Become a Deaf Person

Sign language students in high school or college often have an assignment to experience life as a Deaf person for 12-24 hours. They are told to not respond to anyone who only speaks to them. They must find other methods of expressing themselves, such as writing, pointing, pantomiming, texting, and using voice to speech phone apps. Certainly, this can be a great learning experience.

Try wearing earplugs for a day. You may also want to wear a sign or label with the words, “I’m experiencing Deaf Culture for a day. I am not allowed to speak or respond to noises. Thank you for helping me learn.”

What can you do? Order at a restaurant, tell your friend about your day (writing), observe your family without listening to their words, be careful and use your eyes more when you drive, watch a video with (or without) captions, go shopping, try to return something to a store.

What should you try to learn? Consider the following: If you were Deaf, how would that affect your job? Would you be able to have that job? What would your family situation be like? How would hearing loss affect having a newborn child, going to a funeral or church, social interactions, the friends you choose? What would life be like if you needed to wait for an interpreter to help in the doctor’s office?

Many years ago, while I was in college, I lost my voice. I could hear fine, but could not speak, so I was put on “voice rest” for a week. I communicated using a writing tablet. It was difficult, but I survived. But one of my good friends had difficulty communicating with me and became frustrated. He said, “Just talk with me in a week when your voice is better.” I felt betrayed and abandoned, but the experience helped me understand my calling into the Deaf world. May your experience both bless and challenge you.

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