Hope you're well. I am profoundly Deaf and British Sign Language is my first language.
You may wonder what is like being me?
I feel like there is empty space, when you are moving things around and there is no noise, not even a tiny bit. I know it can be very surreal to you and it can be scary if you aren't used to being Deaf. I count myself lucky because I born Deaf and I will never know what I am missing out. But it will be very horrible experience for the deafen because they know what they missing out.
Being Deaf does have advantage! I can put myself in peace without any noise, switch my hearing aids off and shut my eyes. ;-)
I learnt how to read body language and expression, I could tell easily but I am not saying anything. Also, I can feel the sound vibration which it is nice therefore I couldn't stop touching things!
Our sight are more sharper and notice all things around me. If anything is moving and I just notice it straight away. I recall someone 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 "(Sigh...) why you are swearing at me?" I said. He is surprised that I saw him and he bursted out laughing.
You can see Deaf brain work different from Hearing therefore our vision is enhanced. Click on image for more information.
As you may notice that my grammar and structure aren't always correct because I can't hear from the everyday conversion around me. Most people learn the English language by listening to what the people were saying. It is impossible to listen and always guesswork with the lip-reading. I will never to get it right but I am trying very hard to correct myself and I wish people to correct my English which can be very beneficial. The problems was the Education because they cannot be bothered to educate Deaf people and badly let down too often. When I was at the Mount School and they only offered two GCSE's... Art and Math... Yes, just TWO! Where is the another GCSE's? They even cannot be bother to teach me with the English Language which it is vital for the employment and everyday living. It is no wonder there are many Deaf people are struggling to get in top of the career ladder. Shame on them for failing Deaf pupil. It is no wonder that many Deaf pupil have gone to the mainstream and unfortunately, Government cut the access support such as Interpreter and Note Taker for the Deaf pupil, sometime Deaf pupil get no support at the School and the impact is so hard and fall far behind with the rest of the class. I hope they get the support back as soon as possible.
I read and write much I can to correct myself but I am not always perfect. Sometime I use the internet to correct my writing. I count myself lucky because my daughter sometime came along to read on what I wrote. She correct it for me and she is 11 years old! I am proud of her :-) I read lots of the books and learn so many new words. If I found a word that I never heard it before, I just Google it and find the meaning. I took English GCSE after I left School and it helped me a lots. I would love to re-take English GCSE again to improvise myself. Most importantly, I read over and over again on my article to try correct it.
Walking in the public place.
It is very hard work to try communicate with people, I rely my eyes to look around to see what is the situation around me. I really hate walking around in the public because I keep looking at everywhere to spot the danger sign. In fact, I got knocked over by a car for fourth times (went under the car twice) and once by a truck, but, I only received bruise and some scratch because I didn't hear these coming!
When I feeling tired during shopping with a trolley considering I rely on my eyes all the time which it is hard work. I recalled an annoying shopper with a trolley behind me and she rammed me with a trolley because I didn't hear her, I turned around and "I am Deaf" I said with an anger voice. Her face went white as sheet and apologies because she didn't consider that I may be Deaf. How I know if she say something to me behind my back? What wrong with tapping on my shoulder?
How I cope with this? I just reward myself a coffee or something that I enjoy after walking in the public place.
Hearing Aids doesn't cure deafness and it is not perfect! I hate hearing aids loud feedback, easily break by a raindrop or sweating. It is only help me with the balance and sightly to hear the danger sign but I couldn't tell where is the noise come from because it is impossible to pinpoint the sound.
I can partially hear music but impossible to know what is it, what band is it and I hate radio because it is only annoying noise coming out the radio. "Bau boom Agh boo waa woah ooh!"
Every time, anyone to switch the radio on with a gleaming smile and I just switch hearing aids off. Ahh... (silent sound) That's better. But I like the beat vibration better.
When I was having important conversion with someone and the hearing aids battery is dying and it went "BEEP! BEEP!" then I got lost in the conversion. Who invented this annoying "Beep! Beep!"? I don't need to remind that I need to change the battery because the sound start to fade away when the battery is dying then I know it need to change the battery. We aren't thick you know?
The sad fact, I only can hear 50% of sound and I will never hear another 50% of sound. It is nothing like the TV volume which you can turn up the sound. It is just like a qwerty keyboard with 50% missing letters, turning the volume up doesn't make any different because it will be louder without some of sounds. See this chart, I will never hear the area of 1000+ and 10+ to 60 WITH hearing aids.
People sometime say "How much you can hear?" which it is incorrect of the definition because it is very complex to explain! I just say, very little with the hearing aids. But, without the hearing aids. Nothing which it is more accurate.
Hearing aids do enhance the enjoyment by watching a movie or hear the crowd roar during the football match, also, hear our children excitement. Sometime, it help me to be aware of unusual noise which make me ask what is that noise? I accept it and make the best out of it.
It happens to me EVERYDAY! When I was at my son school playground with lots of kids and parent around. All kids playing and parent chatting away but me, just standing like a post without anyone talk to. I know most parent and kids are lovely, it is no fault on anybody because they just don't know how to communicate with me and I struggle to communicate with anyone whom have no knowledge about how to communicate with me.
It's very hard to not be isolated, because I couldn't just go to the local pub and have a chat easily. It is hard work and stressful then I cannot be bother!
I kinda get used to being isolated but I know it is very dangerous situation to be isolated because it is easily lead to the mental illness and depression. It happened to me sometimes but now, I learnt how to cope and keep me safe from the mental illness.
Keep in touch with your friend who is in the same situation as you, check out the Deaf event such as Deafpool, Deafvibe or any deaf community on the social media, most of the group can be found in the Facebook. Thank goodness the for internet! Deaf Social Club can be far away from your local area which can be difficult to go there to have a good time. I personally haven't been to the Deaf Social Club for years but I rarely go to the Deaf Pub which can be at Manchester, Derby or any place around in the UK. It is very expensive because of the transport and hotel but it is worth it after meet up with the Deaf community considering it solve the isolation issue.
Stress for being Deaf.
It is very easy to be stressful for just being Deaf because I am the most likely to be fob off and that's a fact. When I request British Sign Language interpreter for a hospital appointment and they rarely to provide it! Yes, it is against the law but it doesn't make any different and you know how hard for me to communicate clearly about anything. The worse situation is when to turn up A&E, I don't know how to explain about my injuries clearly. Also, while I was waiting for the appointment and they called my name without me knowing because there are no BSL interpreter available. I often, sit here and observe people around me. If there is no one coming to the appointment and I assume it is for me. So, I came and ask to see if they asking for me.
Some Deaf people died early because of failed medical examination or cannot be bother going due the lack of interpreter. I am glad about BSL Act because we fight for our access right.
Another things about the fastfood drive thru, I recalled there is new McDonald drive thru, fancy menu board, sign post and state of the art speaker.... How the hell I can use the speaker!?!
This picture in the below is a classic example. I am Deaf and how the hell I can listen to the speaker?!?
There are many things can be very stressful as being Deaf is four times worse considering of the communication difficulties, never hear important announcement, being isolated, easily frustration and of course, lack of deaf awareness.
I remember the old times, I cannot order anything through the phone, there were no BSL interpreter and sometime I travel to meet Deaf friend but discovered they gone out because we got no way to communicate by the telephone apart writing a letter to arrange for meet up or arranged to meet up from the last meeting. I am so glad for the technology today, it change our life a lots and becoming more independent. Now, I rely on the social media, Internet and typetalk to communicate with people, also, I can hired BSL interpreter by the Short Message Service.
If anyone being negative at the most of times on the social media, anywhere or being unfriendly and you need to block them out which it help to reduce stress, depression and anxiety.
You need to have all important contact available and keep in the same place to make it easy to contact. When I need an audiology appointment and I just text it to arrange an appointment. Rather than typetalk or e-mail.
Bring the notepad and pen with you all the times for the communication because BSL interpreter is not always available.
When your stress is so high, you need to take a step back and switch off everything (block them out from your mind). When you feel calm and explore what is bothering you? 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 lots from the SignHealth as I was struggling badly after traumatic event in the past, but, now, I am on the top of the mountain with a great confidence, nothing going to stop me. If you are struggling and I recommend to contact SignHealth as it is very beneficial because they can show you the path to the mental well being. I am very mentality strong and a good attitude is very important. Don't be a moaner and see what is the positive outcome. For example, A light bulb is a great stuff! Not many people can see the positive because they are more focus on the negative which can wreak your life! Everyday, I count ten positive things before I start a day.
Where am I now?
I am a proud Dad with a lovely and supportive family, I got a job as Director of the FilmSense Limited. I count myself very lucky to achieve it because I didn't give up, believe in myself and never ever back down. I 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 is take to make it reality. Learn from your mistake and don't make same mistake twice.
All the Best!