If you know me, you will at least once heard me talk about the fact that my parents are deaf. I am pretty open with it. Because I want to raise awareness about deaf culture. About the awesome thing that is sign language, about the funny nuances nobody outside of the culture knows or has heard of.
This is important to me.
If you are interested in deaf culture or what it was like to grow up as a CODA (a Child Of Deaf Adults), I am happy to answer all your questions. Or for starters just watch this movie:
Beyond Silence, a movie about a family with deaf parents. I have a few problems with that movie, but the basic tone is quite okay. Yes, I went to a Bank with my parents when I was a kid. Yes I had to talk with officals about stuff I never heard about when I was 9. I have a copy of it here in Berlin that I can lend you.
Or listen to Episode 55 of 99% invisible that talks about the construction of a building for one of the biggest deaf universities in the world.
If you see people signing on the street, it is okay to look. If you are curious, just go to them and try to communicate with them. Raul wrote a nice little article (in german) on how to speak to kids about stuff like this.
But it is never okay to laugh about the fact that they are deaf. Never do that.
If I use this sentence: “I talked with my parents about it” and you begin to laugh and can’t stop and say something like: “haha, you can’t talk with them, they are deaf”, you are a fucking idiot. I can talk with them. It is called sign language. Language as in LANGUAGE. I skype with them on a regular basis. And If I say to you that this behaviour is not okay, it is not okay to just say this is not your fault that I felt offended by your reaction.
And now a sane person would think: why would anyone do something like that. Exactly. Sadly situations like this happend to me with three different persons in the last few months. Sadly those persons are in the programming community. This is the reason why I write this in english. The strange thing is that I never had that kind of reaction from hackers. Only from idiots on the street. Hackers are somewhat more open to this stuff. Never had someone say “my grandpa would have put your parents into a gas chamber” in the hacker scene. Sadly I had that kind of reactions. Luckily only a few times. And till now not from a hacker. The typical reaction from hackers was: “cool, let’s talk about this, I have tons of questions about that stuff”.
Somehow that changed in the last months. I don’t know why. And I want it to stop. And I don’t want this stuff to escalate into the “it is okay to make gas chamber jokes” level.
The first thing to stop this shit for me is to put this out here. I will be more vocal about that stuff in the hacker community. And if you make jokes about my deaf parents, I will be very loud and say this is not okay. And If you say this is not your fault, I will get even louder. I can’t react polite anymore. I am sick of being polite if you make fun about my parents. They are awesome.