anners are different in Deaf Culture than they are in the Hearing world, although many things are also the same. Here are some of the differences I’ve noticed while out in the Deaf community:
When you arrive, say Hi to everyone. Be prepared to tell them your name, your teacher’s name, and where you are learning ASL. Many people will also want to know why you are studying ASL in the first place.
When you’re talking with someone, try to remember as much about them as possible, even if you feel it’s a casual conversation. Most Deaf people retain information like a sponge and will remember you completely the next time you meet. You’ll look really rude when they come up to you and want to talk about that hobby you mentioned last time and you think ‘who is this?’
Deaf people are really friendly. It’s not uncommon for them to give you a huge smile and a warm hug, even if you’ve only met them once before. They’re not being overly touchy-feely, they’re just welcoming you back.
If for some reason the telephone rings or there’s a knock at the door, don’t just leave to answer it. Say “excuse me” then indicate that there’s a knock at the door, or a telephone call, and you’ll be right back. That way the person you’re talking to doesn’t think you just up and walked away because you didn’t like them.
If you’re late for class (or other events), don’t just sneak in quietly and sit down. In a visual environment like an ASL class, you’ve already disturbed everyone as much as if you’d blown a trumpet as you walked in. Briefly let everyone know why you were late, and then quickly take your seat so class can resume.
If there’s an ASL signer around it’s incredibly rude to speak English in their presence, even if they aren’t a part of your group. It leaves them completely out of the conversation, and they feel frustrated.
When you are leaving, tell several people that you’re going. That way when someone asks where you are, others can tell them. Never just up and leave without saying anything.
Remember the golden rule of manners: If you aren’t sure what would be most polite, just think about those around you and what would be nicest for them.