Deaf ≠ Stupid/Funny

Do we get annoyed with blind people? No.
Do we get annoyed with physically crippled people? Not usually.
Do we get annoyed with deaf people? Yes.

Do we think it’s funny that a blind person cannot see, that a crippled person cannot move gracefully? No. Or maybe yes, to immature people.

Do we think it’s funny when a deaf person struggles to understand what they can barely hear? Yes. Do we think a deaf person is stupid? Sometimes.

Why?

My hearing began to diminish significantly when I was around age 60. I am now age 83 and cannot have a conversation unless I wear hearing aids of the latest electronic iteration. Even then, my understanding of the words issued by any interlocutor is dependent on the level of ambient noise, the breadth of sound waves issued by the speaker, how well the speaker enunciates and the volume level of her/his speech.

Louder is not necessarily better! Clarity, and the formation of words by the speaker’s lips are more important than volume, for I can read lips. I didn’t recognize I had this ability until many years into my advancing deafness.

Cochlea in the inner ear Credit: sciencesoup.tumblr.com/

Certain sounds are mostly unheard– sibilants and stridents: s/z/f/v. This is where lip-reading helps. Why can’t I hear these sounds? TINNITUS!

Don’t shout! It hurts. Many of the little hair cells in my cochlea are damaged—bruised—and they will never heal. Loud noises make me jump. This is funny to some people.

I avoid large gatherings of people who are socializing. Even well-hearing people have trouble in such venues. In a small group, if I ask for a certain phrase to be repeated for clarity, more than one person will respond, sometimes loudly, and I still don’t understand. I can interpret the sounds of only one person at a time. Even then, I don’t hear every sound correctly, but by engaging in interpolation, I can recognize what may be missing from the string of sounds, and simultaneously form words in my head that make sense with respect to other sounds. I have a large vocabulary and a good memory, so I can understand the meaning of what is being said to me, even if I really only hear, accurately, 80% of the sounds as they are intended by the emitter.

This is hard work, and I get tired. I’m a party pooper.

I am not looking for sympathy. I have lived with this disability a long time and don’t expect the world to change to accommodate me.

As with the author of the novel “Deaf Sentence” intends, I am looking to educate the reader in hope that deaf people, including me, will be better understood by their interlocutors.

Thanks for listening…

About Ron Pavellas

Expatriate American living in Sweden with wife. Retired from employment in the USA. Currently focused on blog articles, memoirs, and creative writing.
This entry was posted in tinnitus and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Deaf ≠ Stupid/Funny

  1. My wife speaks to me from another room without catching my attention first – it may well be on Higher Things. She assumes that I’m in denial about being deaf. I know what ‘being deaf’ might be like because I periodically have to have my ears syringed. It’s always been quite difficult to hear what somebody else is saying when they’re in another room!

    Like

    • Ron Pavellas says:

      My wife is, I suppose, like many people with a free-flowing consciousness. When a thought enters her mind she expresses it, wherever she is. I cannot know, when I hear the sound of her voice from another room, whether she is imparting important information, looking for a response, or thinking out loud–not expecting a response. So I grump and say “tell me directly, where I am.” I still have not learned not to respond, so that, if she does need a reply, she will come to me repeat the message.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. budbromley says:

    God bless you Ron and thanks for the wisdom expressed your writings here. We hear you through your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Vasil Georgiev says:

    Hi Ron, Thank you for your very interesting article. I like it very much as I’m the same as you are.By the way, do you have David Lodge’s book “Deaf Sentence”. If yes, I’m a candidate to read it. Thank you. Vasil

    Like

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