The Deaf accent: Why do you talk differently?

Meeting an unfamiliar person for the first time brings out some funny moments. The person always poses a question I hear every time I finish speaking a sentence or two. "Where are you from?" he or she asks me. Upon questioning them further, they always reply, "the way you speak is different." I tempted to concoct a story of me traveling to faraway lands.


Let us get on with the nitty-gritty details on differentiating between the two types of losses. Postlingual deafness, people who lose their hearing gradually in life. He/she would have acquired speech, and it does not affect their speech production. They have their challenges to adapt after their hearing loss. They understand the articulation of sounds. Whereas, people unable to hear since birth falls into the category of prelingual deafness. It will affect their speech perception.


I have encountered funny moments, and I think it is an impressive way to break the ice.

But in reality, deafness affects our speech production. The tone of how we speak might differ from people who have lost their hearing from birth or while growing up. Since I can not hear, my pitch and tone may be off in some situations. There are cases I may talk quickly or softly and in a monotone voice. To make you all understand, I would have to slow down and pronounce each word with the right pitch.


From my experience, the way I speak depends on the environment. When I am stressed, I talk faster, but my voice becomes soft. On the days I am too excited, I speak loudly, my family members and friends would remind me I am loud. The day before the presentations or speech, I would practice my pitch, maintaining the volume and pronunciation repeatedly until it gets stored in my auditory memory. My pitch and volume are never stable, it varies day by day.


It has taken a child a lifetime to learn to speak despite his hearing loss. That is a colossal achievement.

I have encountered funny moments, and I think it is an impressive way to break the ice. It allows me to explain about deafness. I am upfront when I have the chance to clarify something related to my deafness. There have been many instances where people ignored me while talking to them. Perhaps I was too fast for them to follow, or too soft. Who knows? This is where speech therapy comes in. Deaf/ Hard of hearing children go through speech therapy to learn to pronounce sounds, pitch, and maintain the same volume while speaking. Even as an adult, I continue to get help to control my pitch and volume.


It has taken a child a lifetime to learn to speak despite his hearing loss. That is a colossal achievement. As individuals interested in creating an inclusive society, we have to show patience and acceptance. Not mock them for the way they speak. It takes a team of people, the parents, child, and the speech therapist to work harder to reach the goal where the child can talk for others to understand his/her speech.

 

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