My current novel-in-progress features a main character who is deaf, so I’ve been researching hearing loss and how deaf people communicate.
I’ve always enjoyed watching an interpreter use American Sign Language, especially during songs at church. The fluid movement of their hands is like a visual dance, rising and falling in tune with the music.
But I’ve realized in doing my research that it’s almost impossible to understand what it’s like to live in a world without sound. So much of our day-to-day life includes background noise. Right now, I can hear the drip of water from the roof after a rain, the tiny tweet of a bird, cars speeding on the road two blocks away.
A person with a severe hearing loss misses the cues, such as a door slamming telling her Daddy’s home. The dog barking because he’s excited to hear from her. A horn honking a warning to stay out of the street.
The closest we who can hear can get to understanding what deafness is like is to stand on one side of a glass wall watching a room full of people talking and laughing. We might imagine they are laughing at us when actually they are unaware of our presence.
“Deafness is an invisible handicap that seals her off from our words, our thoughts, everything we know,” wrote Thomas Spradley, who told the story in the book Deaf Like Me of raising his daughter and learning to communicate with her.
Researching this novel has given me renewed gratitude for my sense of hearing and greater sensitivity to those who don’t hear well.
Most of all, it’s increased my appreciation that I have a Savior who is always aware of me and what I’m going through. And He calls me to follow. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27, ESV).
Whether you have your sense of hearing or not, I pray you hear His voice calling your name, reminding you that you’re not forgotten.