by In Wales
Sun Nov 4th, 2007 at 06:05:10 PM EST
This is one of these things that I spend most of my life riding through and trying to make light of but every so often it gives me a smack in the face. And I feel compelled to try to point some things out. It's a purge, I have to have these rants every so often and it isn't directed at anyone, just at the set up of the world in general.
I began a reply to DoDo/MfM in the OT because I felt as though I needed to explain why I had missed something as important as clause 4. This diary isn't related to clause 4 or anything anyone said, it just reminded me of things I usually ignore for the sake of my sanity. I've been thinking about writing this diary for a while now.
I think I probably miss far more of the information that people absorb just by listening to stuff than perhaps I can ever realise. So many information sources are cut off to me. Listening to conversations around me, having the radio or tv on in the background, colleagues chatting around the office, or just coming across audio snippets of information wherever they occur - I have no access to that at all. I miss out a great deal of the informal routes by which people learn and obtain information, even if they are not doing it entirely consciously. That's not an insignificant amount of information.
For a smart person I have huge knowledge gaps, and when this occurs in areas that seem to be common or collective knowledge, I have to fight so hard to remind myself that I'm not stupid. I miss many fundamentals that other aspects are built on.
How do people start conversations, do small talk? What are people talking to each other about? I had no idea because I'd just never been able to overhear other people's interactions with each other. It took years as an adult to learn how to do that properly.
Those information gaps, those little linguistic non-spoken rules that govern individual and group interactions, that I just don't pick up on because they are entirely audio based. At least bit by bit, I begin to learn about these things. At least I know I don't know them now.
I can't count the number of times that I've not found out about something important because colleagues/friends had a conversation about it in my presence, completely forgetting that I'd not have heard a single word of it. Somehow by being present, I ought to absorb important information through the ether, without anyone taking a moment to ensure that I actually have been aware of the conversation.
I'm fed up with being made to feel like I am too much effort. Largely, friends and people who know me well have adapted, just as I have to adapt to function properly in a society geared up around hearing and audio and the sound-a-holic nature of this world. Every so often I come across a snotty sales assistant, someone in a call centre who refuses to talk to me when I am using my textphone, customer 'services' that refuse to email or write to me and instead keep phoning and phoning until I answer my mobile or get a friend to do it for me.
Why should I have to get anyone else to do simple tasks for me? Why should I wait for a friend to be around to sort a call out for me, to deal with my insurance, or a problem with the bank, because they just don't know how to deal with deaf people?
Why is it somehow ok for me to be treated like I am causing a massive problem and putting other people out when I ask why a film that was advertised as being a subtitled screening isnt subtitled?
Why do I have to keep tolerating people who apparently know much more about my hearing loss and how to deal with it than I do?
I have to adapt almost everything I do in this world, and all I ask is that people use the prefix on my textphone number so I can answer calls, or for people to make the effort to send an sms or email when they would usually phone. Instead of not bothering to contact me at all and leaving me out of the loop. Or to not be rude to me when I ask to use a facility for deaf people that they advertise.
An average person may only come across a deaf person on very rare occasions. To that Mr Joe Bloggs, being a bit thoughtless, or rude on one occasion doesn't really mean all that much. But try standing in my fucking shoes for a week, because I come across Mr Joe Bloggs many times a day.
And once, well fuck that, whatever. But every day, a few times a day, being given 'looks', being treated as though I am stupid, being denied access to the opportunities that everyone else has. Live with that.
Mostly I do, and I brush it off, because I've been there, done that so many times. I've become desensitised to it. But sometimes it just builds up and it isn't just about me because I deal with it well, I'm in a good place and I know how to fight my corner. But many people don't have those skills and they will keep on being marginalised and trampled on all the time. People end their lives over this kind of treatment.
I shouldn't feel uber-grateful when a stranger is polite to me and talks to me like I'm human. Work is easy now because my reputation goes before me. I go into a meeting and people know who I am even if they haven't met me, I've established my status but I bet you anything I had to work a damn sight harder than anyone else would to position myself there.
I'm always putting pieces together, almost getting the full picture only then to find that something is missing. Lipreading is like doing a jigsaw puzzle, and wears me right out in the process. Navigating my way through a world of information in a format I can't open, leaves me feeling confused most of the time.
Sometimes I think I make it all look too easy. Sometimes I think people just need reminding that it is anything but that.