I’m going to kick off this blog with the announcement that I’m going to be blogging on 1st May 2015 as part of the tenth Blogging Against Disablism Day (the link won’t work just yet as it won’t appear till 1st May). If you’d like to take part, or just to see what it’s all about, then just comment on this post.
But I am also very aware that this is the first proper post, so… what’s this all about, why am I writing here, what’s the purpose of this blog?
As I said in the About Me page, I’m currently a postgraduate Masters degree student. My location and identity will remain anonymous – that’s a deliberate decision on my part. In a digital world that is so linkable and searchable, I may need, at some point, to be critical about the people I study with, my university (although I sincerely hope not) or other bodies that I have contact with. In order to avoid repercussions that anonymity is crucial. I’m working towards not only achieving a Master’s degree, but also obtaining funding for, and acceptance for, a doctoral degree, with the aim of going on to work as a lecturer and researcher in future. As anyone who has ever done this before will know, this career path is pretty tough, even more so in these days of austerity. To be doing so as a deaf student is even harder.
What do I intend to do with this blog? Well, the one thing it won’t be is a ‘woeeee is meee!’ blog. Yes, I’ll write about issues that I’ve faced and how I’ve dealt with them, but I also hope to be able to highlight best practice and give praise where praise is due. In short: I know I sometimes feel very alone, as a deaf student, surrounded by hearing people, most of whom have little understanding of the issues I face on a daily basis, and I want to reach out to people who DO understand, because they’re there, against the coal face, just as I am.
I’m sure I’m not alone in that: encouraging deaf people to talk via something like this I think could be crucial in making sure someone stays in education. I’d therefore really really like to be able to reach out to other deaf students. Although the primary focus will be on postgradute study, rather than undergraduate, I see this blog as being for all deaf students. I’m quite happy, in future, to open it up to being a group blog, if that becomes appropriate, or to post articles for other people. If you’ve got something to say: contact me! Subjects could be anything to do with university education and that is deaf linked; perhaps articles on how you worked well with a specific lecturer to overcome issues on a course, what you think is best practice, the accessibility practices at your uni, issues with DSA… it could be anything. The one area I’d rather not cover is with people’s personal lives. If you’re finding it difficult to get out there and socialise with hearing people, then I’d rather not cover that here because that’s not particularly unique to the student experience; non-students face it too. On the other hand, if you’re finding it difficult to mix with your classmates on, say, a field trip, on the coach, or you attend a voluntary postgraduate seminar in your subject and no-one talks to you, then that kind of thing, although not in the classroom, should definitely be covered. There are grey areas and I’m willing to be flexible – so if you feel strongly about something, get in touch with me, please.
As I also said in the ‘About’, I don’t want this blog to descend into arguments about deaf terminology. If this does open up into a group blog then different people will use different terms to describe their hearing loss, and I think personal choices on this should be respected. On the other hand what should also be respected is where people describe what works for them; it should be recognised by all (including writers) that what worked for them may not work for others. No one path fits all.
To contact me, email me on DeafStudentUK at gmail dot com. I look forward to hearing from you!