Rebecca-Anne Withey: How do us Deaf folk get away with being late? Let’s talk about ‘Deaf Time’…

Posted on February 12, 2017



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A friend of mine is notoriously late for everything. We laugh about it and we wind her up but she just can’t help it.

Punctuality and her just don’t gel… It’s probably lucky that she’s an artist and forgiven for her terrible time keeping, it’s “part of the trade” she insists “we don’t follow clocks, we flow, we move according to our internal rhythm.”

And I like that. But I’ve been told I can also get away with being reasonably late too, because – apparently – it’s a ‘deaf thing.’

Spend some time with the deaf community and you’re bound to come across the phrase ‘deaf time.’

This loosely translates to – in my definition – deaf time: being usually late but normally with a good and/or interesting  excuse. Is awfully charming with the lateness so is difficult to stay mad at. 

My hearing family didn’t believe me when I first told them it’s actually a thing but aside from being a bit of a joke and a ‘deaf-card’ to get you out of trouble, I actually think that being deaf does give you legitimate reasons for certain episodes of lateness.

And I don’t mean it in a silly “my chicken was ill” kind of way – but I’ve noticed that certain things do take longer to do because of my deafness.

Phone calls. They take longer to connect. Sometimes you have to “explain text relay” or deal with numerous hanger-uppers that aren’t familiar with Typetalk and mistake you for a cold caller. And let’s face it not all of us can type as quickly as we sign/speak.

Shopping trips. Especially with little ones in tow, that tap you and make you stop to lipread them. Using our eyes for everything we can’t multitask chit chat with shopping, it all takes longer.

Appointments of any kind. Whether we are using a communicator, interpreter or just plain old lip reading, the majority of us will take our time to make sure we are understood and also clear about what’s being said. It’s a different pace so we should allow more time.

Socialising. The deaf community don’t always see each other often; we are spread across the country. And we do miss our tribe. So when we do catch up, we catch up hard. So much to chat about, so little time!

Eating. Going out for a meal with my deaf friends / family usually lasts hours. We like to pause between courses, eating at a stop/sign/start rhythm (it’s rude to sign with your mouth full) and more often than not our food does end up cold.

Being immersed in something visually does mean you can lose track of time. So next time you’re a little late for something, providing you’re not just milking it, you might just have a viable reason.

Its deaf time. 

But don’t push it. We don’t want to get a bad name for it do we?

What makes you guys late?

Read more of Rebecca’s articles for us here.

Rebecca Anne Withey is a freelance writer with a background in Performing Arts & Holistic health. 

She is also profoundly deaf, a sign language user and pretty great lipreader. 

Her holistic practices and qualifications include Mindfulness, Professional Relaxation Therapy, Crystal Therapy and Reiki. 

She writes on varied topics close to her heart in the hope that they may serve to inspire others.

The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.  Find out how to write for us by clicking here, how to follow us by clicking here, and read our disclaimer here.

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