According to Gallaudet University, between 9 and 22 of every 1,000 people in the U.S. are deaf or severely hearing impaired. And yet, many people have very little conception of what the daily life of a Deaf person is actually like. A recent video produced and edited by Rachel Soudakoff explores some of the basic ways that deafness affects how people move through the world and their day-to-day interactions with others.
The video shows how its main character deals with certain practical issues that arise when one isn’t able to hear; For example, she has an alarm clock that lights up and vibrates instead of beeping, and she presents a written order when buying coffee. But, to me, the most interesting aspects of the video are its depictions of the social interactions between the main character and others. Some of these exchanges are negative, marked by hearing people who are clueless (as when someone assumes that the Deaf main character needs him to simply speak more loudly and slowly to her) or inconsiderate (as when a teacher assigns a film that doesn’t have captions). However, importantly, the video also emphasizes that Deaf people have full social lives, just as hearing people do, and that American Sign Language (ASL) is a unique language in its own right that allows for modes of communication unavailable in verbal speech. For example, ASL speakers can communicate from far away:
As well as gossip under water:
The main character is also not afraid to use her lack of
hearing to her advantage, and gets out of a traffic ticket by pretending that
she can’t understand the cop.
Hey, whatever works, right?
Watch the whole video below:
Images: YouTube (4)