Shaun Sadlier: “I’ve been run over four times.” This is what it’s like to be Deaf

Posted on July 14, 2014

Hi everybody,

Hope you’re well. I am profoundly Deaf and British Sign Language is my first language.

This is what it’s like to be me…

What deafness is like

I feel like there is an empty space, when you are moving things around and there is no noise, not even a tiny bit.

I know silence can be very surreal to hearing people and it can be scary if you aren’t used to being Deaf. I count myself lucky because I was born Deaf and I will never know what I am missing out on!

The advantages of being deaf

Being Deaf does have its advantages! I can feel peace without any noise, by switching my hearing aids off and shutting my eyes. 😉

I’ve also learnt how to read body language and facial expressions. I can tell what people are thinking easily – but I am not saying anything!

I can feel the vibrations from sound, which is nice, and therefore I can’t stop touching things!

I can see better than you

My sight is sharper and I notice all things around me. If anything is moving, I just notice it straight away.

I recall someone did a V-sign me at the 4.00 o’clock position (12.00 o’clock is straight ahead of you and 6.00 at the back of you. Got it?) and I said: “(Sigh…) why are you swearing at me?” He was surprised that I saw him and he burst out laughing.

The Deaf brain works differently from the hearing brain which is why our vision is enhanced. Click here for more information!

English language

As you may notice, my grammar and writing structure aren’t always correct because I can’t hear the everyday conversion around me.

Most people learn the English language by listening to what people are saying. It is impossible to listen and lipreading involves guesswork.

I will never to get it right but I am trying very hard to correct myself and I am happy for people to correct my English which can be very beneficial.

The problem is my education – they let me down. When I was at school, they only offered me two GCSE’s… Art and Maths… Yes, just TWO!

Where were the another GCSE’s?


I read and write as much I can to correct myself – but I am not always perfect.

Sometimes I use the internet to correct my writing. I count myself lucky because my daughter sometimes comes along to read what I have written. She corrects it for me and she is 11 years old! I am proud of her 🙂

I read lots of books and that helps me learn a lot of new words. If I find a word that I’ve never heard before, I just Google it and find the meaning.

I took an English GCSE after I left School and it helped me a lot. I would love to re-take my English GCSE again to improve myself.

Most importantly, I read my writing over and over again to try and correct it.

Shaun Sadlier

Shaun Sadlier

Walking in public places

It is very hard work to try and communicate with people.

I rely on my eyes to look around and see the situation around me. I really hate walking around in public because I have to keep looking everywhere to spot any sign of danger.

I’ve been knocked over by a car four times (I went under the car twice) and once by a truck, because I didn’t hear them coming. Luckily, I only received bruises and some scratches!

I sometimes feel tired when I am shopping with a trolley because I rely on my eyes all the time which is hard work. I remember an annoying shopper who rammed me with a trolley because I didn’t hear her.

I turned around and said “I am Deaf,” with an angry voice.

Her face went white as a sheet and she apologised because she didn’t consider that I might be Deaf.

How do I  know if she says something to me behind my back? What’s wrong with tapping on my shoulder?

How to cope with walking in public places

How I cope with this? I just reward myself a coffee or something after walking in a public place.

Hearing aids are not perfect

Hearing aids don’t cure deafness and they’re not perfect!

I hate their loud feedback, and they easily break if it rains or if I sweat.

They help me with my balance and to hear danger, but I can’t tell where the sounds are coming from.

I can hear music but it is impossible to know which band it is, and I hate radio because to me, it’s annoying and sounds like this: “Bau boom Agh boo waa woah ooh!”

Hearing aid batteries can run out when I’m having an important conversion with someone. They go “BEEP! BEEP!” then I get lost in the conversion.

Who invented this annoying “Beep! Beep!”?

I don’t need a reminder that I need to change the battery because the sound starts to fade away when the battery is dying, and then I know I need to change the battery. We aren’t thick you know!

The sad fact is that I only can hear 50% of sound and I will never hear the other 50%.

It is nothing like the TV volume, where you can turn up the sound.

It is more like a qwerty keyboard that is missing 50% of the letters. Turning the volume up doesn’t make any difference because although the sounds I can hear will get louder, I won’t hear the range of sounds that I can’t.

Take a look at this chart. I will never hear the area of 1000+ and 10+ to 60 even WITH hearing aids.


People sometimes say “How much you can hear?” but that is not easy to define and it is very complex to explain!

I just say, very little with the hearing aids. But, without the hearing aids, nothing, which is more accurate.

Feeling positive about hearing aids

Hearing aids do enhance the enjoyment of watching a movie or hearing the crowd roar during a football match. I can also hear my children when they’re playing.

Sometimes, they help me to be aware of unusual noises which make me ask: what is that noise?

I accept they are not perfect and make the best out of it.


Feeling isolated happens to me EVERYDAY!

When I am at my son’s school playground with lots of kids and parents around, for example.

All the kids playing and the parents are chatting away but me, I’m just standing there like a post without anyone to talk to.

I know most parents and kids are lovely, it is nobody’s fault. They just don’t know how to communicate with me.

It’s very hard to not be isolated, because I can’t just go to the local pub and have a chat easily. It is hard work and stressful – I cannot be bothered!

I have got used to being isolated but I know it is very dangerous situation because it can easily lead to mental illness and depression.

I have felt down before, but now, I have learned how to cope with feelings of isolation.

Solution for isolation

Keep in touch with Deaf friends who are in the same situation as you.

Check out Deaf events such as Deafpool, Deafvibe or any other events on social media. Most groups can be found on Facebook. Thank goodness for the internet!

Deaf clubs can be far away from your local area which can make it difficult to go there to have a good time. I personally haven’t been to the Deaf club for years and I rarely go to the Deaf Pub events which can be held in Manchester, Derby or any place around in the UK.

It is very expensive because of the transport and hotel but it is worth it to meet with the Deaf community and ease the feelings of isolation.

The stress of being Deaf

It is very easy to feel stressed when you’re Deaf because you’re likely to be fobbed off – and that’s a fact.

When I request a British Sign Language interpreter for a hospital appointment, they rarely provide one! Yes, it is against the law but it doesn’t make any difference – and you know how hard it is for me to communicate clearly.

The worst situation is when I turn up at A&E, I don’t know how to explain my injuries clearly.

Also, when I am waiting to be seen, they call my name out – even though I can’t hear them. I often sit and observe the people around me. If there is no one coming to the appointment, I assume it is for me and get up and ask if my name has been called out.

Some Deaf people have died because of failed medical examinations, or don’t bother going to medical appointments due to the lack of an interpreter. I am glad about the Spit the Dummy and campaign0 for a BSL Act group because it shows how Deaf people can fight for our access rights.

It can also affect other situations, like going to a drive through fast food restaurant. I remember seeing a McDonald’s drive thru with a fancy menu board, sign post and state of the art speaker…. but how the hell I can use the speaker!?!

This picture below is a classic example.


There are many things that can be very stressful about being Deaf considering the communication difficulties, never hearing important announcements, feeling isolated, feeling frustrated and of course, encountering people’s lack of deaf awareness.

I remember the old times when I couldn’t order anything over the phone, there were no BSL interpreters. I remember travelling to meet a Deaf friend only to discover he had gone out.

Back then, we had no way to communicate apart from writing a letter to arrange a meet up or by making arrangements at the end of the meeting before!

So, I’m glad for the technology we have today, it has changed our life a lot and has helped us to become more independent. Now, I rely on the social media, Internet and typetalk to communicate with people, and I can use a BSL interpreter via the Short Message Service.

Solutions for stress

You need to have all the important contacts available and keep them in the same place to make them easy to find. When I need an audiology appointment, I just send a text to arrange an appointment, rather than using typetalk or e-mail.

When you go to appointments, bring a notepad and pen with you to help you communicate, because a BSL interpreter is not always available.

If anyone is being negative or unfriendly on social media, you need to block them out, which helps to reduce stress, depression and anxiety.

When your stress is high, take a step back and switch off everything (block them out from your mind).

When you feel calm, explore what is bothering you and think about how you can solve it? What is the Plan B? If the situation is really bad, don’t be scared to get it done right and see what is the positive outcome.

I learnt a lot from SignHealth‘s project BSL Healthy Mindsas I was struggling badly after a traumatic event in the past, but, now, I feel like I am on the top of the mountain with great confidence, and nothing is going to stop me.

If you are struggling, I recommend contacting SignHealth as it is very beneficial and they can show you the path to the mental well being.

I am very mentality strong and a good attitude is very important. Try and see the positive. For example, A light bulb is a great thing!

Not many people can see the positive because they are more focused on the negative which can wreck your life! Everyday, I count ten positive things before I start the day.

Where am I now?

I am a proud Dad with a lovely and supportive family. I’ve got a job as the Director of the FilmSense Limited.

I count myself very lucky to achieve this because I didn’t give up, I believed in myself and never ever backed down.

I have got wonderful, willing and supportive friends from the company.

If you wonder how I did it? Just don’t give up and don’t turn back from your dream or opportunity, do whatever it takes take to make it reality. Learn from your mistakes and don’t make same mistake twice.

All the Best!

Shaun 🙂

312514fShaun Sadlier has a business called FilmSense, which shows online movies and TV Series with 100% access for the Deaf and Blind. It’s a global enterprise which will be launched soon. He is also a proud family man with a wife and three children. He is a profoundly Deaf from birth and has overcome the barriers that he faced everyday. He loves exploring Deaf culture and sign languages around the world.

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