Deaf-Blind and Singlehood

It’s no secret. I’m 27 years old, afflicted with Usher Syndrome and proudly Deaf – and single, too. I’ve been single for, what, 27 years?

Some people remain single because their personalities suck. Or their body odour is so repulsive. Bad teeth, poor hygiene, Tourette’s syndrome or badly disfigured. Or in my case, being blind does have a part in many being single.

Last week, I encountered a Deaf guy sitting across from me. He seemed clueless that I call my cane my best friend, that at nights or special situations I use tactile for sign language, or even the fact that I am a budding leader for the Deaf-Blind.

We start witty banter and it leads to flirting. The light is shining through the windows from outside, and his signing is crystal clear because of that reason. We go on, then I tell him I have to get going and reach into my purse for my cane, which has been folded in quarters and tucked neatly into my baggage so that it wouldn’t fall standing up.

His eyes popped open. He said, “You’re blind?”. I nodded. He then shook my hand, and said, “Nice to meet you. See you around.” and hastily exited.

There goes another one. Not that it’s my loss, it’s theirs. I’m just annoyed sometimes that these potential suitors would quickly dismiss the budding romance just because I’m “blind”.

I’ve had several guy friends – I emphasize, good guy friends, tell me the real reason why I’ve been dateless all my life, even during my 7 years at Gallaudet. It’s because I have Usher Syndrome. Dating someone who might not be entirely independent and lacking an asset most Deaf people consider sacred (eyes, for those who haven’t figured it out) scares the shit out of some men, even some women. The thought of having to interpret everything that the sighted see, having to guide their companion everywhere, the thought of losing their blind companion in a freak accident clouds the sighted’s judgment and they’re quick to determine that even the other half that seems to fit them the most – is not right because they cannot see.

 I’m not cynical or bitter. I’m being blunt here.

In my 7 years at Gallaudet, I have been asked out by 2 guys – and our dates ended up awkward, insecure. Turns out they were confused about their identity and wanted to “experiment” on me to see if they liked girls or not. Ouch.

Other times I would ask guys out. Most times their reaction would be as follows:

“I’ve got plans.”

“I’m sick”

“You’re not my type” (this coming from a guy who I truly believed we CLICKED.

“Sure. Let’s do it in a month from now.”

I get it. Ok? I get it!! I admit that if I were sighted and didn’t immerse myself into the Deaf-Blind community, I would have freaked at the thought of dating or even marrying someone who is fully blind. Eventhough he may be Deaf. It’s the darkness and the silence he would go through, the emotions of feeling inadequate and insecure. He would wonder, “What’s really out there, what am I missing that she is not telling me? Why cannot she tell me 100% about the details around me? Is she seeing someone else? Are people deceiving me in front of me?”

Yes. I do think those. It’s getting harder and harder for me to trust people because once you lose vision as well as hearing, you begin doubting what is around you. I have to assure myself that one day I will meet him – the total gentleman, who believes in me as much as I do him, and the trust is wholesome. That is gonna be a bitch to find but I am determined.

Why do I say many of the Deaf-Blind population is single? Because sighted people are scared as shit – they don’t have the strength or courage to live with us on a daily basis. Even the strongest, most independent Deaf-Blind (me) is single. I went to Seattle, Washington for an internship in 2005 and I was amazed at the sightings:

– 100-200 Deaf-Blind people live in WA State

– In Seattle, I know of roughly 10 couples who are married, one half of them is blind, the other is sighted

– Same city: two couples who are BOTH Deaf-Blind (and their lifestyle rocks – they just totally adapt!)

– majority of the Deaf-Blind there are single. I’m talking 75 percent.

I know it is frightening to imagine yourself (the sighted) falling in love with someone who has lost one or more senses than you do. It gives you even more privileges, for instance, sight or sound and the other MIGHT feel inadequate. There are instances when he/she might lash out at you because you ‘forgot’ to let her/him know something happened; or there was a bag in the hallway that she/he fell over – or even the simple gesture of going to the bathroom without letting her/him know. It’s like walking on glass, or even hot coals – it hurts and it’s sharp… fragile at most times.

But don’t be quick to assume that all of the Deaf-Blind people are angry, bitter people. Some of them might have completely come to terms with their blindness and have ways to adapt to anything that comes into their way. They might even be one of the most positive people you’ve met, not believing in fear or anger. Privileges may be present, but keep in mind: Deaf-Blind people do have their certain privileges from losing two senses – gaining more in the 3 others. 😉

For me… I admit I have a “criteria” when it comes to keeping a companion by my side. He must have: patience (for when I break glass or spill water), humour (when I feel at my worst), compassion (when I think I’ve erred), laid-back-ness (serious, uptight people needn’t apply), wanderlusting (I live to travel. Domesticity bores me.), open-mindness (I like to explore the unknown), willingness to be a part of my Deaf-Blind community (self-explanatory and vice versa) and encouraging (I have dreams to chase, and I want him alongside, chasing his own dreams too) and lastly… trusting (he has to be my eyes as well as me his soul). If I have found someone who fits those criteria, then I am so in love.

If I were a genie, I would wish that every Deaf-Blind had their soul-mate alongside them and content with their own blindness, also their hearts brightened by the light of love.

Tactile luv.

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28 Responses to Deaf-Blind and Singlehood

  1. How truly sincerely HONEST. I love how you say it like you mean it, because my fellow Canuck, you DO mean it. One day your true love will fall blindly (no pun intended, or maybe pun intended, take your pick! :)) in love with you and all the damn sighted insecure boys who turned you down in the past will just simply kick themselves for not dating you before. One day your Prince Charming will come and sweep you off your cane… er, feet. 😉 XOXOX

  2. anonymous says:

    Christa,

    For what it’s worth, when I knew you at Gallaudet, back in 2000 or 2001, I geninunely liked you more than a friend. I even told you so during one of the few times we hung out. 🙂

    Honestly, at the time, I didn’t have the courage to ask you out. (I was young back then. I thought you were extremely intellegent, fun, and attractive. At the time, I couldn’t imagine you’d be interested in me, so I chickened out. I am truly sorry for that.) Of course, now being braver, older, and wiser, I know I should have just gone for it. 🙂

    I’d reveal who I am, but I am married now and have a child, and I shouldn’t even be saying this. I just thought I’d gently remind you that yes, indeed, there was someone geniunely interested in you at a point in time, and the fact that you have ushers never bothered me. In fact, I never put much thought to it. I truly saw you for who you were.

    I wanted you to know that it is very possible that there are some guys, like me (back then), that were too chicken to ask you out. 🙂

    It brings me sadness to know that you are being treated this way. 😦 You are the last person on earth to deserve this shallow treatment from these guys. They really have no idea that there’s so much to you.

    If I wasn’t married, I would not heistate to ask you out to dinner. 🙂

    You’ve got so much to offer, and the man that sees it will be a lucky man. Your time will come, please don’t despair, and please have faith in that. 🙂

    Without actually revealing my identity, (Too many people know me) we used to hang out at K-10 every once in a while back in 2000 or 2001. You were stunned at the fact I could spell your last name. LOL Now you know why I knew how to spell it at the time, hmm? 🙂

    “Roschaert”. Please know that even 6-7 years later, I still remember.

    And I came by this blog via Deafread… And knew exactly who you were without your name posted anywhere. That should tell you something. 🙂

    Well, I wish the best for you, and I’m glad to see that you’re the same person I remember. 🙂

    Sincerest wishes

  3. Jay says:

    Well, like you said, the world is a bitch. And you said it even better, its their loss not yours.

    On other hand, one day you will find someone who connects you, you will know, and it definitely will not have anything to do with your blindness.

    I am single and sighted now too, and I think you are doing even better than me, grins.

  4. Barb DiGi says:

    Hi,

    Perhaps it is a matter of location and timing. Gallaudet, in my opinion, is where most people are judgemental as opposed to NTID. I have a good friend of mine who is now blind happily married to a man she met back in NTID. He is a wonderful person and he knew her condition but he loves her so much that it doesn’t matter to him.

    You sound like an intelligent, strong woman who may cause men feeling a bit intimated although you don’t intend to. I am just speaking from my experience knowing that it also scares the shit out of them lol..it is not easy to find a right partner who can meet your needs and vice versa..I have been single for almost three years and my vision is 20/20 so perhaps functionatality of the senses play less role than previously thought? Although right now I am happily dating but it was not an easy path.

    Hey that guy who walked away when seeing your cane was an idiot anyway..who needs that! Also there are a few good men out there making it more challenging especially when we are past our college years. Don’t give up hope!

  5. Michele says:

    Yeah I have some friends who are still single and they feel frustrated that they cannot find a mate, they want a Deaf man. I also know two DB who are happily married, they were fortunate to find a mate who was respectful and patient with them. I am pretty sure there is someone special out there waiting for you. The best thing I could offer you is to enjoy your singlehood as much as you can, travel around the world, you get to splurge on whatever you want, no one can tell you what to do, and all that. Singlehood has its benefits and I was single for a while and I enjoyed it very much and I don’t regret getting married at late age because some women who got married early usually feel trapped and disillusioned. The most lonely woman is usually the married woman, believe me!

  6. Stanelle says:

    Listen, honey,..I lived with a seventy four year old Deaf blind woman and she had two serious boy friends,..and both wanted to marry her. The one that she truly loved died before they could tie the knot. She was finger spelling into his hands as he passed away. There is hope. There is ALWAYS hope!! 😀

  7. ToddE says:

    Color me impressed! You managed to air out your concerns about difficulties in the social scene, without managing to sound bitter about the whole farcial charade it is to you! I’m sorry to see you, and other DB people, struggle in initiating relationships, let alone engage in intimate relationships of deep and lasting love and mutual respect.

    I hope your fortunes will change soon in this arena.

    Best,

  8. Ginny Paja-Nyholm says:

    Hey! As a happily married lady with Usher I, I have the utmost respect and admiration for you and your Usher living with your singlehood! Enjoy it as much as you can! I look back at my single days as an Asian woman living with Usher with a lot of reflection and admiration for myself. From my experience with men in your smiliar situations, I smile and understand where you are coming from. I would bluntly say that some men are JERKS for chickening out and not taking an opportunity to know us the Usher ladies! I recall one man telling me that he was scared of the future if we get married and I get totally blind. I was, honest to God, flabberglasted and decided that he was not the right person. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my singlehood as much as I could — traveling, honing my other hobbies, getting busy with conferences such as AADB (American Association of the Deaf-Blind) and NADC (National Asian Deaf Congress), and so on! I enjoyed it IMMENSELY!!!!

    I have been happily married for nearly 6 years (altogether 10 years plus a 5 years old son!) to a wonderful Deaf man who accepts and loves me for who I am. He says that my Usher does not hinder his concerns about the future together and he continues to learn alongside with me in life. I met him at Gallaudet in 1997 while I pursued my Master’s degree studies — more particularly the famed Homecoming event! I found out that he had the sensitivity and a heart to help out two Filipino ladies (I believe, from Canada) who matriculated at Gallaudet during his Gally days from !986-1993 and he got to know them by listening to their needs and their hopes for the future. This is how he honed his sensitivity meter before meeting me!

    The most common question which I asked the majority of men in my life (they hated and hate this question but had to answer) — “Will you accept my blindness? ” — they came out with some good answers which made them rethink of the future consequences in the relationship.

    As I always tell the others, your time will come before you know it! Mr. Right will fall in your lap when you expect the “unexpected”! Follow your heart….and once again, enjoy your singlehood, girl!

  9. Aidan Mack says:

    Enjoy your singlehood! You miss nothing about relationship. Some people get to marry early, some people get to marry late, and some people will never get to marry.
    Aidan

  10. Delanne says:

    wow…i dont think most people realize what you just explained. I sure do hope you find someone and live happily ever after like a princess! 🙂 You know, the more I know you, the more i see that you are a G R E A T person. Its the guys’ great loss!! We can mock at their great loss! HEH

  11. Greeneyesbright says:

    Hey Babe! If I can get married with Ushers, then you must have hope. For you have a far prettier face then I. Not to mention a much better figure 😛 Enjoy the single hood, cause some days I sure miss it! I understand how frustrating it is though honey, and its rather annoying isn’t it. Guys who are afraid of what everyone else around them thinks. Irritating! No worries, he’s out there! In the meantime perhaps a deaf-blind matchmaking service is needed? Love ya, Mary Beth

  12. debby says:

    Hi Christine,
    May your dream come true! Someone heard you! I am sure it won’t be long that someone ask you to be part of his life.

  13. Jessica says:

    You seem like a intelligent and fun person with much to offer. The DB community is very lucky to have someone like you to speak up for them.

    I am glad that you got to see those guys for who they really were like the one who left right after finding out you were blind instead of wasting your time with them and finding out way later.

    Hang in there.

  14. Ashton says:

    Coco, I’m 27 and still single too! I understand about your experience but 27 yeara without a guy!? you must be lying! I dated a lot but none of them were right for me. (although good friends) Being a Deaf British black is not easy, some white girls see me as a ‘fun’ rather than serious relationships.

    I don’t know you well but your personality is brilliant which guys would attract you despite
    you scare other wuss guys away.

    I may never met you before but with your looks, intelligence, looks, humour, looks determination, did I say looks? of course you are so gorgeous and nice smile, make want to ask you out one day unless you like British guy!

    Ash x x x

  15. Anonymous says:

    Coco –

    Life isn’t a bed of roses on the other side, either.

    I’m Deaf-sighted, married to a Deaf-Blind man. Received the shock of my life a little while ago that he decided he no longer wants to be married.

    I’ve been married to him for 15 years; I have been with him for 18 years since I was a young 21 years old — which, to me, is practically forever. He’s all I have ever known; he’s all I have ever lived for; he’s all I have ever loved. And of course I still love him, despite everything…

    Now, I need to figure out how to move on. I need to figure out where I’m going – is it the same place my husband is in or should I move to another place? I need to make so many decisions — decisions that I never, ever imagined I’d make in my whole lifetime.

    I’m absolutely terrified. Sigh.

    I don’t blame you for wanting to be in love; I don’t blame you for wanting to experience the joy of knowing you’re the only one for someone; I don’t blame you for wanting to belong to someone exclusively. It is a wonderful feeling. I was lucky to experience it and I won’t forget it… I hope you will, too.

    Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts.

  16. ToddE says:

    Finally saw a video of you on YouTube. Let me tell you this… You look great! You also have a pleasing ASL style, with geniune compassion in all things related to the DB universe. I have no doubt you will find that special someone to share your life with in the near future.

  17. J.J. Puorro says:

    Interesting blog entry….

    Reading the comments above…just looks like you just simply haven’t met “Mr. Right” yet…looks like it has nothing to do with you having usher’s syndrome… I know that it wouldn’t matter much to me…I know of two guys who are losing their sight…and both had long time relationships….

  18. anon says:

    Trust me, strong intelligent women (deaf, blind, deaf-blind, or neither) scare most guys off anyway :-). I would say always be completely true to yourself. You never know what will be coming around the corner…

  19. I am utterly flabbergasted to see this many comments on a topic like singlehood for the deaf-blind… pleased that it touched many people out there.
    to #2: i cannot remember for the life of me who you are eventhough you gave me a BIG clue. I’m getting ulcers just trying to figure it out. Email me – tactiletheworld @ gmail.com. Friendly hello and just that. Congrats on getting hitched and expanding!!!!
    Ashton: I’ll be in London in August so you have your chance. The color of the skin doesn’t bother me.
    To anonymous who’s having marriage troubles: I am sincerely sorry that the marriage’s ending. Some marriages end because either side is in denial about blindness. I hope that isn’t the case, because by several years they would look back and regret it, and wish they stayed in the marriage and worked it out. I hope that you will bravely go on, and discover yourself more soon.
    Thank you everyone… I am truly inspired by your words.
    Tactile luv!!!!

  20. KDM says:

    Beautiful entry.
    You’re only 27. Plenty of time for you to enjoy the seas of eligible men. Don’t rush. I didn’t meet my soulmate until my early 40s. So, trust me, you will find someone SPECIAL.

  21. Mike says:

    I have a friend who has Ushers and the girls (hearing) are always forever throwing themselves at him. It’s quite funny to see that because he has no interest in them. I think he prefers to go out with a deaf woman and it is important for him that a deaf woman understands about Ushers. I do wish you the best of luck, I’m always amazed how people manage to find people despite of the shortcomings. Do not give up hope!

  22. Jessica says:

    Hi,

    I have been thinking a lot about this and want to understand more. I am not familiar with deaf and blind people as I don’t know of anyone well enough. So you could say that I can be like how a hearing person with limited knowledge about deaf is to a deaf person.

    I was thinking about that guy’s reaction when he found out that you were blind and then zoomed off. I was wondering about the thoughts in his mind. It is like many hearing people have assumptions about deaf people like how can you drive?, how can you take care of a baby if you cannot hear her crying? This guy may have had some assumptions about blind people. I don’t know exactly what he was thinking but it seems like he felt like he really hit it off with you, and wow, I would like to get to know her more. There is a good possibility there until he finds out that you are blind and then he freaks out. What was his experiences from past relationships? That may influence his expectations of what he wants from the next one. What does he know about blind? What exactly are his ideas? He may have the wrong ideas or got information that was not accurate. He could have had a picture in his mind, how is she going to do things independently? will I be expected to be like a helper to her? When the realities of a relationship settles in, there is the maintenance of daily life responsibilities such as cooking, doing the budget, doing the laundry. Will he have to help extra with that? What if he wants to go out and have fun with friends and invite his girlfriend with him, how will that work out? What if he is the kind of person who prefers that his partner be able to be independent when socializing with friends and he thinks you can’t do that? Those are just some of the ideas that may be running through his head and that freaks him out.

    Relationships are A LOT of work to maintain. I was married before for 8 years and have been to marriage counseling for nearly half of that time. I have read marriage and relationship books. I had to laugh when two close friends who have been together for a long time before they got married talked about how much work they had to invest in their marriage to make it strong and thought they should have dated a bit longer. They were together for over 5 years before they got married and they were very happily married. HUH??? The honeymoon phase of the relationship has to get to a point when the realities settle in and that is where the real test of the strength of the relationship is. It doesn’t matter if you are sighted or not, deaf or not. Getting back into the dating game is a whole other story.

    I feel I am not educated enough about deaf/blindness and that guy was probably too. If that guy realized it was not as bad as he thought it was, then it may made a whole much difference. Maybe not. It would be nice to get the accurate information out there so that we don’t get the wrong impression just like what we are doing with hearing people about us. We have to show them we are very well capable of doing many things. The point is the more education and understanding, the less fear there is. I have already learned quite a bit from reading your blog entries. You did help break down some barriers and bringing in the light for other deaf and blind people, clearing up some misunderstandings. I noticed that you brought up a very valid concern about including the deaf and bliind in deaf blogosphere. I am sure many of us was like, oh right, I never thought about that!

    I went to the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind where both the deaf and blind departments were on the same campus. There was a boy who always came out to visit with some of us from the blind department. My image of a blind person was too general before I met him. He could see enough to communicate with us. He didn’t need to use his hands. He learned ASL just to talk with us. He didn’t have a cane at the time. I do not know if he does now. That was over 15 years ago. I always assumed that all blind people couldn’t see, period. But then I realized, it is the same with deaf. There are many who have different levels of hearing. Some have enough to be able to talk on a phone for instance. So some hearing may assume that all deaf have the same abilities and that all deaf can only communicate in ASL. There are many deaf who are so fluent in ASL but can speak English well too. It made me realize that I am assuming one thing for all blind people and that it was not accurate just like hearing assume about deaf that they all have same levels of hearing. Now that I mentioned him, I wonder where he is now. I would have liked to see him again and see how he is doing. He was such a cool person, going out of the way and taking the time to talk with us.

  23. Stanelle says:

    I think that there is somone out there for yu,..kiddo!! I lived with a Deaf blind woman,..who was over seventy years, and during the five years that she was living with me,..she was dating a hearing Blind man, a sighted Hearing guy, and two Deaf blind guys during the time that she lived with me in the early eighties!! That would have been an astounding average for a sighted Hearing woman,..let alone a Deaf blind woman!!

    My Deaf blind friend had more guys and boyfriends than I did and I was in my twenties at the time and I am sighted!! Woof!!

  24. Patrick says:

    Dear Gals,

    they don’t know how much I accept gal who become full blind, Deaf, and know American Sign Language….
    I would like go out date with her who tends friendly,gentle,cuddle,smile, and love coming first then I will take and care of her.. no matter she is blind because in heavenly last long to see again also earth is temporay life.

    Bfensky

  25. Brian says:

    My name is Brian and I live in Australia. I am 38 with sight, hearing and balance problems due to a viral infection when I was ten.

    I have always known I would single as noone in their right mind would want to know me…. It is a hard road to take….I have never been given the opportunity to learn sign language so that avenue of communication is not open to me.

    I did hope however that there would be someone out there strong enough to by my friend…and there has been. I met her through the internet[which is my window to the world] The relationship lasted four years. It came apart when I got all emotional and upset. Four years on and I think I am finally over the heartbreak.

    Once upon a time I admit I was a bit frightened to think of a relationship with another challenged person. But now I feel different. If there is the fit or click thing then it should be given all the opportunity to grow.

    Sometimes I feel ashamed that I can not hear or that I can not see. Yet there is nothing to be ashamed of. I am the coolest person inside. I have my limitations as do many people.

    It is also difficult not to feel isolated and a social outcast at times. Although I am pretty much independant and live on my own I do not fit into a social group….there is no blind deaf community here.

    I have just tried hearing aids for the upteenth time in my life and feel they don’t do anything again….

    I do not know any sign language and realize I really need to as it would appear my hearing is getting worse…..

    I would like to thank you so much for your article. It makes me feel better in that I am not alone…..

    • Brian, I’m so glad you expressed this. Being alone is one of the worst feelings, I know all too well. However, as confident as you get, you’ll feel good about yourself and in turn, women will notice.
      You’re a rock star! *hugs*

  26. Paul Sapiano says:

    Hi Guys

    I loved the article. Your humor and good nature shines through. I am not deaf or blind – in fact I am a movie director living in Hollywood.

    I am toying with the idea of modernizing the eighties movie (“Hear no Evil, See no Evil” – Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor), but it would need a lot of work and before I tackle it , I would like to get in contact with a blind person who is best buddies with a deaf person and explore how their relationship works. I should imagine that there are certain situations where a deaf and blind person working together would be more effective than two sighted people and this is the thrust of what I want to bring out in the movie, since the original, although very funny, was pretty silly.

    If anybody reads this and can put me in touch with a couple of friends who fit the bill, please contct me, Paul Sapiano, at discoman75@mac.com

    thanks

  27. Bryan Oharrigan says:

    Hi! I just read your article, I know its five years old (and I hope you found someone). When I was little my mom dated a blind guy for about six months. It fascinated me, through this she inadvertently taught me that love really is blind. Since then I grew up with the attitude that girls are girls, I don’t care what they look like, deaf, blind, whole, amputee… I’m not picky. lol
    Sadly, I am in the same boat as you were (still are?), there is nothing physically wrong with me except my eyesight sucks and I cant see anything clearly past my outstretched arm. I don’t think I am ugly, and my personality is fine, I am a very affectionate person, but girls just don’t go for me. I have joked with friends in the past about having female pheromones…

    So I guess I am saying that there are guys out there that wouldn’t turn out down because you are deaf-blind, they just haven’t found you yet. I’d be interested if I lived near you! I love a girl who is bright and cheerful as you appear to be. My only flaw in this is that I don’t know sign languages beyond a few words.

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