Trust Me, I Really Can’t Hear

I went to a holiday party last night and had a good time. There were about 60 deaf/hoh/interpreters. Anyways, at some point I got asked by a deaf person if I was hearing.

This happens at every single deaf event I go to. People are convinced that I’m either hearing or hard-of-hearing. I guess I don’t quite fully understand why I apparently “look” hearing.

What is it that makes a person appear hearing or appear deaf?

Is it the way they sign? Is it their mannerism?

What is it that makes me look hearing? In reality I probably grew up with more hearing loss than at least 2/3 of deaf people at deaf events. I by far do NOT consider myself oral.

Why does it even matter?

Anyways, this always makes me think of how I have found myself in situations where I have to convince hearing people that I am really deaf. This has always made me question the idea that people assume all disabilities are visual. If they can’t see the disability then you don’t have it. If they can’t see what’s wrong with you then you must be faking it. A couple of examples.

Example #1: I was on a volleyball team in high school and one of my teammate was 100% convinced that I was hearing. All season long she would try different things to show everyone that I was faking being deaf. She would always stand behind me and start talking right in my ear. The thing she didn’t quite understand was that I could hear her voice with the hearing aids so I would always turn around when I heard her. She would then announce to others that I was just wearing hearing aids for the heck of it and I was really hearing.

Example #2: My 3rd year at KU I had 3 roommates who were all hearing. One of them was 100% sure I was faking being deaf. She was completely sure I was hearing the whole first semester even though I never used my speech with her, I wrote things down/gesture/IM to communicate with her, slept through fire alarms, and even though I walked around wearing my several thousand dollars hearing aids.

I was always (and am still) not quite sure why hearing people think I fake being deaf. The only thing I can think of is….society has such a strong image of what people with “disability” look like and what they can do. By being mainstreamed and having an “invisible disability”…..I must somehow go against everything they thought they knew about people with “disabilities.”

Trust me, I really can’t hear….I’m not faking it. 🙂

3 thoughts on “Trust Me, I Really Can’t Hear

  1. I can relate with a lot of what you said. I've had people in school "test" to see whether or not I can hear. When I could hear them with my CI they would automatically accuse me of faking it. However, a full semester? Yikes.

  2. yep – totally though most people just kinda let it slide with me. The hardest part for me — is the fact that i speak so well, that i basically pass for hearing. i've had one person accuse me of faking my vision limitations. though honestly who would want to fake a disability. I'm a horrible liar, so if people think i'm faking it, then so be it.

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