Inspired by what seems to be the meme of the moment, “shit (people) say to (other people)”, which seems to have begun with “shit girls say”, followed by “shit white girls say… to black girls”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylPUzxpIBe0, which in turn inspired this deaf guy to come up with his own version: http://www.ehwhathuh.com/2012/01/crap-hearing-people-say-to-deaf-hoh.html, I’ve come up with my own list of “shit that hearing people say”.
The following is shit that has genuinely been said to me. I’ve included my own mental comments in response to these statements / questions, my actual response at the time was often far more patient and polite. But sometimes, it would be nice to ignore the conventions of polite society… (A disclaimer: not all hearing people are this stupid. In fact, some of them are lovely.)
“Oh, are deaf people allowed to drive?” (multiple)
Yes. When you ban music, radio, mobiles, people from talking and any and all auditory distractions in cars, you can take my driving licence. In fact, not even then. It’s mine, I passed my test first time, I have a clean record and ten years’ worth of no-claims bonuses, so naff off.
“I find how hearing impaired people can communicate really fascinating.”
This makes me twitch on several levels, but the main one is: often I’m doing my best to communicate with you because you’re doing F-all to communicate with me. If you’re going to patronise me, I’m not going to bother.
“Aha! How did you know what I was saying?”
Because I know the topic of the conversation, and you’re predictable. Just because I correctly guessed what you said when I wasn’t looking at you doesn’t mean I’ve been faking my deafness for the last 25 years. But saying this as if you’ve just caught me with my hand in the cookie jar just makes me want to hurt you.
“You have a selective hearing loss!”
Do I? I must inform my audiologist of this, as according to their scientific tests, my hearing loss is pretty even, though there is a dip in the low-pitched range. I had no idea I had voluntary control over my level of hearing, I must submit myself to a medical study immediately.
“I bet you’re not really deaf.”
You’ll lose that bet. How about putting £10,000 on it?
“You don’t look deaf.”
What do you want me to do about it? What do deaf people look like anyway?
“You speak so well, I didn’t think you needed an interpreter.” (!!!!)
Wait, what? Did you even ask me? Just because I’m a skilled lipreader and mimic, you’ve decided to punish me for what hearing people have always wanted me to do; speak well. Fact: production is not the same as reception. Communication is a two way street. Now get me an interpreter or there’s going to be a mushroom cloud.
“Hey, do you know this sign…” *Y* *don’t* *you* *F* *off* while slapping hands together randomly in an order that all deaf people recognise because they’ve been asked this a lot of times, usually by people with a mental age of 5*
Honestly, officer, my hand just slipped. And my foot. Do you think they’ll be able to re-set thier nose? Wait, why are you arresting me?
“You don’t sound deaf.”
Not all deaf people are the same, and some go deaf after they started learning to speak. Some do well with hearing-aids, some don’t. Some become good mimics, imitating lip shapes and making sounds until corrected by hearing people around them. It’s no coincidence that I still haven’t mastered several ‘soft’ sounds that aren’t on the lips, and that I say some words in a ‘strange’ way as I said them in a particular way for so long before I was corrected that it’s become habit. OK? Have I justified myself enough?
“It doesn’t matter.”
Oh, my lord. You DID NOT just say that to me. You did not just repeat something a mere three times before giving up and saying it doesn’t matter. If it didn’t matter why say it to me in the first place? Now that’s going to bug me. And thanks, for the boost to my self-esteem that you can’t be bothered and you’d rather give up trying with me altogether. Do you have ANY IDEA how many times and how many people have said that to me, to deaf people, the world over? Effectively, what you’re saying is “it doesn’t matter if YOU haven’t understood.”
“I’ll tell you later”… “oh, I forgot.”
“Why don’t you just get a cochlear implant?”
I see no reason why I should discuss my medical details with you, suffice to say that whatever some idiot newspapers might say, cochlear implants are not suitable for all deaf people, in the same way that glasses are not suitable for all partially-sighted people. Sometimes glasses won’t work. Sometimes cochlear implants won’t work. Capisce?
“Are you listening?”
No, I’m lip-reading. Dick.
“Can you read their lips and tell me what they’re saying?” *pointing to someone fifty feet away*
Surprisingly enough, no. Nor can I see through clothes, or be repelled by Kryptonite. I have enough trouble with people ten feet away.
“You’re deaf? Oh, sorry” *as if I’ve just said that my entire family has died, including the cats*
*Sniffling* It’s OK… It’s just such a tragedy. Whatever did I DO to deserve this misfortune? *cries and wails*
No, not really.
“Is that a bluetooth device? Where can I get one like that?”
Easy. Stand next to a cannon. Send the audiologist my regards.
“Oh, hello.” *turn to computer and mumble unintelligibly. Look up* “well?” (Receptionists in audiology departments should be trained out of doing this with electroshock therapy)
“If you’re deaf, how did you learn to speak like that?”
*Deep sigh* Lip-reading, imitation, random noises, correction. Can we move on?
“Are those earphones? Can you turn your music down, please?”
No, they’re not, and I think you’ll find the music’s coming from the pub over there. Why don’t you go over to the big guy with all the tattoos and ask him to turn it down? Here, I’ll video it on my phone and put it on YouTube.
“What about when you have children? Aren’t you worried they might be deaf?”
That’s the last thing I’m worried about. I’m more worried about any deaf children I might have running into ignorance like I’ve put up with. I want what most people want; a better world for our children, whoever they grow up to be.
“Why are you ignoring me?”
This isn’t even worthy of a response. I’ll email you my audiogram in an attachment. Or it might be a virus. Say hello to the BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH!
*To my interpreter* “How do you do that?”
Erm, excuse me, I’m over here, and I think you’ll find the interpreter is on my time. Thank you.
I should emphasise that the comments in italics are just responses in my head, often that I’ve come up with later, after the incident, and that I’m usually as polite and patient as I can be, as I take the view that answering questions honestly is one of the best ways to dispel ignorance. It’s just that sometimes the questions are just so… well… stupid.
And again, most hearing people I’ve met are lovely. Really.