Last month, I was at a mixed Deaf and hearing function, and I had got up from my seat for a while. When I got back my seat was occupied. I jokingly signed that the person stole my seat.
One people who was there said I was pretending to be Deaf because I had chosen to sign. Another said that that’s weird, because she doesn’t sign with hearing people; what’s the point, she said, if they can hear?
First of all, I wasn’t pretending to be Deaf. Signing was just the way the expression came out at the time; I didn’t think about it, didn’t know whether the seat-stealer (hehe) was Deaf or hearing. I figured that if someone was at the event, chances are, he signed.
I guess I have a different view of language than other people. Well, those two who said those things are better signers than I am, so they don’t need as much practice as I do, so I can understand their perspective. But I believe that improvement comes with practice. When I was learning Japanese, I spoke with classmates and teachers alike, getting in as much practice as I could. I was even disappointed when a classmate or friend didn’t couldn’t bother to use the language with me.
And so, I apply the same to JSL. Whether Deaf or hearing, if a friend signs, I’d like to spend as much time as possible signing with them.
Interestingly, one of the people who was said that they don’t sign to hearing people is a regular user of sim-com, and used it when speaking with me and other hearing people at that event; because there were Deaf there, I guess. But I looked on and internally shook my head at how much information her hands missed (because signing is limited to just hand movements if you do sim-com) while she was trying to use both modes of communication.
My personal belief: If I’m around Deaf, and there are hearing people who can sign, it’s best to just sign. Using your voice alone will leave Deaf people out of the goings on. Sim-com will probably force your signing to conform to English, not JSL; and, chances are, you’ll end up not signing a lot of what you say. (In my opinion, that’s a form of audism.)
But maybe I’m just different.