"sign Language Expert"

"Sign Language Expert"? Many of you may think this mean someone who can sign fluently or are a translator for deaf client.
When I say this, it is not a compliment at all! No deaf person would call themselves that and professional translator certainly wouldn't call themselves that. So this is more of my tongue in cheek way to mock people who think they know sign language.

Ok now a lot of you're probably pissed off, but please cool off! Just keep your cool! Just read on and you'll see what I mean!

Now that I get this out of the way. Let me tell you something... You want to know one of the biggest fear I have about being deaf and out in public? It isn't the awkward moment when person try to talk to me, it isn't worrying about how other look at me, or anything. It is those idiots who have took only maybe one or two semester of signing class and think they're qualify to be a ******* translator!

Every time I ask for paper and pen or try to use my phone, I always glance to both sides just to make sure no body is approaching me. If I see somebody approaching me, I suddenly feel my pulses shot through the roof and sweat pouring through every pores on my body. As you can see by now that I'm a capable deaf adult with a good grips on English language (I may have some grammar errors here and there but... You get what I mean) so there's no need for somebody to butt in and try to help me.
It is very awkward when somebody step up to me and start to spell out "I... K....N....O....W... (gesture little/bit)" then sign "sign language" and expect me to look at them as if the cloud have just parted and shining ray of sunlight shine down onto them as if they're my savior! To make thing worse, the person who I was try to talk to in the first place almost always assumed that this is a stroke of luck and everything is going to be much easier now.
In reality, I always cringe inside and want to just run away. I know this was going to be really awkward and ended really badly. If I refuse their help, the person I am trying to talk to often would refuse to communicate directly with me and I'd look like a ungrateful jerk. Yet when I try to sign, no matter how slow I go or what I try, the "sign language expert" just give me that blank deer in headlight sight then nervously nods like as if they understand. I'd just sit there and watch them try to digest everything and translate it.
When the time come, they'd often stand there and talk with the person I was suppose to communicate with in the first place for about 2 or 3 minutes. It can be a very simple request, but yet for some reason it always seems to stretch out and with a lot of awkward pause and glances at each other.
Once the person reply to the "sign language expert" and the message got relayed to me, guess what? Yes it come out all garbled and more often than not, completely unrelated to what I was asking in the first place.

This would go on for about 15 to 20 minutes before I finally just pretend things are going well while the "sign language expert" continue to make me look like a helpless drooling retard that somehow have wandered away from his keeper and get lost. I'd just walk away wanting to crawl into a hole and die of embarrassment while the "sign language expert" go around acting like he/she have saved the day.
In reality if this so call "sign language expert" would have keep his/her nose out of my business and let me handle thing myself, I'd have been able to just write down a note and get a reply in a minute or two and walk away with everyone happy. I'm almost 28, I've been out of the country on my own every single times and often in place where English aren't spoke, I have next to no deaf friends and live in hearing world, I've never lived with a deaf person, I've never worked with other deaf person, or anything. So believe me I'm more than capable of communicating with people without some good doers trying to push their nose into my business! I'm sure many other deaf people out there feel the exactly same way!

So to all of you who may have take one or two classes and still struggles to carry out even the most basic conversation, keep it to yourself!!! They don't want you to butt in, they don't appreciate your help, and they fear you! If you want to sign so badly, then wait patiently until they're done with whatever they're doing, then politely approach them and make it just between you two. Don't come in and play hero or you'd just make things worse for them! If they're out on their own, they probably have been on their own for a long time and are more than capable of navigating the hearing world without you coming in and butcher up their conversation and put everybody in a awkward situation!

Thank you very much for taking your time to read this!
Aces84 Aces84
26-30, M
2 Responses Mar 18, 2012

You could just smile and say "no, I'm ok. thank you" and continue with what you're doing. Simple and nobody gets hurt. And have confidence when you're doing it. Also I suggest you seek out deaf friends, they're better people than hearing.

My name is Elizabeth Dawkins and I'm in Dr. Cordi's Applied Storytelling class at Ohio Dominican University. We have been challenged to learn more about something were interested in through story. I have recently been dabbling in ASL and it is really intriguing to me. The professor has asked that we craft your story as well as our own into a storyography (video about a story). I would love to hear about a story that you have encountered while being a professional in the art of sign language. The story doesn't have to be serious, funny, or sad it can be anything that you please as long as it has conflict (resolved or not resolved). I understand that you are busy but it would be greatly appreciated if you could share your story with me. When I am done with the video I can send it to you, if you'd like. Thank you for taking time to read this email.

With warm regards,

Elizabeth Dawkins