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If you assume every Deaf person can lip read flawlessly, didn't realize Deaf people can drive, or thought you were being helpful by exaggerating your mouth movements when speaking to a Deaf person, this episode of Misconceptions is for you.

@TreshelleEdmond , @HaroldFoxxTV @melmira & Dickie Hearts (who also penned this script) share Misconceptions About Deaf People, from the seemingly small to the seriously significant.

Directed by Alexandria Wailes

 “Can you read my lips?” No, I can't.

Write  it down, or type it out on your smartphone!   “But try. Just try.” Maybe now, with the pandemic, and a lot of people wearing masks, people  will finally stop asking about this.

Fact: an extremely good lip-reader, deaf or  not, will probably catch less than 50% of the words a person speaks. That’s more  than half of the information missing. That’s an F. Imagine if you  got a 45% on your Spanish exam.

Would it be easy to communicate in Mexico? There are so many misconceptions about deaf people that it would be impossible to address them all in  one video. It can be pretty frustrating at times, but one way the Deaf community deals with  this misinformation is our sense of humor.

The worst, when it comes to lip-reading, is if  the person’s lips are dried, crusty, or have a pimple nearby, ready to pop. Ew. Believing  that every deaf person is a lip-reading expert is just the first misconception about Deaf people  we’re going to discuss today.

Let’s get started. I can walk just fine, but when I’m at the airport  I’ve had people bring out a wheelchair to help me. I guess it’s meant as a nice gesture?

I  honestly don’t understand it. Though I will admit, it can be kind of useful if you’re suffering  from a hangover. Not that I would know… Hearing people sometimes act like if one thing  is “wrong” with you, everything is wrong with you.

We can get into the really problematic idea  that it’s “wrong” to be deaf later, but for now, let’s make it clear: being deaf is  unrelated to your ability to walk. I feel like that should be obvious… We’re deaf, not blind. Please stop handing us Braille pamphlets or books.

There are people  out there who actually need them: Blind people. Actually, researching this script, we learned  that braille literacy has been declining over the years amongst blind people—but that’s a  discussion for another time and another host. We can drive.

But this wasn’t always the  case, legally. Some states originally had laws banning Deaf people from getting a driver’s  license. Through public education and lobbying, organizations like the National Association of the  Deaf and its state committees were eventually able to repeal discriminatory laws like this one.

In 2006, a federal court ruled that UPS could no longer deny jobs driving their  smaller trucks to Deaf people. In fact, did you know there  are deaf racers out there? Ashley Fiolek is a Deaf American  former professional motocross racer.

She’s currently a stunt actor. That’s  right. A deaf woman who’s a racer.

Woot. And she’s not just getting around town and  struggling to parallel park, like me. She’s an AMA/WMX National Motocross Champion and  won two X Games gold medals.

Not too bad. That brings us to Misconception #4—is it 4,  or 400? So many.

Anyway, speaking louder at us or making exaggerated mouth movements  at us doesn’t make any difference. Zero. Nothing.

And you just look weird  exaggerating your mouth and yelling at Deaf people. No offense. Just write it  down.

Or better yet: learn sign language. Misconception #500: sign language is universal. The responses and gawks I get from hearing  people when they learn it’s not universal.

The language I use is called ASL for a reason:  A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N American Sign Language. Right! There’s Japanese Sign Language,  German Sign Language, Mexican Sign Language.

Right! French Sign Language, Italian Sign Language… OK, I think they get it.   "But why? Isn’t it easier to, like,  just have one universal sign language?”   “Wouldn’t it be easier to have  one universal spoken language?” Same thing here.

Spoken languages  developed in different times and places, and they use different words. Same  thing with different sign languages. There’s even slang sign language, which  can vary according to the type of education someone received, the community  they’re a part of, and their age.

And American Sign Language isn’t  just an adapted version of English. It’s a distinct language with its own structure  and grammar. Call that a bonus misconception.

False. And that goes the same for signing: not  all deaf people sign. And that’s okay.

Think about it like this: you can be part of the LGBTQ+  community, but that doesn’t mean only one thing. Spoiler alert: I’m really gay. Just because I have no interest in bisexuality, it doesn’t mean I can’t  be in a community with people who are bi.

In the Deaf community, there is a variety,  too. There are deaf, hard-of-hearing, and late-deafened people, just to name a few. Late-deafened is a person who grew up hearing, then lost some or all of  their hearing as an adult.

Thank you. No problem. Some deaf people can speak, some can’t, some can speak but prefer not to  and would rather use sign language instead.

Most deaf people have a preference, and in my  experience, the consensus of the Deaf community in the United States is that deaf people use sign  language as their primary mode of communication. That’s important to know, but again—different  people can be different. When you’re coming in contact with a deaf person, be prepared  to A) Get an ASL interpreter.

B) Write it down or type it out. And C) Learn to sign! Let deaf people tell you their preference.

Their agency matters. That reminds  me of misconception #64357: cochlear implants are a cure-all for the Deaf. It’s really not.

In fact, the idea that the cochlear implant is the only solution for  a deaf child is harmful in multiple ways. Deaf children should have all the resources  available to them to maximize their potential, and that includes sign language. Think about it this way.

Why is there a need for a “cure” for deafness? The Deaf  community is proud of its culture and language. Why would we want to eradicate all of that?

We have Deaf people with cochlear implants, Deaf people with hearing aids, and  Deaf people without any of those—plus hard of hearing people who are often placed  under the umbrella of the word “Deaf.” Sign language can be a way to unify  those different groups of people. And learning sign language can actually  help speed up speech development and the acquisition of written language for children,  among other benefits. If I had a Deaf child, I’d make sure they learn ASL and English.

Throw  Mexican Sign Language and Spanish in there, too. Why the hell not? There’s no “one-size-fits-all” pants, right?

So why should we think one approach will be  right for every deaf person? Some people are not candidates for cochlear implants at all, and those  who do use them won’t all have the same results. It’s often a complicated question  for families to consider, but luckily we don’t have to  believe in the myths of the past, like the false idea that ASL will get in  the way of English language learning.

Misconception #...where are we  at now? Let’s just say 200,000. Denying someone access to an employment  opportunity just because of their deafness is actually discrimination.

And  that’s for a good reason. The are so many successful culturally Deaf people  out there: we have Deaf CEOs, like Chris Soukup, Deaf lawyers, a Deaf White House  receptionist, Leah Katz-Hernandez, Deaf supermodels like Nyle DiMarco, who won  season 22 of America’s Next Top Model and deaf superheroes—Lauren Ridloff is in Marvel’s upcoming  movie Eternals—check that out (not an ad). There are deaf doctors, deaf  directors, the list goes on… We’re out here.

We exist! That’s not to say that people in the Deaf community don’t face challenges,  or that just because some people are excelling in their fields it means everyone is doing  great. Deaf people, on average, attain less education than Hearing people, and it’s a  problem that needs to be fixed.

But it’s important to realize that being deaf doesn’t mean  you can’t be successful in all types of ways. Last but not least: deaf people aren’t  “hearing-impaired.” Please stop using this phrase. It might seem like a small thing, but the  words we choose can affect our perceptions.

We’re not broken and in need of being repaired. Many Deaf people consider “hearing impaired”  an offensive slur, for this reason. We’re not trying to be hearing.

We just want to be  ourselves, which is just that: Deaf. I may speak and have hearing aids, but that does not make  me any less of a Deaf person. I prefer to use ASL because that’s the best way to express myself!

Speaking English is boring for me, to be honest. I don’t speak and I don’t  have anything in my ears. I’m just deaf.

I could write back and  forth with you, but I prefer to sign. It’s just easier. It’s more visual, and  for me it’s better.

And it’s our language. The Deaf community is diverse. There  are Deaf people born to hearing parents, Deaf people born to Deaf parents, mainstreamed,  Deaf-schooled, born Deaf, late-deafened, oral deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind, Deaf and  disabled.

There are Deaf people who are also trans, gay, straight, cis… There are Deaf people  of all ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. Hearing people, we love you. But  these misconceptions have got to go.

It’s 2021. C’mon. Get with the program.

Right? I’m proud to be deaf. Me too.

I’m proud to be deaf.