Do deaf people tend to avoid hand-occupying activities?

The stream of consciousness that led to this is boring, but where I ended up was thinking that deaf people, having to use their hands to communicate, must find themselves shying away from things like pottery making, for instance. Because one you’re doing it, it’s really hard to just stop and speak to someone with your hands all covered in clay.

Actually, the stream of consciousness might help: it was actually one of those half-awake dreams. Marlee Matlin was in it, and it was about cooking something messy. And first my dreamy thought was that being so hand-oriented, she would probably prefer to do lots more cooking with bare hands. Then, as I became more awake, I realized that no, she probably wouldn’t, because she needs her hands to communicate. (Matlin specifically actually doesn’t, since she is capable of speech. But not all deaf people are.)

So then I was thinking about what else might inconvenience communication for a deaf person by occupying or dirtying their hands so that talking became messy or difficult and so was either avoided or delayed? Like… are deaf people actually prevented from becoming surgeons, because their hands can’t be instantly available to communicate? Are they prevented because it’s necessary to hear to begin with?

None of this should be taken in any insulting way, I’m simply curious. I actually LOVE LOVE LOVE sign language, love to watch deaf people talk to each other. I think its’ beautiful and thrilling, and I very ambitiously explored the possibility of learning it a few years ago. (I’ve always known the alphabet, because my sister played Helen Keller on stage when I was a very little girl and she taught it to me.) I wanted to learn two languages simultaneously, actually: french and ASL… I thought I’d learn the try to learn the same things at the same time in each language, I could practice simultaneously. Like I said, ambitious.

But there’s no doubt that it is, in certain contexts, a very inefficient way to be forced to talk…like in surgery and pottery-making.

Do we have any deaf dopers?

(Another thing that intrigues me is the way deaf people can and do essentially learn two extremely different languages, because the little I do know about ASL tells me that the grammar and syntax are completely unrelated to English.)

I think your logic may be flawed. I communicate mostly by speaking with my mouth but that doesn’t stop me from speaking while I’m eating, bad manners though it may be.

Just from the title, I was wondering if maybe sign-readers subconsciously, or deliberately, keep their eyes off people’s hands that they aren’t speaking with, the way hearing folk might try not to eavesdrop on a nearby conversation.

Maybe sometimes, but people fluent in sign language also have and use the ability to “speak” and “listen” across greater distances, and through intervening noise. You and I couldn’t very well talk to each other from opposite sides of a busy cafeteria, for example; they could.

Logically, the "… deaf people, having to use their hands to communicate, must find themselves shying away from things like pottery making, for instance. Because one you’re doing it, it’s really hard to just stop and speak to someone with your hands all covered in clay. " idea makes sense.

But people don’t pick their professions logically, they pick them based on what they enjoy. So I think your initial “being so hand-oriented, she would probably prefer to do lots more cooking with bare hands” assessment may be more correct.

I am not a deaf person (although even a deaf person is only one deaf person, not all deaf people).

Same here… nor does it discourage me from putting things in my mouth in general. :slight_smile:

Yes, but if you imagine a person signing with hands covered in clay, you quickly realize that it could be a much bigger issue.

I’m deaf… and I’d say no.

Do hearing people avoid chewing gum, eating and drinking because it occupies their mouth?

Not really. You should see the things I’ve put in my mouth (or maybe you shouldn’t).

No, because it doesn’t interfere.

Do you know any other sign languages other than ASL? Do you know if the sign languages of other countries are as different from ASL as English is from French, for instance?

Have we ever had an “ask the deaf person” thread? Or an “ask the blind person”? Or “Ask the person with no sense of smell”?

I think I’ll do a search…

This makes me wonder if a deaf person has ever said anything incredibly insulting or profound by accident while crocheting.

You have been around for a while. This board was dominated by a deaf person back when the World Trade Centers were still standing to such a degree that we couldn’t figure out how it was possible to get that many posts with the board speed at the time. It took others years to break the record. That was enough for me.

My question was asked in a little bit of a sarcastic manner. Just like hearing people have a way of speaking “around” things in their mouth, deaf people have a way of speaking “around” things in their hands. They love their sidekicks and iPhones.

No. I’ve seen other signed languages being signed. They looked like, well, foreign sign languages. Couldn’t make sense of it. I did know a deaf world traveler who claimed that every sign language is “universal” once you get a few fundamentals down. Not sure how true that is.

I’ve studied Chinese. A deaf Chinese friend and I agreed that written Mandarin is much closer to ASL than ASL is to English. This is just our experience and opinion.

Ultimately everyone can only speak for himself or herself, but I am a particularly bad spokesperson for the deaf because I am not in touch with the deaf community or deaf issues. Wouldn’t be a good candidate for any “ask the …” thread unless it is a “ask the JRPG fanatic” thread.

Well, I kinda like craft time at the deaf school, because the kids talk much less when their hands are full of scissors and paper, and concentrate better. Makes up for group time, where you have to watch them all like hawks to make sure they are paying attention, and not chatting silently with their neighbour.

You can sign with stuff in your hands, but it can get unclear. One-handed signing is usually understood, so sometimes people put enough down to have one hand free. I don’t think hands covered in clay would make too much difference.