads like a list. (Thankfully the GPS has made the giving of most directions obsolete.)

    I really enjoy your posts about your perspective as a deaf person. I taught a violin student for years who was deaf and autistic, and interestingly the autism was the bigger obstacle to overcome. And now I know just enough sign language to order someone around on the violin.

  3. I'm not deaf and I give directions the same way, but I am also a very visual/kinesthetic person. I mean yes I am hearing but as far as learning goes I am not an auditory learner at all so I tend to do the same things, pay attention to visual clues and give directions that way. I would totally love your version of directions! :)