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What Is It Like Being Deaf?

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What is Being Deaf Like?

What is it like to be deaf?
People have asked me.
Deaf? Oh, hmmmm, how do I explain that?
Simply, I can't hear.
Noooo, it is much more than that.
It is similar to a goldfish in a bowl.
Always observing things going on.
Among foreigners.

Isolation is not a stranger to me.
Relatives say "hi" and "bye."
But I sit for five hours among them.
Taking great pleasure at amusing babies.
Reading books, resting, helping out with food.

Natural curiosity perks up.
Upon seeing great laughter, crying, people upset.
Inquire only to meet with "never mind,"
"Oh, it is not important."
Getting such a summarized statement
Of a whole story.

Supposed to smile to show the happiness.
Little do they know how truly miserable I am.
People are in control of language usage,
I am at loss and real uncomfortable.

Always feeling like an outsider
Among the hearing people
Even if it is was not their intention.
Always assume that I am part of them
By my physical presence, not understanding
The importance of communication.

Facing the choice between the Deaf Camping
Weekend and Family Reunion.
Facing the choice between the family commitment
And Deaf Friends,
I must make the choice constantly,
And wonder why I choose Deaf friends???

I get such great pleasure at Deaf Clubs,
Before I realize, it is already 2 am
Whereas I anxiously look at the clock,
Every few minutes at the family reunion.

With Deaf people, I am so normal,
Out communication flows back and forth,
Catching up with little trivial, our daily life,
Our frustration in the bigger world,
Seeking the mutual understanding.

Contended smiles, laughing are musical.
So magical to me So attuned to each other's feeling.
Truly happiness is so important.

I feel more at home with Deaf people
Of various colors, religions, short or tall,
Than I do among with my own hearing relatives.
And wonder why? Our language is common.
We understand each other.

Being at a loss control
Of environment, that is, communication,
People panic and retreat to avoidance,
Deaf people are like the plaque.

But Deaf people are still human beings
With dreams, desire and needs
Of belonging, just like everyone else.

Written by: Dianne Switrast
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wow youd never know how far words can really go. my asl teacher read this poem to me a few weeks ago and i found it here haha :3
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Love this poem .since I have a cochlear implant I now what is like toe deaf. I got a CI in third grade andnowt take asl in college. I go to dean college.
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Hello KimberlyAnne,

I found this poem like 20 years ago, and I love it. You can use this poem as long as you include the author's name to prevent Copyrights. I would like to meet this author, but unsure how old is this poem r she might not be alive, who knows.

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hello dianne, my name is kim
when i read this..i cried..its soo really hit it on the nail..i hope u dont mind..but i shared your poem (putting your name at the end of course!) i had said it was writtne by a deaf woman and put your name...i wanted my family and friends to read it and understand how we feel..just so they can get an idea!!
anyways..i have bi-lateral implants..just got them 3 yrs ago..its quite an adjustment..but i prefer my silent world..i cherish it
that is an ultimate advantage i have over everyone i know that is hearing...i dont have any deaf or HOH like the plague to them i guess...having experienced both worlds..has been hard..hearing people arent comfortable around me and as for the deaf..i cant seem to find anything out craving to find friends (and a gentleman who is patient and understanding)that are sincere and kind...i just want to say...i loved your poem and its nice to know im not the only one who feels this way..thank you
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You have said it all. Said it all! Ive gone thru same thing exactly!
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That was a touching poem! It totally depicts my feeling as a person who is hard of hearing. It is constantly a struggle everyday to communicate with the hearing and wonder what is exactly being said in the conversation. That feeling is like I am not alone with frens around me, but deep in my heart, why do I feel alone? ;D
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hi im new , but d,nt kwon how make meet date woman as I would like to make friends and go for a date .. please call me if u r intrested me lol thanks
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Although I am not deaf (but only hard of hearing) I totally understand what you're saying. And, I go through that when I go out to dinner in a very noisy place, with music blasting in the background and making the walls throb. I can't hear what anyone is saying. Ultimately, I just sit back with a smile on my face and don't even try to participate in any conversation because it's impossible. And, if I try, I'll end up with laryngitis from straining my voice. As to the family and friends? I think that if you want to make that environment as comfortable as it is when you're with deaf people, perhaps you need to take the first step. Let them know that it's important to you to communicate with them -- by writing and/or hand language. They might feel uncomfortable at first in acknowledging your deafness, or think that you might feel uncomfortable. Let them know that you comfortable with who you are, instead of sitting back quietly. Assuming that you are not mute, as well, you have the capability of speech with them. True, people do tend to be lazy. And, it will take more effort on their part (and on yours). But, if you make the first move, perhaps they will then take the initiative to either try to learn sign language, write notes to you, or find a way to communicate. Let them know your feelings. You write very well. Let them know who you are; that you are intelligent; and that you have feelings just like everybody else. What do you think? Am I being totally naive?
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hello night swimmer:) i was born hard of hearing and then as i got older i lost all hearing i too can speak well as i learned before i lost all hearing.i jus tmoved to north carolina and do not have any deaf friends yet and don;t know where to find deaf events to go is hard being around hearing especially my family as they do not sign. they still do not understand i need them to communicate with me more even when we are in groups. i hope you are well and also hope you will be my friend online here? Thanks have a good day! lynn
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Hi, i agree with what you had to say.i feel that way to and somehow always wonder why family cannot see as we do:( even my children sometimes when i ask what is said they sometimes say nothing or not important when i try to tell them it is important that i know what is being said around me.once i was in middle of hearing people and one person turned around and said "oh sorry i forgot you were deaf":( it is a constant battle to communicate,and i cannot find where deaf events are so i can be around people like me. well Hope you are well! your friend ,lynn
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So true what you say...your description of situations is so accurate! Jeez, I go all soft inside and once again burry my face in the pelts of my beloved doggs.
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Being deaf from birth dependings on each individuals. Not all deaf are so much alike or same. I was born profoundly deaf, and I had been taught by using cued speech from my mom which I've learned to read lips at early age. Some deaf people don't know how to read lips well because they were not being trained to do so. I have been wearing hearing aids since age two. My mom wanted me to be like hearing children. I used to go to deaf school at age 2 to 7, then my mom transfered me to public mainstream school to interact with hearing world at age 8. Ever since, I've been like hearing child till college. I've learned about deaf culture and more sign language (ASL) during college. I learned how to sign EESL (Exact English Sign Language) during high school! Deaf people don't use EESL. Oh boy, deaf people looked at me strangly like I'm from another planet! How embarrassing. So, I've learned ASL to interact with deaf people, and I've learned to accept my deafness when I don't wear hearing aids.

That way, I don't have to deal with their craps from hearing people's converstations! I don't have time for their drama issues. So, when people talk to me, and I went, "what? I'm sorry, I'm deaf! Please write?," as I strugged my shoulders if they refused. So be it, that's their problems. Why their problems have to be our problems? Let it go.

Finding friends are hard to find in small area or in new area. I'm in the beach community, far from deaf community which I miss the most! :-( I moved last summer for job reason. It gets lonely for awhile, but give time to acknowledge with the community itself. Give time and patience, you will be fine or move somewhere where you can be happy and more comfortable! That's all. Best of luck!
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I was 20 years old when i lost 100% of my hearing. I fell 40 feet hitting concrete, Had a lot of broken bones but everything healed perfectly. All except my hearing. I am now 49 yrs old. I have seen it all. Peaple who can hear that has never been around deaf peaple have no clue as to how to talk to us. After many yrs i had had enough of it and finally started telling peaple how to talk to me. If i couldnt read there lips i would simply ask them to write it down for me. If they acted like it was to much trouble i just say forget it, your not worth it. I think being born deaf is much harder to communicate by lip reading. I cant say for sure but it just seems like it would be very hard. I can still talk. Although if i dont watch myself i talk to fast and no one can understand me. But i have never had anyone ask me to write anything down that i have said. I am thankfull that i have hearing friends that always tell me what peaple are saying if we are in a group. I dont know a single deaf person. I wish i knew more but i live in a small town and there just is'nt any deaf peaple that i know of.
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Hello Laura, Thank for writing commet about my chef. I graduated from Clinuary Art School in Hollywood, CA. It not easy to be education and fun loving cooking..I understand about your concern they won't let you cooking the kitchen. They will let you do the dishes for 2 yrs before your promotion to do cook. You will need go to Culinary Art school and have certification. I Love it, I teach people learn how cook.. I do Home cooking Video. Not this time and will set up one soon. Let me know and keep contact me... Where are you from? I am a horse lover. I love horse back riding. Horse are my favorite animals..
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Thank you for reading this poem. I am not Dianne, however, I found this beautiful poem during my college time. And I did post it on my board where I used to work. This poem really show who we are, DEAF... Thank you.
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View author's info
1 year ago
Quoting author:

Dianne, I was truly touched by your story on what it is like to be born deaf. Hearing people don't understand. Thank you, for a well written narrative.


Les aka Kaynine

Hope you can find your match here and wish you happy
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View author's info
1 year ago

Dianne, I was truly touched by your story on what it is like to be born deaf. Hearing people don't understand. Thank you, for a well written narrative.


Les aka Kaynine