Teresa Garratty: When is the right time to tell someone that you’re deaf?

Posted on October 4, 2017

If you’ve read any of my articles before, you may have noticed that I have a slight aversion to the general population.

But you can’t get through life without meeting a few new people and to be honest, I guess some of them aren’t so bad.

I recently had to meet with someone new for a work thing and I mean completely new. I didn’t know him, he didn’t know me, we didn’t know anyone who knew each other. I had just responded to a job query and that’s it.

Then, because he was hearing and I practically invented over-thinking, I then deliberated when would be the best time to “disclose” the fact that I’m severely deaf.

It might be simple for some of you, perhaps it’s something obvious that doesn’t need an introduction, but (without boring you with my full medical history) I speak quite clearly and read lips A LOT, so I’m a bit of an incognito deafie.

Perhaps I should have told him via emails, when I first introduced my self. It might have made me seem confident and self assured…but then again, it might have given him an excuse to not meet with me at all.

A lot of people have never met a deaf person, so they have a lot of false pre conceptions. Sometimes they think what they do is “for the best”, without realising there are many other possibilities.

So I bailed on that idea and thought that it might be better to drop it into conversation when we actually met and he had no way of escaping.

But how do you do that naturally? With charm and grace? And without making it seem like a big deal? I’m the type of person who’s more likely to just blurt it out during a completely unrelated question.

I wondered if maybe I shouldn’t have to tell him. If I could manage our conversations just fine, perhaps it was best to just leave it and not make an issue out of it at all. Not to hide my deafness necessarily, but to just let it be.

That’s kind of what I went with and it was going quite well…until he started talking as he was walking away from me and I started sweating bullets…

…and then since it was such a nice day, we had our meeting outside, directly underneath the flight path of every air craft in London.

In the end, I didn’t tell him. It just didn’t ever seem to fit smoothly into the topics we were discussing. That’s not to say he didn’t notice. Maybe he caught a glimpse of my hearing aids, maybe I asked for repetition one too many times or maybe he googled my name and has read all of these ridiculous articles. Oh god.

So what do you go for when meeting new people? Is full disclosure best or is it no ones business but yours? Don’t forget, it can work both ways, these don’t just apply to meeting hearing people. It can happen with other fellow deafies too! Yep, been there!

Maybe I should just go and get it tattooed to my forehead, that’s socially acceptable right?

Read more of Teresa’s posts (with cartoons!) by clicking here.

Teresa is a freelance film maker, photographer and full time cynic. At school, she was voted “Most likely to end up in a lunatic asylum”, a fate which has thus far been avoided. Her pet hates are telephones, intercoms and all living things. Follow her on Twitter as @TGarratty

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.

The site exists thanks to our supporters. Check them out below:


Posted in: teresa garratty