Giving a talk to a college sign language club tonight - critique my topics?

ksbsnowowl

New Member
Tonight my wife (deaf) and myself (hearing) are giving a talk to a local college Sign Language Club, of which my cousin (hearing) is the president.

My wife is planning to talk about technology, such as TTY, videophones, texting, captioned movies, etc, and the effect and assistance it has given to members of Deaf culture.

I'm going to talk about deaf-hearing relationships, and the differences (both positive and negative) between them and hearing relationships. I might also touch on a few basics of deaf culture (and my experience in it) if there is time at the end.

Here are my few basic points I was thinking of talking about; any critiques or ideas for expanding or adding points to these would be greatly appreciated.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Deaf-Hearing Relationships: the good things

1. Your relationship is more intimate

After having been in a relationship like this, I don't think I would ever be satisfied with a hearing woman (if, for example, my wife were to die and I tried to get remarried).

2. It's fun and satisfying being able to talk about anything, and I mean ANYTHING, pretty much anywhere you want to.

3. You don't have to act like a fool and yell to your spouse from across the parkinglot - Just wave your arms and sign really big.

Deaf-Hearing Relationships: the everyday things

1. I am not my wife's interpreter, but I often do find myself interpreting for her.

Going to the movies (without captions) and going to church are two of the main ones. Movie theaters and churches typically do not have interpreters, so I've had to get good at listening and enjoying the movie/sermon with one quarter of my brain, and using the other 3/4 to interpret for my wife. (But hey, it forces me to pay attention in church...)

2. Social situations

A. If we go to a deaf party, I can usually hold my own, but there are times when my wife has to interpret for me. Even though I am fluent, the vast majority of my exposure to sign language is through my wife and her mom; there are still signs I've never seen before.

B. If we get together with hearing friends, interpreting falls to me. Often at a dinner it will take me two or three times as long to finish my meal, because I'm busy interpreting back and forth. As good as their intentions to learn sign language may be, most hearing people do not have the time, initiative, or continued exposure to a regular signer required to become fluent in sign language.

i. If any of you truly want to become good at sign language, you need to have a friend or coworker who uses it around you every day. It is very hard to become good at it unless you are forced to use it. (Some college courses can achieve this - the teacher does not talk in class...)

Deaf-Hearing Relationships: the down side

1. Being the hearing member of a deaf-hearing relationship is lonely.

You find that you have fewer friends than a "normal" hearing couple might have, simply because your deaf partner's friends (primarily), and to some extent your own friends (secondarily) are limited. They are limited by which individuals are willing to take the time to learn Sign, or at least take the added time to sit and write with you, instead of choosing to invest their time in "easier" hearing relationships.

2. Communication can be frustrating.

Deaf-Hearing relationships can work, but they take a lot of "extra" work, especially in the field of communication. Misunderstandings will occur, and both sides need to have patience to make sure they understand what the other is trying to say.

When someone is pissed off, they want to vent in rapid-fire-succession. When one of the people in the argument isn't a native speaker of the language the argument is occuring in... Often the deaf person in the relationship has to make an extra effort to calm and slow down, repeating things for their dimwhitted spouse despite the urge and desire to rip them a new one...

3. Rate of failure.

Deaf-Hearing marriages have a 90% divorce rate. Among liberal deaf-hearing relationships it is closer to 95%, while in conservative deaf-hearing relationships the number is around 70%.

(PS - if anyone can confirm those numbers, I would be appreciative)

Deaf-Hearing marriages can work, however. My wife's parents (deaf mom, hearing dad) have been married for 27 (?) years last month. They just take a lot of patience, work, and commitment.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

As I said, any thoughts or ideas for expanding on or adding a relevant point would be greatly appreciated. I want to be informative, but I want to give a truthful look at deaf-hearing relationships. Perhaps someone has a pertinant point from their own experience that I myself have not yet encountered.

Thanks again.
 

AlleyCat

Well-Known Member
Deaf-Hearing Relationships: the down side

1. Being the hearing member of a deaf-hearing relationship is lonely.

You find that you have fewer friends than a "normal" hearing couple might have, simply because your deaf partner's friends (primarily), and to some extent your own friends (secondarily) are limited. They are limited by which individuals are willing to take the time to learn Sign, or at least take the added time to sit and write with you, instead of choosing to invest their time in "easier" hearing relationships.

I could really identify with much of what you said. I have been deaf all my life. I was married to a deaf man for 13 years. Communication is always going to be easier in a deaf-deaf relationship (and a hearing-hearing relationship.)

My ex-husband and I divorced recently and I've been back in the "dating world" again. All of the guys I've dated since the divorce are hearing. And I can tell you, being the deaf member of any deaf-hearing relationship I've been in since the divorce has been very lonely. Anytime I'm with a hearing guy in a hearing setting, I am the one that sits quietly when my date is busy. Whether it's because he's answering a phone call and I don't know what's being said (not that it's any of my business, but any hearing person sitting across from him could hear at least his half of the conversation), whether it's that we are at a party and friends surround him and start chatting away, whether we're at a dinner party and my date makes an attempt to interpret (which they've been great about doing) but there's a lot of aside conversations happening all at once that I can't participate in, and so on. I could make a huge long list.

Because! As a hearing person that knows sign language, you will always have two forms of communication -- speaking, and signing. As a deaf person, I have one form of communication. Signing. So even when you are thrown in a situation that is deaf -- whether you're at a party with all deaf people, etc., you still have the ability to grasp what's being said (since you said yourself you can sign fluently) and participate, even if it's somewhat limited. I will never experience a sudden burst of hearing and be able to participate freely in a hearing setting without some help. So I'm often left alone feeling like a fool.

I'm not criticizing what you've said about feeling lonely as the hearing person. All I'm saying here is that the deaf person in any deaf-hearing relationship also feels very lonely a very large part of the time. Probably far more so than any hearing person in a deaf-hearing relationship will ever feel.
 

ksbsnowowl

New Member
I'm not criticizing what you've said about feeling lonely as the hearing person. All I'm saying here is that the deaf person in any deaf-hearing relationship also feels very lonely a very large part of the time. Probably far more so than any hearing person in a deaf-hearing relationship will ever feel.
No worries. I do realize the solitude and "apartness" that deaf individuals feel in a hearing world, and I by no means am trying to downplay it. I will probably bring it up as an aside to that main point tonight. I'm just pointing out my experiences as a hearing man in a deaf relationship for this group of 30 or so hearing college students.

It would be good to point out though, that it is lonely for both sides, as both are trying to function in a combined world, and more often than not, the deaf person gets "dragged" into the hearing world. (Although in my case, it's not really my doing - my wife has been more hearing-culture involved her whole life, in large part because her father and all her living siblings are hearing. There have even been times when other Deaf didn't believe that she was deaf herself...)
 

Dennis

New Member
Well, cool, there's a fellow "City of Fountains" member here. UMKC? JCCC? MWCC?

I was in an opposite relationship -- hearing female, deaf male -- and I disagree with the social aspect. While both of us were in college, it was extremely easy to socialize with each other's friends -- both were very willing to communicate. However, after I left college and moved to the midwest, it became much harder for her -- I met many more people who were closed minded or afraid or unwilling to work harder to communicate. Most of "our friends" were my friends and her friends were separate, exclusive. I believe part of that led to our breakup, but that's just my thinking post-college.
 

Tousi

Well-Known Member
I think this is cool; however, the item you are "relegating to the end if there's time" should be the most important.
 

ksbsnowowl

New Member
I think this is cool; however, the item you are "relegating to the end if there's time" should be the most important.
Well, my wife might cover the basics of deaf culture, and would be a better source for it anyway. Although I have been to parties and hung out with groups of Deaf, I am by no means immersed in Deaf Culture.

Also, we're coming in to speak mainly because of our experiences. Generallizations about Deaf Culture as a whole can be gleaned from books or the 'net. I'm also pretty sure my cousin has been touching on deaf culture over the past several weeks. I am meeting with her for dinner before the meeting tonight, so I'll make it a point to find out what she's already covered in that regard. But thank you for pointing out where I might place some more emphasis.
 

pek1

New Member
I could really identify with much of what you said. I have been deaf all my life. I was married to a deaf man for 13 years. Communication is always going to be easier in a deaf-deaf relationship (and a hearing-hearing relationship.)

My ex-husband and I divorced recently and I've been back in the "dating world" again. All of the guys I've dated since the divorce are hearing. And I can tell you, being the deaf member of any deaf-hearing relationship I've been in since the divorce has been very lonely. Anytime I'm with a hearing guy in a hearing setting, I am the one that sits quietly when my date is busy. Whether it's because he's answering a phone call and I don't know what's being said (not that it's any of my business, but any hearing person sitting across from him could hear at least his half of the conversation), whether it's that we are at a party and friends surround him and start chatting away, whether we're at a dinner party and my date makes an attempt to interpret (which they've been great about doing) but there's a lot of aside conversations happening all at once that I can't participate in, and so on. I could make a huge long list.

Because! As a hearing person that knows sign language, you will always have two forms of communication -- speaking, and signing. As a deaf person, I have one form of communication. Signing. So even when you are thrown in a situation that is deaf -- whether you're at a party with all deaf people, etc., you still have the ability to grasp what's being said (since you said yourself you can sign fluently) and participate, even if it's somewhat limited. I will never experience a sudden burst of hearing and be able to participate freely in a hearing setting without some help. So I'm often left alone feeling like a fool.

I'm not criticizing what you've said about feeling lonely as the hearing person. All I'm saying here is that the deaf person in any deaf-hearing relationship also feels very lonely a very large part of the time. Probably far more so than any hearing person in a deaf-hearing relationship will ever feel.

AllyCat,

As a deaf person but speech is primary, it's unbelieveably lonely for me. Even though I have a hearing dog, I still feel like I'm some sort of freak show sometimes when people point and stare or they can't believe a dog is in the same business they're in and can actually act better than, not only themselves, but their kids as well.

Don't feel like a fool, because you are not. I'm hoping to attend Gallaudet in January, even though I'm way older than most of the other students. My hearing is going and I need to learn more than the one year of asl I had here at my university. As for feeling like a fool and left out, rest assured if you were with me, you would not be left out of anything; you were, as well as I, ignored. You deserve better.
 

pek1

New Member
No worries. I do realize the solitude and "apartness" that deaf individuals feel in a hearing world . . . the deaf person gets "dragged" into the hearing world. (Although in my case, it's not really my doing - my wife has been more hearing-culture involved her whole life, in large part because her father and all her living siblings are hearing. There have even been times when other Deaf didn't believe that she was deaf herself...)

Sorry for the edit. I identify with your wife, as other deaf here in my area won't associate with me because I'm too oral. That and I have a hearing dog. Go figure. :roll:
 

jillio

New Member
Well, cool, there's a fellow "City of Fountains" member here. UMKC? JCCC? MWCC?

I was in an opposite relationship -- hearing female, deaf male -- and I disagree with the social aspect. While both of us were in college, it was extremely easy to socialize with each other's friends -- both were very willing to communicate. However, after I left college and moved to the midwest, it became much harder for her -- I met many more people who were closed minded or afraid or unwilling to work harder to communicate. Most of "our friends" were my friends and her friends were separate, exclusive. I believe part of that led to our breakup, but that's just my thinking post-college.

JMO, but a college campus is generally more accepting of diversity than society at large. Much more openmindedness.
 

ksbsnowowl

New Member
Well, I'm giving the talk in an hour and a half - wish me luck.

PS - to those from KC, I grew up there, but went to college north of Milwaukee, WI, where I met my wife and now live and work. Wow, that's a run-on sentence for you!
 

pek1

New Member
Well, I'm giving the talk in an hour and a half - wish me luck.

PS - to those from KC, I grew up there, but went to college north of Milwaukee, WI, where I met my wife and now live and work. Wow, that's a run-on sentence for you!

We can discuss your grammar and punctuation later, if you'd like. I'm sure shel and jillio would like to comment before I do, as they're educators and I'm a writer.
 
Top