Tuesday, April 24, 2007

deaf does NOT equal mute

Well well well. What do you know? My mom just told me something today, after I got home from work. We just got to talking about this and that, and my upcoming vacation, what's been going on at the Tribune, stuff like that. Turns out when Mom talked to Megan Moore on the phone the other day, Megan mentioned how she thought the editor, Clark, was an ass for not talking to me or something like that. Turns out she was the one who went to him and told him to TALK to me, that I'm easy to talk to and all. I had no idea Clark didn't know how to talk to a deaf person like me. I've worked at the Tribune since I was a sophomore in high school... And Clark's been the editor for a couple of years now, maybe a bit longer. And all this time he had absolutely no idea of how to talk to me? Wow, I'm amazed. The previous editor, Dan, he never had any problems. I remember he was always stopping by to check on me, or to make small talk every now and then. Clark, whenever he walked by, he would always just smile and wave at me. Also, it turns out that there are many others at the Tribune that are afraid to talk to me.

So... what to do about this. Hm. I should put up a list of how to communicate with a deaf person at my desk or something like that. I don't know, but these people need to be educated. Deaf does NOT equal mute. Deaf people are perfectly capable of communicating with ANYONE. Some may use only sign language, some can lip read, some can hear a bit, and then there are some that have to write notes to get his/her message across. Everyone have their own way of communicating. But really, it's not that hard to communicate with deaf people. Just talk to them like you would with a hearing person. Speak clearly, don't mumble, and please, do not raise your voice. Raising your voice will not make a difference.

I'll have to see if I can find such a list online, and I'll talk with Sally or Megan about this, and see if we can come up with a solution. I don't want anyone to be afraid to talk to me, I'm not different from anyone else. Sure, there will be times when I misunderstand or didn't catch everything that was said, so I'll ask the person to repeat. But hey, plenty of hearing people miss something that was said too, that's a normal occurrence.

I do remember having this orange bookmark quite a while ago, that had a Do and Do Not list of how to communicate with the deaf. This was probably years ago when I had one of these. I'll just have to look online and see if there's anything. I should also mention that if my hearing aid is hanging off my hear (instead of being behind my ear), that means I cannot hear what is going on around me (either the hearing aid is turned off, or I'm listening to music with my FM system, and I always have the hearing aid hanging off when I have the Fm on cause it's a bit of an extra weight that my ear can't handle too well). But all it takes is a quick switch and I can hear again, if someone needs to tell me something. No big deal. (I usually have to be deaf or have music playing at work, otherwise I hear all the electrical sounds going on in the building, from the lights and the computers, and those noises do give me a headache and I can't just block them out with my noise adapt setting).

I'm even considering writing a letter to the editor.... EVERYONE should be informed of how to communicate with a deaf person. Not just co-workers or whatever. EVERYONE should know. That's something to think about while I'm on vacation.

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