I got inspiration for this blog post from Rikki Poynter’s video, ‘Dating While Deaf.’ For those who don’t know who Rikki is, she’s a deaf YouTuber, a massive Pikachu fan, an advocate for closed captioning, and just an ordinary teenager like me!
As a person with hearing loss, there’s two sides to dating… being with a normal hearing person or with a deaf partner.
Personally, I’ve been in a deaf-hearing relationship before, and it didn’t work out. I wouldn’t say it was my deafness that ended it, as I am very capable in life with communicating, but I’d just like to point out that he could have been more understanding with my needs. (Like he didn’t get my attention when talking to me, or couldn’t be bothered to repeat what he said… so the whole thing didn’t work anyway.)
After this experience, I had doubts about whether I was ever going to be in a relationship again. I felt like all the boys my age were very judgmental and immature. At the time I also had this misconception that all deaf boys were signers, which worried me because I’ve never really interacted with deaf people before, so I felt that I wasn’t going to be able to communicate with them.
Learning sign language with your deaf or normal hearing baby
We started learning sign language as soon as we found out about Harry’s hearing loss.
Even though Harry has a cochlear implant and can hear our voices, we wanted him to know the basics of sign language for the future. Not only to better communicate with him, but also to be a part of the deaf community. He is still a deaf person after all, and he may very well have deaf friends who only use sign language to communicate.
Not only is sign language useful for children with hearing loss, but its also great for hearing children to learn as well. Even when they are very young, a baby’s motor skills and ability to make hand gestures are far more developed than their ability to speak, which makes it really very easy for them to learn the basics of sign language. You will be so shocked at how fast a little baby can start to copy different hand gestures, eventually realizing they can use their hands to tell you what they need! Imagine if your baby could tell you what they want via signing instead of screaming and wailing!
With help from our Teacher of the Deaf, Harry he had a whole range of signs he was using to communicate with us by the time he was around 9 months old.
We were still getting used to the fact we had a mini human who was awake most of the night when we found out that Harry was deaf. He was just 7 weeks old when he failed the Newborn Hearing Screening.
After a series of tests and a very intensive ABR he was confirmed as profoundly deaf with no threshold of hearing. The emotions hit us like a steam train and immediately we felt worried and scared for what the future would hold for our perfect baby boy. I remember that day so clearly; when my partner Scott and I held each other close and cried ourselves to sleep. We almost had to mourn what our idea of a perfect child was, and come around to the fact that our experience as first time parents was going to be a little different than what we had expected.
We spent a good few days feeling extremely upset and worried for our little chap. Our baby was the only deaf person we had ever met. It was a completely new thing to learn about. I started to panic when I left him alone to sleep, as I thought he would wake up and be scared because he couldn’t hear us. It took me a while to realize that actually Harry had never known any different, and he shouldn’t be scared because to him the world had always been silent.
It was as quick as the day after Harry’s diagnosis when we had a phone call from our local Teacher of the Deaf. The amount of information being fed to us was quite overwhelming, but comforting knowing a support system was already in place. She came over soon after to introduce herself, and we immediately felt confident that our son wasn’t going to be forgotten about or left behind. She explained that she would help us with his development from Day 1 until he finished his education, which filled us with hope and a lot more confidence than we had initially had.
Theater goers can attest, when one leaves a musical they often walk away with the show tunes stuck in their heads. But a new Broadway revival is leaving the opposite impression, with most of the focus solely on the actors; half of whom are deaf.
Deaf West Theater’s production of Spring Awakening, which opened in New York in September, stars eight deaf actors, eight hearing actors and seven onstage musicians, including Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Marelee Matlin.
At Phonak, we are committed to fighting the stigma attached to hearing loss, to tearing down barriers for the hearing-impaired and to finding new and innovative ways to help everyone reconnect to the beauty of sound. We also know that individuals play a strong role in breaking down those stigmas.
To celebrate those in our community who are being open and proud of their hearing situations, we’ve teamed up with some of our favorite Instagrammers, and asked them to capture their personality and signature looks, and show us what it really means to live with hearing loss.
Last week, we featured 20-year-old Eloise Garland, a music student from the UK.
She is an inspiration to many people – especially teens – with hearing loss, both in what she’s accomplished in her personal life, as well as the unique way she shows of her hearing aids with cool stickers and decorations that she sells on her Etsy.com store, Rainbow Tubes.
You can share your story with us too using the hashtag #lifeison on Instagram! Together we can break down the stigmas of hearing loss.
Imagine a world where every newly constructed building would include accommodations for those with hearing loss, including acoustically-friendly designs, captioning and the latest hearing assistive technology.
While it seems like a lofty goal, one 16-year-old from California is encouraging his community to do just that.
Johnny Butchko knows too well what it’s like to not be able to understand people in public spaces.
“Every day that I am in school I have difficulty hearing in the halls, the cafeteria and the courtyards, because there is a lot of background noise,” he said.
Johnny was born severe-to-profoundly deaf. Equipped with Phonak Naida Q 50 UP hearing aids, he uses an FM system and captioning in the classroom, and a caption phone at home, but in public spaces, the feeling of being lost in translation is all too common.
Since becoming the editor of this blog, one thing I’ve struggled with is the diversity of “hearing loss” experiences we would like to reflect. This is parallel with all the questions related to the minefield of hearing-related terminology, which we’ve touched upon in a couple of past articles. I actually drafted another article on the topic after Christina wrote hers about reclaiming the term “hearing impaired” for herself. But it’s been sitting there because I didn’t feel I was managing to get it right. And because I’m very much afraid of saying the wrong thing on a loaded topic (as I am with this very post).
In what I’ll call the “hearing loss spectrum”, for lack of a better expression, there is a reasonably obvious distinction, the importance of which was recently brought to my attention on a couple of occasions. Not that I wasn’t aware of it before, but I’ve come to a deeper understanding of it — and of its relevance to the editorial line of Open Ears (part of my job here).
The statistics are well-known. More than 1.1 billion people around the world are affected by hearing loss, but only one in five people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one. Ask anyone and they will probably either know someone with hearing loss, or have someone they know who could probably benefit from a hearing aid. But why is it that while people often recognize symptoms of hearing loss they rarely do anything about it? Continue reading ““Right Hear, Right Now”: Hearing Loss Awareness as Works of Art”
“Do you think that we could find a place that we can meet, not in silence and not in sound?”
James Leeds (William Hurt), a speech teacher, presents this question to Sarah Norman (Marlee Matlin), a deaf custodian, as they try to reconcile the differences between their worlds. While James demands Sarah to speak in the mainstream world, Sarah wants to represent herself with ASL– “her language”, as she says. After spending an entire relationship trying to force Sarah into English and “change [her] into a hearing person”, James finally accepts several important concepts.