Callum Fox: Walking the line between the hearing and deaf worlds

Posted on January 17, 2013


My name is Callum Fox. I intend to write about my experiences as a cochlear implant user and what life has been like over the 17 years since I was first implanted in 1995.

I was born on July 14, 1990 in Bishop Auckland General Hospital in County Durham, and was soon discovered to be profoundly deaf due to a extremely rare and as of yet unexplained genetic disorder inherited through my Mum’s family. My parents took the decision to have me implanted and before I say anything else, I thank them wholeheartedly for this decision.

I went under the knife at the age of five, and was subsequently implanted at James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough. My primary schooling was spent at Northern Counties School For The Deaf, based in Jesmond, and Monkhouse Primary School in North Shields, which also had a specialist Deaf Unit.

Photo: The hospital where I was implanted.

In Year 5, my parents decided to send me to a local primary school to help me adapt to mainstream schooling for my secondary years, helping me to make friends in the local area. So I went to St. Wilfreds, a Roman Catholic primary school before going to St. Johns for my secondary education and as it turns out, for my sixth form years as well.

I used to use British Sign Language (BSL) as my main means of communication in my primary school years before switching fully to spoken English as I integrated into mainstream schooling.

These days, I have just graduated from Teesside University with a Masters in Journalism, as well as being an NCTJ qualified journalist. I’m currently freelancing as a writer/journalist, specialising in sport although I’ve recently taken the decision to write about my experiences as a cochlear implant user on this blog, making use of the skills I’ve gained so far.

I’m in a fairly unique position. I’m one of the oldest cochlear implant users in the United Kingdom implanted at such an early age in the first half of the 1990s, so I feel that I need to at least put pen to paper regarding my thoughts. It’s also an attempt at a bit of catharsis, to find out a bit more about myself and what I truly think about being a cochlear implant user in a hearing world.

It’s also an attempt to immerse myself into the deaf community. I’ve never really had much time to actually participate in this area of life, as I was satisfied with my social life up to now. I never really had contact with fellow deaf people since I left Monkhouse. Life was too hectic, I went to school, I played with my friends. I didn’t really want to complicate my life, leaflets sent to my house advertising activities for deaf people were a nuisance really.  I was simply too busy.

Out of sight, out of mind and all that. But now that I’ve finished university and looking for jobs, life has slowed down. I’ve had time to reflect on my situation. I want to change my relative ignorance of the deaf community, and I hope that by establishing a presence on here and on Twitter, I can reach out and engage with people.

Walking the dividing line.

To sum up, I owe everything I am now, including writing this very article for this blog, to the decision my Mum and Dad made for me to undergo the operation all those years ago and I wouldn’t change that decision now.

You’ll notice that I use the phrase ‘cochlear implant user’ a lot during this piece, I think it reflects my position at the minute. I have no contact with the deaf community and the people I grew up with in the Deaf Units have long since drifted away. I don’t consider myself as part of the deaf community even if I am deaf. But I don’t consider myself part of the hearing world either.

So I’m between worlds, a foot in both camps so to speak. I’m walking the line between the hearing world and the deaf world. Hence the title of my blog, Walking The Divide.

This article was first published on Callum’s blog here:

Callum Fox is walking the divide between the hearing and deaf worlds. Profoundly deaf since birth and CI user. In his spare time he balances being 22 years old, being a football fanatic and trying to make it as a writer, journalist and human being. Follow him on Twitter as @WalkTheDivide

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