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10 Observations of What Life for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People Was Like 40 Years Ago

This was life without a TTY or videophone or captioning…

1. When we needed Chinese food or pizza for takeout, we had to physically drive over to the restaurant to order it and wait for it.

2. When we needed to make a doctor’s appointment, we had to drive over to to doctor’s office.

3. In an emergency (911-type), we had to run over to our neighbor’s to make a phone call to the first responders (ambulance, police, fire).

4. When we visited friends or family, we had to hope they would be home, because we were not able to call in advance to check if they would be home.

5. We always had desserts on the ready because our deaf friends would show up unexpectedly—they also didn’t have a way to call us in advance to find out if we were home.

6. When watching TV, we had no idea what the plot was about without captioning, so we were left to our imagination.

7. When meeting hearing people, we had to use pencil and paper, because interpreters were a rare breed these days.

8. We had to make plans via letter (postal mail) that had to be made weeks or months ahead of the event (without a phone.)

9. We congregated at a deaf club to watch movies—they were the only place where captioned films provided by the government went to.

10. Sometimes to make personal calls to family members, we relied on our neighbors to make such calls (we hoped they would make the content private.)

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