Hearing Loss & Wearables

What are wearables, you ask? Simply put, they are smart devices that you wear on your wrist such as a smart watch like an Apple Watch or a fitness tracker like a FitBit. Many wearables have the capability to receive notifications – which would be a great asset for the deaf and hard of hearing.

I myself have a Pebble smartwatch and I love it. Whatever push notifications that my phone gets, I get on my watch. Text messages, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Even my credit card app gives me notifications. If I get a notification that my credit card was used to make a payment, I get it on my watch too.

How would this help the deaf, you ask? Because we cannot stay tied to our phones 24/7. Eventually, we have to charge the phone sometimes, right? This is where the wearable comes in handy. While my phone is charging, I can still receive notifications from my watch so as long as I stay within Bluetooth range of my phone, which is 30 feet. That’s about two rooms in a typical house or apartment. Still plenty of space to move around.

While I have not personally tested this yet, another good reason for the deaf and hard of hearing to have a wearable is to have a smart smoke alarm, smart carbon monoxide detector and a smart doorbell all in sync with your phone. This way, if smoke or carbide monoxide is detected or someone is at the door, a notification will appear on your phone and you will get it on your wearable as well.

One thing I love about my Pebble is that I use an app called Nav Me for Pebble to navigate on my road trips. It works in sync with Google Maps. Every time I’m nearing a turn or exit, my watch vibrates to let me know I’m getting close to the exit or turn. No longer do I have to keep constantly looking at the GPS unit to see if I’m getting close to the exit because I cannot hear the voice navigation. Nav Me is only avilable for Pebble, but I’m sure other smart watches have their own navigation apps that is similar to Nav Me.

While I love my Pebble smartwatch, I can’t recommend it because it is now discontinued. Support for the Pebble watch will end in 2018 and Pebble is no longer sold in stores though you might be able to find them on eBay. However, there are plenty of other wearables on the market. To decide which one works best for you, check out this review site that reviews all type of wearables out there and can give you a general idea of what is out there for what you want the wearable to do.

If you have thought about getting a wearable, I recommend getting one because it is a great assistive device for the deaf & hard of hearing. Any questions, let me know and I’ll be happy to answer them.

Until next time, stay tuned πŸ™‚

Here to Hear Tour Ends

Image description: DJ Demers is on stage, performing at the
University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI on October 18, 2017

Comedian DJ Demers recently wrapped up his Here to Hear Tour sponsored by Phonak. The tour’s objective was to help lessen the stigma of hearing aids and I think he did a great job of doing that.

The tour took DJ to 20 colleges over 30+ days including a stop at the University of Wisconsin and ended at Yale, one of the most prestigious universities in the United States. DJ also had a stop at the famed Gallaudet University in Washington, DC..

For a recap of his shows, check out HearingLikeMe’s YouTube channel. On the videos page, you will see the thumbnails of the videos conveniently numbered in order of each day of travel. If you haven’t seen the videos yet, put them on a queue or playlist, grab a bowl of popcorn, and sit back for some binge watching of all the videos.

One of my favorite part of DJ’s shows was that he would tell a joke at a show with both ASL interpreting and CART. The laughter would come in three stages from the audience. First, the hearing members of the audience would laugh. Then the deaf members of the audience would laugh after the ASL interpreter relays the joke. Then the deaf members of the audience not familiar with ASL (like myself) would laugh once they read what he said on the captioned screen.

I enjoyed watching the daily videos and am now kind of sad that it’s over. Hopefully DJ does something like this again in the future and that I’ll get to see him perform again at one of his shows

According to DJ’s Instagram account, he’s back home in LA relaxing. But I’m sure it won’t be long before he hits the comedy circuit again. Check out his Facebook page if you want to catch another of his shows in the future.

I also want to give DJ’s videographer , Justin Dalferes, a huge fist bump for a job well done. The typical YouTuber may only upload a video on YouTube two or three times a week because of all the work involved in recording, editing, and uploading a video. Justin did it – every – single – day. Now that’s awesome work right there. And the video editing were top notch. A big round of applause to Justin Dalferes, everyone.

And give DJ’s driver Mike a round of applause as well. Mike drove the RV that transported DJ and crew all over the country, I can’t imagine driving that rig every single day and not get burned out from it. But I’m sure Mike has done it before and is used to it. I got to see the RV up and close in person following the Wisconsin show and got to say hello to Mike real quick while he was waiting for DJ to come out of the venue. He was waiting to take DJ and crew to Minnesota the next day. I was like, long drive. But not as long as the drives that he has made on the other days of the tour. Again, big props to Mike for getting DJ and crew to each venue in one piece πŸ™‚

And finally, a round of applause to Phonak for sponsoring the tour. While it helped lessen the stigma of hearing aids, we still are a long way from that yet. Hearing aids still has a stigma attached to it and it is my goal to help lessen that stigma. My goal is that someday I can get out there in person and spread the word about this myself, perhaps in a speaking engagement or two. I do have plans to attend the HLAA convention in Minnesota in June 2018, so hopefully I can do something there. I do have a talent for motivating people, so maybe I can become a motivational speaker in this campaign someday.

Feel free to comment or leave a message on my Facebook page. And if you like my writing, please support my work by buying me a β€œcoffee” ? I’m not looking to make money on this site, but I do appreciate any tips received, which will help offset the costs of managing this website. Anyone that buys me a β€œcoffee” will receive a shout out on my Twitter page and Facebook page. So thank you in advance to anyone that buys me a β€œcoffee”.

Until next time, stay tuned ?

Deaf People & Employment

Many deaf people can do anything that hearing people can do – except hear, of course. Yet, when applying for a job, they don’t always get a chance to get that job because they are usually dismissed the minute their application is scanned. Why? Because they would mark in the application that they are deaf.

To prove a point, a deaf man posted on Twitter that he applied for twelve jobs. Six applications were marked as being from a hearing person. The other six applications were marked as being from a deaf person.

The results?

He got callbacks for a job interview from all six applications as a hearing person. As for the six applications from the deaf person for the same type of jobs, he did not get one single callback.

This makes me mad. Like I said, deaf people can do anything a hearing person can do – including running for Congress, which I’ll discuss in a future article. I realize there are some jobs that a deaf person cannot do such as working as a first responder where verbal communication plays a critical part. But there are plenty of other jobs out there in the hearing world that a deaf person can do.

I realize accommodations will have to be made at first for the deaf person, but trust me, it will be well worth it in the long run if that person works hard and most deaf people WILL work hard because they have to do so to prove themselves like I have in my line of work for 28 years of working in a grocery store. I’m currently an ovenight manager on duty and grocery crew leader. I started at the bottom cleaning up the meat department and worked my way up the ladder.

Many employers are so quick to dismiss prospective applicants the minute they see deafness, or any other disability for that matter, on the application. If the hearing candidate is more qualified than the deaf candidate, by all means, hire the hearing candidate. I don’t have a problem with that. I’ll say this to anyone who works in human resources though – who would you rather hire for a position – a deaf man with a good job history and/or good work ethics OR a hearing person with a sketchy job history and/or questionable work ethics. That should be a no brainer.

To any deaf people reading this and seem discouraged about not getting job offers, keep getting your applications in. Get the word out about yourself. You will have to work twice as hard to prove yourself, but in the long run,it will be well worth it.

As for the deaf man running for Congress, his name is Chris Haulmark and he’s not letting his deafness get in the way for an opportunity to serve in Congress. If he can do that, than any deaf person should be able to work a regular job, right? So hang in there, my deaf friends. You can do it. Don’t give up. πŸ™‚

I’ll be writing about Chris Haulmark in a future article. For now, I hope I inspired at least one deaf person to keep trying and get that job that he or she wants. If so, I’m glad πŸ™‚

Feel free to comment or leave a message on my Facebook page. And if you like my writing, please support my work by buying me a “coffee” πŸ™‚ I’m not looking to make money on this site, but I do appreciate any tips received, which will help offset the costs of managing this website. Anyone that buys me a “coffee” will receive a shout out on my Twitter page and Facebook page. So thank you in advance to anyone that buys me a “coffee”.

Until next time, stay tuned πŸ™‚

Embrace Your Hearing Aids

A wise man once said “If you wear your hearing aids, embrace them. Be appreciative for them and thankful for the gift of hearing that they give you, but don’t let them define you.”

That wise man is none other than comedian DJ Demers, who currently is performing on the Here To Hear Tour sponsored by Phonak.

And he’s right about those words. I embrace my hearing aid as well. In fact, in just about every selfie that I take of myself such as the one above, I usually have my camera on my right side of my face when taking the picture so it shows my hearing aid in my right ear. I wear my one hearing aid in that ear. The left ear is pretty much totally shot. I’m proud to show off my hearing aid in my selfies.

But there was a time when I used to be self conscious about it. Particularly in high school when I moved to a new town and started at a new school. Everyone was new to me back then. Then later on in my young adult years before I met my ex-wife. I would go out to the bars and actually remove my hearing aid before meeting someone. The bar would have loud music playing, so I wouldn’t be able to hear the person that I’m talking to anyways. I would depend on reading lips and try and decipher what the person is saying as reading lips is not an exact science.

I would remove my hearing aid in those days because if someone sees me wearing my hearing aid, they’ll go, “I’m sorry.” and walk away without even giving me a chance to introduce myself. I used to be upset about that, so I would remove my hearing aid before meeting someone new and give people a chance to know me before they know I’m deaf.

Today, when I meet someone new and they see my hearing aid, they would do the “I’m sorry” bit and walk away, I don’t let it bother me anymore. I like to say it is that person’s loss if he or she does not want to get to know me and realize how awesome I am πŸ™‚

The point that I’m making today is – to all my deaf readers that is reading this post, don’t let your deafness get in the way of living your life. If you wear hearing aids, embrace them. There’s no reason to be self conscious about your hearing aids. In fact, flaunt them by decorating your hearing aids if you want πŸ™‚

Don’t let judgemental hearing people get to you. Stay positive and try to make them aware that being deaf is not necessarily a bad thing.

I also wanted to give a big shout out to DJ Demers for doing this awesome video which was the inspiration for this article. Much thanks, man.

Feel free to comment or leave a message on my Facebook page. And if you like my writing, please support my work by buying me a “coffee” πŸ™‚ I’m not looking to make money on this site, but I do appreciate any tips received, which will help offset the costs of managing this website. Anyone that buys me a “coffee” will receive a shout out on my Twitter page and Facebook page πŸ™‚ So thank you in advance to anyone that buys me a “coffee”. πŸ™‚

Until next time, stay tuned πŸ™‚

Yes, Deaf People Can Drive!

Artwork Credit to Destiny Slater

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION:] A deaf person is kicking a hearing person off a high horse.
Artwork credit to Destiny Slater

I’ll be writing a series of articles about issues that deaf people face every day. Lately, I’ve been dealing with certain hearing people on their high horses who have many conceptions about what deaf people cannot do or shouldn’t do. Today’s article is about hearing people having the misconception that deaf people cannot drive cars.

Really? Deaf people cannot drive cars? Let me tell you something. Many deaf people are actually better drivers than hearing people are. Why do I say that? There are far less distractions for deaf people when driving a car than there is for hearing people. I’ll list a few of those distractions below – followed by a hypothetical situation that may occur as a result of those distractions.

Listening to the car stereo – Many hearing people get distracted easily listening to music in their vehicles. They could be rocking their head listening to the latest song by Ariana Grande – at full volume. Then they could be changing the station to try and find that hot new song made by Taylor Swift – at the exact moment that the car ahead of them slams on its brakes suddenly for some reason….

Texting or talking on a mobile phone while driving – God knows how many times I’ve had near misses with asshats who text or talk while driving. Just the other day, I watched a car nearly go off the road and somehow managed to correct itself. I was able to pass the driver later on- and find that she still was texting on her phone. I was like, really?

I’m not saying that deaf people don’t text while driving. I’m sure some do and I’m guilty of having done it myself in the past, but I don’t anymore after having a near miss myself a few years ago.

The main issue here are hearing people who talk on the phone while driving. Even if their eyes are on the road while driving, they still are not really paying attention – such as not noticing a ball bouncing out in the middle of the road – followed by a small child chasing after it.

Chatting with passengers in the car – Hearing drivers are always talking with their passengers. If the vehicle has passengers in the back seat, most likely a hearing driver would turn real quick to say something to his passenger – at the same time a traffic light has just changed to red at the next intersection.

The point is, hearing people are far more distracted in driving a car than deaf people are. Listening to music, talking ot texting on a phone, and chatting with passengers are some examples.

What about emergency vehicles and their sirens?? – What about them? I’m willing to bet the same hearing people who has their car stereo volume pumped all the way up can’t hear them either. Or they are too distracted to notice emergency vehicles altogether.

At the same time, when I’m driving my car, my eyes are always moving. I’m looking at the road with quick glances at my side view mirrors and rear view mirrors. I can easily see the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle approaching in my rear view mirror and will pull over at first opportunity.

I actually prefer turning off my hearing aid when I drive. The sounds around me such as my heater running, the wind blowing through, etc. all distract me from driving. I like my peace and quiet while I drive. It keeps me focused on the road.

My driving record is clean – no tickets in the last seven years. I’m 51 years old and have just three speeding tickets in my life – all when IΒ  was young and stupid. I’ve been in just three accidents – all of them not my fault. I smacked a deer once. Another time, some asshat pulled out in front of me. And the third time was winter weather related, which happens a lot to others living in the snow belt. To sum it up, yes, deaf people CAN drive – and perhaps even better than hearing people can.

Jessica Flores put up a humorous video about this subject. Go check it out.

I hope that clears up any misconceptions about deaf people driving a car. Have a great day and until next time, stay tuned πŸ™‚

Here To Hear Show At The University of Wisconsin

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: DJ Demers is standing on stage with a microphone on a stand in front of him. He’s also holding a bottle of water.

On Wednesday night, I drove a bit over three hours to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to attend the Here To Hear Tour sponsored by Phonak. It was an awesome experience.

For my accommodations, I stayed at the Graduate Madison, which was just down the road from the venue hosting the show. And no, I didn’t get paid for the product placement for Phonak and the Graduate Madison πŸ˜›

I arrived at the Memorial Union, where the show was held. The building has several rooms, each with something going on such as a banquet, meeting, etc. I looked at the directory to see where DJ Demers would be. I found him in a room called the Council Room. The room was small and I realized that it was a pre-show planning room, so I was about to leave when he spotted me. We said hello and I introduced myself. We talked a bit and I found that our hearing losses were similar.

I lost my hearing at 2 years old. He lost his at around 4 years old. We both grew up mainstream with the focus on speech, not sign language. I lost my hearing due to an ear infection to make a long story short. He said he had no idea how he lost his.

Then Jill Von Buren, who does digital content and social media for Phoank, showed me where the venue for the show was located. I thanked Jill and walked around the venue.

This photo shows several chairs lined up for the show with an aisle in the middle. On the left side of the seating arrangement is where the hearing people sat. On the right side of the seating arrangement is where the deaf and hard of hearing sat because the monitor displaying the real time captioning for the show was positioned on the right side of the stage.

Well, get this – the right side of the seating arrangement was packed with mostly the deaf and hard of hearing people. DJ Demers himself said that he was impressed with how many deaf and hard hearing people came out for the show. I was impressed too. I had figured the majority of the audience would be hearing people with just a small amount of the deaf and hard of hearing people attending the show, but as it turned out, I would say it was about a 50/50 split in the audience. I was happy that the deaf community really was represented in this show.

In addition to real time captioning at the show, not one, but two ASL interpreters also assisted at the show. Originally, there wasn’t going to be an ASL interpreter, only real time captioning, but the University of Wisconsin came through big time to provide the interpreters.

The image above is a screen shot from this video from HearingLikeMe on YouTube. On the left, Maria, one of the interpreters, is signing while DJ is doing his routine on the right. DJ did what he could to get Maria to sign some embarrassing words that I would not repeat on a family website πŸ˜€ . But Maria was not fazed and did a great job of interpreting DJ’s routine, even interacting with him at times.Then Maria needed to take a break and another interpreter named Scotty took over.

Scotty came to the show feeling a bit under the weather, but she was a real trooper and did a great job interpreting the show. Scotty and Maria would switch back and forth a while as signing for a long time can take a lot out of a person. I regret not getting Scotty’s and Maria’s last names as well as getting an interview with them. Hopefully next time The University of Wisconsin has some sort of show for the deaf community, I’ll get my chance to interview them. They were awesome!

After the show, there was a meet & greet. I got to talk to DJ a bit more, then we had this photo taken of us.

Yup. I wore my “No More Craptions” t-shirt. I told DJ was it was all about as explained in my previous article. And he agreed about that. I was hoping to make the cut on the HearingLikeMe video that I posted above, but instead, I was on the cutting room floor – πŸ˜€ . All kidding aside, it was a great show and I was glad that I went.

It was my first ever stand up comedy show that I’ve attended live in person. I’ve never attended one previously because they would never have real time captioning and I couldn’t understand the comedian without real time captioning. I wish more comedians would do this, especially in a metropolitan area with a large deaf community like Madison, WI is.Β  Hopefully DJ returns to Wisconsin and if he does, I definitively will be there for that one.

Feel free to comment on this post and follow me on my various social media. The social media icons are to the right on desktop and down below on mobile devices.

Until next time, stay tuned πŸ™‚

Hearing Loss and Home Safety

This past Monday (October 9th), I attended a meting of the local chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) in Appleton. The topic of that meeting covered Hearing Loss and Home Safety.

Many people with hearing loss of some sort such as myself may not always hear smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors or being able to contact emergency services if something does happen. I’ll discuss what deaf and hard of hearing people can do in these situations.

Let’s start with smoke alarms. The typical home may have very old smoke alarms that may have sat in the house for years and may have an old 9 volt battery in it. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 7 to 10 years. But if you are like me, most likely, your own smoke alarms have been in your home for longer than 10 years. I admit I’ve had mine since I bought my house 12 years ago and they probably were there long before I bought it. I plan on replacing every one of my smoke alarms soon as I do my own research what to get.

I’m not gonna tell you what smoke alarm that I recommend to get. You need to do your own research and decide what type of smoke alarm is best for your living situation. But I will tell you that it is recommended that smoke alarms should be in every room of your residence (except the bathroom and garage) plus the basement. It’s also recommended that they are connected to each other. For example, if smoke is detected in the basement, the smoke alarms should go off upstairs as well. Smoke alarm systems like this are not cheap, but it is well worth the money for the peace of mind that your home is being protected.

For the deaf and hard of hearing, there are also smoke alarms available with strobe lights on them that flash when smoke is detected. Find out what kind of strobe light smoke alarms will work for you. Even better, get a smart smoke alarm system that will send an alert to your smart phone if smoke is detected. Again, do your research on those systems as there are several smart smoke alarm systems.

To sum it up, make sure there is a smoke alarm in every room of your residence and the smoke alarm is replaced every 7 to 10 years. Some websites say 10 years, but the presenter at the meeting recommends 7 years, so I’m going with that. In addition to that, for battery operated alarms, the battery itself is to be replaced every 6 months. But some battery operated smoke alarms never need replacing batteries. They use lithium batteries that will last about 7 years or so, which is about the lifetime of the smoke alarm itself. So you will never have to worry about changing the battery in those types of smoke alarms. Those lithium battery smoke alarms are not cheap, but when you think about the cost of replacing a 9 volt battery every 6 months for about 7 years, it does add up, making the lithium battery operated smoke alarm cheaper in the long run.

When you install a new smoke alarm, write the date on the alarm of the day that you installed it so you can check it in the future and can decide if it needs replacing as it nears its age.

Next, we will talk about Carbon Monoxide detectors. The presenter. who is a member of the Appleton Fire Department, also recommends that each home have one. It is also recommended that the carbon monoxide detector is one with a digital read out so you know exactly just how much carbon monoxide is present. If you get even a minuscule reading of carbon monoxide being present, investigate it right away. Don’t wait for the alarm to go off. Find out where the carbon monoxide is coming from and get it taken care off right away. The sooner, the better.

Carbon monoxide detectors with digital readouts are also great for the deaf and hard of hearing. They can monitor the readings and be ready to act if carbon monoxide is present.

For those of you with furnaces, it is recommended that you get your furnace checked at least once a year to make sure it is running smoothly and not giving off any carbon monoxide, which often called a silent killer for the reason in that you cannot see it or smell it. It can kill you if you don’t act right away. Again, do your research and choose a good detector that is best for your living situation. Don’t skimp on the cost. You get what you pay for.

For the deaf and hard of hearing, let’s talk about contacting emergency services. Some communities offer the option to text 911. But if texting 911 is not available in your area, there may also be a phone number available that you can text which will put you in contact with a 911 dispatcher. Check with your local emergency services if texting 911 or a different number is available in your area.

If texting is not possible and you can still speak, but cannot hear, the next best thing to do is to call 911, give it a few moments for the dispatcher to answer and then give as much information as you possibly can – your name, location, phone number, what is the emergency and any other information that you can think of. The more information, the better. Then try and remain at the location that you gave and wait for help if possible. Don’t worry that they won’t arrive. If the information that you gave them is accurate, they will come.

The meeting covered a lot more than this. If I wrote about everything discussed in the meeting, I would have to write a book πŸ˜€ But the topic of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and contacting emergency services were the main focus of this article. If you have any questions, comment below or send me a message on my Facebook page.

Until next time, stay tuned πŸ™‚

Why I Write When Advocating For The Deaf

I’ve been asked why I write instead of making videos such as those made by Rikki Poynter and Jessica Flores on YouTube when covering a topic advocating for the deaf.Β  I’ll list a few reasons.

1) I suck in front of the camera – I don’t have the skills yet to talk to a camera the way Rikki or Jessica could. Both of them are awesome. I did a practice video the other day and when I watched it, I was like, jeepers cripes, this is bad.

I’ll have to do a few dry runs before I can finally post my first video. Then hopefully, I’ll start posting videos.

2) Ease of editing when writing – With videos, it is a time consuming process when editing a video. One has to edit out some bad parts, add in some special effects, transcribe the video to make a subtitle file for closed captions, then add in the closed captions themselves. All of that takes a lot of work. I believe Rikki Poynter has said it can take a few days to edit one video.

When writing, however, all I have to do is type it up (I’m a very fast typist). No idea on my Words Per Minute (WPM), but I can type up an article in no time if I know what I’m writing about and do not have writer’s block. Then I just have to proof it and make corrections. Then I post it. A short article like this one can take me only a half hour or so from a blank slate to the published post.

That makes it convenient for me to post several articles a week whereas with videos, most YouTubers only upload their videos once or twice a week with the editing involved – if they don’t get burned out first.

3) I love to write – Writing is a hobby of mine. I love to write pretty much what’s on my mind. If I have an idea, I’ll put it down. My dream someday is to write a book about something and have it published. If I do that, I just have to decide what is worthy of writing a book.

4) Videos are not the only medium for deaf advocacy – There are also several other blogs out there such as Deafie Bloggger, which is an excellent blog about “about real life barriers, achievements and day to day struggles in a deaf person’s world!”

Deafieblogger is just one blog advocating for the deaf along with several others.Β  I’ll be putting together a blog roll and put them on the right side of this webpage in the near future.

Artwork is another way to advocate for the deaf. My two favorites right now are those done by Destiny Slater and Carlisle Robinson. Both of them are outstanding in their artwork advocating for the deaf. Check out their work and give them some mad props.

To sum it up, I suck at making a video, I love writing, it’s easy to edit an article compared to editing a video, and there are several mediums in which one can advocate for the deaf. Writing just happens to be my medium.

I hope that answers the question on why I write instead of making videos πŸ™‚

If you want to be notified of any updates to this website, follow me on my various social media platforms.

Until then, stay tuned πŸ™‚

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 specialΒ  – 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 aidΒ  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 πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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.Β  Thank you.

Please leave a comment or send feedback on my Facebook page πŸ™‚