By Raven Heroux
Instead of reading what I have to say about miscommunications between hearing people and deaf people, you can check out what Sarah Honigfeld, a deaf senior at Northeastern University, has to say on the matter.
Raven Heroux (RH): What was it like growing up deaf?
Sarah Honigfeld (SH): Growing up Deaf in an entirely hearing community (I was mainstreamed and attended hearing schools) has its benefits and its challenges. I had ample practice interacting with hearing people, thus making it easier for me to succeed in the hearing world as an adult. I did miss out on the instant bond and shared experiences Deaf people have with each other. Fortunately, I now have the opportunities to make up for those missed experiences by being active in the Deaf community of Boston.
RH: What are some challenges that you face interacting with hearing people?
SH: One challenge I face in the hearing community is a lack of awareness. Often, people are shocked to find out that I am Deaf when they first meet me, since I can speak well and can understand people well by lip-reading. I am often put in a position where I have to educate my peers and coworkers on what it means to be Deaf and how to interact with Deaf people, even though Deaf people are not all the same. I have to remind people to speak more slowly or face me when they talk so I can see their lips.
RH: What are some misconceptions hearing people have about deaf people? What would you like hearing people to know about deaf people/communities?
SH: One of the biggest misconceptions people have about Deaf people is that we all sign and don’t speak, which couldn’t be further from the truth. We have a wide range of communication abilities. Some sign only, some sign and speak, some speak only, and some are bilingual (know more than just English or ASL). I personally sign and speak, and I also know French and some Hebrew. The point is, it is important to ask the Deaf person how they prefer to communicate rather than making assumptions and risk embarrassing yourself or the other person.
Want to find out more about Deaf culture and the community? Visit these sites: