Friday, September 12, 2008

Tap on Hearing People's Shoulder or Wave Your Hand Over Their Face Could Get You in Legal Trouble!

The well-known and respectable film "hearing" critic, Roger Ebert of Chicago, IL, seems understood what we, deaf people were going thru everyday life. Ebert's knee got whacked by another film critic during the film screening. Ebert couldn't see the subtitles of the new foreign film to be reviewed. He got the cancer on his mouth area few years ago. The main part of his mouth area had been heavily removed due to cancerous region. Ebert had to tap on that hearing man's shoulder to move his shoulder blocked Ebert's view. Guess what?

Any of us, deaf people have the tendency of tapping on hearing people's shoulder or wave hands over their face to get their attention. We would get in legal troubles for so-called physical assault.

No questions about the difference of cultural and linguistic upbringings between deaf and hearing Americans how to get someone's attention. Deaf people usually tap on someone's shoulder or wave their hands in front of someone's face.

Many hearing Americans dislike this kind of manual communication approach by deaf people.

What we should do with hearing people's misunderstandings of us, deaf people to do the outreach to any hearing people?

In the past, I did gently tapped on one hearing lady to get her attention. She became squeamish and shouted to me "Don't touch me!" I tried to calm that lady, but she seems frantic all over the place.

Hearing Americans seems little paranoid about physical touchings on shoulder area, ex. tapping.

I hope that Roger Ebert will be more sympathetic toward deaf people and feel solidarity with us.

ASLize yours,
Robert L. Mason (RLM)


  1. Thank you for posting this article.

    Everywhere I was standing or watch something at certain places. For example, I was standing in the middle of the subway between the seats. I was daydreaming or was reading newspaper. Most hearing reacted frustrating to call me something that I am unable to hear any directions. Then he/she tapped my shoulder very hard to startle me. I loathe that feeling! I wish I could teach them to be gentle in tapping in order to get my attention caring.
    Perhaps, I perceived some hearing people were impatient and wished not to touch physically, more convenience for them to call anybody. Don't you reckon?


  2. Nick,

    How true about the cross-cultural conflicts between deaf and hearing people in many ways.

    There are no formal schooling for both deaf and hearing people how to approach each other in satisfying way, instead of frustrating each other.

    I experienced several times when hearing people slapped my back or head or push me aside without saying "Please excuse me" and other necessary social manners.

    Thanks for sharing your personal experience with all of us, DeafRead blog readers.


  3. Often when I'm shopping, people will tap and sometimes very rudely push me out of the way, because I haven't heard them ask to stand aside behind me (My lip-reading is fair, but I can't see through the back of my head !).

    One woman with a child in a buggy simply ran it into me, causing my leg to bleed, and shouted at me to get out of the way... If I want to get past someone, or attract their attention, I try to face them always, deaf need to do this if they can.

    Deaf can sometimes be rude too and push you ! if you haven't seen them signing at you or, they are trying to get you out of their line off sight to talk to someone across the room !

    We have to be careful attracting people's attentions from behind, today many people do not like being touched at all, whilst deaf don't seem to mind much. It can result in assaults and fights. Deaf need to understand, that an animated signer can look very threatening and aggressive to a hearing person, it's the physicality of signing, and where there are a lot of young people drinking it is quite dangerous too.

  4. RLM -
    I saw your comment on another blog that you wanted to read DC/Marvel Superman versus Batman team up. You was reprinted in this book:

    Delete this comment after you read it because it is not related to your blog post.

  5. Oops. I mean Superman versus Spiderman.

  6. Have you heard of this horror story of a deaf man entering the elevator and pressed the button? Unbeknownst to him, another man entered the elevator but carrying large packages. He repeatedly asked this deaf man to press the floor button for him. Unfortunately this deaf man was unaware of the request coming from the impatient man. Guess what? The man finally put the package down and punched the deaf man.

  7. Hello Robert!

    This is Jojo from the Philippines. The no-touch thing in America, something like, respect my space has affected even the deaf community there. In my country, the deaf also do some touching and kissing and hugging out of respect. But there are times when these go too far so we caution them on doing that especially our young students.

    When it comes to asking for attention, we also do some tapping on the shoulder but not on the face. But I hate some people here who throw pieces of paper or any object to them in order to call their attention. That's demeaning and disrespectful. I rebuke people doing that.

  8. By the way, I added your blog in the Blogroll list of my blog Filipino Deaf from the Eyes of a Hearing Person.

    Thanks again. :-)


  9. MM, JoJo, Kevin and Anonymous,

    I really am sorry for not replying to your comments much sooner. The weekend times usually are not the good time for me to log in the computer to check out comments and other email messages.

    I hardly am the person, who spend too much time in front of computer screen. I am more like an active person than the "coach potato" (common American slang for people, who sit all day and night in front of TV or spend time in front of computer screen). Okay?

    I am going to reply to every comments being made on this blog article. :)


  10. MM,

    I dunno know about deaf Brits' tendency with "attention-getting" methods. I never had enough time to make my own personal observation of deaf Brits' social norms for non-manual communication to draw the conclusion of what deaf Brits really tend or not tend to, etc.

    I really sympathize with you about your past experience with impatient hearing people to shove you or hit you with the baby buggy.

    That must be really the mean Mary Poppins! LOL!

    No questions about handful of deaf individuals making rude or inconsiderate moves to notify someone to move out of the way or push you aside.

    Last two months ago, I had to push the hearing 20s lady out of the way to get my duffel bag from the commerical bus's exterior compartment in NYC. That lady was really idiotic for spending considerable time to get her stuff about ten minutes. My duffel bag is right there in front of her. I simply pulled my bag. The lady knew what she really doing like prolonging her effort to get her bags. Some people were like that.

    The lady shouted to my interpreter friend - "Your deaf friend is very rude for pushing me!" I simply shrugged my shoulders at her and doesn't give any hoots.

    I was there first before the same lady. She barged in and trussed her rear side to me.

    I am not much on chivlary, because I believe in sexual equality.

    Back to my seventh-grade year, few female classmates bullied me as only the male classmate in the art class. They hitted me out of joy. I told those girls please stop doing that. They kept doing it. I had to hit them back to stand up for myself. The first replies - "You can't hit girls!" I replied "Why not, I will be not allowed anyone to push me around!"

    The girls instantly stopped hitting me and left me all alone.

    Most important of all is to treat people with respect and decency, not bully or push aside anyone.

    You are absolutely right about more and more people being fincky about being physically touched to the overreportings of sexual molestation and assaults which lead to more parnanoid attitude toward physical contacts, etc.

    Many thanks for sharing your personal experience and leave comments. I always enjoy reading your blog articles. Keep doing that!


  11. Anonymous,

    No problem about leaving comment unrelated to the topic posting.

    My own fault for not posting the email address or leave link to reach me on the blogsite.

    Many thanks for letting me know about the re-publication of "Superman v. Spidey" oversize comic book. I will look into this Amazon link. Thanks again.

    I will leave your comment like that. No big deal for me. :)


  12. Kevin,

    Nope! I never read anything like the unforunate story about deaf person being unfairly whacked for not hearing out someone hearing's request for pushing the elevator button.

    That is really the physical assault on the part of hearing delivery person.

    I was also assaulted by someone hearing at the Library of Congress, because the guy was very angry with me for appeartenly ignoring him.

    I was simply unaware about someone made request behind my back during the online research for some books at that library. The guy assaulted me with the "lead" pen (pencil). Thank God for the security camera recorded the entire incident.

    The guy was brought to the court to charge him for a simple physical assault. The Office of District Attorney was very eager to bring this person to the justice. The guy couldn't be allowed to be on the premise for 5 years. The assasilant had to pay me $200 for damaging my shirt.

    I wish that I have a copy of video security recording for people to see what is all about.

    I have to apply to the Freedom of Information Act to get on the copy of video recording. :)


  13. JoJo,

    Really about some people cross the line with physical contacts, especially underage deaf individuals.

    Yes, we have to draw the line come to the underage deaf individuals.

    One of the hearing guy kissed me out of the blue on the street. I don't know this person. That guy walked his dog, then he suddenly kissed me when we walked past each other. I seen that guy before. He tried to impress me with his basic signings. I replied Uh-huh".

    Of course, I replied with body language - "Don't appreciate it!"

    I shrugged with disgust. I haven't seen this guy after this incident. Thank God!

    Thanks again for sharing your personal experience what is going on in the Deaf Phillippnes. :)

    Before closing my response. How true about some people - deaf and hearing, don't know about social couresty like throwing some object to get someone's attention.

    Ever dangerous objects! Some people thought that was pretty funny for tossing real pretty dangerous objects for attention-getting. I couldn't remmy what objects they were. I recalled that other people were pretty scared to the death when someone threw sharp object for alerting the nearby person. Sheesh!

    Common sense is real important for our social behavior to treat every human beings with respect and tact.