Monday, May 7, 2012

Being Deaf Is...

(Some of my friends have asked me to blog about what it's like being deaf. It's something I'm reluctant to talk about because, as with any disability, it's hard to talk about your limitations without sounding like you're complaining. Below I've listed common scenarios I deal with, and hope that it will prove informative, engaging, and interesting to all of you.)
  • engaging the world through your eyes and your hands, not your ears.
  • running on batteries, and not sure if that makes you the energizer bunny or R2D2.
  • being asked, constantly, what country your accent is from.
  • planning to one day make up a country to answer with.
  • having people sign at you, even though you don't know much sign language, because you're supposed to know it.
  • telling your friends not to send you youtube videos unless they're subtitled, because you can't hear.
  • finding out that you write better with your hearing aids in, rather than out (although you read better with the aids out.)
  • always drying your hair completely when you get out of the shower so you can put your aids back in without ruining them.
  • explaining that you can't play Marco Polo because you can't hear in the pool.
  • inspiring awe when people learn you can lip read.
  • not knowing what to say when people ask if lipreading is hard, because it just comes naturally when you can't hear.
  • getting annoyed when people complain about captions because, c'mon, their function is no different than wheelchair ramps or braille on elevators and everyone knows how selfish it would be to complain about those.
  • being amused because, once friends watch enough movies with you, they automatically start watching everything with captions because they like them.
  • getting frustrated when your hearing aids are out, and accidentally get bumped on and your family members stumble into your room in the middle of the night to shut off the squealing, because you can't hear the squealing and they usually turn them off wrong anyhow.
  • reminding everyone, no matter how long you've known them, that if you can't see their mouth, you can't understand what they're saying.
  • seeing how much people care about you by their willingness to make phone calls for you, because you can't hear very well on the phone.
  • always wanting to play the narrator in "Mafia" not only because you like telling the story, but because you're terrified you'll wake up at the wrong point because you can't hear and spoil the game.
  • surprising people by the things you do hear, because you're not completely deaf.
  • surprising people when you say you are deaf, because after 19 years of practice you are really, really good at fitting in.
  • wondering why people who work at fast food restaurants are always the hardest to understand.
  • becoming an insane bookworm because unlike your peers, listening to music is something to accompany other tasks, not a pastime on its own. 
  • succeeding as a writer because of the details you notice and focus on to compensate for being unable to hear what everyone else does.
  • worrying that someday someone will propose to you and you'll say "can you please repeat that? I didn't hear what you said" (which I actually think would be funny in hindsight). (Update: I did hear what he said, but I made him repeat it three times anyhow so that I could savor it properly.)
  • thinking the internet is the best thing ever because you don't have to hear to communicate with all of your friends on it.


Unknown said...

You didn't sound like you were complaining! Or maybe because I complain alot... it sounds alot like my lack of most of my sense of smell...

Hey! Since you've expirienced it first hand, you should write a book about someone who's deaf and yet does something... amazing... or something... if that hasn't been done already...

-The Pimpernel

Sarah R. said...

I can relate to much of this list being hard of hearing myself. I don't really care for the term deaf since I do have some natural hearing. But i do think being part deaf is what has made me such a bookworm. I can sleep through the night without being bothered by the cat outside the window or traffic or talking, but the alarm clock had better be loud and someone better wake me if the fire alarm goes off.

katherine @the creative collection said...

This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing something that to the rest of the world is continual education. This isn't complaining, but empowering others to share, too. I admire you!

R. A. said...

Thanks for posting this! I'm currently learning ASL and in the process I realized how little I knew about what it's like to be deaf or partially deaf. Reading first hand accounts with lots of little details is great. :)

Hannah Liz said...

YOU. Have inspired me!!! This is truly cool. HA! You really are awesome, Elena. *hugs!* We're always telling my parents and friends of how AMAZING you are that you have this problem and yet do it all and make the rest of us look lazy or stupid! lol! ;)

I think I'm going to do the same thing...and write on what it's like to be blind! *rolls eyes*

Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Thank you for this post. Your insight is very real, inspiring, and quite beautiful. =)

Rosa Edholm