Quote from Gompers
Definitely need to ask him before anything, totally agree.
Also agree that most adults who lose their hearing don't learn sign language. The deaf community is a very strong culture, and most of the time people are members from childhood on, or not at all.
Exactly. The world and experience of the late-deafened adult is totally different from that of Deaf culture, most members of which are raised as Deaf culture children. A few late-deafened adults join the Deaf community, but very few.
Karen (kea6783, the OP) also said that she knows very little about her boyfriends actual hearing loss and prognosis. That is essential information needed for making any plans. For example, perhaps he would be a good candidate for a choclear inplant should he become profoundly deaf and therefore never need sign language.
When I first lost 60% of my hearing (very suddenly, over the span of about 10 seconds one day) ... my reaction was similar to Karen's. I considered learning sign language in case I might find it useful in old age ... I worried about losing the rest of my hearing, etc. However, as I got comfortable with my new hearing level, those issues became less pressing to me. I have noticed the same phenomenon with new members of the online group I belong to for late-deafened adults. In the beginning, people are a bit panic-stricken and anxious to make specific plans. As they get more experience with hearing loss, it becomes less of a crisis. They mellow out a bit and learn to take this one day at a time. It sounds as if Karen's boyfriend Zach may be in this state of acceptance common in people who have dealt successfully with their hearing loss for some time.
Medical science and technology is progressing rapidly and no one knows for sure what options will be avaible for Zach and me when we get older and perhaps face a future with less hearing. When I need more assistance, I will investigate the possibilities at that time and make the choice that is right for me. That's a healthy approach to a disability and it sounds as if it may be the one Zach is taking. In fact, it might be psychologically important for Zach to NOT learn sign language -- to maintain his cultural identity as a "hearie." One aspect of successfully living with a disability is to accept yourself as you are and to be happy with that -- as opposed to focused on trying to "fix it" and or be overly worried about the future.
I don't mean to be critical of Karen at all with this post. Her questions about learning sign language are a normal response to a normal concern about the future. But Zach sounds pretty normal and healthy too as a person living with a hearing impairment -- maintaining his cultural identity as a hearing person and taking it one day at a time -- having enough trust in himself and in Karen to have confidence that they will be able to handle whatever comes, with whatever medical/technological help will be available at that time.
As in my earlier post, I encourage Karen to respect Zach's wishes regarding the sign language issue (either way) and include him in the decision-making. Also ... to remember that late-deafened adults are very different from the culturally Deaf.