Five things you probably didn’t know about deaf people

Take the Deaf Challenge

NEWS/FEATURES, Grades 10–12, 1st Place

Have you ever imagined being deaf? For a second I want you to cover your ears. What do you hear? Your heart beat? Maybe a ringing? But just imagine yourself deaf. Or take the Deaf Challenge. Put on some ear plugs for one whole day and do your daily routines. Don’t cheat.

Many people think it’s impossible to do a lot of things while deaf. When people find out that my parents are deaf, I always hear, “Aww, I feel so bad.”

In case you didn’t know, deaf people get irritated when you pity them. It’s the same when somebody’s relatives are deaf. It’s considered rude. Ask a deaf person “would you want to hear?” and they would easily say no.

You see there’s this thing called deaf culture. Many people who don’t want their children to learn American Sign Language  [ASL] constantly degrade deaf people and try to take away American Sign Language because it makes them “dumb.” This is why there is deaf culture. It empowers deaf people to be who they are and not be ashamed. Interesting, huh?

Here are five more things you didn’t know about deaf people:

1. Sports

I’m not deaf but I’m telling you from family experience. My parents are deaf and I have three siblings who are deaf. One of them plays basketball. “Wait… can deaf people play sports?” Umm, yes. Their legs and eyes work, you know. Their ears are the only things that don’t. My older brother plays basketball and soccer and let me tell you that he is very good at both. There are a lot of things my brother can do that I can’t. For instance, roller skating, swimming and many more.

2. Big D vs. little d

There is a difference between being Deaf and being deaf. Generally, the “small d” deaf do not associate with other members of the deaf community. They may strive to identify themselves with hearing people, regard their hearing loss solely in medical terms. Some may also be progressively losing their hearing and not yet integrated into the deaf culture. In contrast, “big D” Deaf people identify themselves as culturally deaf and have a strong deaf identity. They’re often quite proud to be deaf. It’s common that “big D” Deaf attended schools and programs for the deaf. The “small d” deaf tend to have been mainstreamed and may not have attended a school for the deaf.

3. ASL optional

Not all deaf people use ASL. So when a deaf person says that they are deaf, don’t assume they know sign language and do not say “you speak well for a deaf person” or “you don’t look deaf.” That’s really offensive.

Deaf/deaf and hard-of-hearing people are not “silent” at all. They use sign language, lip-reading, vocalizations, and so on to communicate. Communication is not reserved for hearing people alone, and vocal speech is not the only way to communicate.  As I said in the last sentence, Deaf people are NOT silent. They know how to use their voice so no, my house is not quiet.

4. Braille?

Many people assume that when a person is deaf, then they’re automatically mute or blind. This is a common misconception. Some blind people use braille. Deaf people have problems with their ears, not their eyes. There is no reason for a deaf person to read braille unless they were deaf-blind.

5. Eye contact

Making eye contact is extremely important for hearing impaired people. Deaf people find not making eye contact rude.

Finally, it may surprise you to hear that most of the deaf community love being deaf. It’s part of their identity and they wouldn’t change that.

So how was your Deaf Challenge? Was it difficult? Or was it what you didn’t expect even though you probably heard little muffles through the earplugs.

See all the winning entries from the 2019 Student Gazette here.

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