Just Sign “Hello”

KR Glickman, my wife, has always said she is glad that cochlear implants were not invented when she was a child because she is sure her hearing parents would have given her one.

It took me a long time to realize that if KR were offered a magic pill to make her hearing she would not take it.

Deafness and Deaf Culture is her world. In the book “The Mask of Benevolence” by Harlan Lane,a 26 year old Deaf man got a cochlear implant. Six months later he committed suicide.

You see, hearing people take for granted that we can be in a crowded room chatting with a friend while ignoring the fan, the music, the clinking of glasses, the slamming door. To that Deaf man all those sounds carried the same weight. Everything was too loud. It was too much for him. He had no practice filtering out unimportant sounds.

Deaf Culture has it’s own visual view of the world. ASL is at its heart. ASL Syntax sentence structure is different from English, and just as valid as a spoken language. It is visual not written. Sometimes signing is better than speaking. Ever been in a loud bar screaming to ask your friend if they want a drink? Easy to sign that question when the music is so loud it makes your toes vibrate.

I do believe KR wishes her hearing parents learned to sign. They never did. Not even with two Deaf kids. KR has often said that her Clarke School for the Deaf classmates are her Deaf siblings.

We all do our best to make our way through our days. A little kindness, understanding and compassion goes a long way. So does signing, “Hello.”

Tony Toledo

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