Here is a short story of the time I made a sign language faux pas. My family and I attended a Deaf Media Expo with our Deaf friend David who was a great help in translating to other deaf people what we had not yet learned. Although I was extremely nervous to be one of the very few Hearing people at an all deaf event I was going to make the best of it, push past my fears and sign as if I was confident in what I knew and I am happy I did. All day long I had been telling every Deaf person that I came in contact with that it was “Nice to Meet You” or so I thought. Here is what I actually signed:
I was smiling, having a great time and not one Deaf person corrected me all day until the end. I signed to a Deaf man “Nice to Meet You” and he smiled with excitement and asked me if I was married. I said “Yes” and pointed to my husband and with a disappointed look, the man signed “That’s too bad”. I then realized I was not sure what I had just asked him. A hearing lady close to him saw the confusion on my face and said you know that you just told him “It was nice to Date you”. My mouth fell open and the entire day played back in my head as I realized that I had told every person I came in contact with throughout the day “That it was nice to date them”. I wanted to crawl under a table, but I sucked it up and had fun with it and the nice man enjoyed teasing me about it.
From then on, every place we go with our friend David, he always tells every deaf person all about my signing faux pas and everyone always thinks it’s cute.
If you are nervous about going to a Deaf event because you might be the only hearing person there, don’t be. Go and meet lots of wonderful new people and if you happen to make a signing faux pas, embrace it and laugh at yourself. I know I did and that was my big introduction into Deaf culture and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Life is short, don’t be afraid to take chances. If you are, you don’t know what or who you might miss.