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Talking with A Hearing Impaired Person

Updated on July 10, 2012

The visit from Mr. Joe Smith (not his real name ) to a college class was an enlightening one, and I really enjoyed it. However, when he first arrived I did not know what to think, as it had been quite some time since I had encountered an adult with hearing problems so profound that he/she could not hear at all. Mr. Smith is a very animated man and has learned to adapt to his situation very well. He appears to be very comfortable with who he is, and that can be encouraging to other people.

The visit from Mr. Smith made me realize that the only deaf people I have met before, apart from one other adult person, have been children! True confessions here – I felt a little uncomfortable at first because it was a new experience for me, and I was not sure how to relate to him. My signing (American sign Language) is far from proficient, and I did not want to be foolish. I realized that this was a prime example of how people feel with other people who are different from them. It was a revelation to me really. I believe that I am now in a position to dispel some of the myths that people have heard. Knowledge is a wonderful thing!

Mr. Smith used quite a bit of mime in speaking to us instead of signing, which surprised me a little, but I suppose it should not have. He certainly had plenty to say! The experience he had as a child in the oral school must have been traumatic. I am so glad he had the opportunity to attend a residential school to learn ASL. I would suspect that his parents were at a loss as to what the best thing to do would be for their son, especially as they were told not to use any signing. He must have had a bad experience with lip reading, as he was rather adamant about not wanting to do that. I cannot fully understand how he felt, yet I can understand why he is opposed to it as he must have had a really bad experience with lip reading. I think reading lips would be quite difficult to do!

I wanted to ask how he met his wife, as I believe that she is not deaf, but I thought it would have been quite rude of me. I know that she signs, therefore their children probably do also. It was interesting that not all of his friends used sign language – I am sure that conversation could become quite interesting! I mean, how do they converse? Did they write things down or did they use mime? or something else?

I really enjoyed Mr. Smith's visit to the class, and I learned how a deaf person adapts their own life to a world filled with hearing people. He is a very resilient man who is enjoying his life to the fullest. He has a happy family, good friends, and a good job. After Mr. Smith's visit, I decided I would like to hear him preach to other deaf people. I believe that Mr. Smithis an inspiration to other deaf people.


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