You may have seen some #WhyISign narratives on social media in the past, but it’s possible you’re not familiar with why or what the purpose is behind these stories. The Why I Sign website explains: “Families are still not given resources or support about including signing with their ddbddldhh children. Families often feel alone in their signing journey. For most, their baby is the first deaf person they meet. They often are nervous and scared to connect with the deaf community. Our diverse communities often desire to connect with hearing families, but lack knowledge of where families are & how to reach out.”
I chose to share my own personal story because I know that I am so incredibly lucky to be here today and to be able to share with you my story. If life had been just a little bit different, things could have turned out entirely different. I also think it’s important to share that you do not have to be profoundly deaf or incapable of speech to benefit from sign language. You know who benefits? …everyone!
Ableism and audism (discrimination based on hearing ability) is unfortunately present in all therapies unless we actively work to make them affirming and inclusive. As a child, I went through quite a bit of #speechtherapy. And it wasn’t individualized to me. I felt stupid. I felt judged. I wanted NOTHING to do with it. It was pretty shocking to me when I grew up and learned about all the other things SLPs do! Spanish class — and struggling to deal with it — forced me to reckon with my own identity and find new ways to cope. But I shouldn’t have had to. My IEP was, unfortunately, absolute garbage because it could have helped me through school and it didn’t. That’s why evaluating EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION is so important – we offer a FREE COMMUNICATION PLAN download for everyone for this exact reason.
Choosing Gallaudet was one of the scariest and best decisions I ever made and definitely a big reason #whyisign. That said– total access ruined my life.
Okay, not really— but it was a huge turning point. I had never known just how much I missed, and what you don’t know, you can’t feel bad about. Ignorance is bliss or something like that. But after 19 years of trying to be hearing and thinking I was doing genuinely a good job, I was immersed in ASL for a few months. And by Thanksgiving… my ASL skills were better than my lip reading skills. I understood more. I could keep up. My world expanded in a way I truly cannot express. Did you know that even people with mild hearing loss miss up to 50% of a spoken conversation? I have met so many people who feel like they can’t complain because their hearing “isn’t that bad” or it’s “only in one ear”. Looking at an audiogram doesn’t tell you the full story because it doesn’t consider things like listening fatigue, visual strain, echoing rooms and everything else…
It is EXHAUSTING.
Even if you can speak and hear… it was revolutionary to realize how much sheer ENERGY went into trying to be hearing. Trying desperately to pass as hearing. It’s OK to give yourself permission to… sign. To use non-vocal forms of communication. Speech is NOT better or worse— it’s simply different. But when people think it’s better, we end up with children with no language and no opportunities. I am grateful every day because I KNOW I am one of the lucky ones.🤟🏻🤟🏻🤟🏻
If you’re still watching, thanks for going on this journey with me. ❤️🤟🏻 one of the things I believe strongly is that if you are deaf, if you are hard of hearing — even a little bit— if you have auditory processing issues, if it’s “hard to hear sometimes”… you’re welcome in my Deaf community. Even if you don’t sign. You’re welcome and you always will be. ❤️❤️❤️