So, I’m deaf, as noted in the tag-line for my blog here.
This post will sound very angry and bitter with regards to the way I work with people today.
Being Deaf everyday stresses me out. It’s an unresolvable problem that will haunt me til the day I die. I feel like this constant ongoing never ending tension of potential conflict which continues to manifest day after day. All my interactions with hearing people are fraught with unease and uncertainty.
ASL, however, on the other hand, I look forward to talking to anyone that knows the language well enough to be able to carry a conversation and therein is my hope, that I will someday be able to communicate with ease, with peace, with certainty, with a happy heart that enjoys and looks forward to interactions, instead of dreading the inevitable straining of trying to hear and listen so I don’t get into trouble.
I’m further annoyed by the fact that I have been held accountable to all the speaking people for not hearing everything as if I were intentionally negligent. I have been punished. I was forced to wear hearing aids (not because of others wanting me to, but because of necessity and to improve the ability to understand people as they speak) and assumed to be fixed with no further attention to the matter except that I have to do all the work in two way communications.
In my experience, everyone everywhere conspires against me to disallow me to be Deaf, intentional or not. Any accommodation is my responsibility. They expect me to listen, lean forward, strain my neck, lipread, focus, pay attention, try harder, sit up front, etc. The exception to this rule, for the most part is governmental agencies. They are required by law to provide reasonable accomodation at no cost to me.
And it is rude to ask people to repeat themselves. They prefer I pretend to understand so they are not interrupted, yet if I fuck up on following the misunderstood, or rather improperly conveyed, instructions, I end up getting shafted. I’ve had this happen to me more than once. So I don’t enjoy the experience of interacting with hearing people. It is frustrating and I see no real way out of this.
Yes, writing on paper, typing on a computer or phone or some other electronic devices help, but it was only within the past two to three years that I actually had technology that interacted in my medium. That is, actually having a videophone that allows me to make phone calls to governmental agencies and people that I actually want to talk to, in a language I can fluidly speak in.
And you know what happened? I actually enjoyed interacting with the interpreters. I enjoyed talking to them, secure in the knowledge that what I am saying is being relayed exactly as I intended with near-perfect clarity.
This is why I love self-checkouts at stores, because it doesn’t require that I interact with a cashier, because I hate having to tell people, "I’m deaf, can you please write that down?" and getting looks of irritation and anger in return. Or more often than not, simply having that person leave in disgust.
But then, this is par for the course, and I am stuck with it. So, needs must.