Being A Minority In The Deaf World

I went to Gallaudet University for a day, a college specifically made for the Deaf. Everyone signed ASL. No one spoke. Not English, Spanish, French, or any language.

The only sound I heard while in class was typing of keys and the occasional laugh. The classrooms were set up in circles so everyone could see everyone else's hands. This was far from what I have been used to.

By the end of the day, I found out that it's so isolating not being able to follow what is going on and not being able to express yourself or communicate what you want. It's frustrating watching people laugh and not know what is going on. Don't get me wrong I know some ASL but not nearly enough to follow every word or finger spell in that BIO lecture.

Later on, I thought about how these instances are just like when a person speaks only Spanish and is put into a situation where everyone around them speaks English. While this was happening to me, I was thinking, "Wow, I wish I knew what was going on. I want to know what's so funny". Being in that classroom, I got bored quickly. There was nothing going on that I could understand so I stopped paying attention. It was all just a lot of signs and pictures, there was no point in me trying to figure out what the professor was saying if I could only get out one of the thirty words she said.

Also because of the classroom set up, I was outside the circle. Being outside the circle hindered me from seeing half of the class' hands when they were signing. This made it even more difficult to follow what was going on. At the beginning of the lecture, the professor wanted me to sign my name and major, I froze. I was so afraid of getting it wrong and the students not understanding me or making fun of me for how bad my signing is.

I can't help but think this is how Deaf individuals feel in mainstream classrooms. They can't follow everyone speaking by watching everyone's lips, especially with how the classrooms are set up. They must feel isolated, left out, and all alone. Being the minority sucks. It is hard to communicate with everyone and hard to follow what is happening to the point where they might just stop paying attention. This messes things up, even more, it makes people think the reason the student isn't doing too well is because they are deaf. In reality, it is because they can't follow what is going on, or understand what everyone is saying. Their social life could also be affected because they aren't able to communicate with their peers. Or like in my instance, are too afraid/nervous to speak. This could majorly affect a child. Isolation, being considered "dumb", and no social life all could give the child many internal issues that could affect them the rest of their life.

The Deaf community was so helping. While in the Café, bookstore, or hallways there were many instances where I looked lost and someone came by and helped me or gave me directions to where to go. A lot of the time throughout the day I wondered why everyone was being so nice. The thing is we were the minority, we were in their space, Deaf individuals had no reason to help us. Many times in the real world hearing people don't do that for them. Why help when you don't get treated the same way? But then I realized Deaf individuals understand what it is like to be in that kind of environment and feel that compassion, so they are more inclined to help. I knew all of this before becoming the minority, before going to Gallaudet, but experiencing this is completely different from knowing. You feel what happens when these situations occur and you have more compassion since you relate. At least, that is what happened to me by experiencing the Deaf world for a day.
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