The growing online deaf and hearing-impaired community as a force to be reckoned with has opened up several new communications tools which have increased accessibility to the world around them. Deaf chat rooms that offer the same social opportunities afforded to the non-deaf are now available to all deaf online. One of the most successful uses of technology for the deaf has been the rise of these deaf chat rooms. For a person used to isolation a deaf chat room can increase the overall quality of life and feeling of being part of a new community. There are many sites available and while many are good some of them offer the same hazards as other chat rooms. How can use of a deaf chat room enrich a person's life? The main benefit is another chance to increase deaf mainstreaming and avoid social isolation.
Benefits of a deaf chat room
Unfortunately in our society, a deaf person is sometimes viewed as an intellectual inferior when this is not the case at all. Is Physicist Stephen Hawking inferior because he has communication issues? Of course not! The average deaf person has the same hopes, fears and desires out of life as anybody else. Communicating these thoughts and feelings can be restricted by the use sign language.
The greatest advantage of a deaf chat room is its ability to act as a social equalizer. It starts everyone out at a level playing field. Verbal sparring, sharing of ideas, thoughts, prayers, and knowledge exchange is just a few keyboard clicks away between deaf to deaf, or non-deaf to deaf. The relative anonymity provided by deaf chat rooms allows a free exchange with the listener not operating under preconceived notions from the other person's deafness. Even if both participants are deaf, the controversy of oralism versus manualism is avoided and any bias towards oralism will not be noticed online.
Sense of privacy
Imagine if you were on a date and a third party had to repeat everything you said to your date and everything your date said back to you. This is not a comfortable situation! Even deaf to deaf conversations are difficult depending upon background training (oralism versus manualism again). A third-party means to be discrete and helpful during deaf interpreting but it is still intrusive. The freedom and sense of privacy that are a part of being deaf online is a godsend. Intimate issues can be discussed without embarrassment.
Disadvantage of a deaf chat
The only real disadvantage of being deaf online is the same disadvantage of being non-deaf online-there can be a bunch of jerks in cyberspace! The same immature behavior, pickup lines, rude comments and overall obnoxiousness can be found on Deaf Chat World or Deaf Zone of Deaf Friend Finder just as easily as more mainstream sites. Deaf people have dealt with this kind of ignorance their whole lives and are probably more immune to it. At any rate, the benefits discussed above far outweigh this downside.
Being deaf online is a new experience as technology for the deaf continues to open up new and exciting communication opportunities. From deaf chat rooms to video remote interpreting, the digital age of deaf interpreting and a newfound sense of privacy are here. Whether a deaf person is looking for a way to talk hobbies, politics, dating, sport or just wants to have a new deaf friend finder, the online forums are many and the ones exclusively devoted to the hearing impaired are numerous.