Hey! Welcome back to another rambling post of mine... As I'm writing this, it is 2:30 AM on a Friday morning. Unfortunately, I'm still suffering from shingles and up late thinking about creative and educational things to share! A big part of my life is being deaf but like many deaf and hard of hearing people I live and work in a predominantly hearing world. A lot of people ask me "What's that like?" and for me, I feel like I'm stuck in between two worlds and I don't really belong in either.
What I mean by this is... to hearing people without a disability in society, I'll always be "different" no matter what I do and in the deaf world, I don't sign very well as I spent years focusing on being able to speak so I find it hard to communicate with deaf people the way I would like, too. I very rarely get to interact with a deaf person but when I do, it's just fantastic. It is so lovely to meet someone that understands what it's like and just gets all the little daily struggles!
In my experience, being deaf has always made me feel like I have so much more to prove than another person would. Even though I have a fantastic degree and postgraduate qualifications, for some reason I always feel like it's not enough to prove to an employer that I am capable. When I was applying for work and reading the applications, many say that they don't discriminate and have equal opportunities for everyone... which unfortunately is only fulfilled by some companies. Society has a stereotype for things and disabilities is one of them. No disability is the same for everyone and it should be down to that individual to express if they don't feel capable to do a job! Why would I apply for a job I couldn't do? How would I achieve qualifications if I wasn't smart? As an adult, this is a constant struggle. I've had interviews where they hadn't even written anything down the whole interview. I've also sent companies two versions of CVs, one clearly stating my deafness and one not... you can imagine which one I got an interview with. Unfortunately, this is the sad reality of society's stereotypes. But I work hard to prove that the only disability in life is a bad attitude. I will always fight hard to break down any barrier in my way, and everyone should work hard to fulfill their dreams and goals no matter what their ability.
Honestly I didn't think I had any disability until I went into first year of high school. I was brought up to believe I had no barriers. I did what everyone else did and my family never let me feel restricted or left out. But when I started school especially at a time where children with disabilities weren't as integrated into mainstream schools it was difficult to not feel a bit like an alien. (Not an actual alien but you know what I mean...)
Personally, I struggled with the learning in school—firstly, a whole day of lip reading is so mentally draining and it's impossible to lip read and write so I always felt behind on everything! Although, lip reading meant you knew who was saying what about who... which came in handy sometimes. As you can imagine. I found school extremely difficult. The stress of always trying to catch up and being the only "different" child wrecked my confidence and filled me with self-doubt. I feel if children with disabilities of any kind have the right support and capabilities and are integrated into mainstream school children will grow up to be less judgmental and more understanding of anyone with a disability or, as I like to call it, just a different ability. If you are reading this and feel the same, understand that it doesn't mean you're not smart. I didn't do well at all in school but pushed myself on to do my degree and Masters and after looking at different learning styles and figuring out which one worked for me, BINGO. I was able to show people what I'm made of and gave a huge middle finger to the people that told me I couldn't.
In daily life I have had positive experiences with interacting with people. If I'm ever struggling, I just say and people generally are very helpful and kind. I only wish I hadn't felt so embarrassed by my hearing as a child, because I had no reason to ever feel like that. My friends and family never make me feel the barriers of being deaf and I try not to let fear or anxiety of my disability stop me from doing the things I want to do. But it's vital to understand what you can and can't do. I know I struggle with tiredness after long days of lipreading, I sometimes get words slightly wrong just 'cause I haven't heard them being said before, and I've bad balance because... duh I'm deaf. But I am also intelligent, funny, a good listener, and many other things that can sometimes be forgotten about because I am too busy beating myself with the negatives.
My hopes for the future and the next generation are that like LGBTQ, mental health, and women's rights, that society's thoughts about disability stereotypes changes dramatically and everyone has equal opportunities to achieve whatever they work hard to do. No one is "perfect." We all need to be more understanding of individual's struggles and not pass judgment just because we might not understand. I hope that one day when I have children I would educate them enough that they would never judge or create barriers for anyone with a disability. I thank my family, friends, and my boyfriend for never making me doubt my ability just because of my hearing.
I hope this post has made you think about how there are judgments in society about disabilities and that you can play a significant part in breaking down these barriers for the future. A disability does not make you dumb, and it does not mean you are incapable. It may simply just mean you need support or you will find another way of doing it. I am the queen of solutions to make sure I don't miss out. No one should ever be made to feel like opportunities are stripped away because of a disability.
Thanks for reading.