Show Me a Sign

This story about a Starbucks barista learning some signs for a Deaf customer got a lot of attention last week. A few things that come to mind:

  1. This story is a better story about quality cusomter service than it is about compassion. The Deaf man is excited about feeling included in a small yet meaningful way, while hearing culture with a medical model'of hearing loss view it not as a hearing person "helping" someone.

  2. This story has the chance to tell the Deaf customer's story, but instead it's all about the hearing person. Her efforts are worth commending, to be sure, but this is hearing people's story about a hearing person.

  3. When I was studying to become an interpreter, I lost count of the number of times people told me how wonderful it was that I was learning ASL. Ask Deaf people how often they're told the same, and the numbers may come as a surprise.

In the meantime, consider taking a moment to get more acquainted with Deaf culture.