• Valerie Carter

Language Binds Us

Updated: Jul 23



Hearing for those with it, is something that is often taken for granted. Never having the ability to hear is a different matter. I can not pretend to understand the effect of always being without sound in one’s life, I can only speak from a perspective of being a hearing individual for most of my life (until now). I have a new found empathy for those with hearing challenges. A recent mishap caused me to lose all hearing in my right ear. I became throughly deaf in one ear and I didn't like it.


I found myself constantly bobbing my head so that my good ear could try and decipher the sounds emitting from around me. I tried reading people’s lips as they spoke. Crowded loud rooms were just noise, words were hard to decode. Watching shows on tv or devices required closed captions. Sentence were spoken to me that I never heard or acknowledged. I instead foolishly nodded when someone said something to me that I didn’t hear, rather than saying: “pardon me,” “excuse me,” or simply “what?” Conversations were lost.

Half the sounds of the world were missing to me. It was a disorienting and disturbing feeling.

Half of the lovely sounds I adored were muffled and no longer in stereo, but amputated.


What I missed most:

My daughter’s sweet laugh

Waves crashing

Music

Footsteps

Street sounds

Whispers

Bird songs


What I didn’t miss:

Motorcycles

Fireworks

Airplanes overhead

My neighbor’s shouts

Lawn and construction equipment


My hearing will return I believe, so no more lamenting. I do imagine however as I get older, like many others, I will lose my hearing. I am grateful for today however, for a portion of the beautiful sounds I know and love, and for the tamping down of those sounds that hurt my ears.


As a proponent of sign language, I also recognize the wondrous advantage that signing brings to the hearing and non-hearing communities. It brings the gift of communication. To be able to engage with others, to be understood and express oneself- is important. To have needs, wants, opinions and thoughts received and valued defines us. To respond to someone else gives credence. To ignore another is the ultimate insult. We are meant to have language between us. Spoken language or sign language- it binds us.



To err is human, to communicate is divine.

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