How To NOT Be That Annoying Hearing Person in A Place of Business

Posted by: Staff Writer on June 11, 2015

If we had a dollar for every time a hearing person in a place of business annoyed us, we’d be making a pretty penny. Sometimes hearing people mean well, sometimes they’re a tad ignorant, and sometimes they can be downright irritating, without even knowing it. We usually respond with practiced brevity and frosty politeness, but now and then we lose our cool and let you have the full, unvarnished truth - y’all making annoying an Olympic sport sometimes.


What Annoying Hearing People Say: "We don't provide interpreters."

What We Say: “Can you put that down in writing? Word for word, about how you won’t provide interpreters? I’ll just keep that little piece of paper.”

What You SHOULD Say: "I’d be happy to put in a request for an interpreter. Do you have a preferred ASL Interpreting agency? Do you have a list of preferred interpreters? Do you prefer a male or a female interpreter?"


What Annoying Hearing People Say (to the person behind you in line): "Go ahead and order, while they finish writing." 

What We Say: “Y’all can just hold your horses and wait your turn, thankyouverymuch.”

What You SHOULD Say: Say nothing at all, just wait patiently to complete the communication process. And if you need to, let the hearing person know that you will be with them in a moment, and continue to finish serving the Deaf customer first.


What Annoying Hearing People Say: “You’re Deaf? I’m so sorry.”

What We Say: “No need to be sorry, I’m not.”

What You SHOULD Say:  “You’re Deaf? Okay cool”. Then move on.


What Annoying Hearing People Say: “You speak so well for a Deaf person.”

What We Say: “Thank you, I think.”

What You SHOULD Say: “How can we best communicate together?” And refrain from mentioning how well the Deaf person does or doesn’t speak.



What Annoying Hearing People Say: “You can’t hear me? Really? How about now?”

What We Say: “Shouting is not helping.”

What You SHOULD Say: “You can’t hear me? Let me get a pen and paper.” If one communication strategy isn’t working, move on to the next one. Better yet, take cues from the Deaf person and follow their lead-  they’re the expert.


What Annoying Hearing People Say: “Your interpreter is very distracting, can we move him/her?”

What We Say: “I need to be able to see my interpreter for my access, so no I cannot move them.”

What You SHOULD Say: “Where should we place the interpreter for optimal visibility?”


What Annoying Hearing People Say: “What accent do you have? Where are you from?” 

What We Say: “I’m from here.”

What You SHOULD Say: “Where are you from? Oh! You’re Deaf. That makes sense, sorry for my confusion.”  Then move on.


What Annoying Hearing People Say (in response to your signing): “Your signing looks so angry. Do you mind calming down?”

What We Say: “I’m not angry. ASL is a naturally expressive language with lots of hand movements and facial expressions.”

What You SHOULD Say: “I’m can’t tell if you’re upset or if it’s just me not knowing sign language, I wanted to check in- is everything okay?”


What Annoying Hearing People Say: “It must be tough to be Deaf.”

What We Say: “No, actually it’s not. It’s really great.”

What You SHOULD Say:  “You’re Deaf? Alright, that’s cool.”  Then move on.


What Annoying Hearing People Say: “Your language is so beautiful. The interpreter was amazing. I wish I could sign.”

What We Say: “Oh really? Thank you. How interesting. You should go do that”

What You SHOULD Say: “I couldn’t tell, was the interpreter any good? Did they do a good job at making the presentation/performance/workshop accessible?”


Our internal annoyance aside, we know no one is perfect and everyone is learning. We’re plenty equipped to handle all kinds of inane and nonsensical questions from hearing people when we’re buying our coffee, shopping for groceries, making doctor appointments, and interfacing with the business world as customers. Years of experience has taught us to assume good intentions and assume everyone is trying their best with the information they have. Because sometimes the best questions aren’t so obvious, the best thing you can do to NOT to be that annoying hearing person is – ASK! Deaf people tend to appreciate direct communication. Making the world deaf-friendly place takes a village! We’re all in this together.  



Comment Policy

We’re aware that issues facing the Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Hard of Hearing Community can become quite passionate and divided. What can we say, we’re a group of passionate people! While we fully support a community full of passion, we also require that comments are respectful. We think negative attitudes and disrespect are a waste of everyone’s time and energy. This doesn’t mean you can’t disagree with people, you just need to do it respectfully. We reserve the right to delete or edit any comments we feel are judgmental, rude, or of attacking nature.


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