I posted earlier about hiring a deaf teacher at my school. She was raised oral and began to learn ASL when she was nineteen. I have had so many interesting conversations with her. She struggles to find a place in the deaf world. She takes ASL classes and wants to meet more deaf people. Her ASL teacher is one of my son's acting teachers and a I have worked with him at theater camp. It strikes me that I am hearing yet have more connections to her culture.
One conversation we had when she first started comes to mind today. When she applied for the job she told us she was hard of hearing. She later tells me she is profoundly deaf and relies on speech reading to communicate. She can't hear our voices at all.
I don't know anyone who uses the term hard of hearing. In my world you are Deaf or hearing. When people ask me if I am deaf I reply, "hearing Deaf son". ASL is the way we communicate so it doesn't really matter how much someone can hear. I was surprised last year when the interpreter that show up for my sons mainstream intake meeting was a Deaf teacher from the state school! I had no idea he could hear. In my world deaf is just like hair color or gender.
So I was talking with the new teacher and I asked her if she preferred deaf or hard of hearing. She asked me what I thought. I told her I respect what she wants. I told her my friends are just deaf. Turns out she likes to be called Deaf. She was raised to hide this. She now wants to learn to embrace it. She tells me for the first time she has a job where she can be Deaf.
My boss loves our new teacher and asked me what I thought. I told her it is hard for hearing people to understand but I have a comfort, a relaxed feeling with her that I never had with the other teachers. We share a connection that allows for an easy working relationship. Outside of work I sign. Now I don't have to leave that at home. The kids are learning to face people when they talk and their signing skills have improved quickly. She also happens to be a really fantastic teacher.