Monday, October 27, 2014

10 Things You Probably Don't Know About Having Deaf Parents

My mom and step dad were both born deaf, so we use sign language around the house and people seem to be really fascinated or weirded out by it. I get a lot of people who have strange assumptions or lots of questions about what it's like so this is my way of explaining.

1. My house is not at all quiet

Because my mom and step dad can't hear, it's just louder. My siblings can yell and scream all they want and it won't matter because our parents can't hear them. That means louder music, higher volume on the TV, and louder voices.

2. It's no different to me than having hearing parents

It's not strange to me at all. It's what I'm accustomed to just like most people are accustomed to having parents who hear. I'm used to it and it's my normal. 

3. There are sometimes communication difficulties.

It's like having a subtle language barrier. My mom doesn't always get my jokes or understand certain sayings just like I don't always understand all her signing and sometimes we find it difficult to explain things to each other. There's a bit of a communication gap sometimes.

4. Our house works a little differently

We had lights hooked up to the doorbell and phones when I was younger that would flash when someone rang the doorbell or called. I couldn't just yell to my mom whenever I needed her for something. I'd either sit and wave my arms and hope she noticed or I'd have to get up and go to her.

5. People never really know what to do around them

In public, when people try to talk to my mom, they're always surprised when they realize she's deaf. People used to call the house asking for her and when I would say she was deaf, most of the time they thought I was saying she was dead and they would apologize over and over. When I would have friends over, they would always say hi and try to talk to them even though they couldn't hear. A lot of my friends found it weird when I would talk about gossip and stuff in front of my mom that they wouldn't normally say around their parents.

6. Having a hearing aid wouldn't fix everything

My mom has used a hearing aid before and mostly all it seemed to do was annoy her. She often said it was too loud and she couldn't distinguish what different sounds were or where they came from. If I were to talk to her, she wouldn't understand me if I wasn't signing. Pretty much she just would hear if someone yelled for her or if there was some kind of commotion.

7. I have to interpret ALL THE TIME

Even as a kid, everywhere we went, one of my siblings or I would have to interpret. Whether it was at a restaurant or a store or any public place, if my mom needed to ask a question or talk to someone, it was always through one of us. I even interpreted parent-teacher conferences at school. When we would eat dinner or hang around the house, my siblings and I would have to sign our conversations even when we were just talking to each other so that my mom and step dad could know what we were talking about. It was never weird for me, though. Again, it's just my normal.

8. Sign language is simpler than speaking

The grammar is a little different. Lots of small words that don't have much meaning get left out because they're just not necessary. If I were to sign that, I would probably say something like, "Lots small words have little meaning so don't use because don't need." It's just condensed and that's similar to how they type and text, too. Also, facial expressions and body language are utilized. Because there's no tone inflection, deaf people have to use their faces to convey emotions, therefore, they are very expressive people.

9. Deaf people are ridiculously social

There have been multiple occasions where my mom has been approached by another deaf person, a complete stranger, in public just because they noticed she's deaf. Plus, every time my mom has ever run into a friend of hers, it takes days to get her away because they will sit and talk in the middle of a grocery store pretty much all day.

10. Deaf culture is a thing

Deaf people have a different kind of way of living. They have lots of little day to day differences and specific things they do, kind of like the lights attached to the phones. We always have captions on the TV, talk on a VP (video phone similar to Skyping but on a TV instead), the only time they listen to music is if it's because they like the bass, and there are even conventions and events specifically for deaf people to get together.

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