My husband can speak very well. He has a great voice and only the most sophisticated of ears can tell he’s been deaf since he was a young child. (Mostly it’s in the way he says Latin based or non phonic words like Kolache.) And that is part of the problem. When people hear him speak, even if they see him signing, they assume he can hear. Sometimes, since I don’t speak back to him, but sign in reply, people assume *I* am the deaf person and they will start talking to him. Then I have to explain to them: “He can’t hear you, he is deaf.” This results in one of two reactions. The first is for them to recoil in horror that the person they thought was deaf is now talking and the one they thought was hearing is unresponsive, or they continue to talk to my husband.
I can’t tell you how many times people will keep talking to my husband after I tell them he is deaf. They don’t raise their voice, or mouth their words more carefully, they just keep on talking. I’m pretty sure they believe me, since most of them see me signing to him just a moment earlier.
When Metrolift comes to pick him up, they already know he is legally blind. Being used to transporting the disabled, the driver almost always accepts my description of his deafness with a nod and an “Oh.” And then, they keep on talking to him.
I do understand people talking to the deaf, the same way I understand the deaf signing to the uneducated (in ASL) hearing. But at least when the deaf try to communicate with a hearing person, they use facial cues and, lets be honest, they have way more experience trying to communicate with people who don’t understand them than hearing people have with people who don’t understand them. Why you would try to talk to a deaf person when you have someone right next to you that can do it for you is beyond me.
At first it was mildly annoying when someone would keep talking to my husband when I just told them he was deaf, but now I hardly notice it. I’m not an interpreter and my husband seems to function quite well in a world that understands him but can’t communicate with him. It’s a strange sort of mixed blessing, but when you are both deaf and blind, you can use all the blessings you can get, I would imagine. It’s much easier letting him go off on his own knowing that people understand him even if they will keep talking to him after it is made clear he is deaf.
I guess I should just let them talk to him if it comforts them. The only time I do it is when I’m grumbling at him and he wouldn’t want to understand what I was saying anyway…