I became 100% deaf a year ago, March 2020. So how do Kevin and I communicate when he is driving? How do I help him back up the trailer into a campsite when I can’t hear what he wants me to do? How do I help set up the trailer when I am on the other side of the trailer and can’t hear when someone asked for something? These are just a few of the questions that come up for someone who is deaf. I ask you, if you are a hearing person, please read on so that you can understand what is going on for deaf people. If you are hard of hearing or deaf, I hope you find a helpful hint or two here.
Kevin and I have an amazing relationship: married over 32 years, best friends, and truly part of each other. We get along incredible well and are each other’s favorite person to be with. So with all that, suddenly I am deaf and we can’t communicate while he is driving, or when I am driving, for that matter. I can’t look away from the road to see what he is signing (American Sign Language) and he can’t let go of the wheel to sign while driving. What is a couple to do? It wasn’t until October last year when we finally figured out something that would work. I have an app on my iPad called “AVA” that we have used before. It needed internet connection and that doesn’t work when you are camping and driving around the middle of Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, for example. Around October, AVA company made it to work without internet connectivity. This opened up a whole new way for us. When Kevin is driving, I set the iPad on my lap and as he talks, AVA uses voice-to-text to type out his words. Now, believe me, it isn’t great and makes many mistakes including thinking we are swearing! 🙂 But it is better than no communication at all. While we have to start and stop the app often, it is fine because at least we can work on getting it right and thus having hours and hours of communication.
What about backing up the trailer? I call Kevin on FaceTime. He has the phone on the console in the truck but if he needs to communicate something with me, he can stop, pick it up and sign to me. I talk him through backing up. Instead of using “left/right” (which I think could be terribly confusing.) I say “driver’s side” or “passenger side” depending on which side I want the back of the trailer turned towards. It works out great for us. Well, except for one time! I was talking to him as he was backing up. I keep saying into FaceTime, “driver’s side” pause “driver’s side” pause “driver’s side (a little louder)! Then I start pointing because he isn’t putting the back of the trailer where it needs to go. Stop! I walk up to Kevin and he says he is so confused…did the mirrors get turned upside down because I am pointing in the opposite way I am talking. For goodness sake, I realize I had been saying the wrong side! So then I said, “Well….backseat DRIVER’s side?!” We were laughing so hard we were crying!!! Now don’t worry, this was backing up into a large storage space (we will tell you more about that when we get to October camping).
As for setting up or tearing down our campsite, I have found things that are helpful but don’t need to be talked about. I can set the chocks and stabilizers. Did you read the blog post about our first campground? My job then was just to stay out of the way. HAHA But now we have it down where I can help with a few things.
Now, here is the part where I can’t believe I said that!!!!! We will tell you more about this camping trip when we post about November but I will let you know this part now. 🙂 We were camping in Mesquite, NV and in November, it was a perfect warm place to be. We don’t eat out much because of Covid but in looking for a fabric store (squeal with excitement) we passed a Mexican restaurant with outdoor dining. We looked at each other, our eyes wide with excitement, as we both said we wanted to eat there that evening. Later that day, we went to this restaurant. The nice young man led us to our seats out on the patio. As he handed us the menus, I asked, “What do you recommend?” I kid you not! Sometimes I completely forget I am 100% deaf. This nice young man starts to rattle off what he recommends. I am trying to suppress a huge giggle and Kevin is about losing it, trying not to laugh. I nod politely as I assume he told me his recommendations. I was so glad Kevin was there to be able to answer follow up questions. We STILL laugh about this when we think about it.
Of course, losing one’s hearing isn’t all fun and games. It is life changing. I have jotted down little thoughts as I started down this journey of being deaf. Maybe I will share it sometime.
Sometime down the road, I will write about traveling on an airplane and tell you about being deaf and getting a wheelchair handed to me. 🙂
I would like to read any comments you have. Please comment below. Do you have questions about being deaf or hard of hearing? Are you deaf or hard of hearing and having ideas to share to help others who are traveling? Comment below. Thank you.