Updated: Mar 18
It may be easy to get frustrated at someone who is not listening to you, but it is even harder not to be able to hear. Being Deaf is a situation that cannot be seen at first glance. There must be interaction for it to come up. While this means people might not know if someone is Deaf, it can also be a lonely place for a Deaf person to be a in a room full of hearing people. Especially if none of them know any signs.
Many people have never considered what it might be like not to be able to hear since Deafness affects a small portion of the world. Access between the hearing and Deaf communities can be so limited that some of the most recent posts online on Deaf statistics are about 5 years old. An estimate of roughly 18% percent of the world's population, or nearly 400 million people, have disabling hearing loss.
Because not all Deaf people have had opportunities in education, and also since hearing people know ASL too, accurate numbers of Deaf people and signers are hard to figure out. An estimate of 100 to 500 million Americans are predicted to know ASL according to a paper from Gallaudet University. There is not enough research on Deafness and sign language available as currently ballpark figures are being thrown around as concrete data without citing original sources, even in professional publications.
The ambiguity between hearing and Deaf communication is long overdue for clearing up. It is on everyone to work together to make conversation happen. Deaf people are aware of body language, may be able to read words (if they can be written or typed), may be able to read lips, and are good at interpreting facial expressions or gestures. Some Deaf people also speak (sometimes with impediments).
But when it is has been up to the Deaf to do the legwork in navigating a society that did not acknowledge their rights until the 1990s, it is unfair and illogical to treat the Deaf as if they are the ones that have not made enough effort in paying attention. Modern ASL has been in development since the 1800s, but has only been recognized as a language since the 1960s (and is still not even mentioned by the U.S. Census Bureau’s demographics). Instead of getting upset at Deaf people for not being able to hear, certain hearing people should try not being too lazy to learn how to sign.