All around the world, there are many people that are determined on not learning any other language outside of their own. They may have to learn a few basics from another language usually Spanish, French or German due to school obligation, but that is the extent of it. Many times I've wondered what it would take to get people to change their thoughts on this subject.
Recently, I participated as a role player in a training exercise for the military. Role players are there to help make the training exercises a bit more realistic. It helps prepare the soldiers for different type of situations and people within the big scenario. The role player support company assigned each role player with a character card with instructions in the role of which we were supposed to act in and get moulage fit the part. These parts are assigned randomly to each person. Before I continue, moulage is the art of creating mock injuries for the purpose of training exercises for emergency response teams, medical, and military. It is used in a variety of situations.
During the beginning of the day, we all prepare for the training by getting into our roles and moulaged. It was my turn to get into character and I must say I was a bit shocked when I received my role. The man began to read my card to me before applying my make up .
You have an extreme ear pain and have gone completely deaf. You can't hear yourself or other people talk. If someone tells you to walk you can't hear them. If someone walks towards you, hold your ears and shake your head expressing the extreme pain you have."
Above is a picture of me when I role played as a recently gone completely deaf person. Most of the moulage was washed off before I took this picture. Remember this was due to a tramatic event scenario such as an explosion.
As he was reading this I began to smile at the same time my eyebrows furrowed wondering if they looked at my background and planned this prior to today. I asked the artist and he said that this is all randomly chosen. They usually look at a few things when they are trying to decide who should get what, but they definitely don't do any type of background check when it comes to choosing parts.
Wow! How ironic! In this horrific event scenario, I was to play someone that had received extreme injury to the ears resulting in extreme pain and complete deafness! I told the guy about my background after he assigned this too me. He thought that was interesting and was telling me how that would work in my favor. If any of my readers do not already know this I am hearing with deaf family and friends with deaf studies and ASL Degree. I continued to prepare myself to play the part of a deaf person to the best of my ability.
When the exercise begin, I switched from being hearing to acting deaf. I was still able to talk, but was unable to hear anything. I had to react and do things as a deaf person would. I had to remember that this is someone that just became deaf due to injury and this person would be upset, confused and traumatized not knowing what had happened or what to do. I've been in the position where people have thought I was deaf, because I was signing with my cousins. This was a totally different experience though. This time I could not respond and tell someone that I was not deaf. I had to focus on not responding in specific ways as though I was.
During the exercise the responses, that I received from the soldiers varied. It was so cool to be in this situation allowing them to see what it would be like in a huge disaster like this and having to respond to someone that had just gone deaf. Of course, it would have been better if it was an actual Deaf person playing the part. Since that didn't happen, I was happy that at least someone that has knowledge of the Deaf community and culture was given the part. As the scenario continue, I got to see each soldier respond in one of the following ways:
- Act as they usually would to a hearing person
- Spoke really loudly to communicate with me
- Used hand gestures to communicate and guided me in the process
- Tried to get me to read their lips
It was interesting to me how some of the soldiers continued talking to me as if nothing had happened to me or just began yelling to adjust to my deafness. I tried so hard not to smile when someone started to yell at me after I said I was had gone completely deaf. It wasn't a smile due to being happy about it. It was more of a smile of how much I just can not believe how ignorant people are about things like this. If I say I'm deaf these people really think that if they talk louder then I would be able to hear them. I really wanted so bad to tell these people, but I wasn't supposed to stop "acting" the part.
I ensured I acted as if I was deaf and not responding to things that I wouldn't be able to hear. It seemed like some of them got a bit frustrated with having to deal with trying to communicate with me, but others were great. As I proceeded through the exercise, I did come across some people that began to learn that they needed do with me to help me understand such as using gestures to explain to me what to do and what had happened. One of the higher ranked officers asked me if I could lip read and was really great in working with me as he was trying to tell me what had happened and trying to treat my wounds. Though I know not all deaf people can lipread, it was still great how well he did with me. I know that if I told him I couldn't lip read he would have done just as well.
Through out the whole experience, it felt like many of the people there had never experienced a situation with a deaf person. They would have me turned away from them and would be telling me to do something. I would just stand there. They would get irritated wondering why I wasn't responding. They would finally realize oh wait she can't hear me so they would adjust what they were doing to be able to work with me. As always there were some people that were just not as willing to work with me, but it did seem like they did try a little.
Take some time to really think about this. What would it take for you to learn something new that you have said you have no interest learning? This could be anything. What if this one thing you learn could help open up a whole new door to communicating with others? Would it take a catastrophic event or some type of ultimatum to get you to learn that language or that one thing you have never wanted to learn? To me, it does feel like it would take many people in this world a huge catastrophic event where they had no choice, but to learn to communicate with someone of another culture. That is honestly sad that it takes that much to get people to want to learn and help bring cultures together to bring this world together more.
No matter what some people are always going to feel that learning a new language outside of their own is a huge inconvenience to them. Hearing people need to understand that learning ASL is a bit different than learning another type of language. A Spanish, French or other hearing cultured people could learn English if they needed to or visa verse. In the situation with ASL it is actually easier for a hearing person to learn how to sign than it is for a Deaf person to learn how to speak. Many deaf people learn how, but even then it is a struggle to fully communicate with them. Or they just may not be comfortable speaking around you. Hearing people need to open their minds and open their hearts to learning a new language. Why not start with a language like American Sign Language? Don't wait for that ultimatum to get here to force to learn something new, because you have to.
This training exercise was amazing to be a part of. I hope that I helped in some way to where if these soldiers do have to work with a deaf person they will know what to do. I feel so proud of my country and so thankful for all those men and women that were out their training. Thank you to all the military men and women for all that you do! A huge thank you goes out to their families for what you have to sacrifice for them to do their jobs too.
- God Bless America-
Below are other pictures of me and people when I role played as a burn victim not deaf. If you have a weak stomach don't look below...remember this is all fake.
Spread the Sign
Blogger: Monica Hood
I created Deaf Insight to help spread deaf awareness. It is a place for everyone to come together to help share with the world! In this blog, I discuss my thoughts about many things. I hope you all enjoy it!