My Voiceless Experiment

As my readers may recall, I am able to hear with the assistance of a hearing aid, though I don’t always hear everything, which I’ll talk about in a future post. I’m also able to talk with no issues, thanks to speech therapy that I had to go through since I was 2 years old. I hated speech therapy then, but grateful for it now as I’m able to conduct every day business with hearing people with little issues such as ordering food in a restaurant, buying a car, shopping, etc.

I decided to try an experiment and try going about my day’s business with my hearing aid turned off and not using my voice at all. I would communicate via notepad and pen, my phone, and what little sign language that I do know,. Basically, I was deaf-mute for a day.

I did not want to have to explain to people I know why I’m doing this if I tried going about my business in my home area of Marinette, WI and Menominee, MI, so I went to Green Bay, WI to run my errands. Green Bay has a deaf community so I fgure people might be more understanding there anyways.

I first stopped at a bar & grill called Shoot’s Bar on the outskirts of Green Bay. My friend Dawg, who I shoot darts with on my Monday night darts league, swears they have the best cheeseburgers ever. So I went over there. I took a seat at the bar, took out my notepad and wrote “Pepsi”, then “Menu” on it. The bartender came up to me and I pointed to “Pepsi” on the notepad and she went got the Pepsi. As she handed me the Pepsi, I read her lips as she said, “You can’t hear, can you?”

I shook my head, no. She held up a finger as if to say, wait a moment, and she went back to the bar to write something down, then brought me the paper with what she wrote. It said, “Today’s special  – Cheeseburger With Fries – $7.50.”. I pointed to what she wrote and nodded my head, yes. She smiled and put it on her notepad and handed it to the cook.

A few minutes later, I got my cheeseburger with the fries. It was about a 1/3 pound cheeseburger, very thick and juicy. I took my first bite into it and fell in love with it right away. My god, it was so good. The fries were pretty good too. The bartender always checked to make sure how I was doing and I would give her a thumbs up. She made sure to keep my Pepsi refilled.

After I finished my meal, she brought my check. I paid for my meal, left her a more than generous tip, signed “Thank you” and left the bar. I was happy that she recognized that I was deaf right away. So that worked out well.

My next test is buying a car. While I’m not quite ready to buy a new vehicle just yet, I wanted to see how a car salesman would interact with a deaf person. Since I’m a GM guy, I went to Bergstrom Auto in Green Bay on Taylor Street. While Bergstrom has several locations in the Fox Valley dealing with all makes and models of vehicles, this specific location has GM cars for sale such as Buicks, Pontiacs, Chevys, etc.

I pulled up and a salesman came out of the building. I signed to the salesman that I’m deaf and he recognized that right away. I wrote down on the notepad that I was looking for a GMC Sonoma or a Chevy S-10. He took the notepad and wrote that they didn’t have those trucks at this particular location, but they might at another location. We went to his office where we had no issues communicating back and forth writing on a note pad. He was very patient with me. I was very impressed that he was willing to communicate with me and I got the feeling that he’s dealt with deaf customers in the past. He couldn’t find a truck that I liked, but that’s ok. I wasn’t ready to get one just yet anyways. While I didn’t get a vehicle, I did walk away happy that he was more than willing to communicate with me via pen and notepad. Once again, another business passed the test in dealing with my non-verbal communications.

Next, I went to Shopko as I needed a belt. It was a routine stop where I got the belt, took it to the register, paid for it, and walked out. No problems there as I don’t normally talk with the cashier anyways even when I’m verbal.

I then went to a bar called D2’s Sports Pub. I’m shooting in a dart tournament there in two weeks, so I thought I’d check it out. Before I went in, I downloaded a photo of a bottle of Miller Lite to my phone. I showed the photo to the bartender. She was more than happy to get me the beer. I paid for it, then went to shoot a few darts. I went back to the bar, gave the bartender the empty beer bottle, a $1 tip, signed “thank you” and left. While my interaction with the bartender was minimal, I felt it was still a positive experience. No issues here.

That was my last stop on my day of being deaf and mute. It was a bit eye opening having to leave my hearing aid  off pretty much all day and not being able to speak. I finally turned on my hearing aid once I came to my hometown and spoke for the first time getting food at a local burger joint.

The experiment went well. I’ll probably do this again, but in a different town that doesn’t have a deaf community and see what happens there. I know there is more to living in every day life as a deaf-mute person such as going to the doctor. But I know it is still a challenge living as a deaf-mute person and I’m looking forward to doing this experiment again and bring awareness to what deaf people go through every day.

Feedback appreciated. Leave a comment here or send a message to my Facebook page.

Until then, stay tuned 🙂

Yes, Deaf People CAN Talk!

Remember this article where I talked about the misconception that all deaf people should know sign language?

Well, I wanted to follow up on that and also add a couple more misconceptions about deaf people – that they cannot talk and also that they SHOULDN’T be talking and should be using ASL instead.

Both misconceptions are utter bullshit in my opinion. Most deaf people are more than capable of talking. Some just choose to use sign language entirely and not talk unless they absolutely have to talk. Others may mix talking with sign language as well. And others, like me, pretty much talk 100% of the time with very little sign language.

Like I mentioned before, I was raised in the mainstream hearing world and learned to talk via speech therapy. I have very little issues communicating with most hearing people one on one though I still have issues with group discussions. But that’s a topic for another time.

While I’m more than capable of talking, I do have a “deaf accent” as do many other deaf people who also talk. I sometimes sound like my nose is stuffed up and I’ve actually been asked, “Dude, is your nose stuffed up?” I never know what to say to that, so I just say I just have a cold or whatever and leave it at that.

I also have been told “You talk well for a deaf person.” I don’t know what to say to that either, so I just say a halfhearted “thanks” when in my mind I actually want to tell that person to fuck off, but that’s not me. I’m more the laid back type.

One deaf person on Facebook said that she’s also suffered from this dilemma, that she’s not allowed to talk, which she believes is a stigma attached to her as well as discrimination. I feel her pain. I’ve been there myself. She should be able to be allowed to talk. Just because she’s deaf doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be allowed to talk. To this girl, I say to her, talk all you want – fuck what other people think. 🙂

Every deaf person is unique and it is up to that particular deaf person on his or her preferred means of communication whether it is via speaking, sign language, pen and paper, etc. Please do not tell a deaf person how he or she SHOULD communicate. Respect that deaf person’s wishes on his/her preferred means of communication.  Thank you.

Please leave a comment or send feedback on my Facebook page 🙂


Not All Deaf People Know Sign Language

I wanted to put this out there – not all deaf people know sign language. I’m one of those deaf people that do not know sign language. Yes, I know some signs, but I’m nowhere near fluent. This subject came up when a video was posted on Facebook that was entirely in American Sign Language (ASL). I mentioned that the video didn’t have captions. It did have captions, but it wasn’t working on my end. Any video posted on Facebook sucks for captions. But that’s a topic I’ll discuss another time.

Anyways, some guy commented that since I’m deaf, I still should be able to understand the video since it is in ASL. I commented back that while I’m deaf, I do not know sign language. I was deaf at the age of 2 and grew up in the mainstream hearing world. I went through speech therapy to learn to communicate verbally. I did learn some signing later on, but not enough to carry on a conversation.

And I’m not the only one. There are lots of other deaf and hard of hearing people who don’t know sign language at all or only know bits and pieces.

And yet, this guy insisted we deaf people should know sign language.  It’s not the first time that I’ve dealt with this misconception about the deaf and hard of hearing people and it certainly won’t be the last. I’ll be making a video on my YouTube channel to talk about this subject in more detail. For now, I just wanted to put this out there – not all deaf people know sign language. Please don’t go assuming that they do. Thank you.

Stay tuned for further updates on this topic.