Being a HUG at Gallaudet: Will I be Accepted by Students and Faculty?

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Question #1: Will I be accepted by students and faculty?

As a HUG student, this is a typical and somewhat valid but ungrounded uncertainty shared by many hearing people, including me before attending Gally. But, like I said, it is ungrounded. Chances are that you will be accepted by students and faculty in the Deaf community in the same way that you are accepted in the hearing community. I have found that most Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students are open to HUGs, especially to those who are able to communicate fairly well. The better you are able to sign and the more you respect the Deaf community, the better your chances of getting fully accepted by peers.

Of course, just like in any culture, there are cliques. For example, hearing people are split into groups like jocks, class clowns, geeks, and freshmen. Some cultures are divided into categories like lower class, middle class, and upper class. The Deaf culture is divided by language. These groups include PSE users, DoD (Deaf of Deaf) ASL users, SEE signers, Pakistani Sign Language users, and Hard-of-Hearing lipreaders just to name a few. Communication is key. People typically socialize with those whom they understand and those who understand them. Exceptions can be made and lines can be crossed, for the most part, this is the social structure of the Deaf community.

To cross these invisible boundaries, you have to sometimes push yourself. For me, I did not want to remain at the “hearing table” at Deaf social events for the rest of my life. I wanted to be able to go back and forth between the tables with ease. So, I made a decision. I decided that I did not want to be a “conversational burden” to Deaf people. I did not want them to have to slow down, repeat themselves, or change their register or communication mode to accommodate me and my linguistic shortcomings.

Now, please do not take this the wrong way. I made this decision, knowing that I was not going to meet this standard overnight. I knew it would take work, practice, and time…lots of time. But I used this resolution to motivate me to learn. Still, more than three years later, it remains a major motivational tool that I use to improve my signing skills. Do you have something that motivates you? Utilize it. Set short- and long-term goals to keep yourself focused and always in a state of learning.

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