Blind To The Signs Of The Deaf

| NY, USA | Friendly | June 25, 2014

(My two year old has a significant speech delay but can hear perfectly and uses sign language to communicate most of her needs. We are at the playground and there is an elderly woman there as well with her grandchildren.)

Daughter: *in sign* “Mommy, help me swing.”

Me: “Okay, hold on here while I push.”

(I push her for a few minutes until she asks me to get down, and then runs to the slide I notice the other woman staring at me.)

Me: “Hi, did you want this swing? There’s another one over there but I think were done with—”

Woman: “You are not helping that child by pretending to understand her when she waves her hands around you know!”

Me: “Oh, she actually speaks using American Sign Language. She has a speech delay and—”

Woman: “There’s no such thing as sign language other than [slur]s waving their hands around! Nothing is wrong with her except for you!”

Me: “Um, American Sign Language is a language used by thousands of people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or cannot speak. Not that it’s any of your business but my daughter has a delay diagnosed by her doctor.”

Woman: “You’re a liar! I should call CPS on you for forcing that child to not speak!”

(Suddenly a younger woman, who is obviously related to the older one yanks her arm.)

Younger Woman: “Mom! We’ve talked about this before. You can’t keep threatening people for no reason!” *to me* “Sorry. She won’t actually call. She just thinks it’s funny to threaten people.”

(My daughter, who has been watching this whole exchange tugs on my pants and signs to me.)

Daughter: “Mean lady. No play.”

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