Must Let You Know


In Deaf culture, we always inform. If we leave the house, we tell our family so they don’t worry or come looking for us. It is a bit different than my hearing friends.


  1. Yeah, when I used to attend my old church college to train as a preacher before I quit and became an atheist (long story, irrelevant), there were small deaf community of Christians at the college training for full-time service. They almost ALWAYS tell me what they will do when they leave. I was not used to that because I grew up in hearing family and in mainstreamed schools where obviously hearie’s culture reigned supreme. Theerfore, when deaf people at the college told me what they will do as they were leaving, I assumed they were real polite people but now that I am exposed to more and more deaf, I discovered the same thing you just described! Fascinating. Personally, I like that cultural habit of ours not because it seemingly violate privacy but because it is symbol of collectivism no matter if it is not as extreme as Chinese culture is.

    Enough rambling on my part. Good one, Lisa!

  2. minty

    So true!
    I remember getting so angry with my brother when he just got up and disappeared one evening at the pub. When he returned I asked where he had been and why hadn’t he told us where he was going – he looked at me as if I was crazy! He doesn’t really have any experience of being around Deaf people, only my partner. I realised I had spent so much time with Deaf people that their cultural norms were rubbing off on me. Like Lisa, this is one I particularly value.

  3. Interesting that you called it a cultural issue. I thought it was a safety issue when my kids were small…they had to tell me if they would be out of the house. I didn’t expect them to tell me they’d go to the bathroom or to another part of the house, though. But if outside, I could keep tabs on their whereabouts and check that they came home safely.

    When they became teenagers it was still a safety issue…If they were not back home and too much time had passed, the safety feature kicks in…checking with their friends or their cell phone that they were okay, or contacting them in case of emergency.

    With adults, when it becomes a courtesy issue. Disappearing from a group and not informing anyone, like the bridesmaid that vanished after a wedding and showed up the next day, would be very rude especially if her host had accommodations and people were worried about her.

    We do look after each other and keeping in touch can be lifesaving on occasion. The newspapers are peppered with stories about young people disappearing and people only start looking for them after days have passed and no clue where they went.

  4. Starla

    I am deaf mother of two hearing children, my husband is hearing and we do inform each other when going out and kids inform me when they go outside to play, it’s safe issue. My husband don’t always tell me when he go outside but leave to go somewhere like store, church, etc.. he does tell me so I won’t wonder where he went and wonder when he will be home, etc.. he also expect me to tell him if I leave to go somewhere but not outside or to bathroom unless I am talking to him then need to go then I would said wait, I need to go bathroom, he does same and so does my hearing friend only when talking and they need to leave, they will either said bye I need to go, see you on Wednesday, or excuse me, I need to take my son to bathroom, etc.. they are hearing friends of mine. but if we are not talking to eachother and I need to go, I would go without tell anyone. Depend on situation but not always, at home we don’t tell eachother we need to go bathroom unless we are talking to eachother because it can upset me if my kids disappear when I talk to them, my husband who is hearing would be upset if I just run off to bathroom without tell him when he is talking to me. but if he is not talking to me and I disappear to bathroom, he don’t care.

  5. Ted Henry

    Ha Ha! Wow, I am so glad you brought that up. I learned something today. Didn’t realize that until now after your vlog.
    Sometime in past when I drove by to see my brother, he wasn’t home and I asked my sister in law where he is. She would said she doesn’t know. I was like appalled and wondering if she really care for him. LOL
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Nick Vera

    Your discussion made me pondering into different perspectives on situations. I realized in case if you are in the kitchen to have a conversation with your family or relatives; therefore, you can inform them to excuse yourself toward the bathroom within interupption. When you are not in the conversation, you don’t need to inform anyone about your whereabouts. For deaf community, we do the pattern of our approaching to remind each other unless at certain situation where we are.
    You know the common situation for hearing women, they tells their guys to excuse hers to go for powder their noses (go to the bathroom). Smile!
    More reliable on our community like brothers and sisters that we are living with.

  7. I understand what you are talking about. I grew up hearing and became deaf at age 17. In my hearing culture, letting someone know you are going to the bathroom and will be right back is actually not poprer etiquette. hearing people do not talk about “bathroom” stuff. They try to be as inconspicuous as possible and silently slip out and then return. Sometimes there is an “excuse me, I’ll be right back,” but nothing to mention that you’re going to the bathroom.

    Once, when I was a young professional in a deaf professionals meeting, and the topic was rather intense, I had to go to the bathroom. My old hearing etiquette popped up and I simply got up from the back of the room and slipped out to do my business in the bathroom and then came back to the meeting. when I walked in the room, I got a lot of glares from my deaf peers. Several people around me began asking me, “what happened?” “Where did I go?” “Was I upset over the topic?” “Was I angry?” I was so surprised!

    “No!” I signed lowly, still thinking it was not appropriate to talk about. “I just went to the bathroom!”

    “Well why didn’t you tell us that!?” was the response.

    I was shocked! I had no idea of the cultural importance of announcing why you were leaving the room or where you were going. These kinds of cultural behaviors were learned while I worked in a deaf residential school for nearly a decade. They have become so ingrained and a part of me that even today, my own hearing husband and son will announce they are going to the bathroom as I so bluntly do.

    It’s just a part of who we are.

    Great topic!

    ~ LaRonda

  8. Lantana

    I have a hearing husband and while he throughly understands deaf culture, he has a maddening habit of “disappearing” in stores when (and IF) we go shopping together. All of a sudden he is gone!! Vamoosed! Now thanks to DR I realize that it is a cultural thing. One strange behavior I noticed in the dorms was that when walking down a hallway we usually walked single file and I was always in the lead (as the adult) !


  9. Belle

    Yeah, because hearing people could always yell out, “Hey, where ya at?” and the person in the bathroom could always yell back, “I am taking care of business!” It would be a hassle if they were deaf and they had to get up and walk around the house trying to figure out where that person had disappeared to.

    That’s true, though, with hearing people. They seem to have to assume everything is fine until they hear something bad has happened; then there is the cell phone. They seem to assume if they needed to know, they’d hear it through the cell phone.

    Heh, I have found myself wondering if I should tell someone I was going to the bathroom, etc; I didn’t realize my confusion was because there ARE cultural differences between hearing and deaf people. So much of my confusion stemmed from not realizing this.

    Did you ever get the notes slid through the shut doors?

  10. codadiva

    Wow! What great responses! Belle, with those notes, I don’t have stories about those, but I have friends that do!

  11. Hetty

    My son’s a KODA and he lets me know when he needs to go to bathroom 🙂 I’m the 4th generation Deaf so he has some “deaf” behavior or mannerisms. He’s naturally enculturated.

  12. Judy B

    There are reasons why hearing people do not announce if and when they had to go to the bathroom or somewhere, it is because they can hear when you are walking to the bathroom and the flushing of the toilet, or going outside to the car, or any noises. Deaf people cannot hear and we can only see where you are going and such. That is why hearing people do not tell each other where they are going. They can hear the background sounds.

    Judy B

  13. Jac

    My parents are hearing, I was a deaf child. My habit was asking them where were everyone included my brother or sisters going since I was living in a deaf residental school, I had to let my superivsor know where I was going or even my friends, too. Now, I am a deaf parent, my two children are hearing as enough old, they know the difference when they tell me where they go or say, Excuse me, go to the bathroom. With their hearing friends, my children would not say like that. Interesting topic.

  14. Barbara Derengowski

    Well Lisa, who knew this bathroom issue would be such a big topic.
    Your vlogs are great keep up the good work. We CODA’s need someone like you to speak out and tell stories that are so real.
    I still love your very first one, everyone should go and see that one over again to get that loving feeling.
    Good job my friend.

  15. codadiva

    Thank you my dear friend Barb…She is referring to this vlog.

  16. Beth

    I don’t know what you’re all talking about. I am hearing and we tell eachother when we leave the house. Stop acting like you are better than hearing people cause it’s getting old. How is it “different” than the way we communicate with eachother? I don’t know what kind of stupid hearing friends you have, but everyone I know tells people where they’re going. You don’t think hearing people worry about their family members?

  17. Amanda

    My children are KODAs and they ALWAYS inform me where they go even to the bathroom. It’s such a natural thing for us all. My boyfriend is hearing and he has never met a deaf person until me, noticed this and asked about it. I told him that I thought it was a cultural thing as well. Naturally, my children picked up on it.

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    […] Must Let You Know [YouTube] Narrated. In Deaf culture, we always inform. If we leave the house, we tell our family so they don’t […] […]

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