When you type "How a deaf person…" on Google Search, it reveals the 10 most searched questions around Internet:
As you might already know, I'm a CODA (Child Of Deaf Adults). My parents are profoundly Deaf since their very early years due to medical issues.
At the beginning of their lives, doctors highly recommended that their parents communicated with them orally, like any other hearing person (oh dear...). They grew up in a hearing environment, struggling to understand and to find the right way to express their thoughts, emotions and feelings.
At the age of 7 years, they both joined the School for the Deaf in Deusto, Bilbao, Spain.
There, they learnt the basics of language and maths, and also learnt Spanish Sign Language, but not from the teachers. The main way of communication was officially oral at the school.
This time it was the other children in the playground who were the teachers! The word of mouth (or should I say "word of hand") was the way of learning this language, and thanks to this my parents could start sharing their knowledge, emotions, ideas and feelings.
As adults, their first language is Spanish Sign Language (LSE), which is beautiful and rich, and this is also my mother tongue. I can only be grateful for the wonderful opportunity growing up learning two languages (LSE and Spanish) gave me, and being raised within the Deaf Community and being emersed in and learning their extraordinary culture.
Having said all of the above, today I wanted to ask them the 10 most common "HOW" questions about Deaf people and find out my parents’ answers for you. Let's begin:
Q1. HOW DOES A DEAF PERSON COMMUNICATE?
A: "Well, in our case, we use Spanish Sign Language to communicate. There are other deaf people who don't know sign language, because haven't had the opportunity to learn or because they prefer other ways to communicate: whether using lipreading, gesture, or by writing."
Q2. HOW TO GET A DEAF PERSON'S ATTENTION?
A: "For us it's fine if you tap our shoulder, wave your hand if you're far away, knock on the table or a surface that we're touching, or stomp your feet in the floor in order to feel the vibrations. You can also turn the lights on and off if we're in a room backwards to you."
Q3.HOW DOES A DEAF PERSON CALL THE EMERGENCY SERVICES?
A: "We use an App called '112'. After inputting all our personal data, we can contact the different emergency services depending on the situation, whether a car accident, a fire, a robbery, etc... For those who don't have this App, a better way is to ask a family member, a neighbour, etc..."
Q4. HOW DOES A DEAF PERSON LEARN TO READ?
A: "We learnt to read in the school with the help of visuals aids."
Q5. HOW DOES A DEAF PERSON LEARN TO SPEAK?
A: "We used to do lots of exercises to improve our oral skills. We're not mute. We have our voices and they just needed to be trained with the help of expert speech and language therapy.
We were taught how to produce sounds with our throat and tongue, how to pronounce and speak. We remember to gargle to learn how to produce the 'G' letter, or putting a pencil below our tongs to learn to pronounce the 'R', and so on..."
Q6. HOW A DEAF PERSON TALKS?
A: "As long as our hands are our voice, we talk using our hands."
Q7. HOW DOES DEAF PERSON THINK?
A: "We're not sure about how to respond to this question (laughs)... Same as hearing people, we guess."
Q8. HOW MANY DEAF PERSONS IN THE WORLD?
A: "We will need to Google this question! According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are more than 70 million deaf people worldwide. More than 80% of them live in developing countries."
Q9. HOW CAN DEAF PERSON SING?
A: "As we both are profoundly deaf since almost we were born, we don't have any memory of voices or sounds. But it doesn't prevent us from sing to our grand-daughter or when we're happy. We guess we use imitation, we don't care if the melody is not good or it's out of tune (laughs)."
Q10. HOW TO CALL A DEAF PERSON ON THE PHONE?
A: "Well... you can definitely call us, we can even pick up the phone and answer! But this is going to be a one-way communication!
Before smartphones we used to have a fax machine at home or a phone that our daughters used to pick up. Nowadays you can contact us using many other ways, such as text messages, email, using third persons..."
I want to thank my lovely parents for taking part in this article and answering these questions. I hope you have enjoyed reading this and I really hope that this interview will help you to clarify some of your concerns.
Do you have any other question? Always feel free to ask!