When I decided to take an ASL class, I never expected to learn so much. The more exposed I am to deaf culture, the more I'm surprised by how much I never knew and how much the majority of people don't know about deaf culture. To hear my professor tell her stories, I couldn't believe what I was hearing while seeing. She was signing instead of speaking. The questions she was asked on a regular basis range from the comical to the unbelievable. So for my second article of Deaf Awareness Month, I'll be addressing four misconceptions about deaf individuals and deaf culture in general.
1. "You're deaf, so can you drive?"
I'll admit when Professor Schock told the class how often she was asked this question, I went full on basic white girl. I "couldn't even." Deaf individuals can drive as easily as individuals who can hear, maybe even better. What's interesting is that I began thinking about this while driving and I realized I really didn't rely on my sense of hearing. Thinking back when I had to drive for six or seven hours straight, there were times I'd completely tune out whatever I was listening to, without even thinking about it.
2. "You're deaf, so can you get married?"
Just when I thought my faith in humanity couldn't get any lower, Professor Schock told us this story and yes she was asked this question more than once! She said she would respond by pointing out the fact that she was married and is now widowed. Of course as she was signing her response, the expression on her was indescribable. But I will try to relay the message her expression portrayed, which can be summed up in "I know you're probably an intelligent person, but you sound so stupid right. I can't believe you're asking this." Ah, that face, I will not soon forget it. So much sass.
3. "You're deaf, so I guess that means your family signs?"
I never knew I had this assumption but when Professor Schock told us that she was that both of her parents as well as her brothers were hearing. She went on by explaining that when she grew up, it was the normal procedure for the deaf child of a hearing family to learn how to speak to the best of their abilities, read and read lips. She explained that because her family doesn't sign, it causes a disconnect. Even though she can read lips, they would just be talking and talking, and it's hard for her to keep up. Hopefully, this doesn't happen in today's society right? Wrong, after talking to a deaf student on campus she says that she's in the same boat, as her parents also don't know how to sign.
4. "You're deaf, so do you want to be fixed?"
My professor says this is a question that not just she, but so many deaf individuals get so often. From what I understand, deaf people don't focus on the fact that they're deaf and what they are missing. They live life like everyone else. They have highs and lows like everyone else. Their life doesn't revolve around the fact they're deaf. I suppose that in this society we tend to focus on what makes people and trying to fix them. Why? By focusing on what differentiates one person from another and trying to "fix" those things, a person can miss out on the beauty that can be seen in uniqueness.