March 3rd, 2013 by Rachel | Tags: ASL, Life, Misconceptions, Opinion, Switched at Birth | 6 Comments »
“The solution for “Switched at Birth” was to make sure every scene included a deaf character: ‘The truth is, when you’re around people who are deaf, it’s considered rude not to sign if you know how,” Weiss said.’”
This quote by Lizzy Weiss from an article about Switched at Birth’s upcoming all-ASL episode has really struck the cord. As a deaf person who speaks and hears with cochlear implants and does not know sign language, I find this quote to be very misleading because a large number of deaf people do not communicate in sign language. This quote, which implies that all deaf people communicate in sign language, is also an example that creates a myth that continues to be perpetuated.
For instance, when I am out in the public and wearing my hair in a ponytail and my CIs are visible, I have been in situations where some people come up to me and sign to me. My response is always, “I’m sorry, but I don’t know sign language. I hear and speak.” This is a perfect example of a situation where individuals who know sign language need to be cautious about assuming which deaf individuals communicate in sign language. While I understand that they do mean well, I would appreciate more if individuals ask me first before starting to sign because I do not understand sign language.
NOTE ABOUT COMMENTING: Because Cochlear Implant Online is a place to celebrate the miracles of cochlear implants and to provide support for those who choose to speak and hear with cochlear implants, we would like you to please be mindful when writing comments. This is not the place to debate about which communication method is better, as the article does not speak about which method is better. It is about ensuring the inclusion of all deaf people and in accurately portraying the reality of a large number of deaf people in the 21st century. Because no person needs to feel bad about their choice of communication, any comments that merely criticize people’s choice of communication will not be approved.