Random Thoughts and Musings by moi

Musings by a feisty, opinionated Deaf gal who wants nothing but the best for her community and her people

mardi 30 janvier 2007

Man, are we deafies flexible or what?

It struck me today how fantastically well we deafies are able to adapt to situations that limit our communication access. I went to a water aerobics class, and this time was harder than usual thanks to an instructor who shot out instructions like a New Yorker on speed. I've done water aerobics off and on for years, thanks to a family that swims almost constantly and a water aerobics class I took at Gallaudet, so I'm comfortable with the moves and a lot of other aspects. I'm also an adept lipreader, which I confess helps quite a bit, much as I hate to admit it. But the class today tested my limits. Her rapid-fire instructions and frequent turning her head away made it so I actually had to work to follow instructions (which is not normally the case for me). I managed okay, but it was work that I wasn't used to doing. And I realized today how much I use techniques other than lipreading to follow what the instructor is doing. I position my body so I'm always facing the instructor, no matter what, even if it puts me out of alignment with others. I also watch to see what others are doing if I'm a bit lost or if the instructor has us jump around in circles or something like that where I can't see her as clearly. I can't recollect what else I do right now, but wow, I never really articulated to myself how many little ways I adapt to situations that don't provide printed English or ASL signs. A hearing person was with me and tried to interpret several times, but I pointedly looked away, focusing on the instructor - and I was fine. It was very sweet of her, and she doesn't usually do this. That struck me - gosh, I bet hearing people have NO idea how well we adapt. It doesn't matter how well we speak, lipread, or how well we *don't*, we still can function and communicate a lot better than many people think we can. It reminds me of the first time I went to Europe. I was with a hearing person, and I had an easier time communicating with the locals, thanks to gesturing and using different forms of communication. If she didn't speak the language, she was unable to find other ways to communicate. So, deafies out there, don't ever put yourselves down because of communication ("I can't speak," "I can't hear," etc.) - you are more flexible and adaptable than many hearing people!


  • At 22:43, Blogger tayler said…

    How true!!

  • At 23:19, Anonymous Barinthus said…

    Amen. I'm tired of people underestimating how adaptive deaf people can be.

  • At 00:31, Anonymous Anonyme said…

    A colleague blogger suggests that it's not being flexible or adaptive. It's about getting by. And I agreed, because I always got by, even with some mediocre interpreters.

  • At 06:26, Anonymous DE said…

    Signing is indeed a gift to hearing people. We have a lot to offer the world.

  • At 06:45, Blogger W.F.T. said…

    True, says one who cannot speak and lipread with any kind of ease. :)

  • At 07:52, Anonymous Anonyme said…

    I'm a veteran of many aerobics and step classes myself, and know exactly what you mean. I'm curious, do you tell the instructors ahead of time that you're deaf and would like them to use gestures or other signals? I often did this, and many times (not always) the instructor was happy to oblige. Especially after s/he saw me stumbling a few times or losing the rhythm. Once I had an instructor who actually led the class through steps with her EYES CLOSED! It was hard to get mad at someone who not only ignored my requests but ignored the entire class, as well. Needless to say, I didn't go back to her class. Also, some instructors take the initiative to walk you through the more complicated patterns of movement so you'll be better able to follow along later with the rest of the class. I loved that and sometimes asked for it from new instructors also.

  • At 08:03, Anonymous Long/Lat said…

    My experience with water aerobics in a hearing-filled class (with my deaf/blind client) is we are usually one count behind everyone else.
    Exercise "counts" are usually 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and repeat 3 sets.
    Try counting, and you'll just be one count behind the rest of them as you switch positions.

  • At 19:59, Blogger moi said…

    Long/Lat, thanks for the tip. I'll remember that! :) Anonymous, actually, no, I don't. I try to be unobtrusive - I guess I'm just sick of being singled out as "different" and try to avoid that whenever possible. I find I don't have a problem following most of the time, so letting them know is often not necessary. I think training programs/classes are now (and have been for awhile) talking about the importance of making things visual for hearing people too, which works to my advantage.

    Carl, intriguing. I'd like to venture a thought - it's all about the label. "Getting by" has a negative connotation, while "flexible and/or adaptive" has a much more positive connotation. "Getting by," to me, reads as well, we don't have a choice. We gotta muddle through and struggle. No, we don't. We are adapting to the situation, drawing upon our strengths. It's all in one's paradigm, in my opinion, and I choose to frame it in positive terms. *smile*


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