Mixed hearing/deaf at restaurants
After I had to stop taking ASL class due to work becoming crazy, I had the opportunity to start taking individual lessons from a Deaf tutor in the local Deaf community. Our lessons generally take place at restaurants.
This particular restaurant is one where my CAPD doesn't bother me much, so I understand close to 100% of what is being said. During our first lesson, I ordered my food using speech like I usually do, but the server seemed to have trouble communicating with my tutor. Instead of taking the time to communicate directly with my tutor, he kept trying to relay conversation through me! It was really frustrating, and I had to keep redirecting the man to talk directly to my tutor instead of me.
After discussing it with my tutor, I suggested something I had read in "Reading Between the Signs," a book on Deaf culture written for ASL interpreters. It suggested that when deaf and hearing go out to dinner together, hearing folks should avoid using voice. This creates an equal footing for all members of the group and does not establish any particular person as different than the others. People are treated equally and don't receive preferential treatment.
After our first lesson, we put this into practice, and it works splendidly. We both are treated equally; I don't receive preferential treatment.
However, I am highly aware of the fact that pretending to be Deaf is generally considered extremely rude in Deaf culture. As a result, I sometimes feel uncomfortable not using my voice as it could be seen as pretending to be deaf.
Once my tutor arrives, he takes charge of the situation, and I generally don't have to deal with the server except to order, so no voice is no big deal. But if I arrive early, I have to interact with the servers on my own, and I'm not sure whether I should use my voice or not, whether using it and then not using it might be considered "playing deaf" or something.
On a related note, when I was taking my ASL 1 class, our teacher asked us to do "no-voice labs," which our group took to mean 100% no voice. No speaking to restaurant servers, store clerks... nothing. We generally tried to explain to the staff of wherever we were that we were ASL students and not Deaf, but still...
Once we were done with ASL 1, we continued these meetups, but without the strict no-voice policy: We now would only use ASL internally within our group, and use speech to talk with people outside our group.
It is important to me to be respectful of Deaf people and Deaf culture, and I am curious to hear other perspectives on these things. Does this seem appropriate, or are there ways of handling these sorts of situations better?
Incidentally, while my tutor is Deaf, our ASL meetup group is not 100% hearing, either. One of the group is oral deaf/hard of hearing, another is late deafened/hard of hearing, and I have a CAPD, which makes me situationally hearing or hard of hearing. I'm not sure if any of this matters culturally, but I'm putting it out there anyways.