by Laura KOschuk
(Florida, United States)
I teach American Sign Language Privately and tutor it at a state college. I lost my hearing several years ago. I have met with a multitude of responses to me in my deaf community. Some feel I am not truly Deaf because I did not grow up Deaf. Others have said I don’t count that I am too English because I lost my hearing as an adult. I don’t tell people anymore that I lost my hearing as an adult. I found that if I just say I lost my hearing gradually, I have less prejudice against me. Still others who know me don’t care. I have friends that are Deaf and friends that are deaf. I understand and teach three dialects of sign language here in the United States. We require our ASL students to spend a minimum of five hours deaf interacting with the world and they must attend deaf events and activities. This gives them a variety of experiences and a better understanding of deaf culture and life. While this barely touches the depth of the culture it gives some insight.
I have gone out with my husband to restaurants and because I am deaf and he is not I have had servers ignore me and some try very hard to communicate with me. I do read lips but when I go out alone or am in a new situation I don’t even try. I can speak because I lost my hearing as an adult and if I speak it complicates the interactions I have with hearing people. I have been accused of lying about being deaf because I can speak, Or in some cases people have been upset with me because if I lip read it isn’t perfect. There are a lot of misconceptions about deaf people and I find that everyday I end up educating someone. Being deaf and living in the hearing community is exhausting.
I hope this information and shared experience will help someone.