The Problem of Pen and Paper?

Deaf Life for a Hearing Mind

I  am Severely-Profoundly Deaf. This means that I hear next to nothing. And while I am oral and can lip read some probably one of my favourite ways of communicating with hearing people is by writing things down back and forth. It’s simple, easy, no fear of miscommunication or misunderstanding and it helps both parties to get down their thoughts in a more logical reasonable manner. And yet, while I prefer this method of communication it is extremely difficult for me to get any number of hearing counterparts to co-operate with it.

So I ask you hearing people this…why do you have such an aversion to the use of pen and paper?

In fact the few that I have brought this up to some hearing people I know the responses that I always get are always along the lines of :

  • It takes longer to communicate then/ It’s slower
  • But…

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3 thoughts on “The Problem of Pen and Paper?

  1. I use it more than sign or lip-reading now, mostly I don’t find people who won’t write for me if I ask, I suppose it depends where you live etc, don’t DEMAND ! or they may well refuse thinking you are just rude. It helps if you have a pen/paper with you. We know access is a right, but a lot of people don’t appreciate we aren’t reliant on just one form of communication, but a number, and use body languages too. Again being polite and not derisory does go a lot further.

  2. On one hand, I too find it is relatively rare (not non-existent, just not frequent) for hearing people to be outright negative or hostile to the idea
    of writing for communication in the face of a polite request. And my first few requests are ALWAYS polite. I think all of this is true for 99 percent
    of the deaf population. I am not aware of an epidemic of deaf people being rude or nasty when asking hearing people for this or other accommodations.

    But even when a hearing person isn’t arguing about it or being actively hostile, I do frequently run into hearing people who will quietly ignore the pen and paper I proffer to them and just keep repeating themselves over and over even after I keep trying to politely explain that, no,
    sorry, lip reading just isn’t working, I am just not able to understand what they’re saying, can they just please write. There have only been maybe one occasion in my life that I can recall when I’ve gotten fed up enough (usually partly due to jet lag fatigue or other contributing factors) to lose my temper over it: in general, I do always strive to be patient and calm even when hearing people are being very persistent in declining to write.

    Although I am not the original author of the piece (follow the link to the full length article if you wish to communicate with them), I am guessing she may have had similar experiences: most hearing people aren’t nasty about it, but that doesn’t mean that they actually USE the pen and paper when asked. This might be a particular problem for those of us deaf people who speak reasonably well. For some reason, some hearing people seem to have difficulty grasping the concept that just because THEY may find it easy to understand ME, this does not mean that I necessarily find it as easy to lip read THEM. I know one deaf person whose speech is basically perfect due to having been able to hear until late childhood. She used to speak to hearing people and politely ask them to write back to her, or look at her so she had some chance at lipreading them. But as soon as she opened her mouth to speak, hearing people kept forgetting over and over to write, so she had to keep reminding them over and over and not always with any success. So now when she meets new hearing people (especially if she might not meet them again), she pretends she cannot speak because that seems to be the only way to enable hearing people to remember that, yes, she does need for them to face her or to write.

    I think it is worth bearing in mind that the tone in which a person writes a blog post is NOT necessarily a reflection of the tone they use in a face
    to face situation in the real world. I think 99 percent of us try to be polite in real world interactions. But being polite does not always get you what you need. And although we may sit on our frustrated feelings for long enough to remain polite in the moment, it can be tempting to vent our feelings and be more open about our anger when writing in a blog that we think the person won’t read. So it’s not accurate to assume that a person who sounds angry in a blog post written after the fact necessarily were behaving with open anger or hostility in the situations that they
    describe.

  3. This is also based on a lot of other deaf peoples experiences that they document through tumblr and youtube. Rikki Poynter actually mentioned in her video about Airports that the taxi driver downright ignored it and having used to live in Toronto where she was when she had that experience it was something that I constantly ran into. Your right to start off polite always, but it can only take you so far before finally you have to lay down the law and go ‘Listen, this isn’t working. These are the ways you can communicate…now pick.’ If you’re lucky enough to not have to run into that with your experiences that is great. Unfortunately in the area that I live in that is really common and that’s where a lot of the thoughts of this article steamed from. Almost every day I have at least 1 person (usually 2 or 3) moan and groan when I ask them to please right it down or type it on your phone if that is easier. It’s mostly a matter of saying to yourself ‘Okay, when is enough enough it’s time to address this issue.’

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