Some people blog to release anxiety. Others to share their voice with the world. A few (likely more than a few) to gain attention from others. Several do it to try and make a verifiable difference in the lives of others. And perhaps most people do it for a little bit of everything.
Recently I shared some of my thoughts about having my first official (as in scheduled appointment) doctor-patient interaction with a deaf individual. And like some of my blog posts, I received a comment (I don’t get many), and a friend of mine provided me some awareness of the comment by emailing with,
And thanks to my friend’s candidness, I went to my website after work that evening and took a closer look. And being the candid person (sometimes good, at other times not so much) I am glad I seized upon the opportunity.
I took a closer look, and luckily the commenter did not do it anonymously and actually provided her email. I sent her a short little hello, feeling a bit of anxiety as her comment could have been interpreted as both sincere and or a “call out” for what may have appeared to be a lack of “experience” on my end as my words could have been taken as “this guy doesn’t know any deaf people.” But as many of you who follow my posts and or my life know, I am in fact willing to be open and upfront with little to hide.
And sure enough, lucky for me, the commenter wrote me back and here is what she had to say (she gave me approval to write about her):
“I found your post via the tag “deaf”, which I follow. I did not see your other posts, so I had the impression you were yet another person who had their first encounter with a deaf person, and found it to be noteworthy enough to mention in your blog.
This is something I think about often whenever I interact with somebody new, particularly at my job. I know they are going to go home and tell their family/friends how they were helped by a deaf lady. I have the burden of being a good representative of my community. What if I’m tired and make a goofy slip-up? Can I be grumpy just this once? What if I make a duck noise by accident?
As it turns out, you’ve interacted with, by your estimate, 500 deaf individuals. Do you realize that you’ve likely met more deaf people than most deaf people have?
I’ve been blogging since 2000, although I’ve only been on WordPress since 2018. Blogging about deafness is relatively new to me, but I felt with all the information that’s been put out there by hearing people about deafness, that it would be valuable to share my experiences and knowledge on my blog.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that many deaf people have poor literacy skills. For some, it’s because they have multiple disabilities, but for most, it is due to language deprivation. I feel that there is too much focus on making a deaf child pass as hearing, by training them to rely on their hearing aids/cochlear implant, subjecting them to hours of speech therapy, and keeping them away from other deaf children.
My parents were ready to get me the cochlear implant, but when I was determined to not be a candidate, it left them with no choice but to learn sign language. Unlike many deaf adults, I had language from birth. I was fortunate enough to live in a town that had support for deaf children and their families. I was privileged to grow up with friends who were also deaf. I’ve met thousands of deaf children and adults, and compared my experiences with theirs.
I do wish my parents had befriended other deaf adults, and I wish I had deaf teachers in school. Instead, I had hearing people decide what was best for me. Now, as a deaf adult, I’m still seeing that hearing parents of deaf children would sooner listen to doctors and teachers over people with lived experience. It’s a constant reminder that people do think I’m lesser because I can’t hear.
I hope your child will get to grow up around other deaf kids. Now that I don’t get to interact with the deaf community daily, it is isolating, even when I’m in a room full of people.”
Now, you can take this email and the exchange between her and I and look at in several different ways. Her words opened my heart and my mind in new ways. And she doesn’t see herself as an inspiration. But I see it differently. Her words provided me (and perhaps you) a new perspective in to something that I care very much about: COMMUNICATION.
I have a hard-of-hearing child who has been wearing hearing aids since she was 5-weeks old, and she also began learning ASL (American Sign Language) from an early age. She has been blessed to be exposed to people with all sorts of so-called “disabilities” (she would never use that label for herself, and at almost 8-years of age she has been very vocal in letting us know that most disabilities are just labels and then she goes right back to playing her favorite sport or her violin).
I share this blog today for the simple reason of showing you how connecting with people, especially when unexpectedly doing so, is one of the joys of life. I was not expecting anything other than helping a few people smile with another one of my blog posts. And I got so much more. Thank you for helping me SMILE today.