There is a lovely article going around on Facebook at the moment called I Am a Deaf Person. I first read it and thought my friend had written it. It was a pretty neat piece. My friend is an Aussie Ocker. You know the football, cricket, meat pies and thongs sort of guy. I thought that was pretty random for him and liked the post. It soon became apparent that this was a sort of chain post and Deaf people the world over began to post it so that it was almost every second post on my newsfeed.
It’s a great piece really. It kind of makes people aware of the life that many Deaf people live. But it is probably over romantic and the reality, like everything, is really different. So here is my adaption of “I am a Deaf Person.” I am on a hiding to nothing here. (In bold is the original text of the spiel.)
I’m a Deaf person.
I wake up every day, with a vibrating alarm or a bright light, which sometimes becomes unbearable. Yeah, and my alarm is a vibrating one on my mobile phone. It is under the pillow every night. On a restless night it falls out of bed and makes me late for work. Or my Deaf wife sets hers an hour earlier than mine and I am woken with a start an hour before I am supposed to be awake. And then I am late for work anyway because as I turn off the alarm on my phone I start looking at Facebook posts and lose track of time. Yes, I’m a Deaf person.
I watch TV, not with the sound but use closed captions. Yeah, and then Netflix came along and everything was captioned. I binge watched shows that I had never had access to. I kept forgetting to exercise and I have become a blob. My wife, my kids and I never talk any more because we are totally absorbed. You start to think how you survived all those years with no access to anything. The Deaf today have it sooooo easy. Yes, I’m a Deaf person.
In Transport or lunch break, alone with my friends, on Facebook, by phone, Facetime… my mobile is my salvation. Yet, still the bloody train station cannot find a way to tell me my train has changed platforms. While my head is absorbed in my phone I hop on the wrong train and end up going 30 kms North instead of 30 kms South. Yes, I’m a Deaf person.
I don’t hear the sound of wind, birds, rain, or melody, but what my ears can’t appreciate, my eyes see it. They are my most valuable asset. They are the window of my soul. And my hands are the bridge that connects me to the world, I use them to speak, to write, to understand me and express my thoughts, which are not so different from yours. We are the same, I just don’t regret that I could not hear and speak like you… Except my folks never let me sign until I was 18 and beyond their influence. It took me years to become fluent so that for a while I was just as isolated among Deaf people as I was hearing. But I got there in the end. Yes, I’m a Deaf person.
I don’t talk like you, but I’m not a stupid person. I can be wrong, a mistake is human, but if I’m wrong because I didn’t get it, and if I didn’t get it because we didn’t make any effort to explain to me or because I was badly explained, it doesn’t make me a fool. At work when you left me out of all those meetings. At soccer when the game was over, I just went home. At the family Xmas dinner when I sat in a corner alone. That was not because I was a snob it was because you forgot me and excluded me. Yes, I’m a Deaf person.
I can talk. Some can understand. Others… no. So, sometimes it’s hard to understand me, the same way the Chinese will realize it’s hard to understand. When it is noisy I cannot monitor my voice and you cannot hear me. When it is quiet I am not sure how loud I am and I am shouting. You tell me to speak up, you tell me to be quiet. No wonder I just shut up and avoid interaction all together. Yes, I’m a Deaf person.
I mean, my way, I mean, my way. But I do the same things you do: Study, work, travel, drive, drive, drive, play sports, get married, have children and be a parent… actually, I have a life, and I run it like you! Except you put up thousands of barriers and I have to work ten times as hard. I cannot go to the cinema because there a re no captions and Captiview is crap. I cannot just go to work and start work and make friends like you. I have to negotiate my needs. And then you complain about the cost and make me feel shit. And you call impromptu meetings and forget about me. You think I am ignoring you as I type away at my computer, blissfully ignorant. My way is an easy way but you refuse to acknowledge it and send me to the Highway. No wonder I am thankful to be sick sometimes and not have to go to work. Yes, I’m a Deaf person.
It does not need to be this way. But I am thankful that the world is becoming more accessible everyday. Slowly but surely!
I’m as Deaf as you can imagine.