Right now, New York City is positively radiant with the bright lights of the holiday season! This time of year, many people travel great lengths, just to share food and laughter with their loved ones. For some families, though, the greatest distance is not a physical one. It is the barrier of communication.
The gift of understanding is one of the greatest gifts you can give your deaf or hard of hearing family member. Imagine you are sitting at a table full of people you’ve known your whole life, but you are not able to talk to them, or follow their conversations. Imagine you are not able to participate in the story-telling, or the memory sharing, or any of the fun gossiping which we cherish so much about these gatherings.
Imagine how much difference an interpreter would make! How wonderful it would be, to have someone else take the intensive work out of relaying conversation, so that the whole family can feel relaxed and included.
Providing your deaf or hard of hearing family members with a professional interpreter is an extra consideration that goes a long way. It breaks my heart to hear about people feeling left out of their own families because of a difference in language. In the modern age, a time when we are so caught up in the many means of socializing, it’s tragic that the most intimate gatherings cannot be thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Beyond hiring an interpreter for family events, actually learning ASL is the gift that keeps on giving. Imagine the joy on your deaf family members’ face when you begin signing to them! Surely, it will be a treat for everyone if you step out of your comfort zone to break through the silence, and your deaf family member will certainly not be judging you for trying. In fact, you’d be surprised how bonding this experience can be!
When planning your get-togethers, look for a competent interpreter for your deaf or hard of hearing guests. If you have deaf family members, please think about how meaningful your efforts to truly converse with them will be. Treat yourself, or your whole family, to ASL lessons. Don’t let another year go by where your deaf friends and family members can’t share in the jokes, the conversation, and the trips down memory lane we so affectionately associate with the holidays.