My doctor told me he taught his dog sign language

The other day I went to see a new doctor about a knee injury. It wasn’t serious, but the doctor had just started working in the practice and I was his first deaf patient.
He asked if I signed and when I said yes, he then told me about his dog who he had trained to respond to his instructions in sign language as she was deaf too. I didn’t know how to take it – well, I was insulted. What would you do if you were me?

Alison, Surrey

Deafauntie says:

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry! Being insulted is probably  a waste of emotional energy although that response sometimes gets things done. I do different things in different situations : sometimes I look over my glasses in a ‘severe schoolmarm’ style and that shuts them up. Or I say “Well, I’m actually here to talk about xyz” and ignore what they have just said.
I know others would take action, writing a letter of complaint to the Head of the practice asking for an apology and so on. The guy was probably trying to find some kind of rapport and failed miserably – so ignore those comments and move on swiftly as you know what? Life is too short to listen to assholes.

2 responses to “My doctor told me he taught his dog sign language

  1. I can understand your sensitivity here but I agree with deaf Auntie that the Doctor was probably trying to find some means of rapport with you. You are lucky, as in my experience most Doctors don’t even give you the time of day, let alone divulge information about their own private lives!
    My brother adopted a totally deaf dog 10 years ago, which would have been put down otherwise as nobody else wanted him. His dog has also learned to respond to simple gestures and hand movements and has grown to be a totally responsive, confident and happy canine. I suspect that this is the same case with your Doctor and it sounds to me like you may have slightly misinterpreted his attempts at communication with you. I’d give him the benefit of the doubt here and be grateful that you have a Doctor that has taken your deafness on board and is interested in you enough to chat with you..believe me they are few and far between!

  2. I concur with Gill here. I am not a signer and happen to communicate well with speech but time and time again I get comments from well meaning hearing people that border on the idiotic to me. Such as “do you do the talking thing with your fingers?” or “Can you hear the music?”. As I say, they’re being well meaning and are simply seeking to find a rapport with you. While it’s hard not to give an indignant response, my advice is don’t. Bite your tongue, take a deep breath and then calmly educate. That way, we can all gently spread deaf awareness among the general population for all our benefit. Remember to stress that deaf people have diverse communication needs. Don’t scare off nervous, hesitant, ill informed but well meaning efforts to connect with us deafies. They should be welcomed.

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