As a Missionary to the Deaf I Have Learned…

(Please keep an open mind and remember that these are my personal opinions about the Deaf in general, not all Deaf.)

I have learned that some Deaf people do not know that they make noise when they walk or chew; they do not hide breathing deeply when walking up steps, or grunting when carrying something heavy. I was in the waiting room of a doctor’s office one time waiting to interpret for a Deaf man I had never met. When the door swung open and the Deaf man came in the room, I knew it was him, because he was breathing out of his mouth very loudly, and making grunting noises as he passed me. When he sat down, I turned and signed, “Are you Joe?” He smiled and signed, “Yes, are you interpreter?” Sometimes it comes in handy to recognize the characteristics of a Deaf person. I have been eating with Deaf before and never realized how loud chewing can be! I love that they are not bothered at all about the sounds they make! Just as most Hearing people think that Deaf understand what it is like to be hearing, Deaf people think Hearing people understand what it is like to be deaf. It is a human characteristic that we think everyone we meet has had the same life experiences as us, and they understand life through our perspective. Remember, Hearing people should try to “think Deaf.” I have heard Cathy Rice and Ted Camp say many times to “think Deaf.” Don’t assume Deaf people can understand that a man’s voice is typically lower than a woman’s voice. How could they know when they have no concept of “high” and “low”? Think about ways to express yourself in “Deaf ways” as opposed to the same old way you always have in the Hearing world. When I first surrendered to become a missionary to the Deaf, I took all my old Hearing messages, and began to preach them to the Deaf (complete with cute 3-point outlines and all). I quickly discovered that I was working in a whole new culture that would demand a whole new set of messages. I have found that the messages I preach for the Deaf are equally understood by the Hearing. I believe they have become more powerful than before!

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