I would like to clarify something in my recent post, What Did You Say?!?
It is a sensitive topic that can be misinterpreted as unappreciative or selfish. I have put off talking about it because I did not want to rub anyone the wrong way. I have noticed many other deaf people avoid this topic for the very same reason however it is something that needs to be talked about. If a problem is not presented then how can there be a solution? A solution that will benefit everyone in the long run.
I have no problems whatsoever with repeating what I said in a different way to ensure that hearing people understood what I said. I know what it feels like to be left out and not knowing what is going on.
It shakes up your self-confidence in a negative way.
It makes you feel unimportant. Makes you wonder why you’re even there.
I guess I’m sometimes disappointed that my experience is the other person only cares about if she/he understood and not if everyone else did. This generally only applies to people who I do not interact with on a daily basis. I’ve always thought for successful communication to happen (regardless if you’re hearing or deaf) everyone needs to be willing to meet each other halfway.
It’s something many people do not seem to understand how it affects people with hearing loss.
I do not know how many times growing up I would leave a family function nearly in tears because I had no clue what was going on. I was expected to act like I was happy, included, and like I understood everything that was going on.
I cannot imagine what it’s like for other people with hearing loss because my family is one of the MOST accessible family a deaf person could ask for. I have a few relatives who know some sign language and will try to interpret (which does make me feel guilty but that’s a whole another topic). I have relatives who have taken the time to write down information and to speak clearly. I will never take that for granted.
On the other hand, it hurts to get yelled at by a relative because I asked him/her to repeat something. It hurts to see them go off and talk to other family members about me in front of me. It hurts to get brushed off when I try to write something down because that person is not used to communicating on paper. It hurts when the other person walks off mid-sentence because they’re so nervous about not potentially understanding me. It hurts to feel so lost among people I know loves me.
So after a while, I stopped trying.
Part of it is my fault. Over the years, I have became the quiet one who blends in. I’m not even sure if they know I’m there or not. Maybe it’s time to step out of my protective bubble and let them get to know the real me. Maybe it’s time to take communication risks on my part.
I was always confused about why relatives would sometimes act like I didn’t exist at family functions but then insisted on hugging me before I left. It sent very confusing messages to me as a child. I understand now that they have always loved me but just weren’t always sure how to communicate with me. Now, I have to figure out how to step out of that protective bubble I have created over the years.
I have met an amazing number of hearing people who have gone above and beyond. I’m constantly thankful and am always touched by what they do in terms of making communication more accessible. There’s no words to express how awesome they are.
If you ever see me talking to someone and you want to know what I am saying. Do not hesitate to ask, I will be more than happy to repeat it for you and I hope you will do the same for me. 🙂