Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Monicah Brumfield April 3, 2011
Silent Treatment Daily Routine Sign 2- T/Th 4:00
Can the use of ear plugs allow me to sympathize with a deaf person? Truth is that I, being of complete and total hearing capabilities, will never be able to fully understand or internalize what a deaf individual experiences in his or her daily life. I can hear. I have been able to my whole life. My baby’s laughs, the church bells at 3:00 every afternoon from my front porch, and even Sara Remirez’s rendition of “Running on Sunshine” on last week’s Grey’s Anatomy are all things that I enjoy hearing. I have no way of fully encompassing the loss of this miraculous ability to hear. Saying that I now have an understanding after participating in an experiment would be completely false. I can say, however, that what I do understand from the experience is that this notion of feeling sorry for people who what we consider to be “disabled” simply because they are deaf is complete and total crap(can I even say “crap” in a college paper). Deaf people are not to be felt sorry for. They live. They communicate. They are strong individuals who do not want or need our sympathy. Hearing is an amazing blessing that I am thankful for every day; however, being deaf does not mean that one’s life is any less blessed.
My experience began when I arrived at drop-off at my children’s preschool. I inserted the ear plugs and began to carry on with my normal rituals. Lunch boxes, backpacks, and children in hand, I entered the building as normal. Something that was on my mind throughout the walk inside, was the fact that I was not able to weigh the level of my own voice. Since I never, ever want to cause attention to myself and whispering or shouting would most definitely do so, I chose to speak very little. I could at this point see why a deaf person would choose not to speak that often. A deaf person cannot hear himself speak, and he cannot judge the strength of his own voice. To keep from shouting at everyone inappropriately, I would just prefer not to speak at all.
I continued on to my next stop, only to be smiled at once, which I assumed was reaction to noticing the ear plugs in my ears and that person thinking it was silly. My next thought, as it related to the deaf community, was, “how do deaf people feel about being smiled at or stared at?” I have to be honest, when I see people signing with one another, I do stare. Mostly I stare to see if I am able to notice what they are saying, but I do stare nonetheless. I mentioned before that I do not like bringing attention to myself, so being stared at is something I would never get used to.
My last and probably most memorable thought was in regards to everyone apologizing for having to repeat themselves. These people have done no wrong, why are they constantly telling me they are sorry? This made me think of the world’s desire to be “sorry” for things they know nothing about. This is something I have witnessed from professionals diagnosing a deaf child by telling the parents, “I am so sorry, but your child is deaf,” or from friends telling other friends after hearing of their child being diagnosed with a hearing impairment, “I am so sorry. Is there anything I can do?” Why are we all sorry for deafness? If nothing else, this experience has opened my eyes to how one simple phrase can forever change the perception of what it means to be deaf. As a future professional in the speech and hearing sciences field, I vow to never tell the parents of a deaf child that I am sorry but to encourage them to embrace the diagnosis and grow in knowledge in every way possible.