ENCINO, Calif. — Growing up deaf or hard of hearing presents numerous challenges, such as knowing when you’re getting a phone call.
Technology, like telephones that flash lights when a call rings and are hooked up to a webcam so friends can sign to each other on screen, can help. Sarah Tubert has been hard of hearing since she was 3 years old after a surgeon accidentally severed a facial nerve. Growing up was tough, but Tubert has learned to adapt in a world designed for the hearing. To her, it’s more about your intuition than tech.
“Sometimes we don’t hear the water running or sirens or doorbells because we don’t have sound,” said Tubert. “But we still have other senses so we always have to be aware and use our visual senses more than anything.”
Tubert and her friend Carly Weyers met as college students when they both played volleyball at Gallaudet University, where they became entrenched in deaf culture. Surrounded by students who were also deaf and hard of hearing, they realized they weren’t alone. A third generation deaf person, Weyers doesn’t speak so Spectrum News 1 hired ASL translator Richard Loya to help.
“We tend to call ourselves deaf or hard of hearing. We don’t use the terminology ‘hearing impaired’ because we are able to do everything,” explained Weyers. “Some of us can speak and some of us use sign language.”
And that’s one of the details of deaf culture many may not know about. So to educate the public and give an unfiltered look into the daily lives of two young deaf women, Tubert and Weyers started a new podcast called What The Deaf?! They talk about everything from answering the door to dating a person with hearing to the benefits of deaf gain.
“So we talk about a thing called deaf gain and it’s kind of like our superpower,” said Tubert. “So my deaf gain is being able to interact with people from other countries by gesturing with them and having that connection.”
New episodes drop every Friday. Tubert and Weyers produce the show themselves, which means they come up with their own topics and shoot their own video. The show is designed for both hearing and deaf and hard of hearing audiences so they also work with a translator to give Weyers a voice.
Nothing is off-topic and they encourage questions about deaf culture you might be too embarrassed to ask, like their names and how do you sign them? In deaf culture, your sign name is given to you by another deaf person.
“My name is Carly,” signed Weyers with the bottom of her left hand hitting the top of her right wrist.
“My name is Sarah,” signed Tubert with her right fist pulling down her right side.
What The Deaf?! is produced as both an audio and video podcast to accommodate the hearing as well as deaf and hard of hearing audiences. For Tubert and Weyers, the podcast is both entertainment and a moment for them to share their lived experiences.
“So we went ahead and started this podcast because we wanted to break the glass ceiling,” said Weyers. “We want to show the hearing audience that there’s more than just our deaf identity. We have a personality. We have different cultures, different backgrounds. There’s many layers to who we are and to break this glass ceiling is really powerful.”
“And we wanted to also have the opportunity for a hearing audience to ask their curious questions about what it’s like to be deaf in a safe space,” added Tubert.
If you’d like to ask a question, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.