Simple fact: Not everyone knows what you know, or has your same experience.
Sales, profit, ledgers and accounting may be easy for a business man, but hard for a preacher. Construction may be easy for a builder, but difficult for an accountant. A two-year-old may naturally use an iPad, but his grandparents may fear touching, tapping, and swiping. Every person has had different experiences and education.
I grew up moving around a lot. Through grade school, I was in two different schools every year. Two years I was in three different schools. I never knew what it was like to have long-term friends. Later, Diane and I became traveling missionaries, helping deaf ministries all over the USA. After merging our ministry with SWM, we still travel constantly, but we now have a house and a town to call home. After seven years in Trenton, Georgia, I told Diane, “This is the longest I have lived anywhere in my life.” I was 48 years old. Traveling is difficult for many people, but very easy for me, because of my past, my experience, and what I know.
Hearing people tend to assume that Deaf people grow up with the same family situation as themselves. Over the years, I have asked many, many Deaf people if their parents were hearing or Deaf. Most had hearing parents. Most of their parents never learned sign language. Most of those Deaf people said it was difficult to communicate with their parents. Sometimes a brother or sister would learn to sign a little bit and try to interpret when necessary. Lack of parental interaction greatly affects a child’s development – socially, educationally, and personally. Deaf children born to Deaf parents (or hearing parents who learn sign language) have a much different and better experience. Good language helps communication and learning. It makes a big difference in people’s lives.
Again, not everyone knows what you know. Some people grow up in Christian families, going to church, reading their Bibles, learning Bible stories, and being taught Bible principles. Others are raised without any Christian influence. In many areas, it is common to meet people who have never been to church.
Jim Bracelin (SWM) tells of the first time he taught a Bible story to Deaf adults. He apologized for teaching the simple story of David and Goliath and said he was sure they had known that story all of their lives. But they replied that it was the first time they had ever seen the story. Again, not everyone knows what you know.
It is easy to assume that others have your knowledge. To assume means to believe something to be true, to suppose, or to accept without proof. You assume when you think someone else knows or believes something that you know or believe.
Never assume that the person you meet understands about God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, or any of the Bible truths you have read many times. Never assume that your Sunday School lesson is too basic or that the students already know what you will teach. Never assume that everyone in your church knows the Bible principles by which you live. Never assume that other people understand you when you speak.
Hearing should never assume that Deaf…
1. Are all the same.
2. All read lips.
3. All communicate with sign language.
4. Use ASL the same as you use English.
5. Can “overhear” unseen conversations.
6. Can understand you when you turn away.
7. Can understand many people talking at once.
8. Benefit from wearing hearing aids.
9. Know the topics of changing conversations.
10. Want to become hearing.
11. Know when you change topics.
12. Understand written notes.
13. Know things you have known for years.
14. Understand because they nod their heads.
15. Have heard the background of a topic or story (Example: David & Goliath)
16. Know the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Deaf people do not need your pity. But all people need to know of God’s love and salvation through Jesus Christ. Don’t forget, they may not know what you know.