“Ooh, look at those spastic deaf…”

So, ordinarily I am a fairly confident individual, who signs in public, makes it clear that I’m deaf, and tries to make the world adapt to me instead of me having to adapt to it. For the most part, it goes reasonably well, and I socialise with fellow signers or BSL users or whatever you want to call us.

However, what some people don’t seem to grasp is that not all of us are deaf.

It is possible for hearing people to sign, and sign well, indeed so fluently, that they can ‘pass for deaf’, and to the eyes of some hearing people, they do. Thus it is that occasionally, they say things that perhaps they might not otherwise say. Like, for example, “wow, look at her tits” – apparently this was said by the man standing directly behind me, though not in reference to me – at least I don’t think so, as it was my hearing friend that was wearing the show-stopping dress.

In another incident, a whole bunch of deafies / signers had ventured into a pub / nightclub, where we proceeded to drink and chat the night away. However it seems our signs, instead of hypnotising and fascinating the hearing as they usually do, instead provoked the comment “Ooh, look at those spastic deaf waving their hands” and a couple of other comments that my hearing friend refused to repeat.

These incidents happened quite close to each other, and for a while it made me paranoid as to what the general public were thinking when they saw me signing or simply acting in a ‘deaf way’. Spastic, stupid, or just deaf and dumb? But paranoia aside, this is how I am, and that’s just the way it is. I’m deaf, I use BSL to communicate and socialise, it’s a big part of my life and I can’t afford to worry about what people think of me when I sign. If they choose to make moronic comments, instead of trying to learn more about something they clearly don’t understand, then that’s thier problem.

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