Being a deaf teen can be hard. It’s easy to feel as though the people around you don’t understand the world that you experience and the challenges that you’re dealing with. Here are a few thing hearing people should know about deaf people – but often don’t.
1. Being deaf doesn’t mean that you can’t hear at all.
Many people who are deaf can hear some sounds, they just can’t hear them clearly. Other people are profoundly deaf; they can’t hear at all. Hearing people shouldn’t make assumptions about what people can or can’t hear, but rather should ask.
2. It takes a lot of effort for many people to interact with a hearing world.
Most of the world is designed for people who can hear. It takes a lot of effort for those who cannot hear or who cannot hear well to do daily tasks, interact with people socially, and simply live. This can be exhausting and frustrating, and it can be difficult to maintain a good mood when having to deal with this.
3. Hearing aids don’t make sounds any clearer.
Hearing aids make sounds louder but not any clearer, so speaking louder doesn’t help someone with a hearing aid. Enunciating more clearly and distinctly may, but even that may not be helpful.
4. Being able to see someone speak can help.
Even those who cannot read lips can sometimes pick up context better by seeing someone speak. Facial expressions and non-verbal language can also help. Everyone is different. At the same time…
5. Not everyone can read lips.
Just because someone can pick up a few things from seeing your lips doesn’t mean that they can read lips. Lip reading is a rare skill and it’s difficult to pick up. Many people pronounce things differently which vastly changes the way their lips look. So even if someone can read lips, it isn’t reliable — most people who do read lips can only pick up less than half of the conversation.
6. Sign language isn’t universal.
There are regional differences for sign language, and sign language is a true language — there are idioms in sign language just as in English, and it is separate from other languages. It also comes with its own culture. However, there are some simpler forms of sign language that you can learn if your goal is simple communication.
7. Deaf people can feel ignored or neglected.
Often around hearing people, only a certain amount of conversation will actually be translated for a deaf person — or the deaf person will need to rely on cues to understand what’s going on. This can lead to deaf people feeling neglected and alienated, even in their own families.
It can be difficult for deaf teens to feel understood. Reaching out to a community of peers can help. Hear for You is a dedicated community where deaf teens can talk to those who understand their unique issues.
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