Questions hearing people ask me

  • No, the hearing aids don't let me hear perfectly
    • I have no easy answer to "how much do I hear?". It's not as if the deaf just need to blast higher volumes into their ears in order to experience things like hearing people. The hearing aids take me to 100% of normal volume-experience as far as I know, but I lack some ability to differentiate sounds.
      • It's like with learning to walk; in your childhood, you trained your brain to differentiate sounds, so now it doesn't even seem to you like it could be difficult.
      • For an analogy, imagine cases like when a Spanish expat lives in Sweden for years and never learns to differentiate between the Swedish vowels i and y, even though native Swedes insist these are totally different sounds and impossible to mistake.
  • Yes, I can hear some things with my unaided ears. Almost no one is stone-deaf, just like almost no one is so blind they can't at least see some basic shapes and contours. I may hear passing cars (at a 2-meter distance), fire alarms (not too high-pitched ones), a kettle falling on the floor while I'm in the same kitchen. It makes a huge difference how far away the sound is.
    • On a typical day without hearing aids, if I stay home, I estimate I'll hear 0-2 sounds total for that day.
  • Yes, lip-reading is a thing, but it's not like the movies where someone can follow a complete conversation from 30 meters away by lip-reading. But it is an aid. I combine hearing aids with lip-reading, so it always helps if you face me and talk clearly (move your lips and say whole words).
  • How to say "cheers" in sign language? You don't, you just clink the glasses.
  • How to say "hi" in sign language? Wave your hand!
  • How to say "bye" in sign language? …Wave your hand!

How to include me?

  • Learn some sign. This situation isn't the same as when you're dealing with a foreigner who hasn't yet learned the language of the land. Quoting Loni Friedmann, "the hearing can learn to sign, but the deaf cannot learn to hear."
    • Some of us can fake it convincingly – carry on a conversation in speech – but it always takes more effort, and we will still miss things. I for one don't want to ask about every single thing I missed, and as a result I rarely know 100% what's going on, which means that for any given sentence you say, I'm missing some context with which to correctly interpret the sentence. Imagine going on like that, making qualified guesses for hundreds of sentences.
      • With larger groups, it's worse. For an idea of the effort needed, sometimes I have a group lunch with (hearing) friends who afterwards want to go out for some sort of activity, but I want to take a nap because I'm already exhausted from following the lunch conversations.
    • A good start is if you learn the hand alphabet, because then I can simply teach you, mid-conversation, the signs for words after you spell them out for me, and our conversations will become faster and faster as your vocabulary grows in that way.
  • In a group: try to talk one person at a time, especially if we're using a voice-transcription app: the app gets completely useless as soon as anyone speaks over someone else.
  • Enunciate: move your lips and speak aloud the whole word. I'm worse at parsing your speech than Siri on your phone is. Please compensate as if you're using a speech transcription program on a 2005 IBM desktop.
  • If you switch language for any reason, please signal that you're doing so, otherwise I'll just continue trying to fit the sounds you're making to English words I know. You know when you use Google Translate set to French and throw in a word from another language and then it makes some bizarre guess? Exactly.
  • One of the nicest dinners I ever had was in a group of 4 (one friend, two strangers, and myself), who stopped the whole conversation every time I expressed any confusion, to make sure I understood in fullest detail. The conversation progressed slowly, but they didn't seem the least bit bothered about the slowness: it's easy to have a good time anyway! So calm down a bit and focus on company and less on the verbal machine guns.

A friend said: It's never the responsibility of the less-privileged to make others include them. If you think about it, isn't it absurd to expect them to?

  • So when you're in a situation where someone is being unintentionally left-out of your group in some way, and you don't know how to help the situation, it's still basically your job to figure out how. If not, whose job is it? You can't leave it up to that person to elbow their way in – it's much easier for you to make a move than for them to make a move.
    • Of course, you may see an individual elbow their way in anyway, but that's them putting in effort and probably benefitting from individual skill and experience. To expect this as normal would be selection bias. Others exist with the same disprivileges and lack such resources, thus they aren't even there—you've never met them—because they learned long ago not to bother with such environments.
    • When someone is excluded, an easy start can be to simply ask what they need. Although be prepared that they may not know the answer themselves. It's not their job to know it either.
Created (13 months ago)