Deaf houses may look like any other, but there are differences. Some are subtle, some are not. Next time you find yourself hanging out with Deaf friends, see if you can notice these signs.
My husband and I are Deaf and we have two hearing children. When we have hearing guests to our home who have had little to no exposure to Deaf people, there is almost always an instance of something in our home they have never seen before. To us, it’s fun to share these things about our home because it’s an opportunity to show what’s fun/funny in our world and at the same time share some good information. Usually an informative discussion ensues followed by a “Huh! Well that’s interesting!” to punctuate their enlightenment. So, this is a little list I put together that may give you a chuckle as well as the inside track.
You may be in a Deaf House if:
You smell burned popcorn
The reason deaf people burn popcorn made in the microwave is because the main indicator that it’s ready is when the popping slows to 1-2 seconds between pops. Deaf people don’t hear the pop which leaves us to our other senses to guesstimate its readiness: subtle visuals in the way the bag moves when it pops and the way it might smell at peak readiness. Unfortunately, relying on these methods requires considerable commitment to the process, and if you are even momentarily distracted, whoops there it is: Deaf Popcorn.
There is mention of a flooded bathroom
This is not to say the bathroom is flooding when you are there, but there may be mention of it happening at one point in the past and the damage it caused. Most often this occurs from a stopped up sink/faucet not turned off all the way or sometimes from a forgotten shower or tub faucet. A result from a combination of not hearing the water and usually being tired in the morning and/or not turning on the lights during the night. In theory this could happen in the kitchen as well, but I haven’t heard of it as much. I figure it might also be because this is where the coffee is kept?
The stove fan is running
There’s simply no visual whatsoever to accompany this noise. If we turn it on and don’t remember to turn it off it just stays on. Those with hearing devices may be saying “what’s that noise?” for weeks before figuring it out.
Chirping smoke detectors
This obviously indicates a dying battery and can range from slightly annoying to downright maddening. I find most hearing visitors will tell me about this right away. Their concern is usually voiced as a safety concern (although I realize the annoying factor is getting to them as well), but only a smoke detector with flashing lights is helpful to us (which we also have). Might as well change ALL the batteries at the same time twice per year.
Captions automatically appear when the television is turned on
It’s funny I know most hearing people need to figure out how to turn them on in their own house if asked. We would have to do the same thing to turn them off. Maybe even dig out the instruction manual. NO clue.
Purely to annoy the hearing visitors. After a couple visits, they may arrive with their own cans of WD-40.
Someone is having a sign language conversation with a screen
We can do this on FaceTime to call other signers, and other apps to call non-signers but we also have an actual phone at home too – the videophone to be exact. Deaf folks who use ASL can sign to each other directly using this service or through specially trained sign language interpreters (Video Relay Service – VRS). Non-signing deaf people might be using an equally exotic captioned telephone (Cap-tel) reading what the other person is saying while talking into the handset.
You smell burned pancakes
Now this is not to suggest that deaf people burn all food. Pancakes will burn for an entirely different reason than popcorn. Talking or signing with one’s spouse will do it. Ditto with guests or kids. Visual people we are, we break from the “pancake stare” to converse and that’s a big no-no. Anyone who makes pancakes regularly (or well) will tell you to “wait for the bubbles” before flipping them, while others swear that the outer pancake rim drying is the indicator. Either way, pancake-making is a delicate operation and for a deaf person, simply talking with someone else in the kitchen could make your pancakes look as through they’ve been barbecued.
Strange flashing lights that seem to go off when various noises occur
This usually indicates a baby lives here. Lots of lights flashing indicates a good set of lungs.
Hearing Child running from one bathroom to another with a roll of toilet paper
This can happen in a home where either one or two adults are deaf, one bathroom has run out of toilet paper, one parent is “stuck” in said bathroom, and deaf parent is somewhere else in the house with baby (hence the reason they are ignoring the flashing lights – someone must be coughing or it’s a lawn mower outside). Parent in bathroom has implemented the emergency backup plan.
So, that’ll put you “in the know” (if you were not before). Of course I don’t pretend to speak for everyone. But that’s what it’s like over here at our Deaf House. How about yours?