Hello! New here and need some advice, please.


New Member
Hi everyone. I'm Michael. I'm 33 years old, hearing, and am completely new to the Deaf/HH community. I am currently in Louisville, KY but lived in NYC and Chicago for many years studying theatre and experiencing life (sounds more glamorous than it actually was :). For many years I have wanted to go back to school but have never been able to settle on anything I would be interested in studying and investing my time and future into. A few months back I was listening to an episode of the Radiolab podcast called WORDS and the first segment was about a woman who lost her ability to read or understand the written word after a car accident (transcript here). One day she happened upon someone signing and she said that something clicked in her brain and that she somehow "understood" what they were doing. She learned the language and became an interpreter, later helping a 27 year old deaf man who couldn't speak or sign - no concept of language whatsoever - to learn to sign and communicate his thoughts to the world. This story had me in tears and I sat up WITH A JOLT. It was like I was struck by lightning. I decided then and there that that is what I would study in school. Luckily, the university in my city offers a bachelor degree program for ASL/IS.

Since then I've been watching many videos online and reading a lot about the deaf community and culture. I was/am really excited to start my program this spring. Now I'm starting to doubt myself. That is why I come to you guys and gals. Am I, as a 33 year old with no Deaf/HH friends or family and no experience with American Sign Language, an idiot to think that I can go to school at this point and come out in four years with a real grasp of the language? Enough to become an interpreter and make a living with it? At first I thought that my background in theatre (memorization, movement study, communication techniques) would help, as would my love for new languages and cultures. Now, I'm wondering if it is more something you should be doing from an early age and maybe I'm too old to learn something so complex?

Also, would I be welcomed into the community as such a newbie? What is the best and most respectful way for me to approach this?

Sorry for the long post (and sorry if it's mis-categorized) and thank you for any advice or thoughts.



Well-Known Member
It is never ever too late to learn. I knew of at least one guy I met at Gallaudet who was in his 30s when he attended Gally. He grew up oral and knew no signs. He did very well for himself- he married a woman who is deaf (no hearing aids) and relies mainly on ASL. I don't know what his signing is like now as I haven't seen him in over 25 years. Hm ironically enough-- his degree was in Graphic Arts or Art- just remembered after reading the other thread lol.

I don't think you'll have a problem being welcomed- respect others and they'll respect you right back.

I say go for it! I'm older and if it were not for a lack of money I'd be going back to college right now to get a second bachelor's if I could.


Retired Terp
Premium Member

You're not too old to learn if you're willing to make the extra effort to find and associate with your local Deaf community.

Keep a humble attitude, accept correction graciously, maintain a sense of humor and become interested in Deaf people as people, not as free ASL tutors or study subjects.

If at all possible, try to get Deaf instructors or at least CODA instructors for your ASL classes. For your interpreting classes, you should have instructors who are active in the field, and who have a varied background in their work. Pay attention to the cultural aspects of your lessons as much as the linguistic ones.

Theater training can be beneficial in interpreting, yes. Just don't go overboard. :lol:


Active Member
:welcome: to AllDeaf Forum. If you have experience in theater, then you can do the signing for the Deaf audience just like Reba said that you can interpret while performing in the play. You can join some Deaf theater where you can interpret while performing. It does work really well for us, Deaf audience, to be able to understand and be interest in the plays.

Always attend the Deaf class so that you get the hang of learning to sign ASL properly and study about Deaf Culture. No, it is never too late to learn. You learn every day of your life until death. For me, I love to learn, even at my age of 68 years old. I went two colleges in USA and one college in Canada. I have been going to another college (4th) for aerobic swimming here in New Mexico. I love to attend college. Still it is nice to learn what you can learn about jobs and interests. So no matter where you pick an interest up, you can enjoy learning and studying.

Enjoy reading and posting here. See you around here. :wave:


New Member
Hi - just thought you wrote such an interesting post, and I would like to send my best wishes from the UK - I strayed into your site by mistake but I find it full of enthusiasm and get up and go. I get a real buzz from reading all your "can do" stories. Good luck with the studies (I went to University when I was 40 and older than most of the tutors, but had a great time and got a degree!) t wishes, .dealdeaf


New Member
Yea, it is great to learn ASL and to meet deafies. I am a late deaf and learned ASL in my late 20s and I am still learning more signs each time with I meet someone who knows signs.