1. Yes, we can still drive.
We only have problems with our ears. In fact, because deaf people are naturally more observant, they tend to be better drivers.
2. Some D/deaf people can speak.
Just because a D/deaf person is not speaking doesn’t mean that they are incapable of doing so. Speaking is a choice for many deaf, as some prefer to only communicate via American Sign Language (ASL) only. Sign Language is not universal. Some other forms of sign language include British Sign Language (BSL) and French Sign Language (FSL) to name a few variants of sign language.
3. Some can still hear.
Hearing loss is a spectrum. Some people like me cannot hear anything without cochlear implants. My dad and brother, on the other hand, can hear some with the help of hearing aids. Then you have people whose hearing loss is so mild that they don’t even realize it.
4. A lack of hearing does not necessarily mean lack of intelligence
While there are some syndromes that may be associated with hearing loss and intellectual deficits, the sky is the limit for D/deaf and hard of hearing people. Deaf people can go to school to be doctors, lawyers, teachers; Just about any profession imaginable! There are some restrictions with certain jobs in the military or law enforcement to name a few (for safety reasons). I always tell the children I meet that are just like me to “Keep your chin up and charge the mountain!” and never let someone tell you that you can’t do something because of your hearing loss.
5. Communicate with us directly when possible.
We know it may be tempting to look at our interpreters or family members to help communicate, but we want to communicate with you. We are still humans with feelings and communication capabilities. Some suggestions for communicating include: a pen and paper to write things out, gesturing, basic sign language (if you know it!), and if absolutely nothing else is a possibility for communication, we can attempt to lipread. However, only 30% of the English language can be lip read, so it is not very effective.
6. Deaf people use do not necessarily Braille.
Braille is intended for those that are blind. We do not necessarily use Braille unless we are blind too.
7. Not all deaf parents have deaf children.
While my brother and I were born with deaf/hard of hearing as a result of our father’s genetic hearing loss. This is not true and there is actually a special name for these hearing children born to D/deaf parents. They are referred to as Children of Deaf Adults (CODA). Very often, they are bilingual in both English and ASL.
8. D/deaf and hard of hearing people communicate in many different ways.
If the hearing loss is mild enough, the individual may just prefer spoken English. For those with little to no hearing, some many still communicate via spoken English with the assistance of high-powered hearing aids or cochlear implants. It seems to me that the vast majority prefer sign language, because it forms a special culture of people who share a language. The sense of community in the Deaf culture is very strong. ASL is a very pretty, visual language and I like to encourage people to at least learn how to fingerspell.
9. Cochlear implants are not a cure
As a bilateral cochlear implant recipient for nearly six years, I can tell you for sure that cochlear implants are not a cure as many believe. They have their limitations, are capable of breaking or malfunctioning, and while some people like me have amazing results from years of hearing practice, not everyone is as lucky. When I take my implants off at night or to shower, I am just as profoundly deaf as I was before the implants.
10. The D/deaf don't have to be "fixed".
This is a controversial point that has divided the Deaf and hearing worlds for years. I made the decision at the age of 12 to receive my implants. My parents did not make the decision for me. Hearing aids and cochlear implants are just 2 of the many options available to D/deaf/hard of hearing people. I personally lip read, sign, and primarily use spoken English depending on who I am interacting with at any given moment.
11. “Never mind”
Ask D/deaf or hard of hearing person and they will probably tell you that the most annoying thing they hear on a regular basis is “Never mind.” Some people are only willing to repeat things a certain number of times before they finally give up. This is extremely frustrating because whatever the person was trying to say at the time was clearly of importance to them and when you can’t hear the message, suddenly it doesn’t matter.
Next time, you encounter a D/deaf or hard of hearing person, keep some of these facts in mind for successful communication. They will thank you for it!