Lisa Goldstein is a journalist based in Pittsburgh, who happens to be deaf and verbal, with a cochlear implant. We interviewed her to discover what life is like when working her day job and running a family home with a hearing husband, two children and cat.
SA: What bugs you most when people don’t understand your own identity as a deaf person?
LG: People tend to assume that everyone else can hear, and that all deaf people sign.
SA: Can you talk more about your experiences in this regard? At my local shops recently, someone actually started signing to me. I really wish people would ask before they do this, because I don’t sign at all. Have you any stories like this, for us?
LG: This has happened so many times over the course of my life! An example is when I’m at the store and the cashier asks me a question, like “Do you want the receipt in the bag?” and they look at me weirdly when I don’t respond. Or when someone finds out or realizes I’m deaf, they start trying out the sign language they know or ask me what a specific sign is.
SA: As a journalist, how do you handle phone calls for work and interview purposes?
LG: I tend to conduct my interviews primarily via email. I also use online chat, iMessage and Google Hangouts. I avoid using the phone operator Relay or captioned phone services because of the conversational delays and inaccuracies in these systems.
SA: For the chat apps, that’s a mix of text and video – most notably with Google Hangouts? Do you use captions on Hangouts and/or on Skype? These online tools can be a great leveller for students and (self-)employees like ourselves.
LG: Some chat apps have a mixture of text and video, but I avoid video interviews for the same reason I don’t do them on the phone. It’s too hard to lipread AND take notes while tracking the conversation. I also don’t have the money to have interviews transcribed.
SA: Do you enjoy writing about your hearing loss? Why, or why not?
LG: Sure. I’m an open book! I like educating others about differences.
[ Lisa’s blog, inmyhead.com, has great insights into her family’s – and cat’s – adventures ]
SA: What are the greatest struggles of being a wife of a hearing person and having two hearing children?
LG: Missing out on what’s being said when I’m unable to lipread, like conversations in the car with my kids as well as their friends (what are they talking about?). I also don’t catch when my kids torment one another when out of my sight.
SA: Is there an app for that? Joking apart, do you ever ask the kids or their friends what they’re talking or scrapping about? Curiosity would kill most people in your situation. Maybe you have an extra rear-view mirror in your car, like some moms do? A former work colleague had one on her PC, for when she listened to music, so she knew who was in the vicinity.
LG: Once in a while, I’ll ask what they were talking about, but sometimes it’s hard for them to recall specifics, especially if they were just laughing or joking about random stuff. If I were to use a rear-view mirror in the car or look over at my daughter in the passenger seat to lipread her while driving, I wouldn’t be focusing on the road. Bad idea!
SA: What final point would you like to make to the Sound Advice audience?
LG: Parents should have the right to choose what communication modality they want for their deaf child, whether that’s sign language or learning to listen and talk as infants. But I owe everything to my parents for choosing to raise me oral. They took advantage of the crucial language window for hearing and speech once I was diagnosed at 14 months, knowing that I could always learn how to sign later. As a result, I’m able to be independent in society.
Lisa tweets @lisarati, if you’d like to follow more of her family adventures.