Deaf-Hearing Friendships. Is it possible?
Updated: Jun 5
So I decided to interview one of my Hearing friends as I wanted to raise awareness of Deaf-Hearing friendships. Sometimes it is hard for Deaf people to form friendships with Hearing people. But I was lucky to have met an open minded, kind person like Abi, who saw through my deafness and saw 'Louise' rather than 'Deaf Louise'.
How did we meet?
We met because your boyfriend at the time (Stephen), is one of my friends and is also best friends with my partner. I believe that we met on a night at the local pub called The Kings Head and I thought you were very sweet.
When you first found out I was deaf, were you anxious about meeting me? What were your thoughts beforehand?
Before I met you, my partner, Chris told me that he went on a night out with you, Stephen and some other friends for Halloween and he told me that you were deaf. I asked him how deaf he believed you were and he advised that you could hear some things, but you were also good at lip reading, so I made sure that when I met you, I spoke clearly and tried not to speak too fast.
I also asked if you spoke differently as my only previous experience, was when I was a home carer and dealt with severely deaf clients.
How did you feel when you first met me?
When I first met you I found you very interesting and was curious as to how you would deal with communication in a loud area, like a pub. I noticed you were being quiet and I thought that you felt left you so I made sure that I got you involved in conversations and also has lots of one to one conversations with you.
Did you feel that my deafness ‘put you off’ being friends with me? Why?
The fact that you were deaf made no difference to me and most definitely didn’t put me off being your friend.
Silly question, but I’m curious… Why do you want to be my friend? What are your general thoughts about me as a friend?
There are no such things as silly questions, I am friends with you because you are very caring and loyal. You are a very sweet girl and sometimes can be a bit vulnerable in certain situations and I like to protect you and offer you advice or guidance to help you out and grow your confidence. You also have the most amazing face and are always so happy to let me do your make up!
Do you ever feel frustrated or embarrassed when I don’t hear you? What are your methods to overcome this barrier?
I never feel embarrassed or frustrated when you don’t hear me as it’s not your fault that you can’t hear. If you don’t hear me the first time, I will normally repeat myself but make my words more pronounced. If you then still can’t hear me, I will then write down what I was trying to say on my phone and show you.
How do you feel about us watching films/TV programmes with subtitles? Does it bother you? Why?
I enjoy our cinema trips together and I don’t notice the subtitles after about 20 minutes as I am normally involved in the film.
If I don’t hear you the first time, or the second … etc. What do you do next? Do you think it’s okay to say “it doesn’t matter, don’t worry”
As mentioned above, if you don’t hear after the second time, I will write it down on my phone and show you so that you can read what I am trying to explain or say. I don’t personally think it’s okay to say “it doesn’t matter” as it comes across rude and like you can’t be bothered to make the effort to try and communicate.
If you were in my shoes, and you were deaf, how do you think you would feel and how would you cope?
I think I would always feel as if I was missing out as I wouldn’t be able to hear my favourite music and would miss out on the little things that make me smile, such as my dog snoring or birds chirping in the morning. I would hope that people would be understanding and help me where they could.
What do you think as a hearing person, is the biggest misconception of deafness/hearing loss?
I think the biggest misconception is the way people speak. I am guilty of this too. I also think people don’t understand the different types of hearing loss and that it can affect anybody.
Do you think I should ‘pimp’ my hearing aids, or leave them as they are? Why?
I think you should do whatever makes you feel comfortable. If you want them to blend in and don’t want attention brought to them, then leave them as they are. But if you are proud of them and want them to stand out, then make them stand out. Be loud and proud and raise awareness where you can. You can educate others through your own experiences and that’s a powerful thing.
Finally, can you picture us still being friends in the years to come?
Yes of course I can, hopefully we will be friends until we are old and grey.
Thanks again Abi for your time and for answering these questions for me! You're a star!