ridicuLIST: Deaf people Read Braille

Posted by: Staff Writer on Aug. 27, 2013

If, as a deaf person, you’ve ever been handed braille literature by a well-meaning person, you are not alone. Somewhere over the course of time, deafness and blindness became joined together like Batman and Robin. Thus an urban legend was born: “Deaf people read braille.”

As Kaden Mack, an ASL interpreter based in Seattle, writes in an open letter:

“I don’t know what it is that makes you respond to something about Deaf people with something about blind people. Yes, there are people who are deaf and blind, but I know this is not why you say this. I know this isn’t the reason because, when I mention deaf-blind individuals, your little Cheerio-mouth-of-amazement becomes a gaping hole that jaws out, “Deaf AND blind?! How do you communicate with them?” and, in that moment, I am walking on water to you.”

This faux pas is, in a way, understandable. Eyes and ears are usually lumped together. For example, the ADA's "Reaching Out to Customers with Disabilities" resource focuses on three types of customers: Those with vision, hearing or speech difficulties. That's it - nothing about other disabilities like Schizophrenia, Dyslexia, Alzheimer's, Traumatic Brain Injury, or Cerebral Palsy.

ridicuLIST Reality Check: Deaf and blind cultures are wildly different. 

Have you, a deaf person, ever been given the braille treatment? Share your story here!

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