Do Deaf People Watch Television? Can Deaf People Drive?

Silly questions?  When ‘googling’ these questions, it’s amazing to see how many people are still asking these questions in 2012.

For those of us living and working in the world of ‘deafness’, sign language interpreting, and ASL, these questions DO seem silly.

Long, long ago….in a land far away….actually it was Atlanta in the 1980’s, the Marketing Director for a Global service company was encouraged (by me) to close caption their television commercials.  All names and specifics will remain anonymous to protect the ‘clueless’.

This  Marketing Director immediately discarded the idea as a waste of money. He said “Deaf People don’t watch TV”.  I was there. I heard him. I was stunned.

As a SODA, I passed this information along to my deaf sister. SHE watched television. I had witnessed it myself. Might she be the only TV-watching deaf person?  Upon relaying this information,  I think I literally saw steam coming out of her ears.

She immediately went to work gathering information and statistics. Pretty soon there was a manila envelope filled with details highlighting the potential deaf market currently being ignored and disregarded.

We decided to bypass the Marketing Director and send this material directly to the CEO. We were on a mission.

One month later, we received a response from the CEO.  Their upcoming Super Bowl ad would be their very first closed captioned commercial. And all future commercials would be closed captioned as well. A few days later, we received another letter from the aforementioned Marketing Director. He humbly thanked us for bringing this to his attention.

This was so exciting!  Facts and figures to enlighten and increase awareness. It only took the two of us – well, mostly my sister – I do believe I actually mailed the envelope.

I bring this up for a couple of reasons. While some of us feel like ‘rolling our eyes’ upon hearing seemingly silly questions about what The Deaf can or cannot do, it helps to remember that our awareness comes from our experience and affiliation with deaf family or friends.

Here are some questions I might stumble with myself:

  1. How do blind people use computers and smart phones and ATMs?
  2. Can paraplegics swim or scuba dive?
  3. Can people with epilepsy drive a car or pilot a plane?

For those more familiar than I am with these conditions, they may find themselves ‘rolling their eyes’ at my silly questions.  For fear of seeming ignorant, we may refrain from asking questions and leave ourselves in the dark. Or we rely on GOOGLE where the most common answers are typically “it depends”.

So let’s be comfortable asking thoughtful questions. Maybe we can bust through our personal comfort zone to enlighten ourselves and increase our personal knowledge and awareness.

And let’s also refrain from ‘rolling our eyes’ when we hear questions that just sound SO silly to us.

And most importantly, let’s never forget how one person – – armed with the right material and determination – – can serve to enlighten thousands and create lasting and positive change.

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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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2 Responses to “Do Deaf People Watch Television? Can Deaf People Drive?”

  1. Kenneth Mann Says:

    So what was the number of TV watchers that are deaf? What seemed like links were BOLD TEXT. Icanno t hardly hear at all and people ridicule and blame me.


    • Evelyn Says:

      Hi Kenneth…..the bolded text lines are not links. Sorry for any confusion. Back in the 80’s, it was not unusual for people to think Deaf people didn’t watch TV. I worked with a marketing firm who hadn’t even considered their Deaf audience. Now we see captions and sign language interpreters and the awareness has grown. It would probably be easier to calculate the number of deaf people who DON’T watch TV! I’m sorry you feel ridiculed and blamed. Where do you live? Take care.


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