Sister's deaf boyfriend and see

I joined this site just for help. I've asked other places and can't get anything back.

My sister is profoundly deaf and her boyfriend is Deaf. She went deaf later in life and is still adjusting to environments with a lot of hearing people and not being able to understand what's going on. My mother and I are the only ones that sign. Most of my family speaks Italian, which my sister knows. My sister's bf was very upset becase I was using simcom and what was essentially SEE at Thanksgiving. I find it easier when speaking Italian to sign ASL in Italian grammar, which my sister gets. He was very angry and while I COMPLETELY understand that SEE and simcom are broken ASL I explained to him that I do this for my sister because she does not want to be left out of conversations but that I also shouldn't be left out of conversations to translate for her because I'm not her personal interpreter. Is there a better way to handle things or should I just accept that he is going to be angry? As you can imagine, with my family being Italian, the environment is very loud and has lots of active conversations. I honestly don't know what he expects for my mother and I to do. We are still navigating this new world. We use voice off ASL when alone but I now feel confused and upset. ASL is my 5th language. I think people expect way too much out of multilingual individuals and I'm not a machine. I can only do so much at a time. Especially as a fairly new ASL speaker (3 years).


Well-Known Member
welcome to alldeaf to express your story about you and your family included your sister. her boyfriend is hearing? i understand that your italian culture very well to outspoken. i guessed your sister's boyfriend doesn't know about deaf and italian culture very well... maybe you all give him a time to teach about it.... wish you all the best. again, welcome to Alldeaf and we will give our feedback if you need .


Active Member
According to the OP statement, the boyfriend is Deaf (deaf ASL user).

Personally I am thrilled at any effort to include me in the conversation. It seems like you were signing more of PSE rather than true SEE. Most ASL users can understand PSE even if ASL is preferred.

I think you should discuss it with your sister. Either she can talk to her boyfriend or the three of you can discuss it together about you role at large gatherings and the need to code switch in those instances.

What some people do for large family gatherings is families will hire an interpreter so everyone can participate in the conversation and none of the guests are stuck in an interpreter role. This may not be possible or affordable for everyone. If it is done, the burden of payment should be shared - after all you are not a business that is required to provide interpreter services.


Well-Known Member
As Zephren said-- it sounds more like you are signing PSE. Maybe the boyfriend doesn't understand the fact that you are speaking Italian at the same time while signing and using "Italian format" so that your sister understands it better. With that format it technically isn't SEE.

Maybe sitting down with your sister, mother and boyfriend to work this out and explain how things work would be best. You didn't say how long she's been dating her boyfriend.. if it was after y'all started signing and and doing what you do now for sister... then he really doesn't have a horse in this race (or a say really). If he can't accept that that is how it is done for YOUR family...there's bigger problems.


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Premium Member
Seems to me the boyfriend feels "entitled"...we know that at family gatherings and there is only 1's hard to tell us everything that is being said....
He is acting like he is entitled which nobody is! I think he should be happy that you and your mom are even trying when you really don't have to!

RedRum, Thanks for trying to be there for your sister and doing your best. I know it is not easy but I have no doubt your sister appreciates it. If her boyfriend has a problem, then that is HIS problem, not yours.

By the way, Interesting screename. Got it from a movie?? :)


Well-Known Member
Wow. I think the boyfriend needs to lighten up. I wonder if your sister lets him talk to you like that. If he keeps doing it, then it is time to ditch him. The three of you need to talk and work it out together. If he won't compromise, it raises the red flag. :/
The bf doesn't have any right to be upset about how your family, in your family home, communicates. Lots of families have their own communication style, even hearing people have inside words and different meanings for things that outsiders would have trouble understanding. What it indicates to me is a huge, red flag of a control freak. I'd be more concerned about how this person treats your sister after this.