I was deaf… however, the difference with me is that it was temporary. For a day, I wore earplugs to imitate the experience of what it would like to be deaf. Many have trouble imagining what it would be like to not be able to hear and there is always a misconception that deaf people are disabled, are not able to communicate, don’t have as many opportunities, and become lonely. Nevertheless, deaf people have an amazing culture that is unique to their traits, abilities, and community, and as a result, “… many people look to medicine to “cure” hearing loss. They believe that surgery to insert a cochlear implant, a device that is surgically inserted behind the ear to the nonfunctioning cochlea in the inner ear and help deaf people receive the sensations of sound or the use of hearing aids to amplify sounds, will “help” deaf people to “hear” and understand people who speak” (Leigh, et al. 3). As not all deaf people chose to use hearing aids or cochlear implants, it’s important to know that they are able to participate in everyday activities such as going to school, work, driving, communicate with their families and friends, and have artistic abilities such as being in the theater, even without the help of a hearing device. To get a glimpse into what it feels like to be deaf I wore earplugs for a day, even though I could still hear noises that were really loud, I tried to create a similar environment as I didn’t speak on the phone, listen to music, or watch TV with audio. I also used gesturing, lip-reading, and interacted with others using writing.
During the time I had earplugs in, I started with wearing them at 7 p.m. the night before, however, not realizing I had a church event, I didn’t go because I felt that it would have been an inadequate experience not being able to hear as the sermon is mostly talking. Not going to my youth meeting at church made me feel left out, and I started realizing all the ways we could be accommodating people with all different types of disabilities. After getting over that, I was doing well as I was mostly on my phone and doing assignments, yet as the night went on, I saw myself getting bored and I went to sleep early. Yet the next day wasn’t easy either, I had a hard time communicating with my family because I live in a two-story house and usually my mom would call me if she needed me, instead, I found myself having to go downstairs every time I had to interact with my family and when I would get tired of trying to explain myself, I would give up and go back upstairs. I found the most effective way of communication was to write back and forth, but it still took too long to get my point across. Using lip-reading and gesturing was not as effective as writing because it took a long time to understand and most of the time, the other person got annoyed and frustrated and usually deviated back to using the writing back and forth method. Even though I didn’t get to do some things I enjoyed like watching my favorite show, I began to get used to the situation; I started entertaining myself by painting, doing puzzles, organizing and cleaning my room, and I really liked the quality time that allowed me to do the artistic things that I usually don’t have time for. I also found myself getting more homework done and being productive in my work as I didn’t have my usual distractions such as notification sounds, music, and TV. The last thing that I thought was really helpful throughout the day is having a watch that vibrated whenever I got a text because it made it more convenient for me to know who was trying to reach me.
In conclusion, being deaf for a day had its difficulties, but I was able to understand how deaf people encounter everyday activities. I was able to find joy and amusement in other activities because I now had the time and space for them. Even though deaf people are not disabled nor have fewer opportunities, as a hearing person I was able to appreciate that ability to listen to my music and communicate with my friends and family. I felt out of place with earplugs, but I believe that if I was to learn ASL and had to communicate with it, I would feel more in tune with my life and the people around me. As someone who has never had the chance to experience deafness, I now understand that if I was to be deaf, being a part of the Deaf community would be a great culture to immerse myself in as it would inspire me to achieve many tasks and overcome many obstacles to accomplish a life that I truly love.
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