Anna Trupiano pointed out that this was an example of lack of access to basic information due to lack of awareness surrounding signing.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 9, 2022. It has since been updated.
Anna Trupiano is a first-grade teacher at a school that serves deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing students. She helps her students flourish in a world that can be challenging for deaf people. Trupiano shared a hilarious teaching moment that happened in her class. A 6-year-old student who's deaf farted in class and some of the other students started to laugh. The kid was surprised to see everyone looking in their direction because they had no idea that farts made a sound. Trupiano later explained to her student that farts, at least some, can be heard out loud. The incident also highlighted the lack of access to such information when loved ones aren't able to sign. Trupiano explained how it was just one example of deaf students missing out on information that many considered common knowledge.
"Today in 1st grade one of my Deaf students farted loudly in class and other students turned to look at them. The following is a snippet of a 15-minute conversation that happened entirely in American Sign Language among the group of Deaf students," she wrote in the Facebook post. After all the students turned to the kid who had farted, they signed, "Why are they looking at me?" The teacher explained that it was because they heard your fart. The kid was shocked. "Whhhhat do you mean?!?!" the kid signed. Trupiano said people could hear farts. The kid was horrified and asked if they could hear all farts.
"So you can hear and smell all the farts?" the kid asked. "Some of the farts, yes. Not all of them," Trupiano replied. The kids were intrigued. "How do you know which farts they can hear and which farts they can't?" asked one kid and Trupiano thought about it for a second and said, "Hmmm....you know how sometimes you can feel your butt move when you fart? A lot of those they can hear. But if your butt doesn't move it's more likely they didn't hear it." The kid responded, "TELL THEM TO STOP LISTENING TO MY FARTS! THAT IS NOT NICE!" Trupiano explained it wasn't a choice. "Hearing kids can't stop hearing farts, it just happens." The kid said, "I just will stop farting then." Trupiano knew she had to explain that farting was healthy and normal. "Everyone farts, it is healthy. You can't stop," Trupiano explained. The kid was confused. "Wait. Everyone? Even my mom? My Dad," the kid asked. "Yep," confirmed the teacher. She then asked if the teacher also farts and Trupiano nodded, resulting in the kids laughing hysterically.
The 6-year-old was stunned that people could hear farts, but then a new thought popped up in her head. "Can hearing people see farts?" Another kid jumped in, "Yeah. Green smoke comes out of their butt, I saw it on TV." Trupiano said that was not true and confirmed that it was only an exaggeration in the cartoon. "That doesn't happen in real life," she said. "What?! Ugh. I don't understand farts."
Trupiano might have had a funny and enlightening conversation with her kids, but she said it also pointed out a larger problem faced by the deaf community. "I know it started with farts, but the real issue is that many of my students aren't able to learn about these things at home or from their peers because they don't have the same linguistic access," she told GOOD. "So many of my students don't have families who can sign well enough to explain so many things it's incredibly isolating for these kids," she continued.
Trupiano is hoping her story inspires more people to learn sign language and help bridge a gap with the deaf community. "I would love to see a world where my students can learn about anything from anyone they interact with during their day," said. "Whether that means learning about the solar system, the candy options at a store, or even farts, it would be so great for them to have that language access anywhere they go."