Why many deaf and hard of hearing individuals were not independent back then?

February 24, 2011 at 5:05 pm 2 comments

Doreen SolarThere were no technology devices provided for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the past. It was not easy functioning in everyday life for deaf and hard of hearing individuals because they could not call their friends; they could only correspond by writing letters back and forth. They often asked their hearing parents or siblings to make important phone calls.

When I was growing up, I had seen many evolutions over the time. I remembered my parents depended on my sister to make important phone calls for them. My sister had no choice but to  help, however she also had control of what she wanted to say on the phone which led to many family arguments. Also, my deaf friends’ mothers called my sister to make plans with me and she did not share the whole conversation with me. She only identified who was calling and often made decisions regarding whether or not I could see my friends. Of course, this led to fights.

When I was in 20s, my parents got a big, heavy, metal, model 28 teletype by Western Electric. It was ugly and made a lot of noise when we hit the keys! However, we three were so thrilled because we finally gained some independence. It was funny because my sister complained to my dad that I was on the line too long when she needed to make a call. My dad laughed so hard because she lost her privilege with the phone. I started to call the relay operators to make some calls to hearing people because I did not want my sister to interfere with my personal business. And, my parents started to depend on me because of their language barriers, but I did not mind it at all. I felt obligated to help them, but at same time, I taught them how to type and how to talk to their friends.   Strangely, it was odd that my sister was jealous of my independence. I thought she would be happy for me.

I often see other deaf and hard of hearing adults who depend on hearing individuals for assistance with making calls. I never interfere, because I also assisted my deaf parents to make calls, even though, I am deaf myself.

As time went on, we finally got video phones for deaf and hard of hearing individuals. It was so exciting because many of us have a difficult time expressing what we want to say on a TTY and we can not see the other party’s facial expressions or tones. And, the relay operators often misunderstood us and delivered the wrong messages to the receivers. You can imagine that the communication was breaking down.

When the video phone technology for deaf and hard of hearing individuals existed, we all were overwhelmed with joy because we know that we finally got more independence. We have the video interpreters to make voice calls for us and when we misunderstand each other, we can make corrections during the calls. We also can call our families and friends who also have video phones.

My girlfriend with whom I grew up, still depends on her 90-year-old mother to make phone calls for her. I finally decided to tell her that her mother would not be around much longer and she needs to make calls herself. She stared at me and said that she is afraid. I then encouraged her, simply by saying, “You can do it”. She took my words and made an important call and it went well with the video interpreter. She video phoned me a few days later thanking me for my encouragement and positive attitude. I smiled and told her that we finally have our independence.

By ECNV Deaf Peer Mentor Doreen Solar


Entry filed under: Deaf/HoH -- Vlog. Tags: , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. melowout  |  May 19, 2011 at 2:12 am

    What an interesting blog post/article. Your story is a piece of history – how time evolves and how change made such a wonderful difference.

    Sometimes, when you look back over how many things have evolved in a lifetime, you wonder if change is always the best thing. In this case, I can see (and feel) the changes that occurred in your lifetime are certainly beneficial.

    Even as I read online today, I see so many changes occurring for D/deaf and HOH people that are definitely positive and wonderful.

    It was so enlightening to read your post – thank you Doreen,

  • 2. ecnvecnv  |  May 19, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Thank for your lovely compliment. I really appreciate it very much.

    Doreen Solar, MSW


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