“Oh you’re deaf?! Can. You. Hear. Me. Now?”
These are the words of a guy I recently met in a club. It’s such a shame we live in a world where very few people are deaf aware.
Don’t get me wrong, I love explaining everything about the deaf world to those who ask me about it.
Even though the guy seemed a bit rude, I calmly explained to deafness to him, and how I lipread people to understand what they are saying.
I was born hard of hearing, and so was my big sister Hollie and little sister Laura.
No-one else in our family has any level of deafness at all. The doctors said it was passed down to us by our parents. We learned to lipread and as we grew up, we never felt sorry for ourselves and always looked out for each other.
Being hard of hearing was never really an issue for us until we got to high school.
Hollie, now 26 years old, hated wearing her hearing aid after being branded “deaf girl,” with people teasing her because of the way she spoke. She would even try and break her hearing aids or throw them down the school toilet.
Laura, now 21 years old, was fine in school, whereas I on other hand, had it even harder.
I was shoved, spat at, tripped over, and called horrible names, with other kids taking the mickey out of the way I talk.
They would turn my hearing aid off from behind and some would grab my hearing aid from my ear. It really hurt me and a lot of the time, I felt alone and lost.
I was even kicked out of a lesson because I cried when my English/Form teacher told me “what do you want me to do about it” after telling her I couldn’t hear a video and needed subtitles.
School was very tough for me; I got in so many fights trying to stand up for myself.
All of this led me to set up a group called Hard of hearing/Deaf people need more help and support on Facebook in March 2010. Amazingly, the group now has over 7,700 members from all over the world.
The group’s aim is to raise awareness and to get more help and support for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. I’m there for the group members, providing them with information and interacting with them.
Two months after I set up my group, I was invited to go to London by Action on Hearing Loss to speak about it. Since then I have been helping the charity to raise awareness along with my deaf group. I was in the newspapers, magazines and on air during 2010, publicizing the group, and late last year I made a video (below, with subtitles) about why I set it up!
Setting up the group led to me meeting a few celebrities, who are helping me out, including my two idols Lee Ryan and Duncan James from BLUE. The two other group members, Antony Costa, Simon Webbe, plus other celebrities have “tweeted” and “re-tweeted” the link to my short film to their connections on Twitter too!
I will do anything for those thousands of people in my group. They are a huge part of me and my life. I really want to reach out to more people and to fight for more help and support.
It has been two years now since I set up my group, and I’m really proud.
Hayley describes herself as a “22 year old girl from Liverpool who likes listening to music and works her arse off to live life to its fullest.” You can join her Facebook group by clicking here and you can follow her on Twitter as @HaleySadler
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