There’s a line in this that stopped me in my tracks. In a good way too. There is much about this life from @marthamonk about life as Deaf person surprised me. The fact that there are dialectal version of Sign Language, that ‘drunk signing’ is a thing. I also loved learning about the joys and challenges of a Deaf couple parenting Hearing Children (including that your bog-standard ‘Baby Sign Class’ wasn’t quite what it’s cracked-up to be). A frank, funny and all together fabulous list.

  • I use the word Deaf instead of deaf, with a capital D. Deaf refers to a linguistic minority of which I identify with, using British Sign Language as my preferred mode of communication. deaf refers to those who identify with a medical culture surrounding disability. We operate in a ‘Deaf world’ and a ‘hearing world’. That’s the theory. I can speak, but my clear speech means many hearing people meeting me for the first time assume I must be able to hear really well. The two do not correlate.

  • Many of my friends and myself often flit between a deaf and hearing world for a number of reasons; family, education and work. There’s no right or wrong, just figuring out what works best for you in different measures. Best to start this off with that! I use British Sign Language, spoken English (irish accent) and when I’m pissed, I like to think I have a little understanding of American Sign Language (yes, BSL and ASL are completely different, despite sharing a common spoken language).

  • Yes, we enjoy music too. Just differently. I especially enjoy watching some of my more musical Deaf friends sign along to them. I have a taste for country music in particular, and most Deaf people I know LOVE Adele’s (did you see the video of her saying the BSL interpreter at her concert was amazing?!) music. You will often see Deaf people signing her songs (if not the Spice Girls) at the end of the night at a wedding party somewhere, which gets funnier the drunker they are, just like hearing people warbling songs when they are drunk. An earsore for you, but a great eyeful for us! 

  • Don’t get me started on hearing people with shit sign language skills putting up videos of themselves signing (badly) to songs and getting millions of views compared to Deaf people doing it justice and getting a few. They think they’re “helping” encourage people to sign. No, you’re encouraging people who are over confident after 1 or 2 sign language classes to post a video of them signing (badly) to a song and getting praise from other people who can’t sign. 

  • I only have two hearing friends. I classify them as this, because I have to explain Deaf nuances, culture stuff and jokes to them. They have no other contact with the Deaf community. I have plenty of hearing friends within the Deaf community. 

  • I met my Deaf husband, via a Deaf Sports event; he was training for the Great Britain Deaf Football squad in preparation for the 21st Deaflympics in Australia in 2005. I flew out to Australia to surprise him – proper ‘Take a Break’ / ‘That’s Life’ moment, title would be “Deaf girl flew 10,000 miles to tell him she loved him after 3 months together” with a picture of me looking cheesy happy holding a photo of my love on a plane. 

  • We were together for 7 years, and the day we got married Amy Winehouse sadly died. Easy way to remember our anniversary now. We have been together 15 years, married for 8. 

  • We have had two ‘GingerNuts’ since, who are now 5 and 3. I think we will be debating whether to have a 3rd until we’re 50. 

  • No, they’re not Deaf. But they are CODAs – which means child/ren of Deaf adults. They are growing up to be bilingual in BSL and English, and bicultural in a hearing and deaf world. The sign for CODA is two fingers to the ear then the heart, representing how they are Deaf at heart. 

  • Pregnancy and labour/birth was a little challenging. I didn’t use a BSL interpreter because I have no trust in hospitals booking BSL interpreters when asked, and ‘got by’. However, it was challenging following several different accents at different appointments. I love diversity, and am all for it, even if I have to work harder to understand them. But if I am to have another baby, I will be putting my efforts into getting BSL interpreters than put the strain on my listening ability.

  • One lady exclaimed ”PRAISE BE JESUS” in church when I answered her question if my GingerNuts had ‘special needs’. Erm, I have “special needs” you fucker? What are you going to say for me? 

  • We use BSL and spoken English at home. I took my first born GingerNut to a Baby Sign class and he looked at the signing teacher in disbelief, as in, ‘what on earth is this bonkers?’. When you’re a Deaf BSL user you can pick up very quickly if someone is ‘stammering’, ‘mispronouncing’ or ‘stuttering’ in BSL which was really hard to enjoy. We didn’t go back. We found another class where the teacher had intensive knowledge and skills in BSL. 

  • It’s very common for CODAs (Children of Deaf Adults) to be quite advanced in their spoken language skills because they start signing before they speak. They also tend to ‘drop’ one language for the other from time to time. It’s not a parallel plain sailing process. 

  • My two GingerNuts have a wide range of vocabulary for their ages. However, being Deaf means I can’t pick up on what language they’re hearing out and about.

  • My 1st GingerNut told me “so-and so said fuck today”. I was so surprised I had to check my cochlear implant (listening device that you have to get an operation for) was working properly. He had to repeat himself 10 times, so it’s forever ingrained in his memory! I explained it was a word that adults use, but not at work, and children weren’t allowed to use it. I did this because I knew he was going to hear it out and about and I wasn’t going to. I haven’t thought about what to say when he says the c, t or other various swear words! 

  • School asked why GingerNut 1 kept tapping them for their attention and why he asked several questions when people entered and left the classroom. The Head came in and he proceeded to ask who she was, why she was here and what was she going to do? I had to explain these were part of Deaf culture; tapping is gaining attention and the Spanish Inquisition is because in our house if we leave a room we tell people where we are going, and why, as compared to hearing people, we can’t always use our ears to figure out where someone is going (footsteps on stairs to toilet/opening of bedroom door etc) 

  • Social media has been interesting. Some of it is accessible, a lot of it isn’t. We tend to ask people we follow to caption their stories/videos where possible so we can access and follow their content. Some do, many don’t. 

  • Some go beyond and properly subtitle their videos which is amazing (but should be the norm), like Father of Daughters. Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamilofficial) has started captioning her stories! 

  • However, stalwarts Candice Braithwaite (@candicebrathwaite) and Callie Thorpe (@calliethorpe) have been doing this for ages. Thank god they are all also interesting and funny, nothing worse than campaigning for access to something that in the end, is as dry as as a brick wall.

  • If you’re interested in becoming accessible to d/Deaf Parents; caption your stories to give context, use subtitles in videos, use the CLIPS app that subtitles you as you speak (let me tell you if you don’t have an English or American accent, it can be tricky!) I caption my stories as I mostly use BSL. 

  • Being d/Deaf has its perks. Camp Bestival last year? There was a big group of Deaf Families in attendance (thank you Performance Interpreting). They all slept soundly. They only woke through the night because of the vibrations of the storm battering the tents hitting the airbeds (and you know it has to be that bad for that to happen!) everytime there’s a storm in the UK, d/Deaf people just laugh. Sorry, got to get our perks where we can! 

  • Having said that, CODAs also apparently sleep very well, because d/Deaf people are very noisy during the day/evenings before bed, so they’re used to it. A long time CODA friend of mine said her new boyfriend woke her up at 4am completely startled and scared. She was soundly asleep and wondered what he woke her up for. It turned out her Deaf Dad was hoovering at 4am. Yes, 4am.

  • We also get 2-4-1 on full price tickets if we have Disability Living Allowance. But not all shows we attend are accessible. Cheaper, but do we get full access to everything? No. We tend to stick together as a large Deaf group! 

  • I can’t relax when I take my GingerNuts out anywhere. I don’t have the advantage of hearing where they are when you call their names or hear them shout, so I have to keep them in my sight constantly. If only I could have eyes in the back of my head. Quite tiring, and means I don’t get a chance to speak to other Mums or Dads, even if I do understand/follow them. 

  • This is why so many Deaf parents prefer to meet up with each other, even if we are miles away from each other (OK, North London/South London classifies as a considerable distance OK?) as we all just know communication is easier with everyone using BSL, and plan activities where it’s easy to know where your child is (usually at someone’s house!) . We even have a Deaf Mummies and Friends Facebook Page. I know it will get easier when they are older in that respect when we are out as they will understand my needs better. 

  • There is a rich diversity to the Deaf community with Deafness which I have been incredibly fortunate to be a part of as a cis white Deaf woman.  However, I know deaf ethnic minorities within the Deaf community experience racism, and there was recently a big discussion about how some signs for particular ethnic minorities and countries were inappropriate and racist. Like, the sign for Chinese people used to be drawing a finger outward from the outside of the eye (representing the look of Chinese people’s eyes). It is now more a finger drawing across the top of your chest and downwards on the side towards your hipbone. 

  • The drawback of my GingerNuts having exposure to BSL means they started talking earlier, and to various people out and about. I have to grin and grit my teeth and hope they are saying nice / appropriate things, cos I haven’t a clue. It’s only when the adults respond to them, if they are clear, that I get context. Phew. I’ve had a story about a Deaf Dad grinning when his daughter was telling everyone at the school gates she saw his little winkle earlier that day. He was grinning away because everyone was smiling and laughing, thinking she was being funny about something at school. Thankfully, another hearing parent had some common sense and filled him in! 

  • If someone offered me a pill to wake up tomorrow as a hearing person, I would take that pill and crush it to death and blow it to the wind. I am sure some deaf (especially those who go deaf later in life) would grab this, but not me. I am a proud Deaf Mum who experiences life differently. This has given me many opportunities I would not have if I was hearing. And, the world is a better place if we can all embrace differences and individualities instead of trying to conform to the ‘norm’. What the fuck is ‘norm’ anyway?!

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