Pet Peeves in Deaf Representation
Quiet, Shy and Bland – this is so common it’s,,, ugh. I also have very mixed feelings, because on the one hand, being Deaf in rl usually results in a lot of trauma and many of us do wind up being shy, quiet and painfully self-conscious because “am I talking too loud did i say it properly oh my god is that even a word???” But it’d be lovely if in fiction we could get some Deaf characters who are loud, bold and confident. tl;dr – when there isn’t a nice range of Deaf characters, I will cry in frustration.
Deaferapist – ie, the Deaf character is used as a sounding board for other’s problems because “they can’t hear, but they listen really well!” I watched, like, one episode of Van Helsing and my glee at seeing a deaf person in a post-apoc world quickly evaporated when this girl started venting all her problems onto him in verbal speech. Like, it’s so dehumanising because she was taking up his time, his energy and his space and acted like it was okay because he couldn’t hear what she was saying. tl;dr – please, please make your deaf characters more than just a plain wooden post that other characters can complain to.
Deaf and Dumb – kind of similar to the first one, but there’s this added idea that because the person is deaf and doesn’t use verbal speech, they’re an idiot. Especially prevalent in elderly characters whose deafness seems to be intrinsically linked to them being bumbling, slow and generally Dithering Old Grandma stereotypes. tl;dr – just because someone can’t say “valentines” properly, doesn’t mean they’re an idiot. It just means they’re Deaf and probably don’t want to be using verbal speech in the first place.
The Annoyance – Deaf character spends most of their time saying “what?” or “pardon” without anyone ever taking them into account. Nobody ever tells the deaf person things and gets annoyed if they have to translate into sign. tl;dr – if the deaf character exists only as a burden or hindrance to others, i hope that creator steps on a lego at two AM with bare feet.
LOUD – this is the opposite of “Quiet and Shy” but taken into extremes. Vibrant, fully fleshed-out deaf characters? Yes! deaf character who shouts all the time and is written generally like a cartoon thug? No. Sure, some of us do shout but we literally have no idea how loud we’re being, because controlling volume and elocution when you can’t hear yourself is hard af y’all. tl;dr – deaf characters can and should be loud, but we’re not gangsters in a 1920s cartoon.
There are probably more but these are the ones I’m most aware of when they come up. The Cure trope is one that belongs on this list too, as well as the poorly executed SuperCrip, but I kinda feel like those go without saying.