Q: “How do deaf people feel when a hearing person approaches them in public using sign language?”

A: It depends on the situation and the environment. Some Deaf people appreciate it when a hearing, signing stranger approaches them; others resent it. Deaf people queuing up in a bank line may be preoccupied, busy, or in a hurry as they wait for the teller. But if they’re on a bus or train, or in a waiting room, it may be okay to strike up a conversation. Say, "Hello, how are you?" and let the Deaf person take it from there. Don’t offer to "help" or interpret for the Deaf person–unless such help is really needed.

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