About twenty years ago, Hubby and I were invited to a Deaf Society Annual Meeting.
When we arrived with another hearing couple the doors hadn’t opened yet, so there was a line waiting to get in. A very quiet line, because those around us were signing instead of speaking. It was interesting that the four of us tended to speak to each other in low voices (I guess it was the influence of years of being shushed in libraries) even though we obviously weren’t going to interrupt the other conversations by speaking too loudly!
When the doors opened and we went to the auditorium, the hearing impaired were seated on one side of the aisle, and the rest of us were seated on the other side of the aisle. My guess is that this was done to ensure that the deaf guests could easily see a signer, and to lessen the distraction of the signer for the rest of us.
There were two speakers — one hearing, one deaf.
The hearing person spoke first. While she spoke at the podium, a person stood on the stage in front of the deaf guests and signed her message.
Then the deaf speaker “spoke.” He signed his message to the “quiet” side of the room, while a person with a microphone sat in the front row and translated his message for those of us who needed to hear the words. I remember thinking how well-thought-out this all was, especially with this last speaker. Because you really didn’t see the person who was translating, since he was just sitting in the front row looking at the person at the podium like everyone else, as he spoke, it was easy to forget that there was a “translation” going on, and just concentrate on the content of the message.
Until this event, I had no idea that those who are deaf “applauded” by raising their hands in the air and wiggling or snapping their fingers. So, when each speaker was done, both sides of the room “applauded” in their own way.
By the way, the friends we were with told us later that they had once been invited to a Deaf Society event that had included a dance band. We were surprised — how did couples who couldn’t hear the music, dance? We were told they feel the music transmitted by the floor through their feet! I guess if you have a heart for dancing (or anything else), you find a way to do it.
This was a very educational and inspirational experience with a great group of people who don’t dwell on what they don’t have –just adjust by using the God-given tools they DO have.