What’s It Like Being Deaf? – Deafness 101 | Rikki Poynter

So Deaf Awareness Week is September 22nd to
the 27th and we’re gonna talk about it on
my channel today.
Of course, by the time this video goes up,
it will probably be October.
But I’ve been sick during the entire awareness
week, so there’s not much I can do.
First and foremost, if you see this absurd
meme anywhere on the Internet,
roll your eyes to the back of your head as
far as you can and walk away from your computer.
You make absolutely no sense. Why are you
It’s pretty common knowledge what the difference
between screaming and yawning is.
They look like two completely different things.
I don’t know who the hell made this shit
up, but uhm, it’s shit.
In the United States alone, there’s about
two million people who are deaf,
and in the United States, there are about
313 million people total.
Two million and that, it’s a pretty small
number, but it’s still a significant number.
Now do you want to know how many schools there
are just for the deaf and hard of hearing?
Spread out across the country.
Now this is strictly for colleges and universities.
I’m not talking about public high schools
so I don’t know what the number of public
high schools are,
but for college and universities – five.
Now the main word we’re looking at is “deaf”.
A four letter word. It’s not a big word
at all.
But there’s three “categories” that
fall under that word.
You have deaf, Deaf, and hard of hearing.
Which is five words total, but whatever. #joke
You have the “little d” deaf which is
strictly for people who are profoundly deaf.
They have very little amount of hearing left.
There are actually very few people in the
world that have lost 100% of their hearing.
There’s people who can hear certain pitches
and sounds.
But for the most part, there’s not a lot
of people who are 100% deaf.
These people are typically raised to be oral
and they just don’t get involved in Deaf
Which brings me to the “big D” Deaf which
is people who are deaf that are actually more
involved in the community.
Typically, they know sign language. They get
– They have this big community (or culture).
Some people in this community may have been
raised to be oral when they were younger,
but for the most part, they’re probably
using sign language as their preferred communication.
And then you have hard of hearing which is
for the people
who have a mild, moderate, or severe hearing
loss, but they’re not profoundly deaf.
It’s just enough hearing loss that it actually
does affect their everyday life.
Now you notice that I sometimes use “deaf”
and “hard of hearing” interchangeably.
Sometimes, I just use deaf. Sometimes, I just
use hard of hearing.
The reason for that is hearing people, in
mine and other people’s experiences,
they all seem to think of hard of hearing
as being able to hear normally.
For some reason that I don’t know.
So, usually, just using the word “deaf”
makes it a lot easier.
But not really.
Plus The Deaf Side of Makeup is a lot shorter
and flows a lot better than The Hard of Hearing
Side of Makeup.
Just say it out loud. Trust me. It sounds
A long time ago, the term “hearing impaired”
was used and you hear it a lot when you talk
to a doctor.
That term is not acceptable anymore in the
Deaf community.
The reason for that is it’s very similar
to deaf-mute, deaf and dumb, and it’s just
not appropriate.
I will link more information for that down
below that’ll explain it just a little bit
Now for the personal questions and answers
part of this video.
01: Are you deaf or hard of hearing?
I am hard of hearing.
I have maybe a little less than half of the
hearing left in my right ear
and probably a little bit more than half left
in my left ear.
02: How long have you been hard of hearing?
Probably all my life, but I didn’t pay attention
to it until 6th grade when somebody paid attention
to it for me.
‘Cos at 12 years old, all I care about is
Sailor Moon, Pokemon, and macaroni & cheese.
03: How did you become hard of hearing?
My abuser whose vagina I came out of became
deaf at the age of three due to an illness,
then she got pregnant with me, gave birth
to me,
and then it was just passed down genetically.
You can become deaf or hard of hearing in
a few ways:
genetics, an illness, it just happens, or
if you just have too many loud sounds going
on on a regular basis and that damages your
And the most popular question I get on Tumblr
a few times a month is do I know sign language
and the answer, for the most part, is no.
I know the basics and I’ve tried to self
study it, but it’s very hard to self study
sign language.
Now let’s talk about the cochlear implants
and hearing aid debate.
A hearing aid is simply a device that may
or may not help you be able to hear something.
It’s artificial hearing, first of all.
A cochlear implant is something that is surgically
implanted into your skull which, again, is
supposed to help you hear something.
Now, the reason why it’s such a debate is
hearing folks
tend to think that it is an absolute miracle
worker, but the truth is that it’s not.
You have to be qualified for hearing aids
and cochlear implants.
And even if you are qualified for either of
those things, it doesn’t mean that it’s
going to work.
Cochlear implants and hearing aids are like
depression medication or any kind of medication.
It works differently for everybody.
Just ‘cos it works for one person does not
mean that it works for another person.
I will put a link down below to videos of
what hearing aids and cochlear implants actually
sound like.
You hear noise and it’s still a guessing
game. You still have to put work into it.
It’s not a miracle worker by any means.
Secondly, they’re very expensive.
Most insurance companies do not cover them.
When it comes to cochlear implants, I’m
not completely sure,
but I do know with hearing aids, most insurance
companies do not cover it.
Mine does not.
It can cost anywhere from 2K to 10K for one
single hearing aid.
Not a pair, but a singular one.
But in case you’re wondering why insurance
companies won’t cover them,
they consider hearing aids and cochlear implants
to be a cosmetic procedure.
I guess I missed the memo where a bunch of
hearing people were lining up to get annoying
things in their ears.
They’re not comfortable, okay?
Oh, Switched At Birth.
Many people have asked us on Tumblr how we
feel about Switched At Birth.
It’s about two girls that have been switched
at birth.
One is hearing and one is deaf.
Now when the show was first announced, a lot
of us were very excited.
We were thinking, “Oh! A mainstream show
on ABC Family that’s gonna be partly about
us and for us.”
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
In the end, it turned out to be a show made
by hearing people for hearing people.
And I will explain.
First of all, there’s this thing called
Basically, it’s somebody talking while signing.
And I understand this for hearing folks or
oral deaf folks who have just started with
sign language.
I get that. That’s completely acceptable
to me.
But when you have Regina who has been having
Daphne for about 18 years –
Daphne became deaf at the age of 3 –
So that’s about 15 years of learning and
using sign language.
You would think by 15 years of sign language
usage, Regina would be pretty fluent.
So why is Regina speaking to Daphne while
she is signing?
Daphne cannot hear you so I don’t understand
why this is the case.
Marlee Matlin’s character and Sean Berdy’s
character cannot hear you.
I don’t understand why that’s a thing.
I also do not understand why Daphne talks
while she is signing.
Your mother should be fluent so why are you
doing that?
A lot of the time, people who are active in
the Deaf community, they don’t talk while
signing, so it’s just weird.
Marlee Matlin and Sean Berdy’s characters
and and Ryan I-Don’t-Remember-His-Last-Name’s
don’t speak while signing so why I’m not
sure everybody else is.
But that doesn’t mean that Switched At Birth
is 100% terrible.
Season 2 has very, very good moments in the
There was a character named Noah who was hearing
and started to become hard of hearing and
he went through a lot of struggles trying
to cope with that.
It makes a lot of sense when you’ve been
growing up being hearing for most of your
and you start to lose that sense – it’s
a little overwhelming.
And they did really well with his character.
Other things that they did really well with
was when Emmett came in contact with the police
when he was working on his car.
Obviously, Emmett is Deaf so when the police
officers were shining the flashlight in his
he couldn’t see them and he was trying to
use his hands to communicate and say that
he’s Deaf and has no idea what’s going
And they handcuffed him and that was troublesome.
Also, the scene where you have Marlee Matlin’s
character’s class and
they talk about not having a hearing loss,
but having Deaf gain.
That was also a very good scene.
That scene is actually somewhere on YouTube,
so if I can find it, I will link that down
Another scene that Switched at Birth did really,
really, REALLY well was when Daphne had her
food truck and she got robbed.
One guy that distracted her and another guy
that physically assaulted her and stole her
They knew she was deaf and they took that
opportunity to sneak up on her and rob her.
That is a thing that happens.
Bad people take advantage of us and they hurt
Shit happens to everybody, hearing or not,
but it’s extremely hurtful when somebody
takes that opportunity to take advantage of
you and hurt you.
I will have links down below to Tumblr posts
that have explained
why Switched At Birth may be a good start,
but it still needs a hell of a lot of work.
Now here are some Deaf Do’s and Don’t’s
when it comes to hearing people interacting
with people who are d/Deaf/HOH.
First and foremost, when you come up to someone
that is d/Deaf/HOH, ask them what their preferred
method of communication is.
Some people who are deaf communicate orally,
some use sign,
some would rather just take a piece of paper
and write, or use a smartphone and type it
out on the notepad app.
Another thing to do is to just treat us like
every other human being in the damn planet.
Now I have a handful of Deaf Don’ts.
Most of all, please don’t ask us ridiculous,
nonsensical questions.
I’ve been asked if I can drive, I’ve been
asked if I can have children, I’ve been
asked if I can wipe my own butt.
Use your brain. Please.
The only thing we can’t do is hear very
well. We can do your basic everyday things.
Trust me.
It was actually illegal for us to drive until,
I think, the late 60s ‘cos they thought
that we would –
they thought that we would be very distracted
when it comes to driving.
Now think about this: when you hear about
car crashes, and there are a lot of those
here every single day,
how many of them make the news ‘cos they
couldn’t hear?
I watch the news religiously and and I have
not heard one deaf person get into a car crash
and make it on the news.
I’m just sayin’.
I mean, here’s the deal. Hearing folks –
You have your kids in the back being loud.
You have your Taylor Swift, you know, all
the way up. Very loudly. And you’re singing
Those are distractions.
We’re all the same in this department.
We all have the same distractions so don’t
use that excuse on us.
Also, the wiping my own butt part –
I didn’t know ears were required to… wipe
Do you wipe your butt with your ears?
Can I have your flexibility?
Another thing that is very, very annoying
is when people think they’re funny
and they put their hands in front of their
mouths and
whisper some kind of nonsense and go, “Do
you know what I just said?”
It’s very annoying. Do not play games with
us. We don’t appreciate it.
Don’t treat us like we’re incompetent.
And 3rd, do not comment or compliment us on
our speech.
I understand why that sounds very strange
‘cos compliments are nice. We like compliments.
We do.
But it’s like putting down a woman to compliment
another woman.
It’s kind of a backhanded compliment.
We have been forced by society to use oral
We have been forced to take speech therapy
classes and
when we do talk, there’s a lot of negative
comments about our voices.
Lots of “sounding like seals” comments,
lots of “sounding retarded” comments and
I’ve had a few comments on my videos say,
“You sound so great for a deaf person!”
It’s a bad thing to compliment.
You’re complimenting me, but you’re insulting
everybody else who may not sound “great”
to you.
When you can’t hear how sounds are supposed
to sound, it’s a complicated thing to learn.
So it’s just best to not say that kind of
You can say, “Hey! I like your voice!”
saying, “You sound/talk great for a deaf
person!” just isn’t… it’s not the
way to go.
I mean, you probably wouldn’t walk up to
a person who walks with a cane and say, “Hey!
You walk well for a disabled person!”
Don’t do it. Don’t do that either.
Now what can you do to help us?
First of all, treat us like human beings.
Also, contact your local police officers and
tell them
to do better training or to be trained at
all when it comes to dealing with people who
are deaf and hard of hearing.
I am so tired of reading reports of deaf people
being killed ‘cos officers think that everybody
and their grandmother have bat hearing.
A fellow YouTuber was almost shot down ‘cos
he could not hear police officers call for
A deaf homeless man was shot to death ‘cos
he was walking around
with a little carving knife that he used to
carve into trees – nice little pictures –
‘cos he could not hear police officers calling
his name.
A deaf woman was tased when she called 911
to come to her house because she was robbed
they were notified but they still tased her
because they told her to stop running at them
even though she could not hear them.
I am so tired of reading articles about my
people getting shot/killed/injured because…
Also, when 9/11 happened, there was a group
of people who were deaf and they were in a
classroom being taught and teaching and
they were practically abandoned when the Twin
Towers were hit because nobody thought to
tell them,
“Hey. Twin Towers were hit. We need to get
This was back when they didn’t have alarms
with lights to let them know that something
was happening.
There is a small documentary on YouTube from
a fellow deaf filmmaker who talks to police
and talks to people that were in 9/11 and
I will link that down below.
Also, the last thing that’s a little bit

Actually, it’s not trivial. It’s actually
Ask YouTubers – the makeup community, the
comedy community, the YouTube community in
general –
if they put background music to please take
it off.
And even better, ask them if they can start
captioning their videos.
‘Cos we watch YouTube as well. Hell, I make
YouTube videos.
And I caption my videos.
If I, with half of my hearing gone, can closed
caption my videos, hearing people can do it
It takes a lot of work for me to understand
myself 100% and get the right words and sometimes
I make mistakes,
but if I can do it, everybody else can do
it as well.
I have been working for years to get many
of my favourite YouTubers to do some captioning
and to tone down on the background music.
Some of it’s worked. Some of it hasn’t.
Some people have been nice enough to realize,
“Oh. You’re right. I’ll stop that.”
and it’s been really good.
I will link some YouTubers down below that
do caption their videos or they don’t use
any background music at all and
if you have similar hearing to me, if you
put in earphones, they should be pretty easy
(or easier) to understand.
So, in general, all of us are pretty different.
There’s not one amount of hearing loss.
Some people are very profoundly deaf.
Some people can only hear out of one ear.
It’s different for everybody.
Understanding you depends on your accent,
if you have facial hair, background noise.
It all depends.
We put a lot of work into trying to communicate
with you, so if you could give us a little
bit back, that would be very helpful.
Which brings me to another Don’t:
If you’re trying to talk to somebody and
they don’t understand you, don’t go “Ugh!
Never mind.”
It’s not worth it and all it does is make
us feel shitty about ourselves.
The amount of work that we put in to understand
you is a lot more work than you have to put
in to communicate with us.
It only takes a few seconds to write something
down or to type on a smartphone.
So, hopefully, you learned a little something
There’s probably a lot more that I can cover,
but this video is going to be so long as it
I will put links down below to lots of information.
The basics. Switched At Birth. Cochlear implants.
The videos and documentaries that I mentioned.
Also, I have my personal Tumblr and my Tumblr
that I made strictly for my child abuse experience
and my deaf experience.
There’s also a Tumblr called The Legalized
Deafies which has a lot of information that
you can look up
and just leave them something in their Ask
Box and Mike, I’m pretty sure, will answer
I hope you learned a few things today and
you learned a little bit about me and I will
see you in my next video. Bye.

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