The other day at work, I walked a young man to the office (for the school’s safety sake, we have been asked to walk “strangers” to the office). This young man was somewhat of a hippie, round glasses, hair pulled back in a pony tail and a tie die shirt. He seemed friendly. I think he was a volunteer for an after-school program. I was doing my small talk~ sweet, friendly and welcoming. And, he signed back to me.
As I’ve gotten older, I don’t react as much. I used to get so angry. Angry because I know far more Spanish than I do sign language. I even know how to read and write in Hebrew. I know very little sign language. My parents chose to raise me as an oral speaker. Angry because I may still have that “deaf tone” and many kind strangers hear it and automatically start signing to me (if they know sign language). How dare they assume that I know the language. Not that signing is a crime. In fact, it’s very controversial which requires a whole different blog itself.
Assumptions are dangerous. It creates ignorance. According to Mirriam-Webster Online, ignorance means a lack of knowledge, understanding, or education. I’m sure the young gentleman wasn’t trying to be mean~ I’m sure he was a very nice man~ I’m sure he didn’t mean to make me feel angry~ I’m sure he would have felt bad if I told him that his assumption bothered me~ but whatever it was, it’s still ignorance.
All my life, I’ve had many comments about sign language: I want to learn sign language, it looks like ballet (I wonder what people who actually sign think of that statement); Oh, my baby know sign language, we’ve taken baby signing classes together. (Oh, I see); Oh I want my students to learn a song in sign language, can you help us? (Um. I don’t know sign language); It’s a shame that your parents didn’t teach you sign language, it makes me so sad (said one deaf woman to me).
I don’t mind if you ask me if I know the language. That’s probably a better thing to do instead of assuming.
I’m much more than a “hard of hearing” person. I don’t wake up in the morning reminding myself that I’m hard of hearing. Nowadays, my morning consists of nursing my little baby. I’m a mother first. Then the rest of me follows~ a woman, a wife, a teacher, a photographer, a write and back to being a mother again (because motherhood never really leaves me).