This week’s Day in the Life comes from Gabrielle Hall. Gabrielle is profoundly deaf and uses hearing aids. Here’s a day in Gabrielle’s life as a deaf student.
I have a disability. I’m profoundly deaf and regularly use hearing aids. This is a typical day in the life of a deaf person.
My day starts with waking up to silence.
My eyes take in the environment of my bedroom, and my ears hear nothing.
Not even the annoying noise of the clock ticking.
My ears are broken.
I get up to start my routine of getting myself ready and have some breakfast before heading to university.
The last thing I do before I rush for the bus is put my hearing aids on.
I’m suddenly dragged in the world of noise.
I can hear my clock ticking in my bedroom and my footsteps when I leave the house.
My hearing aids pick up on some high and low vibrating noises. It is difficult to distinguish where some noises are coming from.
The most obvious noises are cars and ambulance zooming past.
As I board on the bus and sit down, I usually hear a background of chatter. I cannot identify what their conversations are about because the voices blur together. Too many people talking at once.
I arrive at university for a lecture or seminar and meet my team of interpreters and a note taker before the class starts.
When I enter in the room, I usually position myself at the front where I can clearly see the interpreters (I have two that take turns).
An interpreter is a middle person between me and the lecturer or a student. The only responsibility of an interpreter is to visually translate what a lecturer or any student is saying. It is their job to ensure smooth communication.
I am a bimodal bilingual; I can speak and sign.
I am only a deaf person in the family.
I gradually learnt to speak and was determined to improve by using speech therapy.
I am a fluent British Sign Language (BSL) user. BSL is a distinct language with its own grammatical structure. In short, it is different from the English structure. I view this as a beautiful language, and it amazes me that a language can be spoken through hands. It led me to learn about deaf culture and how it differs from the hearing world. It introduced me to a few lifelong friendships with like-minded deaf individuals.
Do I think in sign language in my head?
No, I have a strong grasp of English through my love of books and education.
I think in English sentences and visual images.
I’m very visual.
I like to take things in visually, from highlighting university work to lipreading.
Being deaf means I have to make sure I am an adequate lip reader. It is not an easy task! I’ve had years of practice. It is my way of “listening” to a speaker.
Sometimes lipreading is like having a few blanks in every few sentences when a person is speaking. I simultaneously attempt to fill the blanks and lip read until they finish speaking.
It sounds difficult but it had become second nature. If I miss out something important, I ask them to repeat.
It can be tedious and I have a slightly strong preference to sign than speak.
I have an invisible disability.
When you see me with my hair down on a bus journey, you would naturally assume that I am hearing because my hearing aids are not on show.
There are two indicators to show that I am deaf, which are my hearing aids and signing to someone.
Being deaf has its challenges.
For example, I may seem unapproachable by university students. The reasons could include people feeling unsure how to communicate or think it will be too difficult. They tend to leave me alone.
The sad reality is about 95% of the time I have to make the first move. That is if I want to.
This probably shows you that I did not have the typical student experience at university.
I believe that it does not really matter because I attend to university to get educated.
My day ends with removing my hearing aids and visit my silent world.