Friday, August 13, 2004

Getting a summarized statement of the whole day.

Today I read a very accurate and moving poem by Kimberly Dianne Richardson about what it feels like to be deaf. I'm trying to find an email address to get permission to post it here, but I will take the liberty of posting an excerpt which really struck me, because I didn't realize other people felt this way too:

"Natural curiousity perks up
Upon seeing great laughter, crying, upsetness.
Inquiring only to meet with a 'Never mind' or 'Oh, it is not important,'

Getting a summarized statement
of the whole day."

The first couple of times somebody tried to give me a "Never mind" or "It's not important" when I asked what was going on, it was devastating - I just felt crushed and dismissed. I decided very quickly that I wasn't going to put up with it - it just made me feel too ... insignificant, a nuisance. Even "I'll tell you later" makes you feel like an idiot - especially if they never remember to. So now, if it happens, I say, "No - tell me." And I hand them the notebook. Nobody's fought back yet! :)

Fortunately, my friends make a genuine effort to communicate, so the times it has actually happened I can count on one and a half hands, and never the same person twice.

But consider this a kind of gentle public service announcement for anyone out there with deaf or hoh friends - what you said may have been silly or unimportant or throwaway, and it may be more trouble than it's worth to write it down. But it's soooooooooooo important to the deaf friend that you don't dismiss the query. Soooooooooo important to their self-esteem.

Her comment about "getting a summarized statement of the whole day" is an absolutely perfect description of communication for the deaf... our whole world of information is a précis. And that, even our dear friends can't change, as much as they try.



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