Deaf peddlers with sign language cards is something I've heard of in my childhood days. I was naive to believe that they don't exist anymore until a few weeks ago, I've read a blog from deafdc.com about his experience of bumping into a MSSD graduate who was peddling in the Metro (subway) of Washington, DC.
I had my first experience with a deaf peddler last night at the Macon mall only to find out that this well dressed guy in dark blue corduray pants with tucked in off-white polo shirt wasn't deaf. He was making up signs and mostly gesturing. When I signed back to him, his eyes widen and he knew he got caught and quickly walked away from me only to bump into my wife in another store. The funny thing is that my wife is a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the deaf and she offered to help him find a job but she was also disappointed to find that he was faking his deafness.
Quickly, we made a stop at the customer service desk at the mall to report this "deaf" peddler and to be sure that they're aware that his deafness is an act. Within 15 minutes, this guy was caught and escorted off the premises. We waited a while to officially file a complaint to ensure this doesn't happen again in the future but a security officier never came to the customer service desk. Instead we received a business card of the security director of the mall's security services and we headed out for the night.
I called around lunch time today to follow up on this incident and to my pleasant surprise that this security director was a former security officier in the 70's at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC and he remarked that he still keeps in touch with Dr. Carolyn McCaskill, who is an awesome deaf studies professor that I've had. I had a nice chat with him and he said he wish he was working yesterday but he was off. He checked the security logs and he notified me that everything has been documented and the "deaf" peddler won't be allowed at the mall in the future.
As for advocacy, I will be writing an editorial piece to the city paper about my experience with a man faking his deafness to peddle sign language cards. I want general public to be on the look-out for this person and be aware that this act is offensive and degrading to the deaf community. However there may be true deaf peddlers out there and I'll let them know that money shouldn't be given to them because it promotes their behavior and there are social services out there to help them out.