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Communication Skills Choices

By January 25, 2011

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Late-deafened people have one advantage that very young deaf children do not. They can make the choice whether to learn sign language or speak only. Are you a late-deafened person? What choice did you make? Tell your choice and explain it on this new Readers Respond page.

January 27, 2011 at 3:12 am
(1) MM says:

I would differ, children learn a lot easier and quicker because of their youth, older people who go deaf also do NOT ‘select’ which mode to use, again it depends on a number of factors, ability being the main issue. Lifestyle and social also are major factors. We do NOT Have any ‘advantage’ over a child, indeed many suffer acute depression poor mental health and isolation as well as breakdowns, you combine that with split families and losing friends/work too, then communication can become academic as well. I lip read a bit, sign a bit, guess a LOT ! that’s our ‘choices’, ask any of us late deafened.

We also have NO educational support of communication, just a rag, tag and bobtail piecemeal arrangement determined by where you live,often, nothing at all. Using us as an example with born deaf children is comparing apples with elephants. We cannot be compared with born deaf adults either, we are the third way.

February 2, 2011 at 9:26 am
(2) ramona rusilko says:

i agree-late deaf in early 20′s got hearing aids-totally did not think i was “disabled” at all-kept working but very difficult-did not think about taking sign or anything else-also “learned” to lipread a bit without really realizing i was doing that-took 3 sign classes very basic but figured it was futile because no one i know knows sign!! family took a bit but no practice-too hard dont see them enuf. hubby could not “get it”-daugther finally took sign at college just last month and she very much enjoyed-but i have cochlear implant and they spoiled but i still cannot hear very well even with -it is my lifeline to the hearing world for sure but i still have problems hearing-noise, ppl talking really soft, just everything. i am older now and love to work, but that is futile also. communication is priority in everything-ppl dont have patience to have to do the “special” things we need-get our attention, speak directly to us, etc. world is so fast now they just want go go go and just get so irritated-i kinda give up. i received approval for SSI benefits thank God but i truly never thought of myself as disabled as i said above-i am very active-but learned (and still forget) that i cannot be normal-even after all this time i greive-frustration, anxiety, and dont go out much! would rather have people come over so we can actually visit and talk rather than going to a restaurant where i dont have a clue what is going on-so that being said-when late deaf your whole life turns around everyone else is the same-so what do you do???? try your best-i am still figuring it out!!! thanks

February 1, 2011 at 9:12 pm
(3) Rita says:

I have high tone deafness. I can hear, just not low tones, in groups, when people don’t move their lips or they mumble, meetings etc. I learned to lip read, got very expensive aids years ago. I had help getting them. They helped alot.
I chose to learn signing. I work with A Typical children and teach them signing. So I am helping myself as well as these children, many who cannot talk yet.
It is difficult not to be bitter when people around you know you have hearing loss and yet they choose not to speak to you, make fun of you because you miss the point, look at you like you’re foolish, even laugh in your face, or they come up behind you to frighten you!

Learning is always good, ignorance is not bliss. This applies to the hearing and deaf community.

February 1, 2011 at 9:31 pm
(4) Patty says:

Hi Jaime!

Being Late Deafend is difficult for a number of factors, depending on age of onset- for me, it was age 35- and then, total at age 42. I did go to a post secondary school for deaf and hard of hearing, but took classes with the Deaf community. Learning sign language was difficult and because my family does not know it, and has not desire to learn, makes it harder. There is really no one to practice or learn more sign with, I really do try to function as a hearing person, because that’s all I know. It is scary. It is isolating, and people don’t understand. Finding employment is difficult.
I am single and do a lot on my own. I do know a few – maybe 4 people who have lost hearing later and they depend on family members for a lot of communication help.
Children tend to learn quicker and adapt better. For an older person, there are many barriers and much impatience with hearing loss.
Maintaining independence and doing things on my own is difficult but keeps me from feeling like I am losing myself. I wish there was more help out there. Losing hearing is not just a part of getting old, it happens to young people too. We are a group all by ourselves, not culturally deaf, not totally deaf, but on the fence.
Thank you for giving me the chance to post this..

February 1, 2011 at 10:27 pm
(5) Ray says:

I tend to agree with MM in that late deafened adults have to wing it and adapt the best way individually. Not much of an advantage there. That’s about the only choice.

I laugh at the “guess a lot” because sometimes it’s when you respond to what you think you heard but it’s NOT what was said and it can be humorous. Other times it’s hurtful because you’re not “getting it” and that burden gets heavy.

February 1, 2011 at 10:31 pm
(6) DCA says:

I lost most of my usable hearing overnight at age 50. My hearing ability rests on a narrow slice – I have just “too much” hearing to be eligible for cochlear implants, and just “little enough” hearing so that I am unable to hear speech adequately, w/ even the most advanced aids. My world was a hearing one – I held a professional position with many hearing/speaking people reporting to me; my family members were all hearing/speaking. I had a church group, circle of friends, etc. What I desperately wanted was to be able to maintain my place in my existing world, even though I had lost the ability to hear. In many cases, that was apprently impossible, or I did not find the Rosetta stone that opened those opportunities. As another contributor mentioned, clinical depression very often accompanies late-deafness, and makes every adjustment harder.
I do not sign. I consulted with audiologists, hearing children of deaf parents, etc. The consensus was that signing was not likely to move me to where I wanted to be in terms of communication. For one thing, siging is apparently a “use it or lose it” skill, and I anticipated little opportunity to use it on a regular basis. Even though my grown children, my spouse, etc. offered to learn sign language, we all live some distance from each other, and they would have very little opportunity to practice it or become fluent. One of the audiologists I worked with is a hearing child of deaf parents. It was her experience that the deaf society/culture that her parents inhabit was not accepting of her as part of their group, even though she is fluent at signing, having done so all her life. They still refer to her in signed conversation as “that hearing person.” Because I heard the world around me for half a century, I have been unable or unwilling to be content unless I am comprehending spoken word. I lip-read, get some environmental sounds from my aids, depend heavily on context and gestures, and sometimes resort to pen and paper.

February 1, 2011 at 11:03 pm
(7) JBBOOKS! says:

I have tried to find help. I have bilateral cochlear implants and they are God’s blessing but in a crowd or background noise and I’m lost. I guess a lot. When a person talks to me and I have no idea what is being said I react to body motions such as a smile or laughter I do likewise and fake it.
I was told that I am too old to learn sign language.(64). I would like to have a part time job but not much demand for old deaf guys. I can’t where implants all the time and when they are off,I am totaly deaf.

February 1, 2011 at 11:04 pm
(8) Renee says:

After a profound sudden hearing loss, I was really at a loss as to what to do. Originally I was told that my type of hearing loss would not be helped by hearing aids. 363 days later I was fitted with a CIC hearing aid. Unfortunately, it does not help much and I still struggle. At some point I would like to learn sign language because I feel it would benefit me in the event that I lose hearing in my “good” ear. For quite some time I was in denial about the hearing loss and pretty much isolated myself. Now I am back in college and am being helped by the use of a speech to text device. What a world of difference. I regret that it has taken me 3-1/2 years to ask for help.

February 1, 2011 at 11:56 pm
(9) Janice says:

I’m late deafened so my social and professional world for several decades was the hearing world.

I do have an interest in learning sign, however that which I have learned is soon forgotten because learning sign in my social and family setting in, is a little bit like learning Swahili then moving to China with little hope of progressive use.

Everyone that I know in my life, that knows a ‘little bit’ of sign language, makes our lack of usage and fluency in ASL a little like like playing ‘Chopsticks’ on the piano as our only tune. This amidst the overwhelming quality and depth of language that both music and sign language have.

I opt to view signed video and try to develop fluency on my own, but again, my world provides little more than a ‘Chopsticks’ concerto that seems to be a total mockery of what real mastery of ASL could be.

So I’m picking my battles. I have a lot of good things going on. I just admire the language, but from afar.

February 2, 2011 at 6:11 am
(10) MA says:

I agree with MM. We (late-deafened) also do not learn signing because, it really takes at least 2 people. If I were to know signing, I would have to have someone to sign to me! and demographics is a big thing. Plus, it is very hard to find work, bad enough as an older person, but a deaf older person!!!!
The only advantage we have is that we know what things sound like and we know songs and music and have sounds in our memory bank. (Although that itself can bring on more depression)

February 2, 2011 at 3:37 pm
(11) Robin says:

Comparing culturally Deaf to deafened is apples and oranges. I became deafened overnight as college sophomore. There was no captioning in those days. I finally did start learning sign and somehow became fluent (lots of patient Deaf folks!) But as the other comment said, there are problems of depression in being cut off from famil, friends, worship, any kind of group activity.
As for the question, yes, I do sign and I’m proud of those skills.

February 2, 2011 at 8:18 pm
(12) CatAngel4God says:

I’m 43 and just found out I need hearing aids. My right ear is savere and my left is moderate. I can still hear but I miss a lot of what people say. I’m trying to trace my past to find out when I started having hearing problems. I traced my problem all the way back to age 16 for sure. I have a feeling I was born HOH but it just gradualy got worse. I have always talked very loud and have always watched peoples mouths as they speak but nobody ever diagnosed me when I was young. I can’t figure out how I learned to speak though. I had a lot of trouble learning to read and write but once I passed that stage, I memorize how to spell, maybe since I finaly learned to spell it helped me learn to speak better. My mom is dead so I can’t ask her questions. I have had tennitis since age 5 for sure because I remember thinking there were bees in my ears and I was so scared of the dark because that is when the noise got so loud. I was premature 3 lb 6 oz so I chalk it up to that. So I do read lips a little and also can sign a little because I learned how to sign a little when I had a friend that was deaf. I want to take classes to sign and read lips better but it costs money and I’m living on disability. I don’t even have hearing aids yet because I can’t afford them so I’m waiting patiently for the lions club to help me out. I do have bipolar so I’m not even sure I could learn signing cuz my memory is bad so I agree with MM.

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