Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Oh, the questions I’ve been asked! In the course of lifetime (which is longer than I’d like to admit), I’ve been asked some doozies. On the happenstance that you’d like to hear a few, I decided to write down the questions I’ve been asked in the past couple of weeks:
  • How do deaf people drive?

Exactly the same way hearing people do. You don’t need sound to drive. If that were a fact, then what about hearing people who crank the radio up to blasting or people who chat endlessly on their cell phone? The only thing you really use sound for regularly is sirens and such. But that’s why they also have flashing lights. Hello? A good driver, deaf or hearing, uses his mirrors and stays visually alert. Sound is not a requirement.

  • How do deaf people have sex?

Ummm. Would you like a video blog answer to this question?

Or, as comedian and CODA Keith Wann would answer, “The same way hearing people do—loud and sloppy.”
  • How do deaf people talk/communicate?

As diversely as the rest of the population. Some of us sign. Some of us lipread and speak. Some of us stand on our heads and blink in Morse Code. Many of us do snappy variations!

  • How do deaf people read?

Huh? We go through the same school system as everyone else. We learn to read—given the school system does their job—just like everyone else. But because some deaf children are denied access to a language before they start school (meaning they’re forced to figure out how to speak and “listen” when they can’t hear anything, instead of allowing them to express themselves manually in sign and then be taught English later), they can struggle with reading English.Wouldn't anyone??

Just like hearing people, there are deaf people who are English scholars, deaf people who just read well, and illiterate deafies. But, in general, how do we read? With our eyes and our brain.

  • How do deaf people hear music?

Who says we do? There’s absolutely no way of answering that, because it all depends on how much residual (or amplified) hearing a person has as well as their personal likes and dislikes. It’s kind of common sense, here, folks.
  • How do deaf people talk on the phone?

Actually, I don’t consider this a stupid question.

There are several different devices for deaf and hard of hearing people to use in order to use a phone. There are amplified telephones, amplifiers to attach to telephones, captioned phones, TTYs/TDDs, videophones, relay systems, etc. Lots of choices. I won’t go into details in this post, but we have a lot of assistive technology in this realm.
  • How do deaf people wake up?
Again, not a stupid question, but I find it hard to answer when it’s phrased “how do deaf people…”, as if there is only one way all deaf people do something. We’re as much individuals as hearing people. There is no “one size fits all.”

Many deaf use vibrating or light-flashing alarm clocks that shake the bed and blink a lamp when it’s time to get up. But that’s just one way.
  • How do deaf people clap?
Oh, come on! I guess I can read this one of two ways: How do we put our hands together and produce the same sound as hearing people do or how do we applaud something we wish to acknowledge (like a really great play or performance).

For the former? Get a life.

For the latter? Deaf applause consists of lifting your hands above your head and shaking them. The reason for this is that it’s more visual. It’s customary for people (regardless of hearing status) to clap for a hearing person’s performance and use Deaf applause for a deaf person’s performance. It all depends on the applauder and the applaudee (is that even a word?).
  • How do deaf people have their own thoughts?
Wow. I don’t know. I mean, do we??? (That was sarcasm.) I’m thinking (praying) that I must have “heard” them wrong. Let’s try again (and hope it’s what they meant)….
  • How do deaf people hear their own thoughts?
OK. A little better. If a person is born profoundly deaf and has never been able to hear the spoken word in any way, shape, or form, then chances are they don’t hear it, per se, as it would be spoken. How in the world would they even know what it sounds like?

However, that being said, we "hear" our thoughts very clearly. We are able to think our own thoughts and understand what we mean. We’re not imbeciles! How a person “hears” something is individualistic. You’re probably thinking like a hearie and trying to imagine how a deaf person would hear like you. You have to try to think outside the box.

In fact, in this world, when trying to figure out how people different from you can do certain things, you will always have to think outside the box. You have to stop thinking people must do things in the same fashion as you or other people you know. We’re humans. We’re different. And we do different things differently.
  • How do deaf people hear in their dreams?
This is another question of which I’ve been asked many variations. Some want to know if we hear in our dreams or if we sign in our dreams or this or that. Although I’ve never hooked up a brainwave machine to a bunch of deafies to compare, it would seem (ahem) logical that a person would communicate in their dreams in much the same way as they communicate when they’re awake.
  • How do deaf people laugh?
Laughter is a reflex action—not a planned and carefully performed parlor trick. When we see/read/are told something funny, we laugh. How is that hard to understand?

Also, everyone in this world has their own sound when they laugh. Some snort, some guffaw, some giggle, some slobber…you get the idea. So, too, does every deaf person have their own sound when they laugh. I’ve had people talk about how “horrible” deaf people sound when they laugh (I’ve even seen stupid comments about how “hysterical” deaf people sound when they’re having sex). Horrible in whose opinion? Some snot-nosed, cocky jerk, who believes he has the ear of God in deciding what sounds appropriate and what doesn’t? Hmmm. I think it may be vaguely obvious I have an opinion about that.
  • How do deaf people write?
I will answer that question with an impervious retort…. Although some can’t write at all (just like many hearies), some of us (Me! Me! Me! Me!) write extremely well. And there is no question about that.


  1. Thankfully I have not come across silly questions. I'd laugh if I did, then answer if I stop laughing.

    But I have been discriminated. And it's not nice.

  2. Liz, are you deaf? Just curious.

    Man, I couldn't even count on two hands how many times I've been asked some of these. Good to know you would laugh it off. Great attitude. I mean, what else can you do?

    I try to be very informative in my answers, when asked these questions. Except the sex one. I like to put a finger up (to indicate "Wait a minute") and then begin to position myself as if to show them. It scares them every time. :v)

  3. Amazing the things that people feel free to ask!

  4. Yes I am deaf.
    I wear bte hearing aids. Been deaf since diagnosed in Autumn 2002 :)

    I used to class myself hoh until this year. Now deaf due me being more deafer now after recent events of this year, as mentioned on my blog.

  5. I don't know where my mind was, Liz. I follow your blog and of course I know you are deaf. Sorry about that!

  6. That alright. Its sometimes ard to keep up in the blog world. :)

  7. I love your blog as well as your sense of humor. you are so right- there are as many answers to some of these questions as there are deaf people! I've ready the "How do deaf people hear their thoughts?" question quite a bit. So many of these questions, though-how do people come up with these things?!

  8. Hi Pink -- I'm glad you enjoy my blog. And who knows where people get the idea that deaf people are so different in everyday activities like sex (well, at least there's many who *wish* it were everyday)?

  9. I have actually put a lot of thought into the internal verbalization of thought. Adding Deaf thought into the equation makes for new (to me) interesting variations. Theorizing about different modes of thought can make for good discussion- and show us how deeply entrenched we are in our own patterns.
    And, by the way, my first lover told me that I "made funny faces" during sex. It took me years to get over the self-consciousness and insecurity that engendered. Anyone who complains that someone's natural response to something as basic and animal as sex needs to remain celibate till they grow up a little. Sex is about letting go- funny faces, noises, sweat, and all. Plus, hearing people often sound like squirells or gorillas...loud and/or unusual sounds are not the sole domain of the deaf.

  10. Hi Michele.

    I didn't know that sex is noise by deaf. What about hearies sex? i think it is same thing.

    I never thought over deaf thinking.

    I do thinking, it doesn't mean i am deaf. Understand?

    So, umm

    About deaf dream..

    I do deaf dream. Once in a time, I dream it is very special to me, very very special.

    It is about dream visual, and communicate with dream world in my deaf dream.

    I never heard of deaf hear dream.. I never thought of that.

    Well. I hope i can get CI.. to see what happens with my hear dream connection the world.

  11. Hey, Anon, check out my COCHLEAR IMPLANTS -- IT'S UP TO YOU post from April 2011. Please keep in mind that CI's are *not* miracles. But I wish you the very best!!

  12. See, this is why I love the internet: Whenever I have a question that I know is far too stupid to be asked, I can just go online and find the answer that was given to some other idiot with the same question.

  13. Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thanks, However I aam
    experiencing issues with your RSS. I don't understand why
    I cannot subscribe to it. Is thyere anybody having identical RSS issues?

    Anyone who knows the solution will you kindly respond?


    Feel free to surf to my page :: disabled singles dating

    1. I don't know how to fix the RSS. Sorry! But I will contact Gooble and see what can be done.

  14. I'm doing an assignment for my ASL course and so happened upon this blog. I love your retorts and have became fascinated with Deaf culture. I can't wait to read more of your stuff.

    1. Thanks! I've slacked off a bit in posting new posts, but I'm trying to get back at it. Appreciate your compliments!