First of all, let me answer the question on your mind. No, the pig was not deaf! It was an event held in Williambsburg last weekend for the Deaf in our Virginia communities. Deaf families from all over come together with one common link: someone in their family is Deaf. This could be a mom, dad, son, daughter, sister, brother. It didn't matter. What mattered most was that everyone understood the challenges one faces being deaf or having a loved one who is deaf.
I have been married for almost 20 years now, and although my husband, Ken, is deaf he was mainstreamed in the public school. This being said, he never really considered himself Deaf. He does wear a hearing aid to help him catch some of what is going on around him, but without it he is completely deaf.
In the past year at GLCC the deaf ministry has opened up a new world to him; one that he was not seeking. He has since connected with old friends from his childhood; many of which were at the DPR. They are on Facebook chat and text regularly. Technology has opened up their world of communication. TV shows like "Switched at Birth" let hearing people understand the challenges of the Deaf better.
A poem was posted on FB recently that I would like to share. Perhaps you will gain a better understanding from Dianne Kinnee (Switras) the Deaf person's perspective...
What is it like to be deaf?
"What is it like to be deaf?"
People have asked me.
Deaf? Oh, hmmm...how do I explain that?
Simple: I can't hear.
No, wait...it is much more than that.
It is similar to a goldfish in a bowl,
Always observing things going on.
People talking at all times.
It is like a man on his own island
Isolation is no stranger to me.
Relatives say hi and bye
But I sit for 5 hours among them
Taking great pleasure at amusing babies
Or being amused by TV.
Reading books, resting, helping out with food.
Natural curiosity perks up
Upon seeing a great laughter, crying, anger.
Inquiring only to meet with a "never mind" or
"Oh, it's not important."
Getting a summarized statement
Of the whole day.
I'm supposed to smile to show my happiness.
Little do they know how truly miserable I am.
People are in control of language usage,
I am at loss and really uncomfortable!
Always feeling like an outsider
Among the hearing people,
Even though it was not their intention.
Always assuming that I am part of them
By my physical presence, not understanding
The importance of communication.
Facing the choice between Deaf Event weekend
or a family reunion.
Facing the choice between family commitment
And Deaf friends.
I must make the choices constantly,
Any wonder why I choose Deaf friends???
I get such great pleasure at the Deaf clubs,
Before I realize it, it is already 2:00 am,
Whereas I anxiously look at the clock
Every few minutes at the Family reunion.
With Deaf people, I feel so normal,
Our communication flows back and forth.
Catch up with little trivials, our daily life,
Our frustration in the bigger world,
Seeking the mutual understanding,
Contented smiles and laughter are musical.
So magical to me,
So attuned to each other's feelings.
True happiness is important.
I feel more at home with Deaf people.
Of various color, religion, short or tall
Than I do among my own hearing relatives.
And you wonder why?
Our language is common.
We understand each other.
Being at loss of control
Of the environment that is communication,
People panic and retreat to avoid
Deaf people like the plague.
But Deaf people are still human beings
With dreams, desires, the needs
To belong, just like everyone else.
I am encouraged by the ASL sign language classes being offerred at GLCC and those in the community for the children attending Coles Elementary School.
When you visit our home you will most likely see sign language. Our children are learning it and my husband is no longer ashamed to have to use it to communicate better. After all, communication is the key to any relationship. I am the "ears" for one who cannot hear. I have to remember that it is important to Ken that I relay as best as possible the things happening around him so that he doesn't feel left out.
We are planning to attend the DPR again next year. It was truly wonderful to be able to communicate with my Deaf friends and to be accepted in their "world."