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Guy Asks For Advice After Wanting To Ask Out A Deaf Classmate Who Only Speaks Using Sign Language

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We live in a diverse world, where people of all different walks of life co-mingle on a daily basis.  Even now, in isolation, we stay connected.

And as humans, we are interested in and curious about so many of our fellows.  Since communication is such a big factor in pursuance of interest, sometimes we need to adapt our style of communication.

That was the situation Redditor throwRAaskherout had with a classmate of his.  He went to the popular subReddit “Relationship Advice” for some help:

“I like a deaf girl who only speaks through sign language. How can I ask her out/take her on a date?”

Our original poster, or OP, has already been around this girl, named Kara:

“I (20m[ale]) have a class with this girl Kara (20f[emale]). She’s deaf, and has been since she was 17, so she speaks with a translator in sign language since she has a hard time lip-reading. I’ve been in study groups with her and she’s friends with many of my friends.”

And he already thinks very highly of her:

“She’s hilarious, super smart, kind, and gorgeous. I think she likes me back, but since we’ve only talked through a translator and through a friend who knows sign language, it’s hard to tell if she actually does like me or not.”

And at this time, opportunity might be on his side:

“We follow each other on Instagram and I know we’re both quarantining near our college. She’s staying with her friend who knows sign language, and our friend group has talked on Zoom with Kara’s friend translating.”

And OP wants to make a move, but has a number of questions first:

“I really want to ask her out, but I’m not sure how, or how we would talk on a date. I do want to learn ASL, but I’m unsure how to begin and I don’t know how much sign language I could learn in a few weeks. But it would probably be awkward if we had our friend there translating between us.”

He has some ideas but needs some help refining them:

“I think I’d probably ask her out over text, but I don’t know what to do next. Would her being deaf make a difference in where I take her? What are some ways I can talk to her? I honestly am nervous and awkward as hell around her and I’m worried the language barrier could amplify that. I’d appreciate any advice possible!”

Reddit came to the rescue almost immediately.

“This is wholesome. I’m a deaf girl and would have been so charmed if someone wanted to put this effort into being with me. She won’t expect you to be able to know a lot of sign language and she’ll be pretty understanding. I think that would be a wonderful way to ask her out is by signing it to her.”

“There’s a lot of resources online but honestly, let her teach you. Bring along a notepad and pen for sure, but really humans do a lot of communicating without saying a single word. As far as specific places to take deaf people, there’s really not a limit beyond personal preference.”

“She may not realize it (nor do a lot of people) but in recent years a lot of movies have been becoming Deaf/HoH friendly. Call ahead and ask if they have a closed captioning device for a specific screening. Concerts can be and are enjoyed by the deaf but that may fall into a more personal preference thing. Honestly, you’re already ahead for even thinking about these things.”~AllMyHandlesAreTaken

“As someone who has rented out entire screens for my company to attend movies for a group party I can tell you that every major cinema chain has closed caption devices available at the box office. They either attach to the chair or fit in the cup holder. It’s got a dark screen with fast scrolling easy to read text. It was super cool the first time I saw them because I learned ASL in college and work with people who are non hearing and I had never really even considered the movie theater experience.”~4Eights

“I love this so much. I would learn as much ASL as you can and just ask her, assuming she agrees to go out with you, where she’d like to go and the best way to communicate with her without an interpreter.”~cadycxx

“Hi! As a fellow Deaf girl, just show her you are interested. Write her a note or better yet, learn how to sign ‘do you want to go on a date with me?’ There are free tutorials on YouTube and I guarantee you she will appreciate the effort. Anytime anyone knows sign language, or when I know they’ve learned it just for me, it makes it that much more special.”

“Also, if you guys do go out, make sure there is adequate lighting for her to be able to lip-read. The noise level doesn’t really matter, but good lighting is a must. Just remember that she can do anything a hearing girl could do, she just does it a little differently.”~hb-cl

Redditors are so charmed by OP wanting to take Kara on this date that they’ve immediately come up with several ideas and solutions.

“Yeah, if you’re really into this girl, it’s definitely time to learn some sign language. You can probably arrange to text/write notes/something else during the date, but ultimately the only way you two have a future is if you learn to sign anyway, so you may as well start now.”

“I’d highly recommend consulting with some folks from the deaf community on exactly how to ask her out, though, instead of a more general relationship thread (pretty sure they have a subreddit or several). That way you can get some opinions from people who’ve lived her experience on how to ask her out without it accidentally ending up offensive or terrible.”~minizookeeper

“Hey! I’m a CODA (Child of a Deaf Adult) and HoH [Hard of Hearing]. My favorite free resources are the Lifeprint website, and Bill Vicars’ channel on Youtube. He’s a deaf ASL teacher who posts all of his one-on-one lessons, and they’re super easy to learn from! He has everything from the bare basics to medical ASL. I really recommend both of those, and if you have an apple device, deaf actress Marlee Matlin has an app for learning sign. I believe it’s called Marlee Signs, but I’m not positive as I don’t have any apple devices.”

“Just making an effort to learn is a really great thing. It’s hard for deaf and HoH people, as most hearing people expect THEM to learn to lip read and speak to accommodate them. Good luck, and even if it doesn’t work out, ASL is a very versatile and useful language to know! I’ve used it in every single job I’ve had at least once, no matter what state I lived in. I hope these resources help!!”~thatslesbianismbaby

“In high school I had a teacher who was married to a deaf woman. He told me that he was a college football player that thought he was hot shit. His sophmore year he walked in to class and said ‘hey’ to this stunning woman and she just ignored him. He came up with all sort of rude assumptions about this ‘prudish’  woman because she ignored him. He discovered once class started that she was deaf because she had an interpreter.”

“He was completely enamored with her and taught himself sign language to ask her out. They are now happily married with 3 kids.”

“My advice, start trying to learn the basics. Get that down, and learn how to ask her out in sign language. That extra effort will go a long way. Just shoot your shot man.”~mallemm3346

“This is really wholesome. I think it’s best to establish if she likes you before diving into sign language. I think if both of your handwriting is legible it’d be a lot more personal to write to each other than text but then texting is easier.”

“If it goes well I think you’ve got some sign language lessons coming soon! I think taking her somewhere with not a lot of distractions will help. Best of luck :)”~ProntoManage

After all, when the world seems so dark, isn’t a little wholesome light just what we need?

“Hi! I find this really endearing and sweet. I’m deaf myself. I would love to see the effort the guy will do to improve the communication setting. It will be a very attractive thing to see. When you take her out, make sure you are looking at her when she’s signing. It’s very important because that’s how a deaf person knows you’re paying attention. Don’t leave her out on things either. It’s a big pet peeve! Treat her like she’s the only person there with you. Bring a note pad and pen. I’m not fluent in ASL but it is pretty easy to pick up. Have her teach you a few sign. That will be a lot of fun for her. Please give us an update!!!”~icats77

“Learning sign language is like learning any language: it takes some time to get it right. Start now. r/languagelearning has some support and links.”

“That being said, quarantining is a good place to start because most videochats have a typing chat function. You can video chat while using the text chat function to communicate. But if you must go to a place with her, then I don’t see any problem with using text messaging while you’re together. It’s odd, but I think it’s a cute workaround. How would you ask her out? Via some texting medium, either her phone, social media PMs, or email.”~InfernalWedgie

“I’m hearing impaired (and use a hearing aid in one ear) so I can tell you some tips!

1 – learn some sign, so you can have a bit of a conversation

2 – colleges usually offer these classes

3 – Deaf and HoH people are just that. People. Relate to things she likes and hobbies etc.”

“In the dates I’ve been on my hearing hasn’t made too much a difference, but I feel like that lies in the difference in hearing ability. Some HoH people have some hearing (such as myself) and some have absolutely none at all. It would depend on her hearing abilities.”~The_Jaded_Ginger

“I started an ASL class at the beginning of June, and I can hold basic conversations with people already! It’s a lot of fun and pretty easy (for me, idk if others feel this way learning it). There’s a book called “signing naturally” and we’re doing units 1-6 for this class. Look up some online resources for free too, there are a lot of good websites out there. If she does like you, she’ll be blown away by your effort to learn 🙂 worst case, you learn a new language!”~throwaway227788

Though normal society may have stopped for awhile, our humanity lives on.

OP now has some options by which to ask Kara out.  We wish him—and them—the best.

Written by Mike Walsh

Mike is a writer, dancer, actor, and singer who recently graduated with his MFA from Columbia University. Mike's daily ambitions are to meet new dogs and make new puns on a daily basis. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @mikerowavables.