Charlie Swinbourne: Things that only happen to deaf people

Posted on May 14, 2012

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Whether you’re a signer, a lipreader, a hearing aid wearer or a cochlear implant user, or maybe a bit of each of those (and some other things too), there are some things that truly only happen to a deaf person. Things that simply don’t happen to everyone else. Here’s my long-held list below. How many have happened to you?

When you tell people you are deaf, they ask if you understand Braille.

You are forced to remove six-month old bits of food from your Textphone every time you make a phone call.

You curse your mobile phone’s auto correct function when you tell people that you’re “profoundly dead.”

Once in a while, you lose your hearing aids and spend the morning searching for them, before discovering them in the pocket of the trousers you are currently wearing.

At an audiology appointment, you try to *beat* the audiologist by watching them moving their hands on the dial. This makes them irate.

You go to a deaf party just for the warm embrace of a hundred ‘deaf hugs.’

When you get bored, you sometimes watch the live subtitling mistakes on Sky News for comedy value.

Your hearing aid batteries run out during a weekend away with your partner’s (hearing) relatives. You go to bed at 8pm every night out of sheer exhaustion from lipreading all day.

When you tell people you are deaf, they SHOUT at you. You don’t mind, even though it makes it harder to understand them, but the other people in the shop look concerned.

You are told by Deaf people – in a group situation – that you’ve put on a lot of weight recently. Everyone nods. This is completely ok.

Hearing people tell you that they understand your deafness because they had a deaf dog once. Who was later put down.

You have scars on your forehead from bumping into lampposts in the street as you walk and sign.

Hearing people you meet always show you the sign for bull****. You smile politely, but secretly wish you could show them an even ruder sign in reply.

You wake up on a long train journey to find all the passengers have changed and the train has arrived at the wrong destination.

You worry that the audiologist knows how much you love them piping goo into your ears when you have new earmoulds made. And that they’re enjoying it too.

The ’8′ button on your old TV remote control was completely worn out from turning the subtitles on (by pressing 888).

You are regularly followed around by young children in shopping malls because they’re intrigued by your hearing aids.

You play the ‘deaf card’ in order to get onto the plane before everyone else. You feel slightly embarrassed as you overtake frail old people and families with children to take your seat on the plane. Then you get over it.

Despite changing your voice answerphone message so it tells people that you are deaf and they should text or email you, they STILL leave a voice message. That you can’t hear. (via Julia Cannings)

When you tell people you are deaf, they speak to the person next to you instead. Even when they’re not necessarily your interpreter. (via Ceilidh O’Sullivan aka @deafuganda)

You don’t quite hear the question you’re asked at the airport check-in desk, so you take a wild guess and answer “yes.” As you see armed police storming towards you, it hits you that the question was “are you carrying explosives?” (via Louise Moody aka @louisemoody)

Charlie Swinbourne is a partially deaf journalist and scriptwriter, as well as the editor of The Limping Chicken.

The Limping Chicken is supported by Deaf media company Remark!, training and consultancy Deafworks, and provider of sign language services Deaf Umbrella.