Remembering Deaf people in a hearing world

The views expressed in the following article are the opinion of the writer and do not reflect the opinions of the Newswire staff as a whole.

Have you ever met a Deaf person? If so, how well were you able to communicate with that person? Did you struggle to understand them and communicate what you were saying? Do you interact with this person on a regular basis?

Deaf people struggle to communicate with hearing people every day. Many don’t realize that hearing people have a privilege. We can eavesdrop on conversations, hear fire alarms and easily communicate with a vast majority of the people around us. Deaf people are blamed for not being able to communicate with hearing people. They’re labeled as stupid or disabled. That’s not the case.

Many don’t realize that Deaf people have their own culture, one that is alive and vibrant. Deaf people have their own customs, their own art and their own beliefs that differ from those of their hearing peers. But Deaf people have one thing in common: sign language.

90 percent of Deaf people are born to hearing parents. Of that 90 percent, only 10 percent of hearing parents learn sign language to communicate with their children. This means that 90 percent of Deaf children born to hearing parents cannot communicate with their parents, causing them to have no language when they reach school age. This can be very detrimental to their educational development.

Many Deaf people are not close with family members because of this and have alternatively found a home within the Deaf community. This is the reason why preservation of the Deaf community is so important. Deaf people are scared of their culture dying out through the advancement of technology. Genetic engineers are working to prevent deafness, which would cause the whole community and culture to become obsolete. Many Deaf people feel a deep connection to their culture, just like any other person, and the idea of their culture disappearing is scary.

If you have a Deaf child, please teach them sign language. It may be hard at times, but it’s essential in order to give your child the best shot at life. They need both the hearing culture and Deaf culture to reach their full potential.

I’ve heard so many stories from Deaf individuals of what has happened to them when workers at different places find out they’re deaf. My professor was brought a wheelchair at the airport, as if it were his legs that didn’t work instead of his ears. Another girl explained to a waitress that she was deaf, and the waitress brought her a menu in Braille. Hearing people need to do better at understanding the Deaf community and how to best interact with these people. Above all else, they are people who want to be understood just like everyone else.

They need resources in order to live to their fullest potentials, yet many don’t receive what they need. Technologies such as cochlear implants and hearing aids can cost thousands, and they aren’t always covered by insurance. Residential schools specifically for Deaf children are privatized and can have high tuition prices.

My uncle is hard of hearing: He has 30 percent of hearing in his left ear and none in his right ear. He gets through life by reading lips, but for the most part, he cannot hear you. He and his mother have told stories of fighting the public school system to get him an interpreter. The school told them multiple times that my uncle wasn’t “deaf enough” for an interpreter, and he suffered for it.

Deaf people deserve to be understood and given the same opportunities as hearing people. They are our brothers and sisters, our fellow humans. Don’t be afraid of Deaf people. Instead, do your best to understand them and remember them. They deserve to be as successful as they can be, just like you do.

Hannah Schulz is a DIFT major and deaf studies minor from Cincinnati. She is the Head Copy Editor for the Newswire.