February 14, 2011

He Needs an Interpreter? But, He Speaks Really Well!

Someone said, "You would not think that this person needed an interpreter, because he speaks really well! I was surprised when he requested a sign language interpreter."

I asked, "Did he have a mild or moderate hearing loss?" 

This person responded, "No, he was profoundly deaf. In both ears."

OK, I will only say this once. Just because someone who happens to be deaf is able to speak really well, does not mean that this person will hear well enough to not require an interpreter or other services. Even if the person does not use sign language, other accommodations will be required to help this person understand everything that is being said to him or her.

Yes, it can be beneficial when a deaf person can speak really well, but it does not magically make the deaf person have typical hearing. 



  1. I am so tempted to say..

    This person is NOT deaf and dumb. He is just Deaf and he is able to use his speech skills.

    That hearing person is able to hear, but definitely a dumb one.

    Simply said.

    Amy Cohen Efron

  2. I agree, people tend to forget it takes deaf people longer and plenty of training to learn how to speak well. Speaking well doesnt equal to hearing well.

  3. Many people say that I speak so well but I tell them that I was trained to speak....for the hearing people, not the other way around.

    And finally got my normal communication modality when I learned ASL at Gallaudet.

    John Egbert

  4. I have a good speaking voice, and very basic lip-reading skills, but keep forgetting I'm deaf. The times I have been told I am hearing and treated like that are far more than ever being asked am I deaf. I'm just a hearing person who is deaf really :) We're damned if we say we are deaf, and damned if we appear hearing. what we need is a tattoo on our foreheads so people know... because people cannot mind-read.

  5. Because I'm a late deafened adult, it means my speech is ok, and people who do not know me get surprised when they find I'm deaf. Or otherwise some who know me but forget still I'm deaf, and cannot just magically hear.

  6. Hear hear, no puns intended.

  7. MM, no tattoos on our foreheads please. ;D

    (e, That experienced happened to me in December of 1998. I was getting ready to attend Emily Griffith Opportunity School in Denver, starting in January of 1999.

    The coordinator for deaf students told me that I speak good and would not need an interpreter. I was surprised at such a statement, boiling inside, I told her that I will need an interpreter and I will make a big deal about it. She replied that she will provide an interpreter for the first day or two, then I will have to be on my own rest of the semester. Her reason was that I will be doing most hands on, but I told her that I will miss the instruction.

    My dad was dying, and I did not want to deal with such an idiot person and fight back. My dad did die Jan. 19th. My mom had an operation days earlier. It was not a good time to fight back.

    Interesting, I should revisit that school and see what they do these days.


  8. BBF-
    Oh, no. I can't believe that it was the coordinator of deaf students who told you that you did not need an interpreter. You'd think she would know better. Geez. So sorry this happened to you while you were dealing with your father dying and then your mom getting surgery. Wow. That must have been tough. Yeah, I don't think I would of have it in me to fight either.

  9. I get that a lot. "But you speak really well! You don't need an interpreter!" Well, yes, I do, for big meetings and any groups over 2 people. I do well one-on-one, sure, but adding one more person into the mix only causes trouble for me. I have had a severe to profound hearing loss all my life, but I didn't learn sign language until I was a freshman in college. I don't know how I managed before that.

  10. I only voice to people who will use sign language unconditionally back to me. I do not like it when people tell me "you speak well". I feel its really an insult. (I understand they are complimenting me.) I feel they are taking away from my Deaf Identity by stating I speak well. What about "Wow! you sign well!"?? So back to the point, I decided I do not like speaking to hearing people unless they will use ASL back to me. I am a lucky Deaf because my whole family knows sign. Here is one thing that is funny, sometimes I voice to my mom and she'll say "you really sound deaf today". I accept that as the biggest compliment because it doesn't imply my speech is hearing speech!! Another thing my family notes about me, if I am tired, stressed, etc. my speech is unintelligible, but if I am well rested and relaxed my speech is more trained. (I was in speech therapy for 9yrs until I said "finish"!!)
    I think voicing to the average person sets up for discrimination. Example above BigBenFactor was told no interpreter based on speech quality, not based on his legal right. We need to educate one hearing person at a time, so we maintain our rights. If you decide to voice or not that is your personal decision! BBF, my heart goes out to you, I am sorry they discriminated against you and I am sorry to about your father. Keep the chin up.


Keep it civil.