Deaf Culture #15

Deaf people use a videophone more often than seeing each other in person?

This is true.  While the Deaf community is close knit, it is also spread nationwide.  You may meet a friend at a Deaf retreat, a convention, or simply on vacation that you may not see again in person for a decade or more.  Aside from how widespread the Deaf community is, there are often other factors that stop people from meeting face to face.  One of the most common questions is “Can Deaf people drive a car?”  The answer is a resounding YES! Often, Deaf drivers are better drivers than hearing people because they are not distracted by listening to the radio or talking on the phone.  Even so, many Deaf are either unemployed or underemployed.  This can be due to anything from being hindered by additional impairments to local business owners being under educated on what a deaf individual can bring to their business.  Whatever the reason, lack of employment stops many Deaf from having transportation, which means they are stuck at home.  There are a myriad of reasons why a Deaf person may use a V.P. more often than an in person visit, but, like everyone else, most wish that they could see their friends more often!

It is important for deaf children to have deaf role models?

This is true, and extremely important.  Every child needs a role model and the closer that role model is to the advantages and limitations of the child, the more the child will identify with the role model.  Another important reason for a deaf child to have a deaf role model is for language acquisition.  Hearing children are surrounded by examples, both good and bad, of the English language.  Deaf children are not as lucky, and must rely on Deaf adults to provide this important learning experience.  Not only will they learn language, they will also learn how to identify, and many times overcome their limitations.

Most deaf people don’t go out in public because of the difficulty communicating with hearing people?

This is false.  Deaf people have become very accustomed to making themselves understood.  Sometimes with pen and paper, sometimes through gesture, and sometimes through the spoken word depending on the individual.  However they decide to communicate, they are most certainly not staying at home!

Deaf people appreciate those who try and communicate with them in ASL?

Regardless of your skill level, any attempt to communicate in a person’s native language is appreciated.  Members of the Deaf Community are especially patient with newcomers as they realize that there are limited resources for those interested to gain exposure to the language.  That being said, there is always a time and a place to try out your new skill, and times when you should let the opportunity pass.  A doctor’s office waiting room while the Deaf mother struggles with a toddler and a screaming infant is probably not the best time, while a local Deaf social event is a wonderful opportunity.  Use your discretion and remember that as eager as you are to learn, Deaf are people first.

The Deaf Community is very unique?

Like any small niche community, this is true.  Not only is the Deaf Community unique as a whole, but they are unique depending on their region as well.  One community may be very focused on religion, while another on art, and still another on volunteerism.  What is important to remember is that there is something to be learned, and many things to be valued in each and every community, Deaf or otherwise, and it is never a waste of time to acquaint yourself with those around you.