Navigating through the world can be difficult. However, some live with barriers that make daily life more challenging than it is for others.
The Deaf, Deaf World experiential workshop invited hearing members of the community to encounter real-life situations that deaf and hard of hearing people must contend with every day.
According to Jennifer Boss, community resources assistant for the Tulsa Speech and Hearing Association, a woman named Janet Allen attended a similar event that was held in another state. Upon returning to Oklahoma, she took what she learned and adapted it into the Deaf, Deaf World workshop.
Before the workshop began, organizers and volunteers briefly introduced the participants to what they could expect. A small hand-out, which contained a variety of useful information, such as diagrams for American Sign Language finger-spelling and numbers, was distributed.
An “unfair hearing test” was also conducted. The hearing test simulated the type of hearing loss many people experience when they turn 65.
Held in Room 214 at Tulsa Community College’s Metro Campus, a sign on the door informed those who planned on attending that once inside the room, they would not be able to communicate using their voices.
The room held a variety of tables. At each table, attendees had to go through a certain experience using different types of non-verbal communication.
For example, one table required that people open a checking account at a bank while using American Sign Language finger spelling. Another experience had people making trip reservations while miming to express what trip they needed as well as the transportation they would use when they arrived at their destination.
Brittney Fredricks, a Tulsa Community College student who attended, spoke of the table she found the most challenging – “The court experience…it was difficult trying to explain the situation because one piece was missing. Not having one piece can throw the whole interaction off.”
Bethany Niman, one of the event’s organizers, commented on what she observed at the table that required people to lip-read: “One of the most surprising things to me again and again is how hard it is to lip read. As a hearing person, we rely on a deaf person’s ability to lip read, but we don’t make it easy for them.”
After the participants had experienced all the tables, they met collectively for a question and answer portion. Many of the volunteers were deaf and used this time to talk about their lives.
Some discussed the difficulties of dealing with weather alerts that aren’t designed for deaf and hard of hearing people.
“As a deaf individual, I want them to understand. Plus, I hope for a better connection between the deaf and hearing worlds in the future. I hope we can work together,” commented Bethany Letterman, one of the workshop’s volunteers.
Boss expressed similar sentiments: “This event gives people in the community a different perspective, and that they can apply that new understanding to our lives as deaf individuals.”
To learn more about the Deaf, Deaf World workshop, please contact the Tulsa Speech and Hearing Association at (918)-832-8742, or visit tsha.cc.