Tips for communicating with deaf/Deaf people

I am late deaf, my speech is fine, I can actually speak 4 languages. I communicate through lip-reading. Me becoming deaf later in life has not changed the person that I am, it just became one of the many aspects of my identity.

These tips were taken from Deaf-intely Different and edited to my situation.

Tips on what it means to interact with a Deaf/deaf person:

1) When someone says to you, “I’m Deaf,” they do NOT mean:

a. I have no interest in talking to you.
b. Please go away.
c. I do not have the mental capability to understand you.
d. Assume that you can only talk to us through an interpreter.

Photo of a man with a mute symbol tattooed behind his ear

It actually really hurts my feelings when people do that. I want to know what you’re saying. I want you to talk to me (in most cases). Me being Deaf does not mean that I have no interest in communicating with you, meeting you, or hearing what you have to say. I don’t go home and cry about it or anything, but it’s mildly disappointing to be brushed off, ignored, or overlooked like that.

Also, Deaf/deaf people communicate with hearing people on a daily basis without an interpreter. We know ways around it. Most of the time we get by without even having to write stuff down. Minimal amount of voice (or even just mouthing), gestures, pointing, facial expression and body language: It’s all a part of communication. Thinking you have to have an interpreter to communicate with me is silly. This is common sense! We don’t sit around all day long alone until someone comes along we can sign with or whatnot. We’re out in the world just as much as you are. 😉

Side note: When you do take the time to communicate with me (even if it’s about something I don’t care about or don’t want to hear particularly), it makes me happy. It gives me faith in people. I’m a person to, so talk to me!

2) Please, when we ask you to repeat something, don’t say, “Nevermind.”

This may be my number one pet peeve. You wanted to tell us something; we missed it. It should not take that much effort on your part to repeat a line or two of what you just said. Dismissing us like that is really annoying.

3) Look at us when we talk. Lip-reading is a pain sometimes, but it does help. Eye contact is a huge part of the Deaf culture. We know that you’re hearing and it’s a habit to be able to turn around and still talk. And if we remind you, don’t take it as us trying to nit-pick or call you out on something. It’s just a little reminder. We know you don’t mean to. 🙂

4) (and this is probably the biggest) Know that we appreciate when you take the time to communicate with us. We’re people too, and are not always treated as such. Most of my friends are hearing, it takes dedication to learn signs. No one around me signs, so I never took the full sign course. That’s okay. I don’t grumble about it. The fact that they accept me for who I am is one of the brightest parts of my life.

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