My nana is going deaf. (She’s 93 years old now but started losing her hearing about a decade ago).
Being the only Deaf person in my family, it has been such an interesting experience for me to share with her. My uncles (her sons) mumble, speak softly, have beards and moustaches, cover their mouths when they speak, look away when they speak.
I’ve avoided unnecessary interactions with them throughout my life.
But now, nana’s missing things and I find I have the courage to stand up and advocate for her – for me. Finally.
“Hey, speak up!”
“Say that again please?”
“Move your hand, we can’t see your face.”
And funnily enough, no one else notices when nana smiles and nods uncomprehendingly. But I recognise it. I know this tactic! I’ve done this ‘smile and nod’ many times in my life (hoping like hell that the message isn’t critically important or that I can ask someone else to fill me in afterwards)
When communicating with others, it’s the responsibility of the communicator to ensure their message is understood. Don’t necessarily trust a smile and a nod.
As a Deaf person who has used, loved, and continued to learn Auslan throughout my life, it was when I started studying the Diploma of Auslan (Deaf cohort 2018) that I was awestruck by how beautifully complex Auslan is.