My Thoughts

My Thoughts on Christianity and Other Things

Archive for the tag “Deaf”

Mercy for the Hearing

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:21-22

Hearing Loss Symbol

A few years ago I was in a coffee shop when I noticed a Deaf woman signing to a friend on a tablet. After she finished, I was able to start up a conversation with her. This was before I learned American Sign Language (ASL). We communicated by way of a few signs and a lot of typing on the laptop I had with me.

I learned that she was born deaf and her sister was born hard of hearing. Both have been mistreated by the hearing community. However, she has been accepted into the Deaf community because of her deafness and because she was able to learn ASL. And there she made friends. (There is a difference between Deaf and deaf; Deaf is for those in the Deaf culture and Deaf community, whereas deaf is anyone who can’t hear.)

Her sister, however, was determined (by hearing people) not to be deaf enough for deaf school or for learning sign language, and therefore was neither deaf nor hearing and had very few friends.

The problem is that hearing people can talk and understand each other. Deaf people can sign and understand each other. However, the hard of hearing can speak but not hear well. This isolates us from many hearing functions. But most hard of hearing people do not know any sign language. This isolates us from the Deaf.

A real hatred for the hearing had grown between the two sisters. So why did this woman seem so pleasant? Jesus! The Lord had shown her mercy and now she can show mercy to the hearing people. She no longer hates them. Last year, when I was studying ASL, I was amazed at how well our Deaf teacher put up with some of the stunts the hearing students pulled. But then, I do believe she is a Christian. And I hate to say this, but even though I am also a Christian, I don’t believe I could have kept my cool like she did.

I have been going occasionally to a Deaf church in a near by town, not a translated service but a Deaf pastor signing for his Deaf and deaf congregation. This church service is in an upstairs room inside of a large hearing church, but all are welcomed, and often there is someone who will speak for those who do not know ASL. How does this Deaf pastor explain to hearing people the needs of the Deaf?

Since I am trying to start a ministry to bring the hard of hearing back into church, I thought I’d ask. However, my ASL wasn’t too good, and when I did ask, I realized that I may have insulted the man. He thought I wanted to help him, when instead I was asking him for help.

I remembered all the times over the years that I was misunderstood. Being thought of as lazy or stupid because I didn’t hear properly. Being looked down upon. Many people have the misconception that the deaf and hard of hearing are helpless, that we don’t know what we need, or that only hearing people understand our needs. Of course, this is not true. To make it worse, sometimes hearing people don’t believe us when we tell them our needs. A few people have even looked down on the deaf and hard of hearing with pity or contempt.

Thinking about all this, I knew I had to make it right with the pastor in Everett. So I wrote a long letter asking for forgiveness.

I am a hard of hearing man, between both hearing and Deaf worlds. When I get this hard of hearing ministry going (God willing), I will be working across culture and sub-culture lines. I will need to give and receive a lot of grace, mercy and prayer. It is my hope that through the ministry, and through showing mercy, I will also be able to make church more accessible to the hard of hearing.

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Welcome To My World

Hearing Loss Symbol

Hearing Loss Symbol

Leviticus 19:14
“Do not insult the deaf or cause the blind to stumble. You must fear your God; I am the Lord.

“English is my second language, I have no first.” quote from me, Steve Pettijohn

Unless you had a hearing loss or deafness from a very young age, yet born to hearing parents; this may not fully make sense.

The relationship between a family member and I has taken a strange turn in the last few months. This person has entered my world.

Brief history. One of my first memories was sitting in a chair getting my hearing tested. When they found that I could hear the beeps well, they tested my IQ. When they found my IQ was good, well… they didn’t know what to do with me. So they sent me through lots and lots of speech therapy. In the 1950s and 60s no one knew what was going on. But because I can hear beeps, I made it through 14 years in the military. It was eleven years ago or so, I was finally told I have an audio processing problem. (That explains a lot)

Now fast forward. In August 2014, this relative went from a mild hearing loss to deaf in just a few days. And of course she was greatly bothered by this, and scared. She said she thought she understood hearing loss, now realized that she never had a clue.

Now I find myself in an odd role of leading her through ‘the world of not-hearing’. She would say this and that, and I would answer back, “I know. That’s normal”. She complains that nothing sounds right. She has a difficult time understanding people. So I sent her some of the articles I have written in this blog to help her out.
Afterwards, Her: “I don’t know if I can learn to do what you do.”
Me: “You can do it.”
Her: “I don’t know, I’m a lot older than you.”
Me: “I know you’re older than me. But you can still do it.”
Her: “Everything sounds the same to me.”
Me: “Yea to me too. Like B, D, E, and even the beginning of ‘October‘ and ‘awful‘ sounds the same. I also have trouble with ‘pen‘ and ‘pin‘ and many other words. Now you see why I had so much trouble learning to spell. You can’t sound out the words if they all sound the same.”
Her: “Oh yeah.” (I can’t believe it. NOW she understands? After all these years?)

As time goes on, she is going to learn a lot about my world.

I know from being with others who have grown up with a hearing loss, my experience is very typical.

So now what? I have never thought of myself as disabled because of my hearing loss, and I still don’t. She is experiencing a great drop in audio volume. Once she gets her cochlear implant the volume will be high again, however because of the implant her audio processing ability be different than ever before. At that time her hearing will most likely be much better than mine again, but because of her new audio processing difficulties she may need me to help her adjusting to her new world. The world I have lived in for nearly 60 years.

Could I be of service? I don’t know. To me this so strange because in my mind, I am not disabled from hearing loss.

Hoo Hoo Hoo-aaoo

Is it ‘hoo‘ or ‘hoot‘?

Leviticus 19:14
“Do not insult the deaf or cause the blind to stumble. You must fear your God; I am the Lord.
New Living Translation

Once in a while someone would ask me about hearing loss. There are so many things I could say, I have no idea where to start.

First, even though I do have problems hearing, I’m not deaf, and there are lots of different kinds of hearing loss. The kind I have is different than most. People with severe hearing loss are at times mistreated. And the deaf are treated worse.

Imagine being in school and your teacher gives you homework. The next day you find out that you did the work wrong. Either you did the wrong questions, didn’t read what you should or who knows. You just got it wrong. Now you’re labeled stupid, lazy, or both. Some of your friends may think of you as stupid even though an IQ test shows you’re not. Also, in high school, even though you may want to take a certain class that you know you would really like or go into a certain field of work you are told “Don’t bother”. I know a woman with severe hearing loss who wanted to be a nurse. Her nursing teacher told her not to bother because she would never make it. Well she did and even retire from being a nurse after many years. This was a long time ago before accommodations for disabled people were as standard as as they are today. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Once I had a temporary job at a place where all we did was removed old printers and replaced a few with new ones. One day a man asked me something. I was busy and didn’t understand the question. He asked again. I stopped and then realized he was asking why I was taking away ‘his’ printer. I knew he was the supervisor for that part of the office, which means he was the one that passed out the memo from the corporate office to people telling about us taking away the printers. He should have known what I was doing and why. So, why should I stop what I’m doing and concentrate on his blabbing? Thinking he was an idiot, I simply said “Because I was told to” and continued with my work. After all; why should I waste my time explaining it to him? He was supposed to know. A few months later I found out he told a few people that I ‘wasn’t too bright’ because I couldn’t understand his question and because I gave a simple answer.

But right now I’m thinking of the deaf and what they go though. According to www.silentblessings.org “Nearly 95% of all deaf children have hearing parents and only about 10% of those parents ever learn enough sign language to hold a conversation with their children.” I believe it, and it’s not acceptable. There are people out there who can’t even ask their deaf brother or sister if they want a cup of coffee.

I have known deaf people both from college and socially. In both cases people often ignore them. I have seen socially, where the deaf would just sit off to the side by themselves. Once in awhile someone would try to communicate with them using a paper and pencil. This is good that they try to communicate, but I wonder about some who have honestly known a deaf person for over 50 years and still can’t ask if they would like some coffee using language. I know I will be in trouble for writing this; but it’s true. The deaf are alone.

The hard of hearing (I have to remember to add the word ‘of’ in hard of hearing) have another problem. They’re not hearing and they’re not deaf either. This often cause other problems, both emotionally and socially. They can often hear some things but not other things. Many people don’t understand this.

Mark 16:15
And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.

Christian have been going all over the world following this command. We have learned new languages and cultures and have been willing to sacrifice to tell others of Jesus. All this is good. But, what is our excuse for not reaching out to the deaf?

I don’t like talking about myself, but as I have said earlier, my hearing is different than most. All through my life I could hear noise but not always understand what it was. Yet I have served 14 years in the US military, been a mechanic for many years, was even certified in electronic technology, and ran my own business. Still in high school I got a ‘D-‘ in music, and was about to fail. Even though sometimes I like to hear music, it’s not the same for me as maybe for you. Only a few years ago I was told that I may have Auditory Processing Disorder. I don’t like talking about this. But I was told that as I get older my hearing will get worse. Because of my type of hearing loss, hearing aids are of little or no value. I tried it once and I honestly couldn’t tell the difference, except when the hearing aid tech finally cranked up the volume so much I got feed back as I climbed into the cab of my pickup.

So if I loose more of my hearing, will I became isolated or shunned by people? I don’t know. My wife and I have talked about this from time to time. I should study more ASL. (American Sign Language)

Oh, by the way; about the title of this post. “Hoo Hoo Hoo-aaoo” is what I hear sometimes on TV. But sometimes I’ve wondered if it was Hoot, Hoot, Hoot-Owl. Trying to be wise and solve a crime may seem to fit the show if you use your imagination. Close Caption shows it as Who, Who, Who are you. It’s part of the theme song for CSI. I tried to find a website with the captioned theme song, but I couldn’t. Maybe some of you can. So I will end this with:

Mark 16:15
And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.
(including the deaf)

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