This is just the beginning of a long list, and I intend to add to it over time. If I’ve forgotten anything, or anyone has something to add, please let me know and I’ll be sure to add it. I also wanted to mention that the answers to most of these questions appear in the books from my summer reading list, most of which were written by Deaf people.
“All Deaf people can read lips, and as long as I speak distinctly and look at them, they will always understand every word I have to say”. Actually, lip reading is an amazingly ineffective way of communicating. It’s estimated that lipreaders can understand only 30% of the conversation taking place. That’s like missing two of every three words being spoken! In situations where the Deaf person is familiar with the speaker or the conversation is easily predictable (such as at a check out stand) comprehension goes up to 60%, but that’s still almost every other word missing from the exchange. Pretty terrible, really.
“All Deaf people were taught to speak in school using an easy process where each letter has a mouth shape they learn, and then they’re good to go.” Though some Deaf people were taught to speak in “Oral” schools using an awful process requiring years and years of one-on-one study, many Deaf people do not speak. That’s OK, they are really adept at communicating with Hearing people in other ways. You should be flexible and let them get their point across with pen and paper, or anything else that works for them.
“Deafness is genetic. All people who are Deaf will pass Deafness onto their children.” There is a type of Deafness that is genetic, and some Deaf people do have Deaf children, however 90% of all Deaf people were born to Hearing parents and will also have Hearing children. There has been no proven scientific basis for the policies of Eugenics that have plagued Deaf adults since this country was founded.
“Sign Language is bad for Deaf people because they will rely on it too much and it will make them unable to communicate with Hearing people.” Study after study has shown that keeping Sign Language away from Deaf people does nothing except keep all language away from Deaf people, and it can have numerous negative effects on their ability to learn. Even Deaf adults who have never learned to speak still live in a world that is mostly Hearing, and have developed incredible skills for making themselves understood. On another note, Doctors are continually saying how good Sign Language is for Hearing babies, why would this not be true for Deaf babies as well?
“Sign Language is universal. People from over seas and people from America get together and can instantly understand each other.” Actually, there are at least 70 signed languages existing in the world at this time, that we know of, and all of them are incredibly distinct. American Sign Language is used in the United States, parts of Canada, and some South American countries, and has loose relations to French Sign Language (much like French and Italian are related). British Sign Language is completely different and BSL signers and ASL signers are as incomprehensible to one another as German speakers and Italian speakers.
“But when I see Deaf people from different countries get together, they seem to communicate just fine…” Deaf people have a lot of experience communicating with Hearing people who don’t understand them, no matter what country they are from. When Deaf people get together with other Deafs who don’t speak their language, they already have a ton of practice making themselves understood and are able to draw on this experience to communicate with each other more easily than Hearing people are.
“Deaf people don’t want to be deaf, they are hoping for some miracle cure that will make them hear.” - Deaf people actually like being deaf. They consider it more peaceful than being able to hear everything all the time. Most Deaf people I’ve talked to also feel like the majority of hearing people are insensitive and oblivious. They don’t want to belong to a community like that.
“Deaf people can’t drive a car.” – Deaf people drive cars all the time. In fact, some studies have shown that Deaf people are actually better drivers than Hearing people due to the fact that Deaf people have enhanced peripheral vision. If you think about it, nothing about driving really requires you to be able to hear. After all, there’s a reason emergency vehicles have both sirens and lights.