Read: Culture clash and communicative labour by Ben Fletcher (via Medium)

Posted on May 14, 2019 by


Ben Fletcher, who is the Principal Engineer at the Financial Times, has written an insightful article for Medium, about the culture clash a deaf person experiences and about having to become bilingual to fit in with the hearing world.

Here’s an extract. Read the full thing here.

There have been so many occasions when I have realised that my colleagues were surprised or dismayed at me not behaving like a hearing person, even when they know very well that I am Deafblind. One person submitted a formal complaint because I wore a baseball cap in the office. Without it, I could barely see my screen through the glare of the electric lighting. The person never thought to ask. She was very embarrassed when she found out. Other colleagues thought I’d had one too many because I have a slightly wobbly gait when I walk. Sorry guys — I’m not drunk, I’m Deaf! Just ask if you’re curious.

You may have heard of the concept of “emotional labour” — work that women are often expected to do in the home, such as thinking and planning housework, childcare, general life admin for their family. It occurred to me that Deaf people have a similar invisible burden: we have to manage a great deal of “communicative labour” alongside our actual work. We are, as I said, often “the only Deafie in the village” (or the office). We are in a misunderstood minority. For many colleagues, we may be the first and only Deaf person they will ever meet.

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