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.
Image Credits: Sincerely J
Hey everyone. Happy November 1st! I’m not sure what the weather is like for all of you guys today, but here in South Jersey it’s been cold and raining all day. And if you’re a hearing aid user like I am, the rain may be a bit annoying. Hearing aids just aren’t the most waterproof things in the world, that’s for sure.
I’m getting closer and closer to my next surgeon appointment (it’s on Wednesday, November 5th by the way). As I previously stated I should know the date of my surgery after this appointment. It should be before Christmas, maybe even before Thanksgiving. Everything has been happening so quickly with it all that it only makes sense that it’s been one of the only things on my mind lately.
As it rains today I keep thinking of yet another thing I’m very excited to do post-activation: get caught in the rain.
Have I ever been caught in the rain before? Oh yes. Plenty of times. Just check out this picture from this past 4th of July when I decided to go for a walk before checking the forecast…
Yeah…I had my hearing aids in that day. It didn’t go over too well. Hearing aids aren’t water proof like at all. One of them almost died on me. I had to lightly blow dry it, pump the water out, and place it in my sta-dri dehumidifer for awhile. I’m surprised this outing didn’t completely kill it. A few years ago I got a little too wet while riding a log steam ride in Hershey Park and it totally destroyed my hearing aid. Hearing aids are super expensive (over $2,000 each) and mine are not covered by insurance at all — so ruining a hearing aid to water id devastating.
Another better memory I have of getting caught in the rain goes back to September 13, 2014 when I was with my now-boyfriend (this was actually the day we became official!). We went to Wheaton Village and it began to rain. I had to remove my hearing aids and keep them in my purse/pocket so they wouldn’t get ruined. We had a lot of fun in the rain trying (and failing) to avoid the puddles. Whenever it rains now I think of this memory and can’t help but smile. But at the same time I think about how much better this memory could have been if I could actually hear him and didn’t have to take my hearing aids out…
This is my boyfriend, Larry by the way. This picture was taken just a few hours after our trip to Wheaton Village. My hair is all messed up from the rain lol. This is also the first picture we’ve ever taken together.
There’s something romantic about the rain. I’m not sure what that is, but in every good romance movie you see the couple get caught in the rain, kiss in the rain, or whatever and it just looks so incredibly romantic. What girl hasn’t wanted to recreate one of those scenes at least once during their life time?
Fact: every girl who’s ever seen the movie The Notebook has dreamed of recreating this epic kiss in the pouring rain. Any girl who tries to tell you otherwise is definitely lying. Image Credits: Live For Films
When you’re HOH and wear hearing aids, these idea of trying to recreate it suddenly becomes a bit less romantic. It’s more of a “Oh god it’s raining I have to hurry up and find shelter. I need to take my hearing aids out.” Followed by a, “I can’t hear a word you’re saying because I had to take my hearing aids out”. Far from romantic.
After I get my cochlear implant I really won’t have to worry about this so much. I still haven’t chosen which implant I will get, but I’m definitely leaning towards getting one from Advanced Bionics and I’m especially interested in the water proof model, which I believe is called The Neptune. The fact that you can actually go swimming with this processor blows my mind. Definitely nowheres near possible to do with my hearing aids, that’s for sure!
The only thing I’m not sure about regarding the waterproof Neptune processor is that it looks like it doesn’t go behind the ear. The processor looks like it would have to attach to your clothes and that would drive me nuts. I definitely want one that looks more like my hearing aids I have now and that go behind the ear. I’m trying to avoid having to attach the processor to my clothes at all costs. Leaning towards getting a processor that looks more like this:
Image Credits: Advanced Bionics
This one is called the Harmony. It also says it’s water resistant, so that’s a plus. Although I’m not sure if you can go swimming with it like you can with the Neptune. I wouldn’t mind that though. Yeah, I go swimming about once or twice a week in the summer when the pool is open, but if I have to remove my processor it’s not a biggie. I definitely just want the processor that will give me the most clarity and work the best with my hearing. Being water proof is just an extra bonus. From what my surgeon told me I’ll be able to enjoy getting caught in the rain with any model I choose.
It’s the little things like this that I’m looking the most forward to. For those of you that can hear and don’t have to rely on hearing aids or whatever, don’t take anything for granted. There are some people out there who which they could enjoy getting caught in the rain sometime and actually be able to hear the rain as it falls down around them. This will be something I should hopefully be able to enjoy in the upcoming months, and I really can’t wait for that.