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Sunday, October 30, 2016

I'M DEAF, NOT STUPID.

All my life I've had to battle the affliction of deafness. If I take off my hearing aids, I can't hear you, but I will understand you. Deafness is like total osmosis in trying to reach an understanding of people as they speak. The trouble is people can view you as a total moron, without any real thinking behind it.

I began my problems when I was 5-years old when I suffered the most severe case of mumps anyone could have. It began the decline of my hearing and the constant psychological beating I have been taking every day of my life for these many years.

I tell you this so you understand other deaf people, people who have the same brain capacity as anyone else, yet they need to exercise it more than anyone else. When they are not understood, they feel like they are singled out as ‘special', a ‘special' they don't wish for.

As a young student, missing a homework assignment was only half the problem, hearing you had been given homework was the other half of the equation. Missing things said in a low voice in a classroom, maybe with the back of the teacher to you as she or he may erase a blackboard or someone coughs out or something drops, you will miss vital information.

The problem got greater as I went through high school, my hearing deteriorating to the point that I needed hearing aids, but I didn't dear get them, for fear of being ostracized in the classroom and in friendships. We are talking about teens, not adults, although I wasn't too trusting of adults either. But one day I decided to do something about that since it was dawning on me I needed to give myself a chance, screw any friendships that judged me for my difficulty. I learned to lip-read and moved on.

By college the classroom situation was the same as always, the lecture halls were another story as the distance was my most difficult situation to overcome, as professors would move about, turn away and talk, and people in a large high-ceilinged room distorts sounds. So at night, I read, studied and re-read the material to catch up on the lesson as best I could. I made the Dean's List every semester from my Junior year until I graduated.

By the time I went to a professional job, I was settling in with the hearing aids, lip-reading and learning body language and expressions, both physically and tonal, the way sounds come to me are clues, if I can hear them. Your mind figures out quickly and allows you to asses with all the clues what someone is saying.

All this is true for most deaf people, they don't consider their affliction a handicap, you can learn and get a job, marry and have children, without any hindrance from loss of hearing.

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