Deaf People Are SO Well Read

Wow…she sure likes to read a lot!
One of my early thoughts while having holiday dinners with my hearing family and one deaf sister.
I give myself a break now. I was only about 7 or 8 years old and it had just become normal to see my sister get up from the table and plop into her favorite reading chair. Always smiling…..such a pretty smile.
I felt sorry for her when she had to return to her Deaf School. Little did I know that she couldn’t wait to get back to a place where others “spoke” her language. Wouldn’t she be homesick? No, she was homesick when she was away from her school.
Years later, it makes so much sense.
My sister declined attending our last family reunion. This was just two years ago. Trying to keep up, connect and somehow feel a-part-of-it-all seemed like a daunting task and just exhausting. I spoke with a cousin who is now an educator and we talked about how Mary Anne was just left out of so much when we got together for family gatherings. Mom always wanted her to go to church with us too. There was no Interpreter back then. She couldn’t hear the service, join in the readings or the singing…but somehow being there with all of us was deemed a good thing.
At the reunion, my cousin said “Isn’t it amazing. In this day and time, we would have ALL learned sign language.” Probably true, but this made me sad all the same. These family gatherings included lots of stories and jokes and games. She missed so much. What was that like for her??? What were the grown-ups thinking??? I do remember going to Church sponsored classes where we learned to finger spell. Hard to get into much conversational depth using that method.
I know there are many families out there still wrestling with the communication issues, but I believe there is much more awareness today where family members learn sign language to ensure the deaf family member is included. People are taking sign language classes because they love the language or hope to work as a Sign Language Interpreter someday. We see more deaf people on T.V. and we see Interpreters now on many newscasts. People are intrigued.
I wish this awareness had been more prevalent when I was a kid with my sister at our dinner table.
Then again, she was always leaving the table and heading for her chair. I wonder why. I guess she just liked to read a lot.

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About Evelyn

Evelyn Hunter is a SODA with years of experiential study in Deaf Culture. She attended Gallaudet University to immerse herself in this unique deaf world while working for the University and studying sign language to hone her skills. Evelyn has served in training, relationship sales, and marketing -- always seeking to expand awareness of Deaf Culture and the unique challenges the deaf face on a daily basis. The Sign Language Company has recently established a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a website with a blog, as Evelyn coordinates the marketing and outreach efforts for the agency. Her goal is to attract new clients seeking exceptional service, while maintaining optimal relationships with clients who have selected The Sign Language Company for over 20 years.

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