Tag Archives: hearing-impairment

I saw the sign: My evening of comedy with Ray Bradshaw.

Ray BIt is Fringeworld time again here in Western Australia and to be honest, I was not particularly psyched about it this year, mainly because I could not navigate the festival’s website or guide with my screen reader software.

Then I read about a show called Deaf Comedy Fam by Ray Bradshaw, a stand-up comedy gig about life as a hearing person living with deaf parents.

I have always been hearing impaired and I have worn hearing aids on and off throughout my life. I currently wear a hearing aid in my right ear and I have a cochlear implant on the left.

I have also always felt a bit self-conscious about my lack of hearing. Often feeling guilty at the frustration I cause by my constant reply of “pardon” and feeling stupid when I still can’t get it after one thousand repeats

I hoped that by seeing this show I might overcome this, a cheap form of therapy you might say. You know what? That is exactly what happened.

For those of you who do not know of him yet, Ray Bradshaw is a young Scottish comedian who was one of three children of deaf parents.

Note: Hearing impaired and Deaf are different. The former (i.e. me) can hear somethings with assistance, while the latter hear nothing at all.

The show consisted of Ray standing on stage dressed entirely in black and standing in front of a black curtain. He gave his performance in English while interpreting himself in sign language AT THE SAME TIME! It was incredible.

I assume that the choice of outfit and staging was to aid the audience in being able to see the signing.

I have not seen such impressive multi-tasking since I did the aerobatic flight back in 2015. On that day, the pilot was; controlling the plane, being in constant contact with the control tower, and keeping up a natural conversation with me all while doing stomach-churning tricks in an effort to make me throw up. I did not by the way.

Who says men cannot multitask?

Ironically, this was also the day where my ears were blocked so my hearing was worse than usual and I cannot understand sign language (not that it would have helped, I am also visually impaired), so I almost did not go. As it turned out though, the acoustics in that room at The Brass Monkey were perfect so it was not a problem. I wonder if that was just a coincidence.

The other example of irony I spied was the fact that a comedy show about disability was upstairs so I had to walk up the stairs and get Damion to carry my wheelchair up. This just goes to show that not all disabilities are created equal. The staff were super helpful though.

I know many Scottish people and in my experience; they tend to speak fast. Ray did not though, he spoke slowly. Not in a patronising way mind you. It was more in a “I really want you to get what I’m saying since you paid for your ticket” kind of way. This is probably due to the fact that he was signing too I would imagine.

I cornered him after the show for a chat and this is not his default mode though. I think he did automatically start signing to me but stopped when he realised I could hear him. He is so lovely.

***NOTE to PERFORMERS: Beware. If you do something and I like it, I will attempt to bond with you. ***

I learnt some cool stuff too. For example:

Did you know that sign language differs from country to country? Even in different countries that speak the same spoken language. I assumed it would be universal.

Or, that sign language doesn’t only rely on the hands but your posture and your facial expressions too? In fact, the way you hold your eyebrows can change a sentence entirely.

On a less technical note, I learnt the mischief kids could get up to when Mum and Dad cannot hear. This has further strengthened my resolve never to have children.

Of course, I also learnt some sign language. Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I learnt them from Damion who learned them from watching Ray not from Ray himself (my ability to see detail is not that good).

I learned the words “Scottish,” Irish, Brothel” and “Shit”.

 

I would be happy to demonstrate them to you. But as my left hand is permanently clawed, and given the details of the second fact above, who knows what I would actually be saying.

I did have cause to sign “Scottish” at the gym on Sunday and I was not even referencing the show. But I do not think I will use the first two very often other than that. I do love using the “S bomb” though, and we do have not one, but two brothels around the corner from our apartment building.
Perhaps I will have to give someone covert directions one day.

They really would be covert directions too, unless the other person happens to speak sign language as well.

XOXO

PS – Ray if you are reading this; loved the show. Let’s be friends!

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The socialite in the wallflower’s body: 10 Tips for socialising with someone who is hearing-impaired

So the other day I went to yet another party where I was unable to interact. Not only was I extremely bored but I also felt like a bit of a moron and, if I’m honest, a loser. Not to mention, claustrophobic.
It’s not that I don’t want to interact. But what you have to understand is, when you have a hearing aid, interaction can sometimes be very hard. You can hear everything.
From the clatter of someone’s high-heeled shoe on the hard floor. To the crackling of the opening of a chip packet and the crunching of the people eating them. And, if there is music, well forget it.
Yet in actual fact all I’m really hearing is nothing. A whole lot nothing!
But it’s not like the din in a night club. You can’t just raise your voice.
Often with a hearing aid as sounds get louder they also become more distorted. So chances are even if I can hear you I won’t be able to understand you.
People do try though. Bit it doesn’t last long. Either I will give up because of frustration or, having repeated themselves 100,000 times, others think I’m a moron because I can’t understand plain English. And technically I guess I can’t.
I hate getting invited to parties.  It makes me incredibly anxious.
Do I go knowing that I will not be able to participate and not enjoy myself?  Or do I decline, risk being branded as “The friend that always cancels” and risk not being off ever again?
And what if I do go and people feel that they need to babysit me because I look lonely? That’s no fun for anyone!

I don’t speak for every hearing impaired person, but  I prefer not to be invited at all.

Though I do reserve the right to be jealous when looking at photos of the event on Facebook and feeling a little bit miffed that I wasn’t involved. What can I say?  I’m complicated!
In an effort not to kill my social life completely though, here are some tips for socialising with a friend or family member who has a hearing impairment:

1. Try and pick a venue that is quiet or at least not too crowded. Places that have any music playing or worse, a band, will mean that your companion will be almost completely unable to hear you at all. Outdoor venues are good.

2. Try and keep your catch up to a maximum of three people at a time. Any more than that and you risk the possibility of more than one conversation going on at the table at one time. This will mean that the person who has the hearing impairment will not be able to participate in either one.

3. Concerts, movies, the theatre etc. are all perfectly fine to suggest for an outing. However, comments and questions should be saved until after the show because whispering in their ear is pretty useless.

4. Most people who have a hearing impairment have a preferred ear (mine is my right). Use it. And, if possible, let the person with the hearing impairment sit with most of the group on that side too when you’re out.

5. It is okay to tap them on the shoulder. In fact, it’s highly recommended. If they’re anything like me,just coming up behind or beside them and starting a sentence will scare them half to death.

6. As mentioned above, sometimes the problem is not the volume it’s the clarity. If a room is echoey then there is too much sound and your voice is distorted, not too soft. Stop yelling.

7. Face them when you are talking, they might be able to pick up some visual cues. Having said that though don’t assume that they know sign language. I am also visually impaired so I probably wouldn’t see them anyway.

8.  Be patient. If it is frustrating for you that they cannot hear/understand you. T rust me, they are frustrated too.  Getting upset makes me feel stupid. And you look like a dick!

9.  Excuse them if they are yelling at you.  Sometimes, a hearing aid will pick up sounds that you might not notice. Sounds may seem louder to them than they do to you.  They may inadvertently raise their voice above the din even if they do not have to. Throw us a bone, tell us if we’re doing this. We mean to be talking to you, not the whole room.

10. If in doubt, send a text. If you try to call me while we’re out the venue will be too loud for me to hear you on the phone. But, this can also work in reverse. Even if you ring while I am in a quiet place, if you’re somewhere noisy, all I’m going to hear is the noise.

XOXO