Chrissy Marshall, a 20-year-old film major at the University of Southern California, was born severely hard of hearing. "I gradually lost my hearing until I was profoundly deaf around the summer of my senior year of high school," she told BuzzFeed.
Growing up, she had hearing aids and always requested accommodations. She now relies on American Sign Language as a main form of communication and uses TikTok to teach people about ASL and the deaf community.
The global pandemic has created a whole new set of challenges that Chrissy has taken to the platform to discuss. "Masks have been a nightmare," she said.
"In public, I typically rely on social cues, spacial awareness, and reading lips, which are basically eliminated by the masks," she said. "I've had a lot of really rude encounters these last few months and very few people are patient enough to write or type with me. I handle my frustration by trying to just turn around, educate online, and carry a notepad wherever I go."
In her video "a day in deaf shoes," she also details the struggles that come with virtual learning when you're deaf or hard of hearing — for example, having to focus on multiple things at once on your screen.
"I think it's important for people to know how to respectfully interact with anyone in the disability community and break down the intimidation barriers," she said. "Most people have never met a deaf person before. I want to help them know how to be accessible and respectfully patient when they do."
While TikTok has its fair share of trolls and ableists, Chrissy said the majority of the feedback she receives is positive and supportive. "There are tons of people interested and fascinated by ASL, but don't have resources to learn from. I really love guiding them to get involved in the deaf community and learn ASL properly," she said.