Hearing journalist spends a day with a Deaf family


Guardian reporter Sam Wollaston spends a day with the Woolfe family. He is hearing and the Woolfe family – Ramon and Louise and their three children: Jasper, Layla and Spencer – are all deaf.

The article starts:

I should have been prepared for it, I suppose – the silence. But it strikes me immediately. And, to begin with, I find it difficult. Here is a family behaving exactly as every other family in the country behaves every morning – having breakfast, getting ready for school, putting the wrong shoes on the wrong feet, not wanting to put coats on. But someone has hit the mute button, and it is all happening in silence.

Well, not quite. After a while other, non-conversation sounds – the hum of the fridge, birdsong outside, the crunch of cereal being munched – begin to emerge out of what I originally mistook for silence. All that is missing is the conversation, the talking, whining, yelling etc that normally goes with such a family situation. It is like a song with the lyrics removed.

Of course, there is exactly the same kind of conversation going on as any other family would have every morning. It’s just that the words are being signed instead of spoken verbally. I don’t know sign language, though. That is why I am here: I don’t really know any deaf people, have never been exposed to deaf culture. I am in at the deep end, the deep end being a smart house on a new development on the edge of Swindon.

Read it in full on The Guardian.

I really like this article. I love the way Sam starts to appreciate the quiet in the Woolfe household. It’s also interesting that, despite Ramon and Louise’s best efforts, Sam starts to feel isolated because he can’t understand BSL – “Oi! Hello? Hearing people like to know what’s going on too“, great quote and I’m sure many of you know exactly what he feels, I know I do.