On a recent night at a hockey game, my wife and I met three different deaf people.
It was interesting to say the most.
One of my various jobs received a block of tickets and gave them out to three different families, my family included.
It was very exciting, even through the home team lost, badly, we meet some great people.
This blog post is about the two families we met at the game, and another deaf person we met on the way home. To be as anonymous as possible, nothing will be revealed.
The first family of four had two parents, one hearing child and one hard of hearing child. Family First (as in first to arrive).
Family Second (yes, they were the second to arrive), also had four members, two hearing parents, one hearing child and one deaf child.
The Firsts had a good togetherness, taking family selfies and really happy to be there. Both children were able to sign and appeared to be decent with each other. Both parents were able to communicate with their hard of hearing child, either by sign or by speaking. The mom indicated she wanted to learn more ASL.
On the flip side, the Seconds did not take selfies, they took individual pictures and that seemed to be enough. The deaf child was able to sign amazingly, being a student of a local Deaf school. But, only the mom had rudimentary ASL skills. The father and hearing sibling had no ASL skills at all.
The deaf child was very chatty with my wife! I’m sure the deaf child was happy to talk with someone outside of school who was fluent in ASL.
Just FYI, neither the Hard of Hearing or the Deaf child had Cochlear Implants. I am glad the families did not go that way.
I feel strongly that the parents of the Deaf child should have gone the extra mile and learned ASL. Communication within the family is the cornerstone of everything! The word I am looking for is inclusion, make the Deaf child feel included and involved in family festivities. It is only common sense!
Now, I could be wrong on many levels because I/we only spent two hours with these two families. For all I know the Deaf child could have a very rich home environment with lots of supports and total communication all around.
What if a family adopts a Russian child with no understands of English. Wouldn’t it be prudent for the adopters to learn Russian to include the child, while, at the same time, introducing English? In fact, I believe that this is the case.
So, it just begs the question: if a Deaf child is born into a hearing family shouldn’t the family do whatever is necessary to include the Deaf child? Everyone, not just one person, but everyone who lives under the same roof!
In fairness, maybe Mom and Dad Second are very busy with high stress job (they looked business-like) and cannot commit to learn ASL. Yet, I feel that is an excuse, there are classes that can fit a busy schedule, and in-house too! Learning ASL, like learning anything, takes time, energy, and commitment! It can be done! And for the whole family!
Oh yes, I mentioned meeting three Deaf people that night. Well, we did. On our way home on the subway a lady got on and gave out “I’m Deaf” cards, a sympathy ploy that has been around for ages. People see that and some may give money. It is a disgusting practice, some “deaf” people may not even be deaf at all! Big faker! (Somebody actually gave the lady $20!)
Do you see the connection? I don’t want a deaf child, or hearing families with deaf children, to see someone passing out “I’m Deaf” cards, with ty me” expression plastered on their face. It is wrong, as it casts all Deaf people into the same group: beggars. The Hearing families would probably think “Is this the future of my Deaf child? Yikes! I better get that cochlear implant! What did I do with the brouchure?! I don’t want my kid begging for money!” Scary thoughts!
We honest Deaf folks probably chase these “deaf” peddlars off and try to repair damage. After my wife told me someone on the subway gave the “deaf” person $20 I felt an intense ping of either jealousy or hatred, or both, and wanted to approach the guy and tell him that I was DeafBlind with ataxia, would you give me money too? Luckily I let that slide!
Three morales, always be happy with your family, always include, never beg, and always have fun in life! You only got one!