How to Tell if Someone is Clueless or Mean About Your Hearing Loss

How can you tell if someone is being mean about your hearing loss or if they are simply clueless about deaf and hard of hearing people and issues?

They are most likely harmless or simply ignorant if: 
  1. They never met deaf and hard of hearing people before.
  2. They don't know that you have a hearing loss or that you are deaf.
  3. They lived in a cave in complete isolation for most of their lives.
  4. They remember that they have a deaf cousin that they have not seen in twenty years.
  5. They have never been to DeafRead to read all of the blogs debating every deaf and hard of hearing issue you can think of to death.
  6. They use terms you may hate such as "hearing impaired" or "deafness." Most likely no one has taught them that some deaf and hard of hearing people are offended by these words. (*Note: I think it is perfectly fine to use these words to describe someone who is deaf or hard of hearing.  I sometimes still use deafness to describe someone with a hearing loss. But, keep in mind, they may possibly offend someone out there. You can't please everyone. Just because someone uses these terms and you don't like these terms, does not mean that they are trying to be disrespectful).
  7. They never met you or do not know of your deaf and hard of hearing ways and ask, "What are those things in your ears?" or "What are those things on your head?" "Why are you wiggling your hands and fingers around so much?" "Why do you keep asking me to repeat myself?" "Why are acting like my deaf grandmother?
  8. They never met deaf and hard of hearing people and they ask seemingly silly questions such as, "Can deaf people drive?" "Can deaf people speak?" "Can deaf people read?" "Do deaf people read braille?" 
  9. They are not sure about how to accommodate you in certain situations. Not everyone has experienced this and often do not know what to do. 
  10. They talk to your interpreter instead of you. Again, not many people know what to do in these types of situations. 
 They are being inconsiderate if:
  1. They continue to talk to you with their backs turned to you even after you have told them several times not to do this for the past ten years.
  2. They repeatedly tease you by covering their mouths or turning their backs and asking, "Can you hear this? Can you hear me now?"
  3. They point and laugh at you. "Eew, Your hearing aids are so ugly!"
  4. They do the dreaded "mock sign language" by wiggling their fingers around in the air and make their "retard" or exaggerated "deaf" voice. Believe it or not, some people still do this.
  5. They repeatedly refuse to accommodate you when you know that they easily can. 
  6. They know that you are deaf or hard of hearing and say things like, "Hard of hearing people are so annoying." "Stop saying, "Eh? What? Huh?" all of the time!" "Geez, I wish you were not deaf!" "I wish you would listen to me! Why are you not listening?!"
  7. They repeatedly ask, "When are you going to get cochlear implants?"
  8. They make fun of your speech. 
  9. They know of your deaf or hard of hearing ways and make you participate in games useless to you, such as "Telephone" or "Marco, Polo" just to see you squirm.
  10. They know you are deaf or hard of hearing and they quietly sneak up behind you and scream "BOO!" and push you. They are even worse if they run away laughing hysterically.
  11. They make several inappropriate jokes or comments about people with hearing losses whether they know you have a hearing loss or not.

(e



22 comments:

  1. Hey (e,
    I was having some dinner with close friends at a restaurant and one of them said something similar to a point in your list. When I missed a comment made, she said "I wish you wouldn't say what? or huh? all the time like you have no idea what's going on in conversations". This was a jerky comment on her account, but it comes from lack of awareness and understanding.
    I bit my tongue but I felt like saying "I'm deaf. Sorry if that's an inconvenience to you".
    It was a very noisy restaurant - the worst place for me when it comes to understanding speech in all that background noise. I do my best.
    My friend and I have since had more in-depth conversations about my hearing and she is starting to understand and is more aware of what life sounds like with my ears!

    Also, I just wanted to ask about the point above that says the word deafness can be offensive. Am I being offensive to people by calling my blog (which you follow) "Say What Now? Thoughts on hearing loss, deafness and growing up half deaf". Should I change this title?

    ReplyDelete
  2. {{ I was having some dinner with close friends at a restaurant and one of them said something similar to a point in your list. When I missed a comment made, she said "I wish you wouldn't say what? or huh? all the time like you have no idea what's going on in conversations". This was a jerky comment on her account, but it comes from lack of awareness and understanding.
    I bit my tongue but I felt like saying "I'm deaf. Sorry if that's an inconvenience to you".
    It was a very noisy restaurant - the worst place for me when it comes to understanding speech in all that background noise.}}

    Whenever I complain about not able to hear well in noisy resturant to a hearing person with deaf children, they all told me they (as a hearing person) can't hear well either. I asked them how can that be when I see people having a nice conversation? Then you write about how one hearing person is annoyed by the "huh? What? eh?" in resturant. I thought if it is true that hearing people can't hear well, the person in your post would be more understanding. Can they or can they NOT hear well in noisy resturant? I am so confused!

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  3. Yeah tell me about it! I get that comment from people too. For clarification, the friend in question in my post is a hearing person. From my understanding, everyone struggles to some degree in noisy environments. They miss out on comments here and there too, but not to the degree I do as a hard of hearing person. I can miss most of the conversation so my lip reading kicks in double time!

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  4. I have encountered just about ALL of these things on your list at one point or another.
    It is annoying and just rude.
    Work is usually the most stressful for me, not only am I the only deaf person there, but if I get the comment 'You don't look deaf' from another co-worker I am going to scream!

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  5. been there, done that! Humor and/or sarcasm help defuse situations. has someone done a blog about good comebacks to the jerk behavior above? some of my favorites are:

    Idiot: Can you read lips?
    Me: No.

    or how about:

    Idiot: You speak so well!
    Me: Thank you, so do you!

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  6. Good post here (e

    I have encountered a lot of both, the ignorants and the jerks.

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  7. I hate it when people "reprimand" me for speaking loudly. Please, just mention that I'm speaking kind of loud, don't scold me!

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  8. Jen asked:

    "Also, I just wanted to ask about the point above that says the word deafness can be offensive. Am I being offensive to people by calling my blog (which you follow) "Say What Now? Thoughts on hearing loss, deafness and growing up half deaf". Should I change this title?"

    No you should not change the title. I would not worry too much about offending people with the term "deafness". I am not offended by it. I use "deafness" from time to time.

    (e

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  9. Kym,

    How can anyone think that it is ok to say "You don't look deaf." What is that suppose to mean?

    (e

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  10. Anonymous,

    I agree that there should be a blog about good comebacks to jerky comments in reference hearing loss or deafness.

    I think you have just inspire me to do one!

    Thanks,

    (e

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sharon,

    I am sorry that people "reprimand" you for speaking loudly. I don't think they understand how difficult it can be for some deaf or hard of hearing people to keep their voice at a "conversational" level at certain times.

    How have respond to these people?

    (e

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  12. I thought the comment about the hearing person in a noisy restaurant was really interesting especially since it's a parent of hard of hearing children.

    I'm hyper sensitive to tough listening situations because of my daughter. When there's music and I have to strain to hear someone talking, I think about how nearly impossible that must be for my daughter. That might lead me to tell someone it's tough for me to and I have normal hearing. I suppose what I mean is that I really have to stretch to "get it" and I can understand how much more difficult it would be with a hearing loss.
    People have nice conversations in noisy restaurants because they're leaning in and straining and all of that. It's not comfortable, but somehow still possible.

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  13. The parents I talked to were being denial... they like to think it is normal, every parents think the way you think, Joey.

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  14. correction: The parents I talked to were being denial... they like to think it is normal, not every parents think the way you think, Joey.

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  15. This include my own hearing father.

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  16. I love this list!! I printed a copy so I can show it to some of my older students. I think they will really be able to relate to it. Much better than some of the snooze-fest "how to interact with hearing people" essays I've found in books about hearing loss. :)

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  17. Thanks Jennifer! :) Just to let you know, I just noticed that I made some minor grammatical errors. I went back and changed them.

    Hope your students will like this.

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  18. Hello to all...WE SHOULD GET TOGETHER SOME TIME
    AND /SHARE & COMPARE SOME EXPERIENCES...I HAVE ALOT TO SHARE. Some great times and learning
    experiences too.
    Read most of ALL HERE...GOOD READS.

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  19. I'm a hearing person who just stumbled upon this blog, and just would like to make some comments.

    I've never met a deaf person in my life, but don't live in a cave. I just . . .haven't.

    Other than this entry, I've never read a deaf blog . . am I supposed to have?

    I know the alphabet in ASL and a couple more signs. I would always be courteous, but also curious.

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  20. Anonymous@ 10:13,

    No you are not supposed to have read deaf blogs or have met deaf/hh people. It is okay if you have not. Many people I met have never met or seen deaf/hh people before, as far as they know. I think it is great for people to know only the alphabet. I do not look down on this. I did not mean to insult you, if you were. I made this post for those who looked down or made fun of hearing people because they were not aware of certain deaf/hh issues, for good reasons. Not everyone is going to know everything there is about deaf/hh people, and no one should be excluded or made to feel bad because of their ignorance or inexperience with deaf/hh people.

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  21. A co-worker was seemingly ignorant. At first he made comments like, "just because you have a hearing aid doesn't mean you're deaf." and he asked the ever-so-famous "can you read braille?" But recently he has been mad and avoiding me because I have maybe made him feel ridiculed is my suspicion. He got mad and said, "Stop yelling I'm not the one who is deaf!" when I was voicing too loud. I think he's just a smart-alek. I don't know? I am so sick of him he acts like he's deaf when I speak to him. Like is he trying payback? Really? Like it will work?

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  22. Ha, this is great, as are the comebacks. Anyone have advice for what to do when people ask the infamous, "do you read lips?" This is one of my biggest pet peeves! No, I don't! Not only does it take many many years to master but only 20-30% of speech is understandable through lip reading! Argh!

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Please refrain from using profanity or derogatory remarks. I will delete comments verbally attacking others.

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