Three years ago, I did a podcast for a class assignment. One of these podcasts was called ‘Misconceptions on Being deaf”. You can listen to it here. Since I did this podcast, I experienced several changes – namely graduating from school, entering the corporate world and meeting new people.
I wanted to revisit this topic because my new experiences allow me to provide more thought on several of the misconceptions I mentioned, and to add some new ones as well!
Misconception #1 – All deaf people know sign language
I mentioned this in my podcast, and that still rings true. When I meet new people, the first question they almost always ask is ‘do you know sign language?’ I don’t know sign language, but I do know some people with hearing loss that know sign language, and others that don’t.
I’m also aware of the controversy around sign language, and if it should be taught to those with hearing loss or not – but that’s a topic for another post.
I don’t know sign language because I was born to hearing parents, educated in a hearing school and became integrated in the hearing community. However, I did take several signing classes in university, but like learning other languages, I lost the ability to do it because I didn’t stick with it.
Knowing sign language depends on an individual’s interest and upbringing!
Misconception #2 – All deaf people can lip read
I am a great lip-reader, and often depend on it to get by in loud environments. My brother, who also has profound deafness, cannot lip-read to save his life. There are a lot of factors that come with the skill of lip reading, such as:
- How old they were when they lost their hearing
- If they depend on hearing aids and/or cochlear implants
- If they have any residual hearing
Using my brother and I as an example:
I lost my hearing completely at three years old. Hearing aids could not help. I depend entirely on my cochlear implant to hear and have no residual hearing when I take it off – which causes me to automatically defer to lip reading.
My brother lost most of his hearing by six years old. He wears a hearing aid on one ear and a cochlear implant on the other. He has some residual hearing when he takes both off and depends on that to get by.
Regardless, lip reading is difficult and not always accurate. It all varies on the different lip shapes and the way those lips move to form certain words! For an idea of what lip reading can be like, watch the video here.
Misconception #3 – Hearing aids and cochlear implants can make you hear normally
Over the three short years since I did that podcast, the software on my cochlear changed quite a bit! With new streaming technologies that can cause sounds to go from your phone straight to the cochlear, and settings that can help you tune out sounds in louder environments, the way I hear has changed.
Even with all of these changes, the technology still cannot mimic true and perfect hearing. Hearing aids and cochlear implants help people hear something – and how much a person hears with their devices depend on the type and degree of hearing loss someone has.
Like I said, hearing aids and cochlear implants cannot restore hearing or cure hearing loss, only help it.
Misconception #4 – Dating a deaf person is too complicated
This is a misconception that I ran into while I was giving online dating a try. I noticed that usually right after I reveal that I have hearing loss during my online chats, the other person would either end the conversation abruptly, or just stop replying.
Or, whenever someone asks me if my boyfriend is hard of hearing as well, and I say that he is not, I get asked, ‘how does he handle your hearing loss?’
This led me to assume that a lot of people thinking dating a deaf person is too complicated. No relationship is easy – it takes work. Like any other relationship, my boyfriend and I had to work on communication and ensuring that we were honest with each other every step of the way – for everything, including my hearing loss. That was never an active barrier between us.
What are some of the misconceptions that you have faced?