Obviously the best way to write a d/Deaf character is to do what you would with any character and make them a three dimensional person and not just have them be d/Deaf for angst or H/C—make them a real person with real traits outside of this d/Deafness.
I tried to reign in this essay to make it specifically focused on d/Deaf!fic and specifically a list of things I would label as Don’ts. That said, not all of this list is inherently inaccurate or bad, it’s just often written from a place of misunderstanding or ignorance.
A good example is the ways interpreters are used (or, rather, almost never used) in stories. Are there situations that would ideally have a professional interpreter, however d/Deaf people will often have to make do without? Of course! But then write that as someone making do, not as just the way things are.
This all comes with the immense caveat that I am a hearing person and so take all of this with a block of salt (and anon is always on if you want to come at me with corrections).
-Being able to lip read when someone isn’t looking directly at them.
-Being able to lip read large groups that are talking at the same time.
-Being able to lip read in low light situations.
-Being able to lip read all people easily and instantly.
-Being able to lip read perfectly, without stress.
-Being able to lip read from great distances.
Hearing Aids/Cochlear Implants:
-Hearing aids/CI working all the time, without issue.
-Hearing aids/CI being a miracle cure.
-Hearing aids/CI giving you the exact hearing level of a hearing person.
-What happens when the hearing aids/CI are removed/die never being addressed.
Acquisition of ASL:
-Hearing people learning ASL incredibly fast.
-Hearing people related to the d/Deaf person all being fluent ASL users.
-Hearing people being able to understand ASL perfectly, even if they just started learning it.
-Hearing people learning ASL solely from the internet/another hearing person and never interacting with the Deaf community.
-Not treating ASL as a separate language from English, with it’s own distinct grammar and rules.
-Conflating PSE/Signed English with ASL.
-Excluding or not acknowledging the importance of NMS (Non-Manual Signs) from ASL, in particular facial expression and mouth morphemes.
-People talking while signing or only signing one or two words being presented as ASL.
-Not having the Deaf community present at all.
-No consideration for the difference between deaf and Deaf or oral d/Deaf people and non-oral d/Deaf people.
-Not mentioning the ways in which d/Deaf people use technology to communicate.
-Not mentioning Deaf community norms, such as shoulder tapping/stamping/light flickering for attention, eye lines being crucial, long goodbyes, etc.
-Not giving a deaf character a Deaf identity or not adding context for why they don’t have one.
-Hearing people acting in audist ways and not being called on/that being seen as a good thing.
-Not having common frustrations with hearing people addressed (such as a hatred of “never mind”)
-Not consider background, such as if they were mainstreamed or attended a Deaf school.
-Not having any interpreters at all for people who sign.
-Not having any interpreters in a story where an interpreter would be required by law in the USA.
-Having unqualified people interpret, such as friends or family.
-Interpreters existing solely for the d/Deaf person, with no voice interpreting ever happening.
-No mention of existing interpreting technologies, such as VRS.
-Interpreters not being seen as a standard accommodation, but something “special”.
Deaf 101 Resources:
-What’s it like to be DEAF?
-My Deaf Family
-What’s it’s like to be deaf from birth?
-CODA Brothers: Deaf Driving