Language & Communication12th November 2013

Attitude Makes the Difference

Attitude to deafness varies, in my experience it makes all the difference.

by Sarah Lawrence

More so than ever before in my life, I have noticed recently just how much attitudes to deafness make the difference. As a Deaf woman, I had got myself into a position where I had stopped thinking about the way people engaged with me, looked down their nose at me, and prejudged my level of intelligence because I was Deaf. I had just grown tired of fighting, not physically but mentally, torturing myself about whether some of the difficulties I faced were my fault. I grew tired of tormenting myself!

‚Äč Most recently, following a re-calculation of my personal values, I have begun to notice the world around me again. The one thing I see most clearly, is that attitudes toward me make the difference between good communication and an effective interaction and a poor fractious exchange. 

This afternoon was a really good example. I went to a small Post Office and a small Barclays Bank. I was dealt with by two lady cashiers. Each of them began to talk to me, but when I indicated that I was Deaf, both of the ladies smiled at me, and instantly I knew, this was going to be ok. They both took time, and both kept really good eye contact. When they were speaking to me, they looked straight at me, not down or to the side. 

They were engaging throughout, smiling and warm, and I never felt for one moment that I was a problem or an inconvenience to them. 

That is so different to many other engagements I have had. 

Despite the hundreds and possibly thousands of contacts I have had that left me feeling anxious or annoyed, I think I approach each interaction positively. I always smile when I approach someone, and I always strive to do what I can to make things as simple as possible. I don’t expect someone to be able to ‘sign’ or know how to lip speak. I don’t expect them to be fantastic communicators. What I expect is for people not to judge me, to be patient and to have some rudimentary knowledge of what to do. But more than anything I expect people to know that their attitude will influence how things go. 

If everyone involved in a communication adopt positive, helpful attitudes when engaging with me, I think it would make a world of difference.


Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Community / Language & Communication

12th November 2013