What would you do
If I sang outta tune
Would you stand up
And walk out on me?
– The Beatles (Joe Cocker’s version….)
I’m reaching out in this post, simply because I don’t really know what to do in a certain situation and I know there are people reading this that might be able to help me out…
What’s the best way to start a conversation with a deaf individual?
I honestly have no idea where to start; you can make eye contact, wave, smile, and sit next to them…but then?
Since I don’t know very much ASL, I already know I’m at a severe disadvantage. Even when I do take a basic sign course, there is no way I’d become fluent enough to sustain any developed conversation, however, I do hope to learn some of the customs of deaf culture.
A few months ago, I got chewed out for clumsily finger spelling a word that a deaf person wasn’t able to understand as I was talking with her. She told me that I didn’t know ASL and that I should learn because it’s insulting to her that I don’t know her language or culture. This is kind of discouraging and a little bit frustrating for me. Mind you, this happened in my first month at RIT, so I was still getting used to the culture of the school (which includes the mass concentration of deaf students).
So what’s your opinion? How can I be more respectful of the deaf culture and also communicate without the help of an interpreter?
Not only will this be helpful for interactions with deaf individuals, but also interactions with others who speak languages other than English. Your help is greatly appreciated! =)