To be called dumb

Yesterday evening, I met a Deaf friend on the bus. He sad behind me on the bus and I was turned sideways in the seat so I would face him. We were signing, of course, when a group of teens/young adults came on the bus. His phone rang. (Well, vibrated. Or he called someone. Not sure.) He spoke on the phone.

One of the young men nearby made a comment: that my friend was trying to fool everyone that he’s “dumb”, but clearly he’s not, because he saw my friend on the phone.

I turned around, kinda shocked, asking what he said. I’d heard, but couldn’t believe it. I told my friend what he said. And told the young man that my friend is hard of hearing, not fully deaf.

The guy responded, “Wiet! Yu no dom?!” (Wait! You aren’t dumb?!) He looked like he felt like quite the idiot. He made 2 assumptions:

  1. That there’s either deaf or hearing, not a continuum, so my friend was pretending.
  2. That I was deaf because I was signing.

A girl sitting beside me, part of this group of friends, said, “Mi wudn nuo se yu no ‘dom’ ef yu neva taak ino! Mi niid fi lorn dem wiez de!” (I wouldn’t know you weren’t ‘dumb’ if you hadn’t talked, you know! I need to learn that!”

As my friend said, pretending to be deaf is a “good chance” to hear the things that people think you can’t hear.

If they feel it’s okay to talk about us, it shouldn’t be a problem if we’re signing, should it?

Anyway, later, I told some other Deaf people, and one said, “So now you know how it feels to be called ‘dumb’.” By the way, ‘dumb’ is offensive. Don’t call Deaf people that.

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3 Responses to To be called dumb

  1. read.robin says:

    I can understand how it would be offensive to be called something you’re not. Are there any among your acquaintance who actually can’t speak, and what would they prefer to be called?


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