Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Where are the Deaf people hiding?

I live within 25 miles of the State's School for the Deaf and Blind, and you'd think that the place would be crawling with Deaf people. Not so. Since I moved here 2 years ago, I have seen only a small handful of Deaf people. I remember once, we were driving back home from our monthly shopping excursion to the next biggest town and I happened to see a couple outside signing. I told Hubby to stop the car and turn around!! After introductions, they were a younger couple, still in their early 20s and you could tell they didn't really want to make new friends. They explained to me that most people around here tend to keep to themselves and proceeded to point in different directions saying, "so-and-so lives a few miles that way and so-and-so live down this road..." We said our good-byes and I haven't seen them again since.

Once, when I was thinking of enrolling my oldest child into daycare, I called via relay to make an appointment. When I got there, they had asked one of the volunteers to interpret for me, which was thoughtful on their part. Only trouble was, their "interpreter" was just someone that had a deaf child and only knew home signs. I couldn't understand her signs! I ended up telling them that I didn't need an interpreter and that I could talk and read lips. I should have said something about her home signs, but I already felt awkward and didn't want to make the situation any more uncomfortable than it was.

This morning, I went to the town's small food store and my hearing aid battery died. Just my luck, I didn't have any extras on me. Of course, the moment my hearing aid battery doesn't work, is the moment the cashier wants to make conversation with me. I had to tell her that I couldn't hear her because my hearing aid battery died and where did they keep the batteries. She was kind enough to give me the pack after she rang them up. After changing out batteries, and she saw that I could hear again, she started to talk with me. So, even though I don't see any Deaf people walking around, the locals seem comfortable with being around Deaf people.

We didn't move here because of the Deaf school, we just happened to see an ad for our house and liked the area. Only later, did I find out that the Deaf school was just down the road from us. The Deaf school is a beautiful place, with old buildings and a pretty campus and right there on Main Street. Some weekends, I will take my children to the playground and let them run and play. One of these days I will have to go and find info on Deaf clubs or events and start meeting the local Deaf people. Some people might have done that within a month or two of moving here, but as I said in one of my earlier posts, I wasn't interested in the Deaf world at the time. I just focused on my growing family and making our new house a home. As any mom will tell you, that is a full time job, with overtime, just taking care of the kids and home.

It's true that people around here keep to themselves. That's why we moved here, too. To get away from the city and live a slower-paced life in the country. Neighbors are few and far, and the local town just has the bare necessities. No malls here, no big walmart... just Mom and Pop stores and basic services. People are so friendly here and wave as you drive past, and we have made some nice friends with some of the people here. Locals like going to the firehouse for weekly bingo and bi-weekly breakfasts. Hunting is big around here and come deer hunting season, you see many trucks and ATVs with deer in the back. What do the local Deaf do around here? Where do they go for fun? I'm going to find out!! Stay tuned!



6 comments:

GARRETT said...

Yeah I am staying tuned for this. I love this kind of topic.

DeafSharonAnn41 said...

Yeah I agree with you. I live in a farming comnunity in Vada, Georgia (which is within 15-25 miles radius of about 4-5 cities). I know there are a few deaf friends out there somewhere...mostly black deaf family and few whites live in Camilla, but don't want to be "known". Few in small cities or towns here and there. But I rarely see deafs. I AM NOT EMBARASSED OR ASHAMED OF BEING DEAF..and the locals seem to accept me as a friend. I always hang out with them on weekends; but the problem is they don't learn signs but gestures and few home signs. But it's okay as long as we understand each other..and also write on notebooks if some couldn't understand what I say.
I also go to the local river to hang out with friends and new friends.
I had been with one white couple in Cairo, GA which is about 25 miles from me, who always brought 2 black guys to hang out with them..for like 3 months...I saw that they preferred to stay in home all times rather to be seen in public unless they walk around or in the store "quietly" (now they moved to Texas last year). I know some deaf people in Tallahassee, Fla, but they prefer to be around same old deaf friends than other people or going out of town to meet deaf people like me.
So I am totally deaf, can talk little and I am a mother of 5 normal hearing children and twice-divorcee and now I have a hearing boyfriend who is very slowly learning signs.

There are no deaf clubs around here either, not even in Tallahassee (they said they has been closed for many years).
So I live in a hearing world more than in deaf world, even I am not afraid to say I am DEAF.

So my better question is : WHY IS DEAF PEOPLE HIDING??

Jules said...

I can answer that question a bit, Sharonann...

I have been in and out of Colorado throughout my life (Army brat.) I observed that if deaf children grew up together and go to same school, they stay "together"- wary of 'new people.' Often than not, deaf folks don't accept me because as I said, I didn't grow up completely with them, so it's harder to find them. In bigger cities, deaf children/adolescents are exposed to a variety of cultures beside deaf and hence they are more acceptable of 'new faces.' I was more welcome in Baltimore/Washington DC deaf community than in Colorado deaf community despite that I had some growing up in Colorado (elementary-high school.) More one is isolated, more it's harder to find each other. Gods know in all 30 years, I visit family in a midwest state, I hadn't even seen one deaf person! IMO

Lantana said...

I can relate to your story. I too live in the "toolies" and deaf people are few and far between. About 14 years ago a few of us put our heads together and got addresses, email addies, etc. and came up a collection of deafies who would like to meet for conversation once a month. It has worked out real well. We meet in a restaurant, not always the same one -- and chat for a couple of hours. We have tried to pick out central locations to make it easy on everyone. Some of us have to travel a ways, but for only once a month it is worth it.

Hope this helps!

Lantana, Lantana's Latitude

Blog for the Deaf in Georgia! said...

To DeafSharonAnn41,

Hello...I don't know where is Vada?
I live in Loganville about 22 miles from Atlanta, GA

Go to http://www.epeachynews.org

I'm proud to say I am Deaf!

RLM said...

Same thing happened in West Virginia where handful of deaf people isolate themselves from other deaf people.

My deaf mother always had been tight-lipped by not telling other deaf people where we resided. To keep the undesirable ones out of our lives.

I once spilled the beans about where we lived in that particular area. My deaf mother made facial expression to me - 'Don't tell that person!"

My mother's former deaf female friend demanded to know what was my mother's new address. That deaf person came to my school and searched my dormitory locker to find my parents' relocated street address. My mother don't want to do anything with this deaf ex-workforce colleague after getting remarried. I had to pull Mom's letters from that nosy deaf person by force. The dormitory houseparent thought "Nothing wrong about giving out my parents' new residence address". I replied "You really do not understand anything about deaf people!" I was only eight years old at that time.

We, deaf people are living in the real small Deaf world! Handful of deaf people do cherish personal privacy where we live, etc.

Hostig the social event for deaf people in your community will be only the way to get deaf people coming out of batcaves, foxholes and burrows. Hmm! (with wiggling eyebrows)

Robert L. Mason
rlmdeaf@hotmail.com