I have come across people who have a fixed idea of what a person with a disability should be. I have been dealing with them throughout my life, and only recently, I decided to clear up the stigma associated with the deaf in particular.
On the Freshers' Registration day at the university, the students with disabilities were escorted right away for the registration process. Since I did not have any visible disabilities, the person in charge of the registration asked me rather rudely “why are you here?” I replied, “I am here to register myself”. He told, “I do not see you having any disabilities”. I replied “Excuse me, I am deaf. Here is my doctor’s note for reference.”
Truth be told, my friends, deafness or being deaf is a hidden disability. It is not visible. With much thanks to the amazing forms of technology offered us, we can blend in well. However, because of the lack of awareness, people say things that can be quite rude and offensive. He dared to say, “Deaf people don’t talk. I don’t believe you.” In my lifetime, I have noted that many people have stereotypes regarding deafness. They might refuse to change their minds. It might take time- maybe months or years, for them to let go of their stereotypes.
At present, there are so many deaf children learning to talk by attending speech therapy. As more Deaf children learn to talk, the narrative of “Deaf people are unable to talk” would change to “Deaf people can talk, but we have to make some accommodations”.
The takeaway lesson from this is whatever thoughts you had about a person with a disability and how you perceived that person would not be the same. In other words, it is not what you think it is.
I am sure that many of you would have experienced this in your school life. At times when your class is so noisy, a teacher would come and make this remark- “Are you all deaf?” I feel that this is also a part of ignorance. I feel that people associate Deafness with being loud. Since we cannot hear, our pitch and tone go out of control. So we might come across as loud people. For that purpose, we attend speech therapy to control our pitch tone and work on the articulation of the sounds. There are times when I'm walking or doing my work that a person would try to get my attention by calling. I do not respond to it because I am so focused on reaching my destination or finishing my homework within a short time. Again, I come across as rude or proud. There are ways you can get the attention of a Deaf person- a slight pat on the shoulder would do for a start. There are several hidden disabilities, and Deafness is one of them. The takeaway lesson from this is whatever thoughts you had about a person with a disability and how you perceived that person would not be the same. In other words, it is not what you think it is. If people come to you asking for help or if they do not respond right away, stop assuming that the person is rude, proud or arrogant. Try to get to know them a little better, and it won't hurt to ask politely. We are always happy to talk to you about the things you don't know.