The purpose for today’s blog is to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about deaf people. These five questions came from the most searched terms related to the keyword “deaf” according to SEMrush. Please note that I am answering based on my own personal experience as a lowercase deaf individual who has profound hearing loss but has never been a part of the Deaf community.
1. Can Deaf People Drive?
Yes, and I just ran over the last person that asked me that question.
But seriously, why wouldn’t a deaf person be able to drive? If you’re deaf-blind then okay I can definitely see why you wouldn’t be able to drive (no pun intended), but this question specifically calls out deaf people, not deaf-blind people. While being able to hear things like sirens would certainly be beneficial for driving, it’s not actually a requirement so long as you can see.
Did you know most deaf people actually have really strong perceptive vision? My boyfriend is always amazed by my ability to spot a car coming from miles away because I can always see the lights out of the corner of my eye. Since deaf people can’t hear, they rely on the eye sight to make up for it. What this means in terms of driving is that deaf people will always be alert and aware of their surroundings and they will be able to see the flashing sirens, even if they can’t hear them. Some may even argue that BECAUSE deaf people can’t hear they will actually be more careful and cautious drivers. That of course is up for debate. I’ll let you know the verdict on that one once I receive my license. 😉
2. What language do deaf people think in?
Seriously? This question is so dumb it makes my brain hurt.
Deaf people think in the same language(s) they speak in. This goes for all deaf people including those who are deaf with a lowercase d, those who are culturally Deaf and use sign language, and those who are non-verbal. Just because you’re deaf does not mean you lose your ability to think or that the way in which you think is any different from that of a hearing person.
Also, those who are non-verbal may still be able to understand spoken and written language and will still very much have a native language (or maybe even more than one). I think that one thing that most people get wrong about deaf people that are non-verbal is that they assume that because they are non-verbal they must be dumb. In actuality, most deaf people that are non-verbal choose not to speak with their voice because they can’t hear themselves speak and it’s a self-conscious thing or not something they feel comfortable with. Some of them may not have had speech therapy, so they may be aware of the fact that their pronunciations may seem strange to someone who is hearing which may make them feel uncomfortable. Others may have limited hearing and not like the sounds of their own voice. Whatever the case may be the important takeaway here is that even non-verbal deaf individuals can be highly intelligent and most often are.
Similarly, some people may be under the wrong impression that culturally Deaf individuals that are fluent in sign language must not be able to think in that language since sign language is a non-verbal language. This assumption is also false. I could be wrong, but I have a hard time imagining deaf people thinking in terms of signs. Rather, I think they think like you and me do in their own native languages.
It’s important to note here that sign language is not a universal language; there’s actually many variations of it. American Sign Language most closely resembles the French written language, but there’s also British Sign Language, South African Sign Language, Afghan Sign Language, and hundreds others even including Jamaican Sign Language! While not a verbal language, they still hold many of the same structures as verbal and written languages do including having verb tenses, parts of speech, subject-verb agreements, etc. When deaf people think I believe that they are thinking in terms of these sentence structures even if they aren’t actually hearing spoken language.
3. Can deaf people talk?
This kind of goes back to what I was saying in my last answer. Generally speaking, the answer is yes nearly all deaf people are CAPABLE of talking. However, some Deaf people may choose not to talk with their voices.
It’s important to note that many Deaf people, and even myself as a lowercase/non-culturally deaf individual hold the belief that you don’t need to use your voice or to speak to communicate. “Talk” means to say something verbally, but “communicate” means to simply share or exchange information, news or, ideas. There are many ways in which a person can communicate. Many Deaf people prefer to use sign language to communicate, but even that isn’t their only option. For me personally I prefer to communicate via social media, E-mail, text messages, and hand-written notes.
4. How do deaf people think?
With our brains, duh.
This bothers me though since so many people think that deaf is synonymous for dumb or learning disabled. Yes, some deaf people have other disabilities including learning disabilities or lower IQs, but as with all things in life, this doesn’t mean ALL deaf people have learning disabilities or low IQs.
In fact, there are many deaf people who are highly intelligent. Some of the smartest deaf people include:
- Laurent Clerc – The first deaf teacher in America who founded the very first school for the deaf in North America. He was extremely influential in showing that not all deaf people are “deaf and dumb”
- Thomas Gallaudet – a teacher whom Gallaudet University is named after; he co-founded it with Laurent Clerc
- Heather Whitestone McCallum – The first, and quite possibly to this day only, deaf Miss America. She is an influential advocate for deaf rights and she also served on the United States’ National Council on Disability in the past.
- Juliette Low – The founder of Girl Scouts in America
- Rush Limbaugh – An American talk show host and Republican political commentator
- Alexander Graham Bell – Inventor of the telephone
- Vinton Cerf – the “Father of the Internet”
- Thomas Edison – A famous inventor
- Helen Keller – The first deaf-blind woman to earn a bachelor’s degree. One of the most famous women in US history.
Deaf people think in the same way that non-deaf people do. I know it may sound strange, but like I said earlier, you use your brain to think…not your ears.
5. How do deaf people date?
Girl meets boy.
Boy meets girl.
Girl likes boy.
Boy likes girl.
Girl asks boy out.
Boy asks girl out.
Girl and boy live happily ever after.
Boy and girl live happily ever after.
But no, seriously. Dating is dating is dating is dating. It really doesn’t matter if you’re deaf or hearing, it’s all the same.
With that being said, some deaf people only date other deaf people. This may be due to them having a lot in common with their hearing loss and being able to relate well to one another. Those who are capital D Deaf may choose to only date others who are either capital d Deaf or even lowercase d deaf because it fits in with their culture. These individuals use sign language as a primary language and likely attend a Deaf school and exist in Deaf world. They may have limited access to mainstream society, so this is probably what they are most comfortable with.
In my own personal experience I’ve only ever dated people who are hearing. It’s not that I am against dating another deaf or even Deaf person, it’s just that I never really met one that I was romantically interested in and now I have found my forever person who happens to be hearing. This is likely because I’ve always been mainstreamed and lived in the hearing world. I do not know any sign language and I am not a part of the Deaf with a capital D culture. Dating a hearing person comes naturally to me and is what I am comfortable with.
Just as non-hearing people have their preferences and likes and dislikes and turn ons/turn offs and deal breakers and makers, so do deaf people.
But when it comes down to actual dating, it’s pretty much the same. Deaf people still like to go out to eat, watch movies, go bowling, go golfing, go shopping, etc.
Some deaf people may prefer to go to places that are quieter so it’s easier for them to hear. Well-lite places may also be helpful so that they can see and read lips or see signs more clearly if they use sign language as a primary means of communication. But for the most part, deaf people are just looking to have a good time the same way hearing people are.
I hope my answers to the five most commonly asked questions on being deaf helped to shed light on what it’s really like to live without hearing. The most important thing I hope you take from today’s blog post is that the deaf can do anything the hearing can do except hear. We all want to be treated the same as a hearing person would be treated because we *are* the same. Our ears don’t work but we still have the same needs, desires, passions, interests, and lifestyles for the most part.
I mentioned previously that I got the AquaCase for my trip to Disney. However, I never did a review post on it. This post will be more of a first impression that a full-blown review, because I still have not had the chance to fully utilize it enough for a full review.
My first impression? I thought I would love it, but I really didn’t.
I didn’t realize how different hearing with the AquaCase would be verses hearing from my normal processor. The sound didn’t seem as loud or as clear. It reminded me a lot of how when I first had my cochlear activated, things sounded unnatural and unclear. No one told me it would be the same thing again with the AquaCase.
I knew that the AquaCase would involve putting my processor in a little waterproof box-like case, but it was still really weird to me to have the processor in a box clipped to my shirt rather than resting behind my ear. I kept trying to touch my ear and feel it. It felt like something was missing.
Having the microphone inside my headpiece rather than on the processor was also very weird to me. I think this might explain why sound didn’t seem as clear to me.
Despite getting the AquaCase and making sure I had it set up for my Disney trip, I didn’t use it at all in Disney. On my first full day in Disney I initially had it on. I will admit I felt a little self-conscious with the wires. I knew my boyfriend wouldn’t mind at all. He’s already seen them. But I was also with my boyfriend’s family who wasn’t used to all of that and who didn’t know me as well and it did seem a little awkward around them. However, I probably would’ve kept it on if I could hear better out of it.
I tried to call my mom while wearing the AquaCase on the first day. It was not raining and I had no plans to go swimming, but I was in Florida where it is known to be hot and I was going to do a lot of walking and more than likely get sweaty, so the AquaCase seemed like a good idea to protect my cochlear from sweat and moisture. I had a problem with this when I tried to work out at the gym with my cochlear — all the sweat and humidity shortened it out and I had to send it out for repairs. This was exactly the kind of problem I was looking to avoid. However, I was extremely disappointed when I realized I couldn’t hear anything at all on the phone while wearing the AquaCase. I immediately switched back to my normal processor withoutthe AquaCase and was then able to hear every single word again.
That was it for me using the AquaCase in Disney. I always brought ti with me just in case it rained or just in case it got too hot (we were blessed with very nice weather while we were in Disney. We avoided the rain and the hottest day was just under 90 so heat wasn’t too big of a problem) or if we went swimming or on a water ride. None of those instances ever really came up.
I did however use the AquaCase when I went home, especially at the gym.
My first time using it at the gym was a little annoying. I think I may need a stronger magnet in the head piece. It has three magnets which is the same as my regular processor has, but I think the AquaCase calls for stronger magnets since the headpiece is a bit thicker. Also, as I got sweaty it seemed to cause the headpiece to become slippery and fall off a few times. The sound quality also wasn’t too great. I could hear sounds but I probably wouldn’t have been able to have a conversation with anyone. Sound still seemed extremely distorted to me.
After coming home from the gym that night I got a shower like I always do only this time I purposely didn’t blow dry my hair. I kept it soaking wet and used my AquaCase because I wanted to work on getting used to it more. I was able to talk with my family, but it definitely wasn’t as easy as it was with my normal processor without the AquaCase.
The second time I went to the gym with the AquaCase was a much better experience. Sounds began to sound more normal and I was able to hear people and voices and hold conversations better. I still did have a little bit of trouble getting my headpiece to stick on the whole time though. But I hated the AquaCase a whole lot less. I came to the conclusion that just like with my normal processor, the AquaCase is going to take some getting used to. I think my brain needs to train itself to hear with the AquaCase. I am not sure why that is, but one of my theories is that the microphone in the headpiece vs. having the microphone on the processor may play a factor in it. It was disappointing to me at first because nobody told me that I would have to adjust to the AquaCase or get used to it. I was under the wrongful impression that it would be the exact same thing as my other processor — just waterproof. I can’t blame Advanced Bionics or my audiologist for not telling me though. I honestly don’t think they knew and I am unsure if this is what everyone experiences with the AquaCase. This is just how I felt personally.
I think the more I use the AquaCase the more familiar I will be with it and the more used to I will get. I think my brain will learn to process the sound and it will sound more natural and I’ll be able to hear as well with it as I do with my normal processor. I think it’s just a process. I am very excited to go swimming with it on. Previously, I have never been able to hear while I go swimming because I’ve had to take out my hearing aids. I couldn’t really talk to people when I go swimming which can be a bit disappointing and frustrating. So being able to hear when I swim thanks to the AquaCase should be a whole new world for me and definitely a bit of an exciting experience and a true blessing!
Unfortunately, I had to send my processor back for repairs so I don’t have the AquaCase to work with at the moment, but I am hoping to get my processor back from Advanced Bionics soon so I can explore swimming with the AquaCase. Stayed tuned for a follow up post on that experience and how I progress with the AquaCase!
Hey guys. It’s been a really long time since I last updated. I apologize for that. I’ve just been crazy busy lately especially with my new job as an Assistant Project Manager at WebiMax. I’ve now been activated for a month and 10 days and I’m doing amazingly well.
I’ve been talking on the phone on an almost daily basis. With my new role as an Assistant Project Manager, this is pretty important. Getting this promotion really could not have possibly come at a better time. I’ve done at least 4 client calls with my Project Manager’s so far. Most of them have been through a conference speaker phone and I’ve been able to hear very well. I’ve been able to even offer consulting and have actual conversations with my clients — something that wasn’t possible just a few short weeks ago. Today pretty much everyone in the office was working from home due to the Jersey snow, but my Social Media project manager Mat and I were still scheduled to have a weekly phone call with one of our clients. We were still able to set up a conference call via WebEx. I had to use my cellphone rather than the conference phone and I couldn’t look at Mat or anyone else to rely on for translation of anything. I did really well on my own though. The client said they didn’t notice I was on the call for last week’s call actually. They thought this was their first time speaking to me and they loved my ideas and I feel like I made a stronger connection with the client and like my comments/ideas are going to help this campaign move forward and make a difference for the client. It felt so good because I know this is something I never could have done in the past. When the call was over our customer service rep whom was also on the call instant messaged me to tell me I did a really great job. That really meant a lot to me.
I’ve been calling my boyfriend a few times a week as well. He’s actually far from home now as he participates in training for his new job as a truck driver for Werner Enterprises. He’s going to be gone for a long time so these phone call suddenly got more frequent and more important to me. I didn’t think I was going to like talking on the phone when I first got my implant. I thought it would be too weird for me — a really big change from the texting/instant messaging I’ve been used to for the past few years. But I’m loving it. Actually, I’m not sure how I went so long without being able to do this. I feel like it just opened a whole new window with my relationship with Larry and it allows us to get even closer with each other. Phone calls are so much more personal than text messages. When I call him and can actually hear his voice it’s like he’s right there with me. Which, considering how we normally only see each other about once a week (He lives about an hour away from me) and he’s now in training far from home for about the next month or so, this is pretty important and a huge deal for us. Larry’s really excited about this too. He’s been so amazing supportive throughout the whole process with my cochlear implant and I love seeing him get so excited about things like this with me.
On the 17th I went to my first concert with my cochlear. Larry and I went to see Danny Gokey perform at Higher Places Ministries Church in Vineland. For those of you who don’t know Danny Gokey was a past finalist on American Idol and he’s currently a successful Christian musician. The concert was really great. I could hear him so well. Live music sounded so much clearer than it has in years for me. One of my favorite parts was when Danny introduced the different members of his band and had everyone play a bit of a solo on their instruments. It was cool to get to hear the drums, piano guitar, bass, and guitar all separately and distinguish the difference between the sounds. For years I always thought a bass guitar and an electric guitar were one in the same. Now I can really hear distinct difference (I prefer the bass by the way). And I can hear the different parts of the drum for the first time too. The drum head, cymbals, and foot pedals all have such different sounds. My favorite is by far the cymbal. I never noticed how much I love that sound. It’s honestly one of my all time favorite instruments.
This is my favorite Danny Gokey song. It’s called “She’s Better Than Gold” and it sounded amazing live with my cochlear!
Last Wednesday I had my second mapping and my first appointment with my audiologist since getting activated. She tested me and I did phenomenally well! I’m actually just barely below normal range with my implanted ear! I was also surprised to learn that I actually retained my residual hearing in my implanted ear. It’s gotten worst, naturally, but it’s not all gone which made me feel a little bit better. I’m pretty sure I never had a hearing test anywhere near as good as that. She didn’t test my speech recognition because she thought one month post-activation was too soon, but I can tell that’s improved as well. She also changed the settings a little bit but not much. I have four programs now — 1 is normal, 2 and 3 are for crowded environments, and 4 is for music. While only a slight change I noticed a big difference. Everything is a lot louder and clearer and music sounds fantastic on setting 4. Thinking of music, Louisa was surprised by how well I could hear and understand it. Most cochlear implant recipients don’t do well with hearing music. She said they are actually doing a study on that. I told her I’d love to participate in it if possible.
Here’s a picture of my most recent audiogram. The S’s are my implanted ear. Blue is my left ear without the implant (I still have some residual hearing) and red is my right ear. What a difference! Almost in the normal range!
This is the last audiogram I got before getting my implant. I was barely even on the chart…
I have some exciting news to share as well…
I’m going to Disney in May! (Well, so long as I can save up the money. I’ve been doubling up on my freelance work for extra cash to help make this happen). My boyfriend and his family are actually planning a vacation to Disney World in May (Don’t worry — it’s the one without the Measles outbreak. The one you’re thinking of is Disney Land…the one in California. This is the one in Florida). My birthday falls during their vacation (May 8th) so they invited me to come along and just pay towards my plane ticket and the park passes which isn’t too bad. I’m really really excited for this!
Image Credits: Walt Disney World News
I asked my audiologist, Louisa, if it would be okay to go to Disney with my cochlear and she said it should be fine. She just warned me that I may feel a little more dizzy than usual after roller coasters and that I should take off my processor which I already knew. She also said to let the people at the airport know about it and don’t put it through the airport belt thingy. I expect it will set off the alarms. When I went on my senior trip to Disney in 2008 my hearing aid batteries alone set it off lol. But other than that everything should be fine. I’m going to look into getting the Aqua Case for it too so that I can go swimming with it on. We’ll see about that though.
In an unrelated note, Louisa also gave me the okay to go to a shooting range. She just said it would be best to not wear my hearing aid/cochlear at all for that and to wear ear protection of course. So fellow CI users/gun lovers, take note! You have word from a licensed audiologist that there’s no reason why you can’t shoot so long as you take proper precautions. 🙂
I had Louisa put in an extra magnet for me since mine kept falling off, too. I believe I have three magnets in their now and it’s been sticking a lot better. I still have trouble keeping the processor on sometimes but usually only if I’m laying down or something. It’s still been much much better and it hasn’t caused headaches like I feared it might. It’s been a lot better so far. I also noticed the magnet is significantly stronger…and I’ve had way too much fun with that. I was sticking my head to the magnet and putting more magnets on top of mine lol. What was really funny though was the last time I saw my boyfriend. As he was leaving he was kissing me good night and accidentally knocked my cochlear off. It ended up only coming off a tiny bit but we were right outside of his car and the magnet managed to stick. It definitely made us both laugh a bit!
Well now it’s about time I wrap this up for dinner and to prepare for another day of work tomorrow. Keep tuned for more updates on my wonderful journey into the world of hearing!