I thought it would be good to take a light-hearted (kinda) approach to deafness. There are a few pet peeves that I have with hearing people and how they interact with d/Deaf/HOH people.
DISCLAIMER: this is based on my experiences, so take it with a big grain of salt.
- Communication Modes Does NOT Define Me – I use ASL interpreters most of the time in classes, but this fact leads people to make strange (to me, at least) conclusions about me. They seem to think that I can’t hear ANYTHING and I am completely mute (as in unable to speak). I can communicate fairly well through listening and speaking if I am in a quiet environment. People are shocked when I communicate well in an intimate environment. Of course, the root of my annoyance is the fact that hearing people do not realize that not all d/Deaf/HOH people are alike. This misconception could be the further thing from the truth. I remember there was a HOH girl in my high school – she didn’t need very many accommodations, but I needed a sign language interpreter. Different people have different abilities in terms of speaking, lip-reading, hearing and listening. Hearing people also have different abilities in terms of listening and speaking, so why should d/Deaf/HOH people be any different?
- Obsession About Music – “Can you hear music?” is one of the most common questions that I hear. Since I do have a cochlear implant, I can hear music. Appreciate it? Not so much. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of d/Deaf folks that I know love music. I’m the odd duck here. Music is actually kind of annoying for me – it makes it harder for me to hear what a person is saying if music is blaring in the background. What annoys me about this question is not so much the question itself, but the implication. It may just be me, but I feel like many people consider my inability to hear/appreciate music greatly reduces my quality of life. Just because I can’t appreciate music doesn’t mean my life isn’t equally rich and vibrant as the next hearing person. Sure, music seems to be awesome, but I can relax and ‘be happy’ just by looking at beautiful pantings or reading wonderfully-crafted books. Relaxation and bliss can be found in other places than music.
- Deafness as a Taboo – Since most of the annoying things people do stem from ignorance, it peeves me that people seem to be deathly afraid to ask me question about deafness (question above excepted). Most people have no clue how d/Deaf folks function in life, and that leads to some sad assumptions. If people were more brave and asked questions, maybe we would not have as many inane stereotypes lingering around. (I’m looking at you, deaf-people-can’t-drive stereotype). Perhaps they would realize that d/Deafness is not necessarily devastating.
- All-or-Nothing Mentality – I’ve found that others have held me to impossible standards because of my deafness. This seems especially true in professional situations. I feel like I must be the best of the best to achieve what an average hearing peer does. If I am not the best of the best, then I’m written off. This mentality probably stems from cost-benefit analysis – hiring a person with a costly disability is not “worth it” unless the said person is the best. That kind of mentality is destructive – it leaves no room for variance and imposes impossible expectations on people with disabilities.
- Heroic Meme – I know that I am pretty awesome (sarcasm), but I am not this awesome. It can be a bit uncomfortable when people cite my achievements as miraculous. I have been very lucky to get as far as I have, but that does not make me heroic – it just makes me a genetically endowed hard worker. We all are people, and we try our best to get through the live that we have, nothing more.