Right. This is my first blog and I’m going to write about something that I feel familiar with. I’m Deaf and I would not have it any other way. I have an idea of what it may be like to be hearing and it does not appeal to me in the slightest.
But hey, I am only speaking for myself. I embrace my deafness and there are Deaf people out there who do suffer and perceive their disability as a negative experience. There are barriers that Deaf people face on a daily basis and I do feel that we have the ability to be resilient. But is there a ‘problem’?
A problem is a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with. This can cause distress, anxiety, worry, difficulty and complications. This is what we have to deal with on a daily basis.
I find myself feeling constantly tired. People may joke and say that I sleep a lot or that I value my sleep but I do, it is mentally exhausting having to rely on my eyes for picking up information, to be aware of what is happening in my surroundings, to lip-read and anticipate what people are saying to me.
It becomes a chore listening to somebody speak for more than 15 minutes, and having to figure out what they are saying, matching their words with the words in your head and praying to god that you don’t say the wrong thing in response that would make you appear as rude or somewhat idiotic.
This happens a lot, and it can result in people casually cutting you out of group conversations or approaching you less as it is easier that way. This increases the risk of social isolation and loneliness which also contributes towards the likelihood of triggering a mental health illness.
I tend to avoid these situations so easily. I can put my earphones in and be zoned out into a world of my own. Or I can look at my phone and keep myself occupied, so that I don’t have to deal with social awkwardness.
This avoids embarrassment, anxiety, the constant worry that you’ve mis-heard something and for my eyes have a god-damn break.
I am fortunate to have digital hearing aids that amplifies sound and enables me to hear people speaking and background noises. However there are Deaf/deaf and hard of hearing individuals who do not use any hearing equipment and it is much, much harder.
Everybody thinks lip-reading is the solution but only 30% of speech is visible on lips so you are actually trying to follow the lip patterns and it is like trying to work out a puzzle on the first sentence and by the time you have worked this out, you have missed the second sentence and you cannot keep up. This is work, hard work and can often result in the person giving up – which leaves you feeling vulnerable and useless.
On a positive note, the world is changing. Slowly but surely. People are becoming more Deaf aware and when a person recognises the difficulty of communication, and they attempt to communicate by hand gestures, or writing with a pen and paper, or using text messaging on any device, or maintaining eye contact talking face to face at a normal pace, it makes a huge difference. We can instantly relax, we engage, we respond and we feel comfortable in our environment. We finally fit in your world.
If you come across a Deaf/deaf or hard of hearing person, please be mindful that we have to deal with social challenges on a daily basis and by demonstrating willingness to communicate in any way can bring us a sense of ease. We may have what some people call a hearing impairment, but this does not mean we are impaired in any other way.
Disability simply means ‘Don’t diss my ability’.
Tara Hayes is a Deaf young female living in Birmingham. She has a degree in Social Work and has a joy for writing in her spare time. She is a BSL user and a good lip-reader. She hopes to write to inspire others and to provide an insight into certain topics that aren’t talked about generally.
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