MarkAllenCam's Disability Interviews

Subject: David Cook
Age: 23
Occupation: Student
Disability: Deaf

You said in the pre-interview you have some residual hearing in both ears, but are technically deaf. Exactly how do they measure something like that?
Growing up, I was tested by audiologists like a billion times. I had to raise my hand every time I heard a beep or a tone and they record in down on a chart. at the top of the chart is mild and going down to moderate, severe and the bottom of the chart is profound.

Exactly how deaf are you?
I'm severe to profound. If I'm right about this, I can hear really loud noises that are near me and maybe high pitched sounds.

Were born this way?
Yes I was.

How did they find out?
As a baby, we had a dog who's bark could wake up the dead - and my mom noticed that I slept right through her barking - the dog, that is.

Did they ever know why?
No. The cause is unknown which is common. It could've been rubella, or meningitis or being born prematurely, but not in my case.

Do you like the term "deaf"?
I prefer hearing impaired or hard of hearing.

You mentioned that you were the only one in your family with this condition. What are your thoughts on this? How many siblings do you have? What kind of environment were you raised in? Where were you raised?
I have one older sister. I'd have to say that I was raised in a typical suburban family, in Long Island. I still live in Long Island - about 45 minutes from the city. It can be isolating at times in that nobody understands what it's like, that I didn't have anybody to talk to in my family. I had a sheltered life. I was a bit clingy and wanted to be near my mom. Was that in response to the fact that i couldn't hear anything? Possibly.

Do you ever try to think about things that might of happened to you to give you this condition or maybe your gene pool? Was there ever a time in your life that these kinds of thoughts occupied your time a lot?
I've talked about this with my mom and she said that nothing out of the ordinary, except I was born a couple of weeks late. It's possible there was deafness in the family but we really don't know. Once i realized that there's nothing i can do about it, i just accepted it and moved on.

Do you wear a hearing aid?
I did, from around preschool to my junior year of college, that's when I got the cochlear implant.

Describe in words what you think being able to hear must be like.
I think it's an unconscious thing; you hear an ambulance, you think right away "Oh that's the ambulance" and not a whistle or something like that. I think that [people that can hear] are able to automatically decipher and filter out the unnecessary noise to hear what they want to hear.

Can you tell the difference between a loud bass music tone and say, a vibration from an explosion or something big falling over?
Probably not. The best I can do is recognize the sound, and maybe localize it, but I don't think i could identify it. I'd have to ask "What was that?"

When you read about people complaining about, like maybe they don't like rap music or they think a certain musical score for a film is really stupid or maybe they are complaining about the music in a café being played too loud and it ruins the atmosphere, or people complaining that car alarms are a nuisance. How do you feel about people making these types of complaints?
Well, there are two answers to this, depending on whether I wear my implant or not. If I do, I can totally understand and relate. At a cafe, I get really annoyed with the espresso maker making that noise or people coughing. I despise car alarms and that noise trucks make when they're backing up. With the implant I can sympathize. Without the implant, I'm totally oblivious to it all. When people comment on a noise or something, I'm like "Oh, okay." I don't think there's anything I can do about it, so I just nod and move on.

When you see a sound wall build high over a neighborhood to shield the homes from the sound of a busy roadway, what do you think?
I see them and think "Are they really effective? Do they really make a difference?"

I know many of the following television shows and cable networks and art forms I am about to ask about have captions for the dialogue and lyrics and even noises, but nevertheless I am curious. When you see an old Hollywood musical, with dancing and stuff, what do you think of it?
Most oldies are captioned. "Gone With the Wind" is captioned... and I saw  "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane" that was captioned. When music is playing, the [closed captions] either just say "music playing" or actually type out the lyrics. But in either case, I just create the melody in my head to go with the dancing that I see.

Do you ever find you like to watch foreign movies with subtitles?
I don't set out to watch foreign films. I've seen "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and it was fine. It's just like reading captioning.

What are some of your favorite movies?
I don't really have any. I'm not a huge movie person. The last movie i saw was "The Others"

What do you think of opera?
Love it. It's probably the one type of music that I listen to the most.

Do you have any favorite music or recordings?
I have a lot of tapes, but lately i haven't bought any new albums. I tend to buy opera, and international music. There's this
one soprano that I like and that's about it. I tend to avoid the popular ones out of rebellion.

How do you hear music? Is it just a bunch of bass tones or vibrations that you feel?
With the walkman, I usually have the volume up high and i listen to the beats, melodies and maybe a word here and there if it's repeated often enough. 

Can you describe in the best way you can think of what exactly "music" sounds like to you?
Music is hard to describe, even harder so for me. Take opera for example. I can hear that words are being sung, but I can't tell what the words are most of the time. I can tell if there is musical accompaniment, but not always sure what exactly... is it a violin or a piano? We used to have a piano and I could tell the difference between the keys - like on the right side are the higher tones and the left side is the deeper tones. I don't even know if i'm using the right vocabulary. My mom has tried to explain the basics of music to me and I couldn't really grasp it. I don't know if melody is the right word. I can pick up patterns, and repetitions. In opera, there is an orchestra and I can't separate the instruments unless it's really emphasized.

Can/do you sing?
Yes but most likely badly. I sing sometimes in the shower, or in the car - alone. I've sung with my mom listening, and tactfully she implied that I'm not a good singer. I can't tell if I'm off tune or not. I think that's a subtle thing that i can't pick up.

Since you can't hear their music, and I'm imagining that you can only base what musical artists you are interested in on their image and behavior and what you read about them, and what others say about them - I would like to know what you think of the following pop artists:
Okay but first let me tell you I can hear the music, meaning the beats, the rhythm and the melodies but unless I memorize the words I can't follow and understand what's being sung.

Okay then... first, Madonna?
She's okay. I can't say if she's a fabulous singer. This is usually true for every singer. I can't say "Oh she's singing off tune." I wouldn't notice that. I sometimes like her music videos. but that's about it. She's an okay actress, needs some work though.

Celine Dion?
A bit theatrical. Her "My Heart Will Go On" was bleh.

Marilyn Manson?
Know of him but never listened to him. I wouldn't know how to categorize him.

Michael Jackson?
I liked "Thriller" the video more than the actual album. He's so over.

Mariah Carey?
I like her, but that's because she's from Long Island. I have listened to her but she's not a memorable singer. All i remember is her music videos, especially "Honey" and "Heartbreaker".

Jimi Hendrix?
Know of the name but haven't heard it.

The Beatles?


Punk rock in general?
Honestly, i don't know the term. I've kept up to date on all the music categories, but punk rock is a first.

Garth Brooks?
Don't care for him. I don't like his personality.

Snoop Doggy Dog?
Heard of him but haven't listened to him.

I went to a three tenor concert and I couldn't differentiate him from Domingo and Carrera. He's a bit overrated and over the top.

A bore.

I like classical music but they all basically sound the same, although I like Brahms.

What do you think of rock videos?
I like to watch them. I like to see how they interpret the music and try to memorize the words but usually fail at that.

Do you like cartoons?
Yes, but sometimes, more often than not, they're not captioned so I'm left to create the dialogue in my head and figure out the plot in my head as well.

Do you have any famous deaf people or historical figures that you look up to or find interesting?
No I don't.

Do you read any other languages besides English?
I took Latin in college but that's a dead language. I have a small tiny knowledge of French, German and Spanish. I can't carry on a conversation in any of these language but i know a few words here and there.

Do you think "the eyes are the windows to the soul"?
Yes, i think so. I'm not always sure what i see in them.

Which do you think is more expressive, the face or body language? Or does it depend on the situation.
Since I'm a lip reader. I tend to just focus on the face and casually pick up body language in my peripheral vision. I notice the stance, body position but I tend to just focus on the face out of necessity.

I know many blind people claim to be able to tell when someone has entered the room even if they didn't make any noise. Can you sense when people are around you, even if you cannot hear them?
Sometimes if they're walking hard enough or if I can smell their perfumes. Sometimes I can catch their reflection from a mirror or a window. Often I'm surprised by their presence.

Do you feel like your other senses are "heightened" since your are missing one of them?
I think so, in a way. I think that I'm more sensitive to vibrations and movements. Visually, i'm more alert to changes of environment, sudden movements, anything out of the ordinary. In high school, I had a teacher who I thought was basically incompetent. She actually said that since we've had to "learn" how to listen, we actually hear better. She made no sense and I almost let her have it. But I kept it to myself.

Do you ever wish you had been able to hear perfectly at birth and then lost your hearing at some point rather than being born deaf?
No. Absolutely not. If I lost my hearing later, I'd know what hearing was like and actually miss it. By not having hearing, I don't know what I'm missing what i don't have.

Have you ever been almost hit by a moving vehicle?
Yes, often, when I walk the dog and when I'm preoccupied.

Do you drive?
Yes I do. I imagine you're wondering about sirens and police cars, cars honking. I make an habit of always checking the rearview mirror for ambulances and sirens. So far, I've been pretty lucky about that. I can't recall any cars honking at me, but then again, I rarely wear the implant when I'm driving. I rely heavily on my eyes while driving. About passengers; of course I can't carry on conversations if I'm driving, but I can quickly chat during stoplights, or take really quick glances at my passenger but usually it's at stoplights and I can read lips from the profile so the driver doesn't have to really face me so he/she can drive and talk to me at the same time.

Do you ever feel like being deaf has ever put you in any sort of dangerous situation?
Potentially yes. But I think I've been lucky in that I haven't been placed in any dangerous positions, yet.

Have you ever been inside one of those Halloween haunted house "rides" where you pay to go in and then go from dark room to dark room and people dressed as monsters and killers jump out at you and scream and scare you with loud noises and stuff? If so, how was your experience? If not, what do you think would be different for you?
I have been to many of these haunted houses. I went to one last Halloween and I kind of anticipated where one might jump out, and I would be prepared for it. It's all a visual experience for me. I notice sudden movements and that's usually more than enough to scare me. Eerie music wouldn't really enhance that, maybe to distract me... I don't know.

Do your ears "pop" when you climb or descend high distances, or travel in a plane, because of the air pressure?
Yes they do.

You told me that you were raised "orally". In other words, you speak to communicate and do not sign, or do very little. Why?
It was a decision my parents made. They chose to take me to speech therapy to learn how to speak and to listen with what hearing I have left. I've asked this to my mom a lot and I forget the answer each time. I think that it was easier because then they didn't have to learn to sign. I'm glad they made that decision, it was the right one. I learned to sign much later out of curiosity and to this day, I'm not a good signer. I can read others, but to sign myself, it's shakier.

How did you learn to read lips?
I don't remember learning how to, I just did it.

I understand that two or three years ago you got a cochlear implant that you wear half of the time. So what's it like?
Because I got it late in my life, as opposed to when I was a kid, the implant wasn't really successful in allowing me to hear better. It basically sounded the same as hearing aids. I still can't use the phone, or have a conversation without actually reading the person's lips. It's not an easy thing to wear, there's a magnet that's "attached" to a piece of metal that's under my skin so it's a visible thing. Since I have short hair, I wear bandannas all the time. I hate putting it on and I love turning it off. The only downside is that I have tinnitus.

Wow, being hearing impaired and having tinnitus!
I didn't have tinnitus with the hearing aids, but after I got the implant and if I don't wear it for a while, I get tinnitus. It's not a constant thing, it comes and goes and varies in intensity. Sometimes I'll wear the implant and still have tinnitus but it's a subtle thing. It can be annoying at times to have this droning monotonous sound in my head but i've learned to deal with it.

I was listening to Rush Limbaugh's radio program after he had gone completely deaf (and before he had the corrective surgery) and I was amazed at how completely normal and perfect his speaking voice sounded. I assume this is because he can "remember" what it feels like to talk, the vibrations in his mouth and head. Is this the case?
Yes, you're right. Because he already knew what sound was like, and what speaking is like, he didn't have to learn how to, it just was natural. For me it was like learning sounds for the first time. It took me a while to figure out the difference between the birds chirping or the soft beeping a cell phone made.

There is a way that many people that are deaf talk that is very atonal and loud and all of the same pitch and sometimes the words kind of blur together. Again, I assume this is how people who were born deaf speak because they cannot remember what it "feels" like to talk sound like. Any comments?
Yes. I've noticed that to. It's a dead giveaway that they're deaf. If I'm not concentrating, I would be speaking louder and not finishing my sentences. Instead of saying the word "because", I'd end up saying "becau" and I would never bother to say the "s". This was a huge peeve of my therapist, she hated when I'd do that. Speaking is a conscious effort. I have to make sure I say all the sounds and consonants when I talk and not to get too nervous because if I do then I talk faster.

Do you ever think of people's individual voices? Do you sometimes think you may be able to tell what certain people's voices sound like even though you can't hear them?
I can tell the differences in people's voices. I can tell if it's a deep strong voice or a high pitch, softly spoken voice. With accents, i can't tell by "hearing" but I could tell by lip reading. Sometimes i can tell by the way they enunciate their words. I think i can tell if it's a British accent, or a Russian accent, but I use other visual cues, like how they're dressed and their last names to help me fill in the gaps.

When you walk into a store or some service place where you know there is no one that can sign, what is the best strategy you find to approach salespeople or people you need to speak with. Do you write notes? Do you have any card or anything you hand them?
No, I don't have any cards, but I try to have something with me to indicate what I want. Like for shoes, I'd just point and say "Do you have this in 10?" or something. Most often, I end up repeating myself and rephrasing my question. If all else fails, I just point and hope he or she gets the point.

Do you mostly hang around deaf people?
Yes and no. Actually, when I went to college in Boston, I mostly hung out with deaf people. But here in NYC, it's mostly hearing people.

When you are meeting people for the first time and they learn you are deaf, do you find they stop trying to communicate with you are they make an extra effort?
Both. Sometimes they just give up and nod as if they know what I'm saying, and other times they'll try harder.

Have you ever had deaf friends and maybe you became friends with someone who could hear and your deaf friends didn't want to let them into the group? Has there ever been a situation like that?
No that hasn't happened. The deaf group that I hung out with in Boston was pretty cool about that. They welcomed anyone and everyone into the group. Although I remember meeting a few that actually visibly showed disdain for hearing people as if they were intruding. They had a real attitude, really unpleasant. I was actually nervous about telling them that I had the implant because i thought they'd skin me alive. It was a "don't ask don't" tell kind of thing.

Do some deaf people not like people that can hear? Is there any prejudice there?
I'm sure that there are people who are like that but personally I don't know any. I think there is a certain attitude that some deaf people have. See above.

Do you think painters like Paul Klee or Jackson Pollack or maybe even Piet Mondrian were trying to translate onto a silent, still canvas the still images of what sound was like? Do you have any favorite artists that maybe you think are trying to do this or maybe do it successfully, for you at least?
No, I never thought about that when I look at paintings. I think Pollack was an idiot and all I saw was a jumble that anyone could do. I don't think anyone could really successfully paint an abstract like hearing and deafness onto paper. Well, maybe now that I think about it, I suppose it's possible but i haven't seen it.

OK these next 5 (paragraph-long) questions are going to kind of describe an experience I had with a deaf guy. I would love your comments on them:

When I was dancing one time at this club in Austin about 7 years ago, I met this deaf guy and we ended up hanging out and then went to a Denny's and hung out and stuff and had a great time. OK this is gonna sound pig-headed but who cares; there were obviously a lot of guys into me that night at the club that just kind of stood back and watched me. He was the only guy in the packed club that approached me outside of tipping me. He seemed to have no fear. It seemed like he cared less what others thought of him and was more self confident than others. Do you think this can be true of a lot of deaf people? Can you develop this strong inner will?
I've noticed that in a lot of deaf people that I've met and known. There is this strong sense of self-ness. Personally I couldn't do it. [Many hearing impaired people] are big on acting out stories. They don't just say it, they will really act it out. And for them to do it in a public place like the train or the mall is insignificant to them. For me, I couldn't do that. By nature I'm really reserved. I remember a few deaf people that were really assertive, I was like "...whoa!" when I met them. It's not cockiness or arrogance, it's strong self confidence.

Okay to continue the story about the guy in Austin, when we walked into Denny's, we grabbed a whole handful of business cards and two pens from the cashier, so we could write on them to each other. We had to communicate that way since I could not sign. We spent the whole evening writing messages on the cards back and forth to each other, drawing little pictures, everything. There were probably about 100 cards in all at the end of the night and they were covered in text and pictures and stuff. I kept the cards to this day because they are like this little memento of our meeting. Every once in a while I'll pull them out and look at them and the whole evening comes flooding back into my head, they really are kind of neat. Do you ever hold on to papers or stuff you and someone else who couldn't sign have written back and forth to each other as a memento of your conversation? I imagine you might have whole albums of them. Do a lot of deaf people have mementos like this?
I never did that. I did know someone who did though, he carried a little notepad and a pen everywhere he went. But since I can lip read, it isn't really an issue. By nature, I'm a bit of a listener, I don't really talk a lot. So often, my conversations were more or less one sided. I don't know a lot of deaf people who actually carry around pads, usually they'd have a friend who speaks or points to what they want.

After being around this guy I met in Austin in other social situations, I realized he was actually using his being deaf as a kind of "charm" a constructive way. He was very good looking and I would see him approach guys without missing a beat. The first thing he would do when he walked up to them would be to kind of motion to his ears that he was deaf and then make a motion like he needed something to write on. The person he was approaching would usually snap into action and look for a piece of paper. It really seemed to get the ball rolling and there was instantly stuff to "talk" about. I also got the impression that he did this to make people kind of endear themselves to him, which usually happened instantaneously. It was adorable! Don't get me wrong, I think people should use whatever they've got. Do you think some deaf people exploit their condition, you know kind of milk it, to break down social barriers? Be honest.
I do think that it happens. But like you said, if you got it, flaunt it. It's a way/method to meet people and to basically break the conversational barrier. I'd have to think about this one. Personally, I never did that. I did the opposite. I wanted nobody to know that I had a hearing loss. I didn't want anyone to see me differently, like a pity case or someone that they shouldn't waste their time on.  When I was at the summer program for the deaf, there was this one guy who was deaf but knew absolutely no signs, so he conversed with a pad and pen and some basic primitive signs with the others. It didn't occur to me then, but I thought it was sweet and nice. There was this gentleness about it. He turned out to be one of the more popular kids and had a girlfriend at the end of the program. I don't know if his popularity was due to the fact that he wasn't a good signer or of some other factor.

After knowing the Austin guy for a while I have to be honest, his being deaf lost all of it's initial romantic charm and became very real. I realized the only way I would ever be able to hang around this guy was if I learned to sign. It became this "make it or break it moment" where I was like "OK, if I want to be around him I have to start learning to sign because constantly writing things down or pointing or motioning to things is getting VERY annoying." Do you find that you reach a point like this with non-deaf friends?
It does become a issue at some point, learning sign is extremely hard. I started to learn back in high school which was like ages ago and I'm still learning. I can't say this with authority or proof but; I think a lot of deaf people can lip read. They just don't want to say so. I think that they think it would be like cheating, or something. A lot of deaf people believe that deaf is an identity, a culture rather than a disability which I strongly disagree with. Deafness is a disability, that's a fact.  If a friendship between a deaf person and a hearing person starts to become a relationship, there would have to be compromises. The deaf person should learn to at least lip read or speak, the hearing person should learn a few signs to help the conversation along.  I had a very short relationship with a guy who previously dated a deaf guy and he told me that he conversed with a lot through paper and pen that he carried with him on his first date with me and also he made up his own alphabet to have a conversation with him. I thought that was interesting, but long term, it wasn't realistic. After a while, he stopped using the papers, only if there was a huge communication breakdown, he would use it.

One interesting thing about the guy I met was that he lived in Austin, Texas and I was in NYC. When we talked on the phone there was that service where it was like a three way call there was an interpreter between us. He would type stuff on his computer screen for her to read to me, then I would speak my response back to her and she would type it in for him to read on his computer screen and back and forth like that. I found that having a person between us who we didn't know made it awkward. There were points where we were talking about sex and stuff and I couldn't believe this normal-sounding woman with this cheer-y voice was saying kind of risqué gay stuff back and forth to us. I found that her being there really affected what I said but the deaf guy seemed to have no qualms about typing in really sexual stuff for her to read... he was the first to do it. Do you ever find this is a problem? Is there a limit to how far those translators will go? Do you think maybe deaf teenagers who are feeling really mischievous might ever play a joke on one of those translators and say as much crass stuff back and forth through her just to see if the translator breaks?
I have a deep hatred for those phones. They're called TTY's and you used a relay system. I hate them with a vengeance, I won't use them unless i absolutely have to. I think that they're trained to just simply pass along information, nothing else. Although, when i was away to a summer program for the deaf, I talked to my mom through the relay and I was a bit homesick and the operator talked to my mom in this depressed voice and that made my mom more worried so it's possible that the operators get a little more into the conversation than they're really allowed to. This is one reason why I hate them. They're not private conversations.

Has there ever been a moment where a lot of people were trying to get your attention by yelling and didn't know you were deaf and you didn't realize it because you just couldn't hear them? Are there any funny stories?
Yes. It happens when I leave a store and forgot the receipt. They will come running, but I guess that they're yelling at me to stop... but of course they don't know that I can't hear. Usually, I can sense that something is up and I turn my head and see the cashier come after me with the receipt or they'll catch up with me and hand me the receipt. It also happens if I'm walking with my mom or someone, and I walk ahead of them, they'll have to run to catch up with me to tell me that they've changed directions or want to stop at such and such.

I imagine you probably are adept at registering people's facial expressions. Do you ever have a situation where you can see a whole group of people's faces change simultaneously, like maybe in a group discussion or something, and you can tell something was said that got a reaction out of everyone? I imagine you might be able to tell what people are feeling long before they speak, or at least their mood. Do you think you can see this better than non-deaf people?
I don't know if I would do that better than hearing people.

I understand that there are whole deaf communities where deaf people have their own schools, clubs, etc. Is it possible to become kind of insular in the deaf world and only want to be around other deaf people all the time.
Yes absolutely. They can be isolating and exclusive. If you're not deaf, you are not accepted. I don't understand this, why shut yourself out from the world? it makes no sense.  It's nice to have a community like that, but at the same time, it's a bit exclusive and isolating.

When I was in college, I once went to a night for deaf people at a nightclub and the music was so loud I though I was going to go deaf myself. Is this true at deaf functions where there is music? I mean they turn up the volume for obvious reasons.
Yes, it's worse if I wear the implant; I'll leave that place with a splitting headache.

Do deaf people dance?
I'm sure they dance, probably not as well as they'd like to.

Do you ever judge the way other deaf people handle things? Do you ever look at another deaf person and think *"I don't like the way that person is handling being deaf. I don't approve. I don't like them."?
Yes I have. Especially if they're militant about being deaf. I have a problem with those who think that being deaf is the be all, end all of their existence, that if you took their deafness away, they're lost. Also if they're telling a story and they're being a bit over emotive, I think to myself "They could tell the story with a little less emotive-ness."

Do you ever scream as loud as you can? Like a primal scream, like to get frustration out?
Yes I have. At one time or another.

I've noticed that I see less and less of those signing interpreters at concerts and religious services and public speeches. Is this true or is it just my imagination? I'm sure they don't have them on televised events anymore because of closed captioning. Do you think there was a time, I think maybe in the late 80's, where those signing interpreters at events was trendy? Do they really not have them as much as I think or is it just my imagination?
I think it's just your imagination. At school now, I have interpreters, and they often do work outside of universities... they take on jobs in religious ceremonies, speeches. I know two that went to the Democratic thing that Clinton was at a couple of months ago in harlem. Sometimes they're not so easily visible, they could be out of the camera's view or not really on the stage with the speaker.

Do you ever think "I wish I was blind instead of deaf" or anything like that?
I've asked myself that and my answer is always the same; I would rather be deaf than blind. I think blindness would be a much harder disability to deal with. You can't drive, or walk across the street without the fear of being hit by a car. With deafness, I can drive, I can travel to places a whole lot easier than a blind person can.

OK, imagine you were a few blocks from Centre Street in Downtown Manhattan (several blocks away from the WTC towers that collapsed) on September 11th. I'm just curious, how do you think your experience would have been different from someone that was around there who could hear? Like how would you read what was going on... looking at people's reactions around you? Feeling vibrations of the explosions?
With the implant, I probably could only hear a cacophony of noise, just basically noises that just blend into one another. If someone was saying "Help!", I probably couldn't pick that up. If I was there, I think I'd be lost in my own world, not really paying much attention to what others would be doing or saying. Then, I'd probably run as far away as i could. I don't know if I could "hear" the crashes or the collapses, I don't know what it was really like there. I definitely probably would feel the rumbles as the towers fell but that's it.

Do you ever have any interesting thoughts when you look in the mirror and see your ears?
Just that they're not my best features. After the implant was done, my right ear is slightly off and down so it looks somewhat odd if you really look.

Have you ever taken any hallucinogenic drugs? If so, what do you find your experience to be?
Never took any.

Have you ever called a non-deaf person on the phone, using that translator thing where someone talks and tells the other person what you typed, and you asked them out on a date this way? I think that would be very romantic.
Like i said, I have a deep hatred for that thing. Every conversation that I've had, was either in person or through email. Never ever ever with the TTY. That thing is so hard to have a conversation with. It's not a fluid and seamless transition from one speaker to another, it's rather mechanical and cold. You can't pick up the nuances, like the body language, the tilt of an eyebrow.

There is something romantic and touching about a romantic rendezvous between a deaf and non-deaf person. I think it has to do with the fact that they have to used different methods to communicate. Do you find this to be true?
No, not really. Maybe it's because I've seen them so often and been part of it, it's common to me but for someone who's not familiar with it, it's a different experience.

Are there deaf gay bars?
None that I know of, but I'd say there are deaf nights, just like some bars have gay nights.

Are you attracted to deaf guys?
It's not something that I look out for. If he just happens to be deaf, then so be it. But if I had to choose between a deaf guy or a hearing guy, I would pick the hearing guy.

Do you wish more people could sign?
No. Just because it's too hard. I'd say much harder than learning Latin.

Do you have any comments or complaints about the Closed Captioned thing that is on television?
Yes. Sometimes the captions will run over the bulletins announcing breaking news or over people's names, and then I'll have to quickly change channels to get rid of the captions and go back to that channel to read that bulletin or the name before the captions come back. It's frustrating. And sometimes the caption doesn't always follow the actual dialogue, it's like the captions are more slightly edited. I notice this when I try to match the captions when I read the lips of the speakers... sometimes there's a discrepancy.

If you could be allowed to hear only one thing with crystal clarity what would it be?
That's a hard question. I haven't really thought about that. I don't know if I'd say the traditional answer; my mom's voice, or what popped to my mind when I read this question; which would be a really nice aria from my favorite soprano.

Do you ever have a dream where you feel like you can hear?
All the time. I wonder what it would be like if i was born hearing. What would've been different? My answer is always different.

Mark, this isn't a question, but a comment that I think is worthy. I find that a lot of people are somewhat reluctant to talk to people about their deafness. There's this assumption on both sides that the other is too uncomfortable to talk about it so both sides just avoid it altogether. I've noticed that they'd gently ask if they could "ask me something" as if asking me about my deafness would be an insult. I'm not someone who would make a big deal out of it, rather it's the opposite. Because deafness is a silent disability, you can't tell if one is deaf or not and I tend to keep it that way. It's just a part of who I am, not the defining fact. I'm perfectly happy if the person I'm talking to doesn't realize that I'm deaf. If he or she does find out, that bubble is burst.

More questions? E-mail David

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