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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Deaf Etiquette 

Some time ago, KT asked me a simple question that caused me to ponder for a moment. I thought I'd expand the question into a few questions. First, lemme explain the scenario.

Before I begin, we all know that hearing people can talk to one another regardless of any barriers, (through doors, crowded people, etc.) with the exception of noises. The loudness of background noise will determine whether hearing people will continue talking or cease.

Deaf people's mode of communication is signs. Therefore, one aspect, an important one, of signing is the use of eyes for communication and reception of another's conversation.

Setting: The Metro

Granted, there are peak times when the Metro cars are packed. If you're sitting across the aisle from someone else, carrying on a conversation in signs is generally impossible or suspended until there is more space for people to spread out.

Now, the scenario I want to direct your attention is when the Metro isn't packed. You're sitting across the aisle from a Deaf friend/significant other/relative/whatever. You've come across a Metro stop. People get off and then other people get on. You're carrying on a conversation. In come a person or two and they've decided to stand, during the ride, instead of sitting down, even when there are seats available.

Now, this person just decided to park him/herself right in front of your field of vision, preventing you from carrying on a conversation. You're thinking, "my gawd, you must be oblivious to see that there are people carrying on a conversation in signs". Perhaps, this person does see it but just doesn't give a rat's ass about it. You know how people in DC can be! Perhaps, this person is just extremely ignorant to understand that there is a need for spatial clearance in order for Deaf people carry a conversation.

Generally, what I'll do, and I've seen other Deafies do this as well, is lean a bit to the side until eye contact is made with the recipient and the conversation continues. If the person in the middle moves, we'll lean to the other side and resume. I'm laughing about it right now because this is just hilarious, thinking about it.

Now, the question, is the person blocking our view rude or just plain ignorant? Sure, we'd like to say that this person is rude and ignorant. However, if you had to pick one and apply it, which would you pick? Rude? Ignorant? Or is this something that Deaf people should just 'bite the bullet' and accept it as a reality of life?

Another question I'd like to pose is that if a person was blocking your view, would you tap that person to get outta the way, politely, so you can continue the conversation? (Of course, there is the possibility of that person refusing to comply. You know DC people *area*) Would you just hold the conversation until the visual barrier is removed?

Or is there another method you would choose to clear the visual blockage? Do tell!

ta ta...