‘Can you hear me okay?’ is possibly the weirdest thing you could say to someone who is deaf. You are probably thinking but deaf people can’t hear. That’s where you are wrong. There are many different types of hearing loss from mild to completely profoundly deaf. Your probably wondering what they are, I will get that straight for you now.
Some people have a mild hearing loss where they only have a loss of 26 to 40 decibels. This is the unit they measure sound in when doing the hearing tests. The thing is deafness is different for everyone since one person could have hearing loss in the deeper and lower sounds but can hear the high pitched sounds. Another person may have the hearing loss in the higher sounds and can only hear the deeper and lower pitched sounds, then someone might not be able to hear anything at all. Moderate hearing loss is where there is 41 to 55 decibels that someone can’t hear. Then there’s moderate to severe hearing loss losing 56 to 70 decibels and severe to profound hearing loss of 71 decibels and above.
There are different types of technology that the audiologists can give to you to help with it. These include hearing aids and cochlear implants. Hearing aids are a little thing that works being attached to an ear mould and will help pick up the sounds for some of your loss but will never match it up to normal standard hearing. Although, getting the cochlear implant is a longer process as you have to have an operation to drill through the cochlear in your ear to place a receiver/ internal magnet. You will get switched on with your implant about 6 weeks after the original operation. Its the same with the cochlear implant, they will never match up to ‘normal’ hearing. I say ‘normal’ because what is normal these days, having deafness is becoming more and more common, as I see more people signing in the streets and struggling to communicate with other people.
I mean when having deafness it is one of the most frustrating things I think. I have a lot of friends that are deaf and I think they would agree that its frustrating at times but most of the time, its good to be different. Your probably wondering how is it frustrating to be in the silent world, well its sometimes really hard to struggle understanding people. I know this isn’t just me but the deaf world generally struggles with people with beards, accents or even just talking too fast. As some deaf people have hearing aids or implants to help them hear sounds, they don’t always work, or in other cases they don’t like wearing them. The deaf world is a totally silent world. Everyone signs to one another and ‘normal’ hearing people around them won’t hear any sounds unless they laugh then that’s quite loud, as we can’t hear ourselves! I would say I’m quite lucky as I am mainly oral, like I can talk extremely well and no one really knows I am deaf, unless I tell them and they’ve seen my hearing aids to prove it. Surprisingly, I have severe to profound hearing loss as well, so really I think I cope pretty well. I think it helps being in a hearing family and being the only deaf one does help with the speech and not being able to understand other people sometimes. Although, being in a hearing family sometimes does have its moments like they are talking over the top of one another or speaking to quickly, so your constantly like ‘Whats going on?’ or you just sit there in your little silent world. I would say most deaf people are the same when it comes to certain things like not hearing or understanding people, but generally we are all different in our personalities and our different levels of deafness, but other than that we just keep signing away to one another.
A lot of families are different like some families have the deaf gene running through it and everyone is deaf. Some deaf people are the only deaf person in the family and this could be from things like a traumatic birth or Meningitis. I know some families have it missing generations too, so its like every other generation that’s deaf. You don’t realize that deafness literally varies in everyone and we are all unique and we love who we are.
With music, I love my music. I constantly listen to it. I rely a lot on the lyrics videos so I can get the right words but I am lucky I can hear it. Some of my friends can’t hear it at all. I mean all us deaf people rely on vibrations in everything, the doorbell, alarm clocks and music. We find the beat in the song and that’s how we dance in nightclubs. Although, I don’t go nightclubbing anymore. I’ve been about twice and I don’t really enjoy it. I couldn’t live without my music, that’s for sure!
When we are out in public, its a pretty daunting place hoping at least someone can understand you or sign. As its surprising you don’t know who can sign really, when I worked for a supermarket before, they were constantly calling me over to help sign to customers as our staff couldn’t understand them or they couldn’t understand us. I am also helping the customers who are deaf, as when deaf people realize I can sign and that I am deaf too, their day gets a whole lot better and they are happy. The worst thing that people can do is, do that slow motion and super enlarged speech of ‘Can you understand me?’ or ‘Can you hear me now?’ its like, I am not dumb nor stupid – I am just deaf. We would prefer it if you just spoke normally and if we still can’t understand you then we can write stuff or type stuff down. Lots of my friends type what they want to order from a restaurant or fast food chain and it saves them trying to understand them and having that communication barrier I guess.
I would say I am extremely lucky to be profoundly deaf and still be able to talk, sign and understand most people. Obviously I still struggle at times and I have my good days and bad, but I wouldn’t change it or who I am because this is me and if you don’t like me because I am deaf, well that’s all on you. I can’t help that I am deaf but you could be nice and try to least help me or other deaf people. Even if you sign the current deaf petition to help get sign language into the national curriculum – https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/178095
This would benefit so many people in the UK alone and I can also sign ASL (American Sign Language), a lot of sign language is similar and if you know one you can soon pick up others or even at least try with deaf person with the sign language you do know. It would transform lives if you could just sign the petition too.
I hope this has helped you understand deafness a little bit more.
p.s you can see part of my hearing in this picture 🙂