It is a phrase that most Deaf/ Hard of hearing hates to hear. We love to take part in conversations or group talks. We frequently are told, “nevermind, I will tell you later.” or “wait a minute, I shall tell you. It is not important.” when we ask them to repeat themselves. Hearing this phrase makes me feel excluded from group conversations or even personal talks.
Amidst the conversation flow and the laughter that follows in a group conversation, I have always been a passive participant. At first, I could understand what was said, but later on, I can not understand because to me, conversations are like missiles firing from all directions, you are struggling to stay above the water gasping for a breath of relief. When I ask someone to fill me in, I am repeatedly told, “I will tell you later, it is not important.”
During my adolescent times, I have continuously dealt with exclusion in any conversation to the point it made me feel very introverted. Do not get me wrong I had an incredible group of friends and family. But they were not aware that this phrase was affecting me a lot. Over the years, I have learned to cope up with this phrase and deal with exclusion.
At times, it is the small nothings that allow people to open up and connect. Not some formal conversation.
Although I have outgrown from being hurt by this phrase, I also have come up with coping strategies, so I do not miss out on any vital information. In academic settings, we mainly deal with group projects and presentations. The first thing I ask my team members is to create a group on WhatsApp or any social media. It would be easier for me to recognize what is said. In class, a member of my team briefs me on what we will do, and I give my ideas. In informal settings, I pretty much do my own thing, knowing that people would repeat this phrase later on.
It is not so hard to repeat yourself or write it on a piece of paper, type in your phone rather than dismissing the deaf/ Hard of a Hearing person by saying, “I will tell you later.” it is more likely that you might forget it later on. We have the right to know if it is necessary or not. It is not up to you to decide if it is relevant or not. We also have the right to belong. At times, it is the small nothings that allow people to open up and connect. Not some formal conversation.
On the other hand, I understand people have to stop in the middle of the conversation, repeat themselves, and have patience too. It slows down the flow of the conversation and dampens the mood. I think that’s why people hate doing it and tell this phrase so they can carry on with their conversation. But just as dismissing the Deaf person, it is equally rude and offensive.
I thank these people for their effort and know that I value their relationship.
As I grow older, I learn my limits up to where I can function. I come up with my coping strategies if I have to do it. It is so exhausting to navigate group conversation, social parties, and whatnot. Amidst this chaotic world, I have come across amazing individuals who have graciously shown me patience, repeated themselves, who have kept talking to me regardless of the extra effort it takes to keep the conversation flow smoothly. They have been willing to work through, come up with creative methods to communicate with me. I have had a handful of people who repeat or rephrase before I even ask for it. I thank these people for their effort and know that I value their relationship.