Friday, March 20, 2009

Just what part of DEAF do people not understand?

I'm still gobsmacked at the continuing sagas that happen around me when it comes to my deafness.

Two weeks ago I had the following conversation.

Person 1: "You should read Robyn's blog - it's hilarious"
Person 2: "Yep - Robyn you should write professionally"
Me: "Well - I would if someone would pay me!!"
Person 1: "I still can't believe some of the things she has to go through when people just can't get it that she's deaf and can't hear on the phone"

I then explained for the others who haven't read the blog, how my friend answered the phone for me one day, and explained calmly over thephone that I was deaf and couldn't her on the phone, yet they still insisted on talking to me. This went on for some time until my friend had to ask 'Just what part of DEAF do you not understand'.

I've told her that next time it happens just tell them I'm dead - it may be easier for them to understand why I can't come to the phone!!

Anyway person 3 pipes up...

Person 3: "Why don't you just get those flashing lights so you can tell when the phone rings"
Me:. (trying not to be sarcastic) "ooooo I didn't think of that" but then I had to explain to her "I still wouldn't be able to answer the phone at all as I can't hear on it to pick it up"
Person 3: (Realising she has made a mistake) "oooooooo of course giggle"
Person 3: "So why don't you just get an answerphone then?"

I gave up after that, while Person 1 was having trouble getting up of the floor as she was laughing so hard!

Then there's today. My alarm went off again today. At the moment, when my alarm goes off, my company that monitors the alarm rings my daughter to let her know that the alarm is going off. She told me when I got home that she had a missed call from the security company today.

So I get onto the internet relay and rang the Alarm company. Asked for someone to help me with my alarm, got put into one department. On talking to them, they then transferred me to the monitoring department. They promptly hung up on the relay operator. I had the relay operator ring back, and asked to be put through the monitoring company and the conversation went something like this...

Me:. Hi - My name is Robyn . I am totally utterly deaf. At present when my alarm goes off, you contact my daughter on her cellphone, however she's going overseas in a couple of weeks, so I need you to contact me instead. As I can't hear on the phone, can you text me on my cellphone?

Alarm company: "no"

Me: "Not at all"

Alarm company 'No"

Me: - "Well - as I'm totally deaf, is there some exception you can make in my circumstances, or some solution you could come up with to help me with this, otherwise I see absolutely no point of having my alarm monitored, and paying a monthly fee. Do you?"

Alarm company: "Well - we could fax you or email you"

Me: "Well - if my alarm is going off, the chances are that I am out, therefore I'm not home to pick up emails or faxes" (She has to be blonde right?)

I then asked for her manager, who then put me through to someone else.

The long and short of it is that Yes - the alarm company CAN txt me alarm alerts and will do so from now on. But... Fax? Email? That's hilarious! I think some staff training is necessary in this company!!!

In the meantime I know have 8 voice mail messages on my cellphone, of which I have absolutely no idea how to listen to. Sigh - probably should just delete them!


ZenMonkey said...

What is it about deafness that leaves so many people "unclear on the concept?" As a former ASL interpreter and teacher for the deaf, I came to the conclusion that in many cases it's unfortunately tied to the continuing perception that "deaf" must go hand in hand with "inability to communicate" and/or "unintelligent." This leaves some hearing people with a kind of mental block against deaf people who don't fit that stereotype. Hence the girl who could not process the fact that you cannot hear the phone.

I'd call it "unconscious audism" since I won't go as far as to say all such people consciously believe these things -- though of course some do -- but people with no disabilities often have very narrow definition of what is normal, usual, or possible for people who are different in some way. (And that part comes from my own personal experience with disability.)

kim said...

It really is funny in a way. I have voice mail on my phone. I can never hear the messages. Luckily someone in the house tells me--sometimes-- three weeks late-- that someone called. (sigh)

Morgan said...

Ha ha. Man there are some stupid people around. Stupid people like this in the workplace are the worst. I guess you can see why I love working for myself. Beats wanting to slit your wrists 50 times a day!

I still don't understand why they can't just ask you what solution would be good. You should know since you are the person who has to deal with being deaf. I cannot understand why people do not ask questions more. They solve so many problems!

Morgan said...

Hey ZenMonkey,

I love your comment about hearing people and audism. This must be true given the trouble Robyn has with these people.

Here is something interesting. A few days ago another deaf person asked me whether I would prefer to be deaf or blind (I am neither). I just blurted out deaf as my choice without even stopping to think about it. Later I was telling Robyn about this and said my choice surprised me since I am a musician and being deaf would be the last thing I would want. She also pointed out she thinks it is harder to communicate when you are deaf. So why did I pick deaf? I think it is because I've gotten used to the idea that deaf people can communicate with me just as effectively as I can with them. So these people with audism type attitudes really piss me off because I think that when deaf people have trouble communicating it is those very same HEARING people who are the problem!!! It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you treat people like they are dumb or unable to communicate you shoot yourself in the foot by making things difficult for them so that they have no choice but to confirm your suspicions! How small minded and condescending! One supposes these people make similarly stupid assumptions about other people who are not exactly like them. The cause no doubt is because they don't have enough brain cells to rub together to make sensible, logical judgements about other people, or if they do they are too lazy to use them.

Rox said...

I've noticed that if someone says "she can't hear", they understand this much better than "she's deaf". I hate that I have to be labeled as something I can't do, but if it helps other people understand, so be it.

Also, do you use an email pager? I guess I'm used to everybody having one these days, so I guess in your situation, I'd have the alarm company email me and it would arrive to my pager. I've also heard of some companies who will listen to your voice messages and send you an email or text with the information. Kudos to you for getting through with the alarm company!

Anonymous said...

Ha, this reminds me of my doctor's office. They make my life very difficult, especially with my medical records. Even though i have IP relay, VP, etc (IP relay in the US includes a feature where you can just leave a message and the operatior will email you the message)..they refuse to do it. They call my MOM instead. I'm well into my twenties and I would like them to respect my medical confidentiality a bit more thankyouverymuch. However, for some reason, they refuse to do so, so I need to find a new doctor.


but hey, laughing at things help, especially at receptionists who hang up on you incessantly.

Michelle said...

Who would you like me to smack first for you??? *boo*hiss* My husband and I can be pretty smart a** during these instances. He'll say they really want to speak to you... I'll pick up the phone and put on my most put out annoyed voice... Hi this is me.. I'm deaf... Here's my to him.. bye... and usually that will do the job... We just have very little patience with that crapola! :-P

Anonymous said...

Well - I'm still laughing at the alarm company employee who suggested she send me a fax when alarm went off!!!


kim said...

I have a much easier time explaining that I can't hear than telling people I'm deaf too. Sometimes I just say, "My hearing's real baaad. I can't hear at all." And then it suddenly clicks-- OH! She can't HEAR! Anyway-- 'deaf' is sort of a loaded word these days. Try explaining, "I'm deaf, not Deaf."

Mog said...

All I want to say is that I agree with everyone!

Only yesterday I read a comment calling someone deaf and dumb. When I complained I was told I was being oversensitive.....

great blog

Amy said...

Just a thought on voice messages, I know it varies from country and region, but I've rung the relay operator, told her I needed help with voiced messages. I would say "hitting play now" and would listen and type my messages.

David said...

Its all so stupid and so dang funny... I'd be rolling on the floor too....erm sorry hehheh