My Tuesday night class, which focuses on inclusive educational practices and special education, has a student population composed of all the master's students in my program. This means that, possibly for the first time in the program, those of us getting our single-subject credential (and M.Ed.) are taking classes with those getting their multiple-subject credential (and M.Ed.) and the students getting their M.A. in ASL-English bilingual instruction (most of whom are deaf).
As I was waiting for my fish tacos to be made ($1 Tuesdays are the best), I noticed two of the deaf students signing to each other while standing in line. One got our her cell phone, one of those nice ones with the qwerty keyboards, and quickly typed up a message. Once they got to the cash register, she showed her phone to the cashier, who was able to take their order without a hassle.
I was really struck by the how much easier technology must make day to day interactions for those who sign. Perhaps more so than ever before, the world revolves around written conversation. People prefer to e-mail or text than to talk on the phone, so who cares if someone can't hear? (R and his family preferentially speak to each other over AIM, though lately Skype has been more popular in order to see the baby.) Obviously, I'm not speaking from experience here and in no way belittling deafness, but it does seem like things are getting better for those who are deaf. The world is online, and online is a world of text and images.