Shit hearing people say…

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”:, which in turn inspired this deaf guy to come up with his own version:, 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.”
*Frustrated growl*

“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)
Well, what?

“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.

38 thoughts on “Shit hearing people say…

      1. dancingnymph

        I daren’t ask you if I have. I think the only one I might of asked is how you learned to speak so clearly, which thinking about it must get annoying the thousandth time.

      2. deaffirefly Post author

        I don’t mind it so much from people I know, it’s the random strangers who come at you with the same old thing that gets old! Dare I ask your real name? I get the impression we’ve met 🙂

  1. pinklady

    I thoroughly enjoy your blog every time I catch it and this time has been no exception. I feel the ‘shit hearing people say to interpreters’ list would be as extensive and ridiculous as the list above! Looking forward to the next blog 🙂

    1. deaffirefly Post author

      Now there’s an idea – perhaps I should take a survey of my terps and see they come up with and put it on my blog 🙂 Thanks!

    1. deaffirefly Post author

      My apologies, I just assumed, as it was a guy in the video! Thanks, glad you like, your blog was inspiring 🙂

  2. Rosie Coomber

    ha ha hilarious! sad that these are all so common but really did make me laugh!

    Can I add:

    “wow sign language? can you read braille too?!”

    1. deaffirefly Post author

      Haven’t had that one, but I’ve heard of it being said, not sure what I’ll do if someone asks me that lol! It is sad, but hopefully via this post I can bring enlightenment through laughter 🙂

  3. Natalya

    I get some of those but not others which is interesting I think. I wonder if anyone’s done a poll and how much depends on communication preferences, geographic location, speech, deafness type/level etc.

    I think “Stupid shit audiology departments and audiologists say and do to deaf people” is an entire video of its own! I have the taking my hearing aid and chattering while her back is to me (I didn’t know she was talking till my companion signed at me while being sarcastic at audiologist). I also have the being told my BSL level 2 was the worst thing evah and I’d lose my speech and how wrong it was that I’d learned it. The calling people’s names in the waiting room and being asked to phone when my hearing aids are broken…

    I’ve had people assuming my hearing aid is headphones or a bluetooth thinger and that I am ignoring them and being rude. I once got hours of abuse from a drunk lady on a train who thought I was not listening to her but to my music despite me explaining that it was a hearing aid… Usually people assume my hearing aid (a bone anchored BAHA jobbie) is a Cochlear Implant which isn’t entirely unreasonable as it is odd looking.

    I definitely get the “you’re not as deaf as you say” and “you don’t sound deaf”. Sometimes from professionals who should know better! I also get people refusing to believe I can’t use the phone for voice cos my mate Dave can or “I know people with Cochlears can”… etc.

    Hate the sign ones too – I’ll only teach people BSL swear words if they’re doing a BSL course and actually working at it or spending time around Deaf people in a respectful manner. Else they can sod right off! I don’t get the *slappyhands* so much as the annoying BULLSHIT sign – is that even a real ASL sign or something?

    The lipreading equivalent is someone doing the “I love you” and claiming that means we can lipread all instead of them being a predictable loser. My ex creepy housemate used to lipspeak “Elephant Juice” which looks much like “I love you” at me all the time – creep!

    I get the children disability stuff quite badly cos I have other disabilities – too. I also get nasty comments about what my mum did or didn’t do to make me disabled/deaf (pills, drink, smoking etc). *RAGE*

    Oh and none of the things hearies say to deafies have had the flipping “What? joke”.
    Deafie: I’m deaf can you (face me / speak up / etc)
    Hearie: What?
    Deafie: I’m deaf can… Oh… You’re making a joke aren’t you.
    Hearie: *chortle chortle* Get it? I said WHAT?
    Deafie: . o O ( DIE DIE DIE) That’s so unoriginal, and boring, and I *HATE IT*

    Or the “Pardon?” variant:
    Deafie: I’m deaf etc etc
    Hearie: *inaudible*
    Deafie: Pardon?
    Hearie: Why, what have you done? Haaa haaa sheee FARTED!
    Deafie: . o O ( DIE DIE DIE )

  4. Yoav F.

    Deaf people are just as guilty though!

    “Oh you have a CI? Was it your choice or your parents?”. Thankfully this is getting rarer & rarer as time goes on!

    The more recent one in the vein of “Oh, are deaf people allowed to drive?” but coming from deaf people themselves however is “Oh,thought deaf people couldn’t fly. Don’t you need a radio?”. I humbly beg to disagree, along with photographic proof taken at this weekend!!/Mrdini_uk/status/168387791141617664/photo/1/large (shameless self-promotion! 😉 )

    1. deaffirefly Post author

      Heh, I may do a variation on a theme later on down the line, if I do, I’ll put that in! Wicked photo! I wanna have a go 🙂

      1. Yoav F

        So what are you waiting for then?! Folks at gliding clubs tend to be a friendly bunch and always keen on new faces!

  5. Kim

    Just two days ago a total stranger asked if I was wearing a bluetooth. I wear a cochlear implant. I told her honestly that no, I can’t hear very well and it was a “hearing device” because I didn’t want this stranger to start asking more questions. I just wanted her to GO AWAY. Thanks for the laughs. I have gotten every single stupid question and comment– and also been handed a menu in braille once. So weird.

    1. deaffirefly Post author

      Glad it made you laugh! 🙂 I’ve heard of deaf people being offered Braille stuff before, but it’s not happened to me yet! Yet…

    1. deaffirefly Post author

      Lol, I’ve had that one too! It seems no matter how hard I try to write down all the stupid shit, there’ll be a few I forget 🙂 Good answer! 🙂

  6. Pingback: Shit people say… to Sign Language Interpreters | DeafFirefly's Blog

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  10. Stargirl

    I find this so hilarious and true. I’m always baffled when people tell me I don’t look deaf. I will never, ever understand that question. What is it exactly they think deaf people are supposed to look like?

  11. Stargirl

    Reblogged this on Starlight Grove and commented:
    I haven’t been blogging. I have a lot to write about though. I’ll get around to it. For now, I wanted to share this blog because I really identify with it, and it sheds light on some of the things I deal with as a Deaf person. This is written by a British deaf person, but apparently things are the same across the pond as they are here in the US. Sheesh. Silly people.

  12. fadingsunlight

    To the best of my knowledge, my hearing is perfectly fine…and “It doesn’t matter.” still pisses ME off. Look, I’m sorry that you were in the next room, facing away from me, and muttering…with the shower running. But if it didn’t matter, you wouldn’t have said anything!! Just face me and repeat it slowly. It will bother me less than feeling like you think I don’t matter!

    And “*as if I’ve just said that my entire family has died, including the cats*” had me rolling on the floor. It’s been a terrible week and I needed that. Thank you. Speaking of this week, I think I need to do my own version of this for our specific needs.

  13. John King Jr.

    I remember when a teacher told me to turn my music off, pointing to my Cochlear Implant, not knowing what it was. I sometimes turn it off in self defence, and let them talk/shout to thin air, switch it back on, tell them to repeat what was said, then switch it off again. 🙂

  14. Tara Taylor

    I’m hoh (getting worse and worse as I get older) and I always get told I speak very well and people had no idea I was deaf until they’ve finally glimpsed my hearing aid. To be honest I realise that’s insulting to nearly every other deaf/hoh person out there but I am grateful for it because I’m glad I can talk I’m glad my mum (and/or dad) and a speech therapist put that effort into me when I was younger. But my “faves” are Can you lip read? Me: Yes although it does depend on mouth shapes/beards etc. “What am I saying now?” Me: *sigh*. Them: “Why don’t you turn your hearing aids up?” Me: Because (you moron) it turns ALL sounds up not just your voice… much like volume controls for radios. Or at work I’ve gotten into grief over not hearing the phone ring/therefore not answering it… the thing is I have to run around either restock drinks in our bar coldroom or I’ll be in the kitchen prepping some lunches for the golfers’ lunch after their first 9holes of an 18hole game and when I’m in the kitchen the fridge can be running loudly or freezer or there’s music in the bar area or the TV just above the kitchen door is going.. I was in the kitchen listening to our caretaker update me on whatever but we were right near the door (normally I’m in the literal middle of the kitchen about 2m away from door) and the phone had rang so I dashed off to get it and he was like “Oh so you heard that!” … he’s an old man and was my boss initially (the one who hired me) but I have to say I kind of felt like hitting him for that. I HATE the phone but when I’m at work I don’t ever intentionally ignore it… I’m either busy with physical customers and I can’t go answer or I’m in a place where I can’t hear it. (Or I’m in the toilet where I sometimes may hear it if no music/tv etc is playing but I mean… y’know you can’t run out pants around your ankles lol)


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