While it is incredibly difficult to understand exactly what it’s like to be deaf, most individuals are aware that hearing difficulty comes with a unique set of challenges. This forces those who are deaf to experience the world in an entirely different way than the rest of the population, and not always how you'd expect.
Although problems associated with a complete lack of hearing might seem obvious, there are myriad everyday, specific obstacles deaf people have to deal with, like communicating in the dark or dealing with cochlear implant prejudice. Often, these can be the hardest parts of being deaf, despite the fact that everyone else usually takes them for granted. So, let's learn about what being deaf is like, that we might be more compassionate in the future.
Getting someone’s attention when you want to speak with them is often as easy as calling their name. However, when you are deaf, this system is hardly appropriate. You would never be able to hear the call. That's why, in deaf culture, touching each other to get attention has become much more normalized.
Firm but polite tapping on the shoulder is a common practice, but those who are not familiar with the deaf community may be unaware of this. It can lead to confrontations or misunderstandings when those born with hearing feel someone touching them without warning.
As odd as it might seem to the unfamiliar, sign language is not a universal dialect. Different countries have their own standards, and even the differences between British Sign Language and American Sign Language are significant. Add that to the fact that regional areas have their own specific variations, much like accents in spoken languages, and you get a lot of common misunderstandings.
Even professional interpreters can easily sign the wrong word, due to slight changes in meaning or by accidentally using incorrect hand movements. This can be especially problematic in formal or official situations, where mistranslations can cause lasting harm, such as in legal situations or hospital visits.
Job applications and interviews are already stressful enough. There's really no need for additional pressures and issues. However, finding new work can pose all sorts of additional problems for the deaf. Deaf people are sometimes completely ignored when they reveal their status on application forms, possibly because recruiters see it as too much extra work to accommodate them.
When they do reach the interview stage, though, still more complications arise. Telephone interviews are next to impossible without expensive interpreters, and face-to-face meetings can take a very long time to carry out if the interviewers are not prepared.
Although some people hope to avoid communicating with people when out and about, those with hearing problems often don’t get a choice in the matter. Speaking about their experiences online, some deaf people have explained that individuals appear to be immediately put off when they see a hearing aid.
Basically, they think it will take a lot of effort to communicate with them, or that they might embarrass themselves. Of course, this is not the case at all. Most deaf people would obviously rather others were not afraid to approach them.