I’ve been trying to find funny cartoons about deafness, and it has been surprisingly difficult.
If you look on the net you can find cartoons, but a substantial proportion feature someone shouting at a deaf person. Shouting at someone with hearing loss is not a great thing to do. Firstly because it feels just as aggressive to the recipient as if you were shouting in anger. Secondly, and more importantly, because it makes it far harder to lip read what someone is saying, because shouting distorts the natural lip shapes. In any case, with modern hearing aids volume is rarely the problem.
Thankfully, in real life people don’t shout at me. In fact, the loveliness of people I meet casually and try to communicate with never ceases to amaze me. I say something like “I’m deaf. I can only understand speech if I can see your face, so that I can lip read” and people respond “OK, fine”. They turn to look at me and they largely remember to keep looking at me. If they forget (understandably, most people don’t need their eyes to hear) and turn away I might say “Sorry, I didn’t catch that”. They will say “Oh, I forgot, sorry” and turn their head to face me again. They never start bellowing.
People don’t even start shouting if I still have trouble understanding. This happens because lip reading is difficult and usually at least partly based on guesswork. (I feel another post coming on but let’s leave that one for the moment). The window cleaner looked bemused when it took me four goes to get “have you paid for last time?” but he didn’t raise his voice. Nor did the supermarket checkout operator when it took me a similar number of attempts to understand “have you had a good day so far?” (Answer…..not really). Believe me, I can understand why people would want to have a good shout in these circumstances, which makes it all the more creditable that people keep their cool and persist so cheerfully.
It’s not always plain sailing. One day I said my little spiel to a plumber come to mend a radiator leak and he replied, in broad Lancashire, “tha’ll have trouble wi’ me then lass, ah’ve got toffee in’t mouth”. But we managed.