Deaf Challenges and New Year’s Resolutions

Jan 18, 2017 | Articles and Publications

January is a month for new beginnings, when people attempt to improve their lives, set goals for the New Year and try to get rid of undesired habits. Getting in shape, spending less money, and pursuing a new hobby are among the most common New Year’s resolutions, per a YouGov survey.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing people struggle with the same challenges everyone else does. Many of us want to lose weight, give up bad habits and spend more time with a new hobby! Sometimes, though, deaf individuals also face unique difficulties, and struggle with resolutions related to being deaf or part of the Deaf culture. We decided to look at what notable deaf people have taken time to resolve this year or in recent years. Here’s a quick look at what we found:

  • Teresa Garratty, British Filmmaker and Actress. Teresa has quite a list of film and TV credits, so many of you may know her work, especially if you live in the U.K. or Europe. She took the time a few years ago to write up her resolutions for the Limping Chicken, a deaf-oriented publication, and those resolutions are worth revisiting. The first one may blow you away: “Play more guitar/violin.” Her thinking behind the effort is striking: “After all, how cool would it be to approach an unsuspecting deaf-unaware person and introduce yourself with “Hi I’m Deaf, now watch me shred this awesome solo!”

Teresa technically is hard-of-hearing, though she identifies as deaf. She does have some hearing ability that, with the help of hearing aids, she also hopes will help her be more courageous in answering a ringing or flashing phone. Her other resolutions are also inspiring, and may resonate in your own life: She hopes to use many of the deaf technology gadgets she’s heard of, but never taken time to become familiar with; talk to more people (instead of letting others do the talking for her); and stop apologizing (too often in conversations, she writes, she finds herself saying ‘Sorry, I’m Deaf!’).

  • Andrew Cheng, Student and Vlogger. Andrew’s resolutions, which he explains in ASL here, are a mix of the sort of resolutions that many people might have, matched with at least one deaf-specific resolution: Practice ASL more often, and make at least one ASL video per month. Beyond that, he plans to go to the gym (he’s training to run a 15K), finish his master’s thesis, bake more vegan and healthy food, and to try to be more kind to his family—especially by visiting his parents more often.
  • Harold, Craig, Sandra, and Amber, #DeafTalent on DPAN-TV. The Deaf Professional Artists Network (D-PAN), is a national non-profit based in Detroit, dedicated to promoting professional development and access to the entertainment, visual and media arts fields for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. DPAN.TV, which calls itself ‘The Sign Language Channel,’ claims to be the only source for accessible news broadcasted daily in ASL with voice over and captions! Some of the #DeafTalent characters on DPAN-TV who’ve made resolutions for 2017 include Harold Foxx, Craig Fogel, Sandra Mae Frank and Amber Zion.

Harold, a comic, wants to expand his opportunities in film, acting, and stand-up comedy by traveling and doing more shows. Craig wants to improve his email habits, and stop letting his inbox always get so full. Sandra wants to be a better advocate and be more politically involved. Amber wants to write at least a short film, and perhaps her first full-length feature film.

  • Tamara Marshall, DeafUnity. DeafUnity is a U.K.-based organization that’s focused not only on providing resources to deaf people—it claims to be one of the leading online portals for the deaf—but also to building a stronger worldwide community of deaf people by brokering partnerships for deaf community projects around the world, providing resources and raising public awareness. The editor of the DeafUnity site, Tamara Marshall, is severely hard-of-hearing,, and last year she put together a series of resolutions. Besides hoping to better familiarize herself with deaf applications and gadgets (getting up-to-date seems on technology seems to be a common theme among the deaf!), Tamara hopes to make more of an effort to educate others about Deaf culture, connect more strongly with members of the deaf community by taking a lip reading class, be kinder to herself, and to more often and honestly tell people she can’t hear.

“You know that fake laugh you pull when you have no idea what someone has said but you react anyway?” she writes.  “I am terrible for it! It’s my immediate reaction whenever I feel too embarrassed or lazy to admit I misheard something, but the result is 9 times out of 10 far worse than it would’ve been had I just been honest.”

The new year is a funny thing. The clock strikes midnight, and a little part in all of us expects a change simply because the date is now 2017. But it’s not at all that simple. And while setting, and aiming for, goals is a good exercise, sticking to them can be tough.

Here are three tips that should help you with your resolutions, whatever they are: Write your resolutions down, share them, and be sure to measure progress and celebrate it.

It’s hard to keep up the enthusiasm weeks after you’ve swept up the confetti, but it’s not impossible. Keeping your near-term goals small, and tracking them, maybe even keeping a diary, can be a great help. This year, pick a worthy resolution, and stick with it. Here’s to your health!

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