The Secret Deafie: My story shows how deaf people can beat low expectations in education

Posted on October 1, 2017

At weekends, we post the most popular articles from our archive.

Read all of our anonymous Secret Deafie posts by clicking here.

Though a majority, if not all of us, have faced bullying, disdain, and been told that what we can and can’t achieve, sometimes we can use it to our advantage. Sometimes we can rise above these naysayers and show them what we are made of.

I was born in 1986, but I did not go deaf until 1989/1991 so times were very different then. I am sure that some of you will remember that disability was still a rather taboo subject. Indeed, my mother had to fight to keep me in a mainstream school even though the council insisted I would be better placed in a school for deaf children.

“No,” she told them “I want her to be able to communicate effectively and integrate into society.”

However, there was a dark side to staying in mainstream school. The other children could be rather mean to me sometimes, this is due to a lack of understanding, and I know this now.

But, there is one thing that sticks in my mind. Whenever the teachers spoke of the future; university, college, or work, I always felt that on some level they did not think it applied to me. In fact, I can remember telling a teacher once that I wanted to go to university. This teacher gave a condescending laugh and bade me go away.

My confidence disappeared completely. I thought that there is no point even trying because if the teacher are laughing at me, then imagine what any university I apply to will do?

So, to an extent, I drifted through school. I worked hard, but with no real endgame in sight. As I entered my 20s I did notice that society’s approach to disability was changing. Subtitles were available on television; student disability allowance was emerging, disability centres were being set up. Maybe, I thought to myself, I could try now?

So, I did. I applied to the University of N to do a degree in English Literature, and to my surprise I got in! The student services were amazing, they provided me with financial help, and with any support I needed.

Three years later in 2010 I graduated and it was the most amazing feeling in the world. But, there was a niggling feeling that it was not enough. I had fallen in love with learning, studying, and researching. The changing disability environment meant that I did not have to stop at a degree, so I didn’t.

I went to the University of L to do a Postgraduate Diploma in Conservation. Now I have a PgDip!

Unfortunately for my poor bank balance I was not yet done. This time I worked as a LSA in a mainstream secondary school (which meant I was able to use my disability in a different way and help give children with SEN or disabilities some confidence.

If I can do it, then imagine what you can do!). I worked to help pay for my MA in English Literature and I am happy to say that I have just been awarded an MA!

Am I done? Almost … maybe. As one final two fingers up to all the people who put me down, and because I have found my passion in life, I put forward a PhD proposal to the English department at the University of N, the University that started it all. Next week, I have an interview with the panel to see if I will be accepted to do my PhD with them.

Never, in a million years, did I ever think that one day I would be able to call myself Doctor. Indeed, I still might not. After all, I have to pass the interview panel; I have to complete the research and the actual thesis, all this in six years. I might not do any of this, but at least I tried. So, if I can do it then, Imagine what anyone of us can do?

Read all of our anonymous Secret Deafie posts by clicking here.

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