Why I don’t say sorry

a close up in black and white of a mouth. The lip is curled and the teeth are bared.When I don’t hear something I don’t say sorry.

I am not sorry I can’t hear you. I simply can’t hear you. That is a fact, not something I think I should feel sorry about. Do you feel sorry that you don’t speak clearly enough? That you don’t check that I am looking at you and that your lip pattern can be read (with good lighting levels and no moustaches, pens, chewing gum and food/drink etc. in the way)?

It’s not polite, people say.

I don’t think its polite to assume that just because I am hearing impaired and you haven’t bothered to meet basic deaf awareness standards that I should be apologising to you. I think if anything it should be the other way around.

Sometimes, I don’t say please, either.

I’ve a new condition I’m coming to terms with at the moment and sometimes I have low energy and fatigue. At those moments, if you ask me to do something for you, and I need something to do it with, I will expect you to get that thing without me begging you to do so. After all, I am doing something for you and at a time when I could quite do with having a nap.

Can I remember the date that so and so is coming over? No, but if you pass me my diary, I’ll check. Can I look through your application and comment? Yes, but you’ll have to bring it to me with a pen so I can make notes.

It’s not polite, people say. You should always say please and thank you. It’s about showing respect. How about you showing me some respect and recognising that I am pushing myself on your behalf?

Words have enormous power. We are the words we use.  If I say sorry all the time, I become a person who feels they are lesser, that they are somehow to blame for not having heard. If I say please all the time, I become someone who feels they are lesser, someone who has to beg for support.

Disablist language is often used without thought, but it has huge impact. It makes concrete a sense that disability is abnormal or wrong rather than simply a normal part of humanity.

I think what I am doing is part of the same agenda. I’m taking a stand – tiny as it is – and trying to redress the balance, if only in my own head.

I’ve always believe that what we say is linked to what we do. What we write becomes real. When I first became a producer and was uncomfortable with the word I made it a password so I continually had to write Jo Verrent, producer, many times a day. And it became second nature and helped me accept, and even feel proud of the by-line.

Not saying sorry all the time is me accepting my deaf identify. Not saying please is part of accepting the person I am changing into now. Sorry if that offends you.

Thank you.

10 thoughts on “Why I don’t say sorry

  1. Thanks Jo, love it and love that it is relevant to everyone with disability – the meaning transcends hearing impairment. I will definitely keep this in mind next time I’m being made to feel guilty.

  2. Well said ( as usual) Jo. I too have learned not to beg or say sorry and expect people to listen when I explain just how un-disability friendly their event locations and attitudes can be. It doesn’t go down well, does it? All of a sudden we become isolated and in certain cases, ostracised, excluded, uninvited because we can’t “keep up with the crowd” or adapt to “normal” social and physical situations. Politeness and respect works both ways and is not the means to fit people into a norm. Standing outside looking in gives us immense power over others, albeit a very lonely road. Hugs to you and so sorry to hear you have another condition that takes away your amazing energy. Keep that strength!

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  4. Your whole article is summed up to me, at least energetic-wise, in these two sentences:

    “Just to make things clear, if you’ve forgotten –
    This is *my* space.
    I’ve only just remembered this,
    and now I’m reminding you as well”.

    That’s really empowering and moving, in my opinion.
    Remembering what’s yours and claiming it back, from your “nice” self.
    I’m very excited for your re-discovery, and I truly wish your close future will be filled with joy and progression, as you well deserve :)

    Thank you for reminding me where my space is.


    I also adore you for helping putting these important words – “sorry” and “please’ back to where they belong – in the IMPORTANT section :)

    I, for one, am going to continue saying these words when I don’t hear somebody or when I need someone to say something again.
    My space is cool with that.
    But that’s not REALLY what this article is about now, is it? :)

    From my space to yours –

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