When I was eighteen, I began dating a guy that was hard of hearing. In the three years we dated, I learned so much about the deaf community.
They are just as normal as you and I. It was honestly one of the most enlightening experiences I’ve ever had.
I don’t know sign language so I couldn’t talk to his roommate’s girlfriend, who was completely deaf. So whenever she would talk to my boyfriend, I would turn my head out of politeness. I didn’t want her to feel as if I were just staring at her. Looking back, I’m sure she probably didn’t mind. I just didn’t know how to respond. I wasn’t being mean at all – I just remembered my boyfriend telling me that sometimes the deaf get mad because we are able to see their conversations, while they can’t hear ours. So I figured looking away was the proper thing to do.
When I asked how she uses an alarm clock, my boyfriend told me that she has a device that acts as a bed vibrator that will shake the bed at the time she prefers to wake. Lights strategically placed around the house would blink on and off when someone rang the doorbell. For music – it’s actually quite cool. The deaf dance to the bass of the music. If you turn up the bass on your music, you will know what I mean. 🙂 If his roommate wanted to go to a fast food place, she would write down what she wanted to order and hand to the cashier. As for phone calls…well they have TDD where an operator would call the house (phone would light up when ringing), and an operator on the other end of the phone would text/relay messages back and forth to the parties on the phone. The deaf actually are masters at text messaging, Instant messaging, and all other types of written communication. It’s great! Of course, if there is an emergency while they are driving, they see the sirens on emergency vehicles.
The entire community is actually quite cool. I visited Gallaudet University with them one day and I swear, aside from being the quietest campus in the U.S., it was filled with really nice people. The only loud thing were the cars that passed us with their bass blaring through the speakers.
Man – I miss those days. I am grateful for being introduced to the deaf culture. And it was cool to even try my hand at sign language a few times. But I quickly stopped after my boyfriend laughed at me for doing it “properly”. Just as we do – they have slang – and my sign language courses were not teaching me those things. lol