Maybe you saw a deaf mom at the playground with her kids, or maybe you saw her at the preschool drop off. You would love to meet her and spark up a conversation, but you feel nervous.
“Would I get judged? I don’t want to make a fool of myself. She caught me staring at her! Gosh, why was I staring at her?! I am sure she thinks I am strange by now. I am going to try to blend in the background now.”
Or maybe you felt bold enough to approach her. YAY! But… the conversation ended abruptly, and both of you went your separate ways right away. You overthink the conversation, and it stresses you out to the point you have started losing sleep over this. You would love to know what to do next time, so you can get to know her better.
Well... I am here to save you, because I am going to tell you my 10 best tips for interacting with a deaf mom!
Here are my 10 best tips for interacting with a deaf mom:
- Tap the deaf mom on the shoulder and stand in front of her to start the conversation. Be equipped with a piece of paper or your phone to type notes back and forth. Be open to communicating in whatever way she prefers, such as hand gestures, writing on a piece of paper, texting (phone notes), lip reading, etc.
- Don’t make assumptions when you chat with the deaf mom. Don’t assume that she can read your lips. I can read lips, but it depends on the individual. Some people’s lips are easier to read while others are impossible. If you have an accent, a beard, lip piercings or tend to talk with small movements, it is likely I will not understand you. When a person ask if I can read lips, I will say “no” or “a little bit.” The most important thing to remember… Do not shout, because that does not improve the deaf mom’s ability to understand you at all. Also, it is rude and embarrassing.
- Maintain eye contact and keep your body toward the deaf mom. Eye contact is so IMPORTANT in our deaf culture. If you continue to move your eyes away, she would think you are not interested in chatting with her. Try to avoid being distracted by other people or noises ― unless it is your child screaming. It is no fun having our conversations with hearing people interrupted abruptly by other hearing people or noises.
- Be careful labeling the deaf mom or other deaf people as hearing impaired or deaf and dumb. These words hold a negative meaning to us, so the appropriate words to use would be deaf or hard of hearing.
- Don’t say things like, “Hey! You know… That thing, cochlear implants? I hear such amazing things about them, so why don’t you have them?” Just don’t. Unless she lives under a rock, she probably already did her research. We get asked this question all of the time. Maybe some of us did not do our research because we are perfectly happy being deaf. You will probably get either a rude answer or the conversation will end right away.
- Please don’t ask the deaf mom’s kids to interpret for you. It is not their responsibility to interpret for you or their mom.
- Don’t pretend to know sign language by moving your hands around. You will look like a fool and you will feel offended if she laughs at you.
- If you happen to know sign language, even just fingerspelling, don’t be shy to show off! However, remember that knowing some sign words doesn’t make you fluent in ASL, just like knowing some Spanish words doesn’t make you fluent in Spanish. Please don’t tell her that you know how to sign when you really don’t. She would assume that you are fluent. The conversation would end up being uncomfortable when she starts signing to you and noticing a blank stare on your face. We enjoy teaching non-signers how to sign, so don’t hesitate to ask.
- Encourage your kids to play with her kids. It will benefit everyone and teach your kids how to communicate in various ways. It would do your kids good to learn how to pay attention to gestures instead of relying on their ears because that would help them either right away or in the future when they meet a deaf person or a person with a different language.
- If you enjoy interacting with the deaf mom and want to spend more time together outside the playground or the preschool, ask for her text number! It could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship for everyone involved, including your kids.
I have provided the best tips for you on how to interact with a deaf mom effectively.
You can check the PROS & CONS of being deaf here to educate yourself even further. However, if you feel unsure, please ask the deaf mom for suggestions or tips to improve the communication between you both. You’re welcome!
PSST, the tips can be used for any deaf or hard-of-hearing people, not just deaf moms. Actually, some of the tips can be used for hearing people, too!
Did you learn something new from this post?
About the Writer: Elizabeth is a deaf mom lifestyle blogger writing about her unique lifestyle as a deaf mom to a hearing child. She enjoys being a stay at home mom, going on adventures with her little family, doing DIY tutorials, taking pretty pictures, renovating her 900 sq ft home and supporting small businesses. Join her on her journey at Mommy Gone Tropical and/or follow her along at Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest.