Being a HUG at Gallaudet: Is It Quiet All the Time?

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Question #6: Is it quiet all the time?

Yes and no.

I will start with the “no” answer first. No, it is not quiet all the time. This makes a little more sense if I bring in some Deaf culture. To get a friend’s attention from across the table or across the room, a student may yell, bang their hand on the table, or stomp of the floor. All of these things are done to produce vibrations either through sound waves or through objects, but for hearing people, you get the vibrations AND the sounds. This takes some getting used to, especially when you are in a crowded cafeteria where EVERYONE is doing it and you have never experienced that much “noise” before.

Also, there is the issue of music. In order to feel the vibrations and maybe hear a note or two, Deaf people will crank up the music–sometimes, during the day and sometimes at 4:00 in the morning–but oftentimes without thinking that the noise might bother their Hard-of-Hearing and hearing neighbors. I have found that earplugs serve me well during these times. I have also managed to gather the gumption to walk down to the perpetrator’s room on occasion and politely ask them to turn it down. They are usually very sweet about it.

On the other hand, it is quiet by hearing standards. I once read a great short story that explained what sound and silence mean to Deaf people. It is the best definition I have ever read. In essence, it said that sound equals movement and lack of movement equals silence. So, by using this definition, campus is just as “noisy” as any hearing one, but if you are talking about sound and silence as we know it, then it can get a little quiet sometimes. These “hearing periods of silence” can be anything from watching a captioned movie in Gallaudet’s theatre without sound to shutting off your eyes and just listening with your ears when you are walking through a busy hallway or through the cafeteria. Personally, I prefer to leave my eyes on at all times so that it doesn’t get too quiet.🙂

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