Smash: What it’s like to be a deaf kid at school

Posted on August 20, 2013

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By Smash (Age 11)

Picture this: It’s an ordinary day at school.You see a girl. A pretty girl. Depending on your sex chromosome you will probably either think: “Wowza!” or “BFF!”

You then go into the classroom, bag the best spot by the window and start drawing a new comic. The same girl comes in and sits down in the spot in front of the teacher’s desk. Suddenly the bell rings and the Big Cheese comes in.

As she walks towards her desk the girl goes up to her. They mumble for a while then the girl hands the teacher a small black lump with a clip at the end and you just can’t help overhearing:”Please clip the microphone to your top.” The girl then sits down and adjusts something behind her ear.

Your brain explodes like a bomb! Is she a spy? a gangster? Or perhaps 009? You make yourself as small as possible and try not to get noticed.

Well? is she really one of the above?

No, she’s just a deaf girl wanting to hear what’s going on around her, as normal as it gets.

This kind of thing is a typical problem that many kids face in regular private and mainstream schools. Students judge each other so it’s actually incredibly hard for deaf people to fit in with the others.

We’re called names like “Dummy” or “Weirdo” and we just don’t seem to get along with the students – and aren’t usually the teachers’ favorites. For this reason I’ve made a list of annoying things that teachers do and will hopefully stop doing to make school a much better place to be!

Teacher problem no.1: Facing the board and talking at the same time

Don’t we all know this problem, particularly in Maths teachers? The teacher starts explaining something important then turns towards the board mid-sentence and starts writing down exam dates, a problem to solve, etc. Meanwhile, you only get about half the information you need and with luck that’s the bit that’s not very important.

No wonder I flunked my first Maths exam! The other annoying thing is you can’t lip read what the teacher’s saying, so if you have a dictation in a foreign language, let’s say French, the teacher will be walking around the room looking away from you, so the end result of the test will probably look like an attempted soufflé that’s gone horribly wrong.

Teacher problem no.2: Saying embarrassing stuff about your little problem

I’ve had quite a lot of problems with this one, but not from the teacher that despises me the most, but my favorite teacher, my English teacher.

She means well, but she sometimes does some seriously embarrassing stuff. For example, in the middle of the school year, when I was feeling particularly left out, she asked the class who knew what was wrong with me.

At least ten out of twenty-three hands shot up and the teacher picked my least favourite girl in class and she started rabbiting all sorts of crazy lies about me. For the first time in my life I wished that I could melt into a small, green puddle of slime, drip down onto the class below, then evaporate into a green, slimy cloud it was so cringeworthy.

The main problem here is that teachers see kids’ feelings a little differently than most adults. They’ve had the same old mix of kids for years and years until BANG!!!! they get a deaf student in their class. Some teachers, particularly new ones want to help but they make a mess of it and try too hard, helping when we don’t need help, or trying to explain to the class exactly how we like being treated. This usually results in being called a teacher’s pet and school life being a misery.

Teacher problem no. 3: Talking way too loudly to a deaf student

This is an annoying problem that almost every deaf student has had at least once. Some teachers actually think they’re helping but really they’re just making everything worse.

This is a classic reaction to deaf people that nearly everyone does without thinking, but the only thing they’re doing is making it way harder for us to keep up with what they’re saying and it’s really quite annoying. If you’re being screamed at by a huge gym teacher it’s really frightening and embarrassing because the other kids will assume you’ve been naughty.

Teacher problem no. 4: Teachers thinking that you’re deliberately not listening

This is the classic gym teacher problem, because even if you have a pretty advanced hearing aid that fits over your ear perfectly, chances are your parents won’t let you wear it in gym class for fear it might get broken.

The result: Being shouted at when you miss the ball because you couldn’t hear your team screaming at you to catch it; or not coming to the circle because you couldn’t hear the teacher blow his whistle, his face purple with rage, looking for all like a sweaty Thomas the Tank Engine; or the teacher thinking you’re brain-dead just because you said “huh?” when you didn’t hear her.

So that’s just a taster to many of the teacher problems we face today, but what about the future? Will teachers finally get used to us? Well they’d better!

There’s nearly 45 000 of us in the UK alone, so we’re probably going to be around for ever and a day.

Or something like that.

Smash is an incredibly talented 11 year old deaf kid at school, currently living outside the UK.

The Limping Chicken’s supporters provide: sign language interpreting and communications support (Deaf Umbrella), online BSL video interpreting (SignVideo), captioning and speech-to-text services (121 Captions), online BSL learning and teaching materials (Signworld), theatre captioning (STAGETEXT), Remote Captioning (Bee Communications), visual theatre with BSL (Krazy Kat) , healthcare support for Deaf people (SignHealth), theatre from a Deaf perspective (Deafinitely Theatre ), specialist lipspeaking support (Lipspeaker UK), Deaf television programmes online (SDHH), language and learning (Sign Solutions), BSL interpreting and communication services (Lexicon Signstream), sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting (Action Deafness Communications) education for Deaf children (Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton), and legal advice for Deaf people (RAD Deaf Law Centre).

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