I have been watching Switched at Birth! That’s a revelation right?

I did not used to like it. The storyline was too “teenagey” and there was too much drama in it for my lonely life to handle. So when I heard people talking about it, my brain would take off into another realm.

But then I got bored one afternoon….🙂

I pulled the series up from someone’s archived folder on my laptop and “fired it up”! I didn’t quite like the the story from the beginning. But THEN, I saw the deaf parts! The signing caught my attention and I became hooked on the show – not because of the story-line, but because of the characters and how they communicate! The signing parts are the best parts!

It was the beginning of a new journey for me. It has made me aware of the difficulties that a deaf person experiences. Sound – which a hearing person takes for granted – is non-existent for the deaf. They have no idea what an emotional voice sounds like. They display emotions through facial expressions and gestures that reflect the actual emotions they are feeling.

Music

Now, I am a musical person and I don’t know what I would do if I went deaf.  I am afraid that I will not have the patience. I break out into joyous harmony any time that I am feeling joyous. I can sing until I fall from exhaustion! My reaction to music is emotional and instantaneous!

For the deaf though, it might take time and effort for them to build themselves into the emotional appeal of the song. There are different levels of deafness, therefore deaf people will experience music at various levels of effort. Those who are completely deaf take longer than those who have some hearing or use hearing aids.

They can instantaneously experience music through the vibrations caused by the sound of music in the air, but the the message gets across after some time. For completely deaf people, the lyrics of the song have to firstly be translated into sign language before they can understand it. They can immediately respond to music like hearing people if they watch a music video with subtitles or sign language.

And they like their music LOUD! Because they rely on sound vibrations to feel the music, the music itself must be loud enough for them to actually feel the air vibrate. If the music is not loud enough, they can place their hands on the speakers to feel the vibrations. They then respond to these vibrations by watching how other people around them react to it. This type of observation helps them to respond emotionally to the music. It helps if they’ve memorized the lyrics to a song by watching a visual representation of it beforehand.

Deaf people with residual hearing (i.e. being able to hear some sound) can hear some of the words if the music is loud enough. Some can only hear the conglomerate of instruments in a musical piece but not hear any of the lyrics. Others can pick out sporadic sounds of the music and then work with observations, signs and subtitles (or even an interpreter) to be able to fully grasp the fun experience of the song.

Whether deaf people have favorite songs is not something I would know about. However, if they have to put a lot of effort into understanding what a song is about, once they associate the lyrics to all the vibrations they feel, my guess is that their appreciation of it is ten times more than a hearing person’s. For them, it is a constant effort. So you might find that a deaf person knows only one song and that they cherish it.

If you see a deaf people, try communicating with them about music. You might be surprised about what you learn.