February 16, 2011

Do You Hear How She Sounds Monotone?

I visited a junior high class to see a teacher, because I wanted to drop off some forms for her to sign. But, she was not in. Instead, there was this substitute teacher.

I was going to leave because the person I wanted to see was not there and I did not want to interrupt instruction time any further. Instead, the substitute teacher started talking to me. I guess she saw my hearing aid, because she asked me if I knew sign language. She then told me about how she learned some sign language a while ago because she knew someone who had a deaf child. I said, "Oh, that's cool."
Then the other students in the class started asking me questions about deaf and hard of hearing people. I assumed that it was okay for me to answer some of their questions, while I was there. The substitute teacher seemed fine with it. However, I never really had a chance to answer their questions, because she kept butting in with answers of her own. One student asked me, "Were you born that way? How did they find out that you can't hear?" I started to explain, "Well----" but, the sub interrupted me saying, "Some deaf people are born that way. But, some lose their hearing when they are older, if something happened to them to cause their hearing loss."
She went on and on about how we can hear and how me being partially deaf has affected my speech. Then another student asked me, "Well why do deaf people sound the way they do? Can some of them talk?" I started to respond, but the sub interrupted again! She gave her thoughts on the matter as if she was some sort of expert. I got the impression that she was just really excited and did not realize what she was doing.
But, then she said something that really irked me and made me feel uncomfortable. As she talked about how deaf people cannot hear the speech sounds, making it harder for them to learn how to say them, she pointed to me and said, "We can hear the intonation in speech, right? Hear how she sounds monotone? Because she will have a harder time hearing the speech sounds, she has that type of speech."


The other students looked at me. Some of them looked uncomfortable. I must have made a face, because one of them started laughing.

So, I curtly told everyone that I have to go, and I left.
I made a note to myself to return to this classroom when the teacher comes back to give the class a chance to ask questions and let ME answer the questions.


  1. (e,

    I bet that interpreter does not have 100% fluency in ASL and signs more of "monotone" broken American Sign Language.....

    That interpreter degraded your auditory communication modality skills and this is where and why Deaf community is speaking up now to stop this oppression but at the same time we are still being suppressed by the hearing, (d)eaf/hearing impaired colonialized people.

    We need to walk the walk rather than talk the talk to get anywhere with your situation you are having right now.

    I feel for you and understand what you are going through, you just have to be stronger to speak up louder.

    John Egbert

  2. Wow. That woman was totally out of line. I hope you get the opportunity to confront her and tell her so.

  3. *wincing* inappropriate behavior from that sub teacher.


  4. John, she was not an interpreter.
    This is one person that did this. Please don't think that every hearing person acts like this. I don't think she is actively part of a movement out to suppress the rights of deaf and hoh people. She was just being thoughtless and rude. This is the first time this has ever happened to me. Most people know better than to act this way or to say such stupid things. Yes, she was being inappropriate. But, I honestly think that she did not mean to. Sometimes people really don't understand when they are being inappropriate. I think she just got a little too excited and was clearly not thinking. I will let her know how I feel, if I see her again. But, at the time, it would not have been appropriate for me to call her out in front of the students.

    I have already told the classroom teacher about this and she said she would give her my message that what she did made me feel uncomfortable. The classroom teacher was mortified about this.

    But, the sub is the one who should be embarrassed.

  5. Wow...how rude! I have a little guy in my room who happens to be visually impaired and uses a cane. I was walking with him in the hall when his cane tapped another child on the leg and the child said, "he hit me". Before I could turn around to explain to him exactly what had ACTUALLY happened his teacher began going on a spiel about how the little guy with me "doesn't know what he's doing" "this is his way to talk to you because he can't talk"!?! What? (this reminded me of your encounter...best to let the person who actually knows the answers explain to the students what is going on!)

  6. e) yes, i agree. i don't think that sub teacher realized the social faux she committed, either. it sounds like she, hmm, got carried away by her enthusiasm in educating the students.


  7. Well, I'm glad *someone* had the decency to be mortified about the sub's behavior! But you're right... it's the sub who should be mortified.

    Hopefully someone will educate her, and she won't repeat this.

  8. What I see here is an unfortunate Hearing mindset: speech and hearing are important and are inevitably tied together. That sub's ears probably prick up at every slightly-off vocal sound and immediately hops to analyze and intellectualize it.

    We have a way to go in convincing this type that d/Deaf people are much more than their speech and hearing. For us at least, the totality we represent pushes these two details into insignificance.

    Case in point: "Oh she speaks so well! She speaks absolutely perfect!" The person may have a Ph.D. or be a high school dropout, but that doesn't matter. Just the speech does.

  9. (e,

    Dianrez said,

    Case in point: "Oh she speaks so well! She speaks absolutely perfect!" The person may have a Ph.D. or be a high school dropout, but that doesn't matter. Just the speech does.


    Speech actually ruined me but in someways, I was able to get around...alright but...

    I needed normal 100% communication modality like hearing people have and me as a deaf person or hearing impaired person or whatever you want to call me, I finally achieved that level by learn to be fluency in American Sign Language and no longer have that disability or hearing impaired person classification.

    Can I say,...Hallelujah or more of a simple DEAF word, "PAH"

    American Sign Language plus English Language for a Deaf person is bilingualism.

    Now I realize that, bilingualism: ASL/English is the solution.

    Why fight against bilingualism for all Deaf infants and children in schools?

    John Egbert

  10. What a rude thing to say! The substitute teacher seems to lack self awareness - it's rude and patronizing to answer questions for someone else, and it's doubly rude to insult your speech in front of her class and in front of you! It sounds like she needs some sensitivity education not just regarding deaf/Deaf/hard of hearing people, but people in general. I hope you receive an apology, and perhaps her excitement will motivate her to learn more appropriate behavior.



  11. 0_0 TOTALLY unprofessional! The horrible thing is this woman probably has a similar attitude outside of school as well. I shudder to think that you might run into this woman again in your travels.

  12. I would really like your post ,it would really explain each and every point clearly well thanks for sharing.
    Hearing aid

  13. hi I get this experience no matter what. i am neither deaf or hard of hearing but I do have a slight hearing impediment.. meaning i can hear really well but have a slight difficulty depending on what that is. the reason this interpreter responded this way is because how the 'schools' taught her to believe this about the deaf community. I took classes in asl and i visited the canadian hearing society for the deaf for various reasons; what I noticed is the institutions ignorance about the human ear and beyond the physical capabilities humans have (meaning we have five scenses that we all use along with having sixth sense (intiution). So blame it all on the 'institutions'. to this day this still makes me angry. every person i meet responds to me in a different way for example; one person might say to me "you can't even notice you have any hearing problem you hear so well", another will say to me, " are you deaf? you talk like they do!!!!", another would say 'you have an accent, where is your accent from?" (yes I have an accent but then combined that with a birth defect (my tongue) and on top of that my slight hearing defect.. this makes people confused.What is even worse is some of these morons who are rude and ignorant about how human beings function is that they take anyone with any hearing difficulty whether it is big or small and sum us up as one group being one and the same.Not right. Just because I have difficulty hearing one type of high pitch sounds but can hear other certain types of high pitch sounds does not make me unable to hear anything and everything. But some morons treat me like that. like we are deaf dumb and incapable. they need to do commercials for this like they did for the blind.

  14. also they need not only do commercials but make more movies to see the frustrations any body goes through whether someone has a slight hearing defect or a severe one. show it all so to teach people not to say many of the rude comments they say. people pay attention to the movies and shows they watch. they get their information that way as oppose to hoping you catch the rude ones showing up at a seminar because they won't show up at the seminar.

  15. oh.. and them hearing tests are not the best.. i find that procedure is only very limited it does not portray an accurate reading of how one hears. it's not so simple so them electronics devices for testing hearing is not the final answer to a person's hearing level.. hate them actually it's quite narrow based.


Keep it civil.