10 Things You Definitely Shouldn’t Say To A Deaf Person

If you’re someone who has never been exposed to deaf culture, you may not really understand how the whole “deaf thing” works.

1. “Can you hear me now?”

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Shouting at a deaf person will not make them any less deaf, no matter how loud you yell or how close to their ears you get. If you are speaking to a deaf person who reads lips (not all do!), exaggerating your lip movements to “help” the deaf person read them actually makes it harder to understand. When you are unsure, the best thing to do is ask how the deaf person would prefer to communicate. Typing them a note on your phone is one easy option.

2. “Do you use Braille?”

This is one of the strangest, yet most common things deaf people get asked! Let’s go over this together, shall we? Blind people use braille. Blind. Not deaf. Very big difference!

3. “Can you read and write?”

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Deafness is not a learning disability. Deaf people can do everything hearing people can do, except for hear. Deaf advocacy groups worldwide continue to fight for better access to education, because deaf students deserve every opportunity to excel!

4. “Why can’t you speak?”

Some deaf individuals adapt by learning to read lips and speak English. Others choose to use sign language. Some can both speak and use ASL. Some deaf people have cochlear implants. Deafness is a full spectrum and every person is different! Assuming all deaf people learn spoken English comes off as ignorant.

5. “Oh, I know the alphabet in sign language!”

It is lovely that you took an interest in sign language, it really is. But, deaf people get this one all the time! Imagine if an adult hearing person walked up to another adult hearing person and said “I know my ABCs!” Kind of awkward, right?

6. “How do you say {swear word} in ASL?”

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Again, taking an interest in sign language is super awesome! Asking a deaf person to be your personal dictionary for rude phrases is not.

7. “How can you drive?”

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You don’t need ears to drive, and all emergency vehicles use flashing lights. Some studies have suggested that deaf drivers actually have safer driving records than hearing people because they are more visually alert and less distracted!

8. “Can I try your hearing aides?”

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What? No. Deaf people do not want to share their medical devices with you. I get why you would be curious, but the answer is still no.

9. “Why don’t you get a cochlear implant?”

In our modern medical times, deaf people have the choice to receive a cochlear implant, which allows them to hear a range of sound. Having this surgery is a very major personal decision with many factors to consider. Hearing people should not assume all deaf people want, or are able to receive, a CI just because they are available.

10. “That must really suck!”

Being deaf does not suck. It’s just a part of life! Deaf culture is unique and diverse, and deaf people are experts at adapting to the circumstances. There are plenty of ways to enjoy this beautiful world without sound!

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