Deaf Awareness Week – Day 4

This is a fun post for me, because I get to feature lot’s of pictures of gear.

A member of HEARD, or perhaps a visitor to their site, wrote an interesting piece on the fact that emergency horns – to alert residents to everything from hurricanes to invasions – cannot be heard by the Deaf, and that there’s nothing in place to provide for their safety.

It reminded me of something I’ve been learning and re-learning since I started the project.

We in the hearing world take for granted just how much difficulty the Deaf and HoH have in simple, day to day life. So much of our world is based on the ability to hear. Even in some cases, your basic safety. Hearing can be the difference between life and death.

Tell ya what. If you can’t hear this – you’ll still feel it in your bones.

We cross streets while texting away on our iPhones, all the while blissfully aware that we’ll hear any threat. We know the subway’s coming, because we hear it a half mile away. We can tell if a dog is friendly because we can hear his growl, and we know our cats are happy because we can hear them purr.

Imagine what a scary place our planet would be if all that were suddenly taken away.

These are the horns I have – for my 1 – 3K section. Altec 8-11B. They’re classics.

Deaf Awareness Week is a good time to stress some of these issues. And is a good place, because just doing this project has opened my ears to a whole world of understanding. It’s more than just speech, and even music – although one of the things I have also learned is that many Deaf can and do enjoy music.

Once, for an experiment, I tried to go a whole day blindfolded. Just to see what it was like, and if I could get along without my sight. Well, I’m here to tell you, it ain’t easy. But none of us ever question a world without our ears. Many Deaf tell me that if given the choice, they’d opt for blindness.

Someone wrote – somewhere – Deafness is worse than blindness, because the blind are cut off from things, but the Deaf are cut off from life. I’m paraphrasing, of course – and probably not too well – but I think the sentiment is valid.

As an athlete, I often wonder what life would be like as a paraplegic. I can’t help but admire those brave individuals who overcome that kind of disability and go on to perform incredible feats. The guys who run marathons in wheelchairs – that sort of thing. But, I’ve learned – only recently – that when I see a beautiful piece of artwork, read a stirring blog entry, or hear a stunning score created by someone who’s deaf, I’m witnessing an even more impressive feat.

Here’s your closing shot.

Neve console. For 30 years, I called this “home.”

5 thoughts on “Deaf Awareness Week – Day 4

  1. It is a quote from Helen Keller. 🙂 Blindness cuts off of from things. Deafness cuts us off from people. Deaf culture would disagree. However, I suspect Deaf-Blind culture (if the is one) would agree. The deaf are mobile and interact easily with other signers and can interact to an extent with the hearing. The blind hear just fine (mostly) but my ex felt isolated due to mobility problems. Blind with dogs do better, IMO.

    In my left ear I cannot hear an emergency siren that is 20 feet away. I do better in my right. That being said, I do not text on the iPhone while walking down the street. I need to pay attention to everything lest I get turned into roadkill. I can see the flash of emergency lights coming a long time before I can hear the wail of the sirens. I’m not sure how well I could hear a tornado warning siren – probably depends how close I am to it.

    I can attest to the fact a tree fell in the yard and I never heard it. Which, I suppose, gives the response to the question – if a tree falls in the forest and a deaf person is around does it make sound? (um, that’s just a bit of rephrasing)


    1. Thanks for the correction. I realize that Deaf culture would disagree, and I realize that Deaf are fully functional and live full and rich lives. I was referring more to the non-human yet necessary cues that hearing have in life. Knowing the phone’s ringing – or the doorbell. That sort of thing. Granted, technology has stepped in to create ways around these things, and life has certainly improved for the Deaf over the past century – as it has for us all. But there are still an amazing number of things out there that rely on one’s ability to hear them. Emergency sirens are one such example.


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