March 10, 2011

Games Deaf and HOH People Will Probably Not Enjoy

Growing up, like most kids, I participated in various games with friends and in school. Many of them involved the ability to listen. For me, this meant utilizing my better ear with or without my hearing aid. I did not particularly enjoy these types of games, especially when I could not wear my hearing aid. Not surprisingly, I was never very good at them. Now I know why my friends loved playing Marco Polo with me in the swimming pool, because they always won. I think they were just as clueless as I was about why they were so good at this game when they played with me. When I was a child, I never gave it much thought as to why I did not enjoy and do well with these types of games.

From the comments some of my readers left in another post, I realize that I am not alone in this. 

JK shared: 

When I was 11 or 12 and mainstreamed in middle school, I took one class which was about self discovery or something silly like that. One day, the teacher had each student draw a piece of paper; on that paper was a nursery rhyme. We then had to HUM the rhyme that we picked, and then go around the room and guess what each person was humming. It's virtually impossible to lipread a humming person!

I told the teacher that I didn't know the rhythm for the one I picked since I always read to myself, so I couldn't hum it, and I wouldn't be able to dicipher any of the other rhymes anyway because it was too noisy with everyone humming.

"Just try," she said. (I HATE when people say that!)

"But, I can't hear!"

"Do it anyway!"

"But, I'm deaf! I can't hear!" I burst into tears, and ran to the girls' bathroom, bawling.

I have never, ever defied a teacher, stood up for myself, or ran out of the classroom before. Afterwards, I went to the principal to complain since I knew I would get in trouble by the teacher anyway (which I did) and the principal was always supportive of me. (What kid voluntarily goes to the principal's office?!) I didn't care though; I knew even at 11 that she was completely wrong and insensitive. I think she wanted to give me detention or something, but when I told my mom and the principal what she did, it was dropped.

From Anonymous:

My music teacher decided to play the gossip game. (I guess something happened to him or someone that made him have this activity because it didnt have anything to do w/ music) what he did was circle the whole class and said something like this"i am going to whisper something to this person ear and she should repeat it to the next person in a whisper, the last person should tell the class what I whispered" well when it got to my turn i couldnt hear the whisper so i just went like this "blah, blah, blah" lol... of course the last person said blah blah blah lol he decided to play again but only this time i raised my hands and told him i couldnt play this game. So he let me out of the circle and i had to wait patiently. Anyway the moral of the game was gossips tend to to get twisted or changed or something like that. 

Although these games can be very fun and hilarious for some people, for most deaf or hard of hearing individuals, these games can be a nightmare.

I thought it would be helpful to create a list of games, commonly played by others that would require the ability to listen, that most deaf and hard of hearing people would not be so eager to join in and play:
  • Telephone or Gossip
  • Marco Polo
  • Simon Says
  • Hum that Tune, The Humming Game, Guess That Tune
  • Musical Chairs
  • Freeze, Stop Dancing (requires ability to hear music) 
If you are going to have a deaf or hard of hearing child or student participating in any of these games, please show some consideration. Think of other games they can play that does not require listening or hearing sounds and music. But, if you insist that they play some of these games, you can always modify them by adding visual cues or even sign language without singling out the deaf or hard of hearing child.

But if you are going to be a jerk about it and insist that they must play these games, like everyone else, because it is your party, at least have a giant pinata at the end of the party that the deaf or hard of hearing child can beat the hell out of in frustration.



  1. Two games can be modified (as I did as a child). Musical chairs was turned into Light chairs. When the lights go off, everyone grabs a chair. Ditto with Marco Polo (we got in trouble with the lifeguard for this one), is to have the deaf child sign/speak Marco and the other children give a small splash (large splashes are frowned upon by the said lifeguard). That way the deaf child can guess where the splashes are coming from - and it forces the hearing kids to come a bit closer to make the game fairer. Of course there would be ONE kid that will still call out "Polo!" while the others are splashing...

  2. Please make a list of the best games to play with deaf kids too!

  3. Actually the pinata frustrated me too, because I could never hear quite what the other kids ("left", "higher", whatever) were saying to try and direct my hits. I always peeked because I didn't want to hit someone else by accident.

    Musical chairs always got modded to Light chairs when I was around :) I just pushed it as being more fun trying to scramble for chairs in the dark ;)

    But yeah, I hated these games, though Simon Says was OK (if I can see the person's face, I'm usually OK).

  4. It's amazing to me that people don't understand that games like this exclude DHH children. My son was signed up for an acting class, and not more than 2 minutes after I explained that my son had a significant bilateral hearing loss the teacher started banging a drum. A consistent beat in the backround, "boom boom boom" and the teacher talking over it saying, "pretend your an ice skater, pretend your an elephant..."

    Um yeah. Ok. Thanks for that. Needless to say I pulled him from the class. Thanks for bringing awareness to things like that...

  5. Anonymous @ 11:07,

    Wow, I can't believe the teacher decided that it would be a good idea to give instructions over the loud bangs of a drum especially right after you told him or her about your son with a significant hearing loss. Geez.

    It seems this happens more often than I thought.

    Glad you were able to get him out of that class. Good for you for advocating for your son!

    Thanks for sharing your experience. :)

  6. Hello! I felt a need to peek in../ interesting how many teachers really are not educated enough
    to help children mainstream..Most hoh, struggle
    just to fit in.For myself, The most memoral experience was being the leader in class.
    I AM HOH..The teacher always used me for the leader.
    So, in between the exhausted moments I just decided if im going to have to lead hearing kids
    they are gonna do it my way!
    Heres what I did...1. I get their attention
    2.wasnt easy either!
    3.articulated ( like: hey!look
    at me! ) and they did! lol
    4.I screamed making the alphabet, that was totally funny! THE CLASS DID AS I ASKED THEM TOO! When some one was acting stupid , I WOULD JUST ARTICULATE BACK TO THEM EXACTLY WHAT THEY ACTED LIKE! A few kids smiled..others were amazed! Of course, I AM STILL LAUGHING AT IT ALL...
    MY TEACHER was even suprised as when I HAD THEM FORM A CIRCLE FOR READING ( I WAS THE LEADER THERE ALSO!) I would read always loud enough so I COULD HEAR WHAT I WAS READING. The teacher ( does this thing with her hands shhh not so loud ( she'd tell me!)"WELL!" I SAID..IF
    AMAZING what we have to offer, and we do teach the hearing world. THAT WAS 1ST -3RD GRADE! SHE STILL SEES ME FROM TIME TO TIME... HAS NOT FORGOTTEN ME! She doesnt remember it all...I DO!

  7. Not entirely related to games, but to watching TV together with other kids. I am HOH and so is my 3 year old. When visiting a friend I told his parents they should turn on the closed captions on their TV when the kids are watching. but instead of asking them to do it out of consideration to my kid, I told them it will help their son learn how to read if the CC is always on. it's the truth. CC do help kids learn how to read, and there's a better chance they'll remember that because it benefits their child and not just mine... :)


Keep it civil.