Any tips/resources on writing a deaf or hearing impaired character?
- I’m not too sure about current surgeries to correct this, but I’ve known a few kids (who would be around 16 to 22-years-old now) who were born deaf and now wear hearing aids. Most of them known how to lip read and know a bit of sign language too because there are certain circumstances in which they can’t wear the hearing aid (like in the water). Some of them carry around a lanyard with a small microphone attached to it which they give to teachers and professors so they don’t miss anything.
- Find videos of deaf people speaking. I’m not really sure how to describe how it sounds, but there are differences in pronunciation among those who were born deaf and had no corrective surgery, those who had surgery, and those who went deaf a little later in childhood and beyond.
- Those who are deaf in one year can speak fine and usually don’t know how to read lips or use sign language. However, if you speak on the side of their deaf ear, they probably won’t hear you. My shop class back in high school was completely deaf in one ear and with all the machines going, my fellow students and I had to stand right in front of him to get notice.
- Being deaf doesn’t mean that person isn’t going to talk a lot. I’ve known deaf people who are quiet because that’s just in their nature and I’ve known deaf people who never stop talking.
- If the deaf person does not have a hearing aid, characters will need to be in the habit of facing the deaf character directly while speaking.
- It’s unlikely that anyone who is not a close family member (as in, living together), a long-term significant other (like being married), or a long-term friend will know enough sign language to communicate effectively. Some people might know simple phrases, but not enough to solely use that.
- If the deaf person has a hearing aid, they may turn it off when angry at others if it fits their personality.
- If the character is young, their deafness will probably affect their parents or guardians. Some won’t treat their child any different than a non-deaf child, but some will become overbearing and overprotective.
- Younger children in school may have an interpreter or an aid, depending on the child’s skills with speaking, reading lips, or using sign language.
- Deaf characters in school will often sit closer to the front of the classroom. This is not because they can’t hear in the back, but it’ll be easier to catch what someone is saying and they won’t have to ask for something to be repeated as often. If the character has the microphone, they can sit anywhere without problem (they can even hear something on another floor of the building if someone takes the microphone).
- Some deaf people can’t speak at all, but are able to make sounds.
- When writing sign language, just say: “(insert name) signed (insert phrase or action if needed).”
- Deaf people don’t center their lives around their hearing (unless they’re a strong advocate for deaf people). All the deaf people I’ve known only ever mentioned their deafness if something was wrong with their hearing aid or if we had a substitute teacher.
- American sign language has a different syntax than English. If you use that, do your research.
- Unless someone is still learning how to read lips, they don’t need everyone to speak slowly or to exaggerate annunciation.
- I’m hearing impaired and so is my father, and his father. My grandfather is in his 80’s, so obviously his hearing is not great. When talking to him, we have to speak loudly and clearly and we often have to repeat what we say. My father is a musician so he’s been around loud noises for the past thirty something years. This has really impacted his hearing, even though he wears earplugs during concerts and rehearsals. He can’t hear anything outside of the room he’s in unless it’s really loud, but if it’s a voice he’s hearing he won’t be able to make out the words.
- There’s a sort of tolerance with sound that comes with being hearing impaired. The volume at which I listen to sound has gone way up and others often tell me it’s too loud when I hear it as mild. I’m also able to take what I hear as “gibberish” when someone talks too quietly and make words out of it.
- A lot of hearing impaired people don’t like to admit it unless it’s convenient.
- Depending on the severity, those who are hearing impaired might need a hearing aid, know how to read lips, or know a bit of sign language.
- Find a deaf beta reader if you can. Ask for a critique on accuracy and for any other tips.