Wednesday, June 5, 2013

But, But You're Deaf?

My hearing friends, and I are sitting at a table outside on the patio at a restaurant. We are enjoying our company. Suddenly, there is a loud crash, and I turn my head around to try find the source of the sound. One of my friends is baffled, and asks, "You can hear that?"

I replied, "Yes." 

My friend says, "You're Deaf though?"

I nods.

My friend continues, "But...but, you are DEAF." 

I smile and nod my head once again. My other friend jokes, "She's just faking it." The first friend sits there, baffled, and unsure. 

Yes. I am Deaf. According to my audiogram chart, I am profoundly Deaf. 

And no, it doesn't mean I can't hear anything. 

Yes, I can still hear sounds. 

So many hearing people I have met are so surprised when I am able to hear a disruptive sound. The common assumption that people have about Deaf people is that we can't hear all. It is not true at all. 

There are Deaf people with varying degrees of hearing loss. 

For example, my friend, Nicole: She absolutely can't hear anything. There is void of sounds in her world. You can scream, shout, and clap the pots together as loud as you can, and she will still not hear you. Then there's my other friend, Teri: when she wears her cochlear implant, she pretty much can function like a hearing person, can speak on the phone, can talk pretty good, and carry on just fine yet when she takes her cochlear implant off, her world suddenly goes quiet, and she is unable to hear people speaking. Then there's my other friend, who is also profoundly Deaf like I am, can only hear low sounds. High pitch sounds? Forget it. She can't hear them. 

My world, for the most part, is silent. It is all I really know. From time to time, there's sounds that sneaks into my silent world. It can be a scream emitting from Forrest's mouth. It could be Layla's deep barking. Sometimes, it is a whistle coming from Stu trying to get my attention. Sometimes, it is a rumble of a tractor passing by me at the Farm. Or it is a loud laugh coming from my side. It does not bother me that I am able to hear those sounds. 

Matter of fact, one of my favorite things to do is to crank up my favorite CD in my jeep, and rock out to the music. Just ask my friends, and you will see.

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Does it make me wish that I am able to hear more? Sometimes. It stems from my curiosity than it is about feeling sad regarding not being able to hear. 

What's about Hard of Hearing people? Again, they have varying hearing loss as well. Some are on the verge of becoming profoundly Deaf, some can carry on pretty well despite their declining hearing loss, some can spend years, and years being on the "plateau" with their hearing loss. There are some people you can tell, by the sound of them talking, that there is some form of hearing loss happening with them while some others, you are surprised to find out that they are either HOH or Deaf. 

Just because we label ourselves Deaf or HOH doesn't mean our world is void of sounds. It is better to ask than assume. 

Even so, I still find it pretty funny when I see a reaction of a hearing person, who doesn't know me well, once they learn that I am able to hear sounds! 


  1. I was always curious what my deaf violin student experienced when she played. I was never sure if the vibrations against her head transmitted anything close to what I hear, or if she just liked the feel of it, or what. But she was autistic as well as deaf, and communication problems went beyond just having access to things like sign language, so I never found out.

    1. Perhaps? When I was in a music class in elementary school, I used to play drums and piano; I was unable to hear the sounds that they made, but I loved the vibrating feeling I got from playing the music. I laid my hands on the piano, and stood there transfixed as the music was being played. It was one of my wonderful memories growing up.