I’m deaf, I’m not disabled! Why should I do this?

Blogging Against Disabilism Day

Blogging Against Disabilism Day

Today is May 1st – known to many around the world as Blogging against Disabilism Day. A day where people, who are affected by disability and experience prejudice because of it, write about it. That’s all – a very simple idea, the brainchild of Goldfish and who is now ably supported by her husband, Mr. Goldfish. It’s a fantastic day, with tons of really moving, really well written blogs that are posted, worldwide, throughout the day – and in the days after, since some people are not always well enough to take part on the day.

But here’s the thing. This blog is aimed at deaf people. And I know many deaf people really have a problem with disability, with being seen as disabled – and as a result, will totally reject any idea of joining in with BADD.

‘Why should I do this? Great for them, but I’m deaf, not disabled!!!’

Here’s why: because you are.

I’m sorry, but to the world at large, to the world that mostly doesn’t care, you are deaf. Your ears don’t work properly. That lumps you squarely in the same category as all the other people that have bits of them that don’t work properly – eyes, legs, spines, nerves, arms, lungs … and so on. Dis-abled – meaning not abled. Your ears don’t work. Therefore you are disabled.

Oh, I understand why there has been a wholesale rejection of the idea that as deaf people are disabled. Deaf people have had to fight long and hard for the idea that just because they are deaf, doesn’t mean that they can’t do anything (in fact, they most decidedly can). There’s also been a wholesale rejection of the disability model, because for many deaf people, they feel that they are a cultural minority, with a different language and culture, just as, say, Jewish people or Scottish Gaelics, and they have fought long and hard to be accepted as such, and more importantly, to qualify for government funding as such.

Believe me, I get all that.

But here’s the thing: the world out there doesn’t care whether you, as a deaf person, can still be a doctor. They may well be very admiring, in that inspiration porn kinda way, and wish in their minds that more disabled people would be like that. The world out there largely doesn’t care if you’re a cultural minority, about the incredible beauty of sign language, of the hilariously funny jokes of John Smith, the stunning poetry of Dorothy Miles – and so many other wonderfully creative, active, hard working, high achieving, deaf people.

We – your fellow deaf people – are not the ones that need to be convinced of all this.

The world out there thinks you’re disabled. It treats you as a disabled person. Subjects you to the same prejudice that disabled people have been suffering for a long time. [To give one example: you think only deaf people are affected by the recent changes to Access to Work? Hell, no.] The fact is, the last five years have been hellishly bad for disabled people. Actually, scratch that, the last ten years. There’s been a systematic programme on the part of the goverment – all government – to demonise the disabled. To call them scroungers, refer to them in degrogatory terms. This has been well documented and the changes to funding systems and benefit systems over the last five years has been the culmination of that.

And that’s why days like BADD are so terribly important for deaf people as well as disabled people. Because deaf people are disabled, and its important that deaf people’s voice is heard. Heard as part of the rising clamour of voices that are making the world out there, the voting public, realise the damage that has been done in the last ten years to the silent minority. It is often said that the measure of a society, of a government, is how it treats it’s weakest members. Churchill said it, Truman said it, Hubert Humphreys said it, Pope John Paul II said it – or variations on it. Right now, with an election looming, society is beginning to wake up and realise what has been done in its name, the people who have died in the cold, alone, in terror, because of the ‘pointless cruelty’. Right now, a tipping point is fast approaching, in the cultural hegemony of the disabled person as a scrounger, living off the state – and the disabled are aware of this, and working to maximise it.

You want to know why, as a deaf person, you should be joining BADD?

Because of this. Because you are disabled. Because your voice needs to be heard. Because on a day like this, what needs to happen is joining, support, not division, not rejection, to make sure that in the next five years, society doesn’t treat the disabled – i.e. YOU – as they have been doing for so long.

Take to your Keyboards. The time is now for you to write, to sign, to do VLogs about it. Show them how powerful deaf activism can be.

Take part in BADD.

 

Am I really good enough to be an academic?

Imposter01I’m currently buried in exam revision – and taking a bit of time out to write this, while dinner is merrily cooking away. I say exam, it’s more in the nature of a test – practising the skills that we, the students on the course have, rather than what we know. Still, there is some knowledge that needs to be absorbed and of course I have to practice the skill itself (and you’ll understand, I’m sure, that I can’t get any more specific than that).

Preparation for exams always involves a certain element of fear: fear of the unknown. Will this be covered? Will the examiner be crafty and put that odd thing in? Is this nugget of info something I should be memorising? And then, sometimes, for some of us, underneath it, is that sneaky little fear: am I good enough for this? Is this where I fall? Is this where I’m found out, is this where people realise that I’m not as smart as they think I am?

I struggle with Imposter Syndrome (this page has lots of info on this). I’m not alone in this, and its not linked to my deafness (or at least, I don’t think so – I’m not a psychologist so I have no idea if there is a commonality in these two things). I know I have it, and there are many many articles out there detailing it and what to do about it. Its commonly found in high achievers – in fact, one graph out there, on this page, specifically says that the higher you achieve, the lower the likelihood that you will think you’re as good as you are (in other words, if you have imposter syndrome, you likely are a high achiever). I’m not sure that little nugget is any comfort to those who have it (it ain’t for me). I only know that I have spent the last four years absolutely convinced that at any moment one of my lecturers would tap me on the shoulder and says “I’m dreadfully sorry, but we’ve made a mistake, you don’t belong here. Please leave.” … I know. They just wouldn’t do that (they’d send a letter, if they had to do this) and it certainly wouldn’t come out of the blue with no indication or warning that something was wrong. And it certainly doesn’t apply to those who have a first class undergraduate degree as I do. Nevertheless, I still worry.

And now I’m at Masters level, the worrying is worse. I hear, in the back of my mind, my father telling that “people get promoted to their level of incompetence”. The worrying was made worse, I think, by the university’s unclear guidance as to the difference between marks at undergraduate level and postgraduate level. Does a 70% mark mean the same thing at both? does a 70% mark at Masters level equal an 80% mark at undergrad level? The first assignments of the year fell either side of Christmas. I was reasonably happy with the assignment I handed in before Christmas, but, due to some stuff that happened over the Christmas break, and the fact that I struggled to conquer a particular software programme that I needed to use meant that I didn’t feel so good about the second assignment. In fact I handed it in with the attitude of ‘well, I have to hand something in. Better than nothing at all.’ When my lecturer came up to me about a week after the hand in date and said, with a huge smile, jokingly, “I just got done reading your assignment. It’s rubbish!”, I think he really did not understand when I just gasped (with relief) and said “yeah, it is, I know, I’m sorry”. He apologised and said “no, its not really rubbish. I wouldn’t have said that if it was… I was just joking”. In the end I got 71% for it – distinction level – and 72% for the assignment from before Christmas. So… shows what I know.

Imposter syndrome isn’t linked to my deafness… but is it made worse by it? In some ways, I think it is. That little voice in my head that tells me I’m a fraud, also tells me that I only get good marks because I’m deaf, or that they give me the good marks, that they invite me to things, because I make up a quota, that I make the university look good. I know, too, that I am almost certainly being incredibly unfair to the university and to my tutors (and quite apart from anything else, assignments are marked anonymously (with student numbers, not names) and each assignment is co-marked by a secondary marker, and a selection of assignments are marked from outside the university at the of the year, so that there is NO way that the system or a tutor can favour any one person … and … breaaaaaathe!) and that, you know, I actually DO deserve to be there, I AM that good, but still… there’s that little voice in the background that just … doesn’t … go away.

I know I’m not the only postgrad student feeling this way. In fact, its incredibly common amongst postgrads, as this article from 2008 reveals. But if we’re not alone in feeling this way, what’s the solution?

To talk about it.

It sounds obvious, but … talk about it, to friends, family. Tell them you struggle with this. Ask them to listen when your little naggy whiny “you are SO a fake!” voice is particularly loud, for whatever reason and TELL them you feel that way – even if you only feel able to do the equivalent of waving a placard going “help”. Have people around you who are willing to kick you up the backside when you do.

Other things that you can do:

  • Accept that you may be contributing to the  problem by having unrealistic ideas of what your classmates are capable of, and what your attainment level should be right now – in other words, stop feeling bad, because you don’t exhibit the knowledge that a senior lecturer with 20 years research behind him can show. Try to address that, to develop a more realistic attainment level by talking to your classmates and understanding what they’re doing – ask to read their papers.
  • Understand what you do when your syndrome is kicking in, what your patterns are. Do you procrastinate? Do you go over papers again and again, striving for perfectionism? do you want to quit because you’re so sure that you’ll never match up to the required standard so you may as well give up now?
  • Understand too the normalisation of where you are now – right now, you’re in a place where taking a postgraduate degree is normal to you. You’re mixing with other people who have Masters degrees themselves, maybe even doctoral degrees, so you’re in a group of higher achievers than would otherwise be normal in a given population. It’s important therefore to remember this, to remember that not everyone in the world has a bachelor’s degree, let alone a Master’s degree, let alone a doctoral degree, and even just studying for one, let alone achieving one, is really not the norm, and is something special. Attempting it and failing does NOT make you a fraud.

I actually have a piece of paper stuck to the wall behind my computer, with all the things I have going for me right now, all the blessings in my life, all the things I have achieved, some of which some very special friends have told me (and I am so blessed to have them). At the bottom are two sentences: “You deserve to be happy” and “You can do this”. I look at it often and feel inspired, and it shoos the voice away for a bit.

If you’re a deaf student, and struggling with imposter syndrome, then know this: I think you’re incredibly brave.  It takes guts to continue, every day, fighting the fear that someone is going to call you a fraud, and yet you’re still there, in the lectures, in the seminars, learning away. I know this cos I have to do the same thing.

But I say to you – keep on fighting it, keep on learning, cos, you know, you deserve to be happy. And you can do it.

Time: how being deaf can affect your study time

Time just gets away...

Time just gets away…

As a student, particularly as a postgraduate, time is something you’re always fighting. This is particularly the case if you’re either a self-funded postgraduate or a part-time one, as there will be other demands on your time, such as paid employment.

Part of being a successful student (any student, not just a postgrad) is in learning how to manage your time successfully, so that you allow time to prepare for assignments and exams properly, do the background reading, do the research, and so on. There are plenty of resources out there on time management for students. Your university library should have a selection, there are online sites, and even “how to” books for students, such as the series of Study Skills books by Palgrave MacMillan will cover the subject within their wider subject title. There’s one on student procrastination – definitely one for me!

This blog post, therefore, isn’t about how to manage your time. I have no interest in re-inventing the wheel! What it is about is how being deaf can impact on your study time in two different ways, and what needs to be done about both.

Removal of potential sources and multitasking

These two are related, and touch on a very specific part of multitasking. I mean, of course, the radio, or any audio source of information. This problem was driven home to me not so long ago when I was catching up with general news one morning online, and I spotted a reference to a new report in a peer-reviewed journal with important implications for my field of study. The details of that aren’t relevant to this, but I excitedly downloaded the article through the university library, emailed my supervisor about it, and drove to uni to get on with my work for the day.

At uni, I ran into my supervisor, and I asked if he’d seen my email. He hadn’t checked his mail that day and asked what it was about, so I filled him in. “oh yes, I heard about that on the radio as I was driving here”. We proceeded to have a discussion about the article and its potential implications, but what was stuck at the back of my mind was that he was able to listen to the radio on his way to uni. He was able to put the time that was otherwise useless (from an academic perspective) to good use by listening to the radio and broadening his world-view.

This is something that most deaf people cannot do. Instead, we have to purposefully make time to read through a newspaper or an online website or watch a news programme with subtitles on the television. Either way, it is a purposeful, deliberate act that probably takes longer than it might take for the average programme to be read through on the radio.

More to the point, deaf people are unable to multitask in this way. Again, this was brought home to me not so long ago when I walked into the bedroom to find my partner changing the sheets as he listened to an audiobook. I cannot change the sheets while I read a book, or go for a run, or do the washing up, or drive to work – any of the million and one things that must be done on a daily grind, and where hearing people can use that time more productively. We cannot. Even more crucial: hearing people can have things like the radio on in the background and listen with half their attention on it, and then focus in when something of importance penetrates their consciousness. We cannot do that either. Instead, we have to purposefully read. We have to deliberately, purposefully, set time aside for reading that book, the newspaper, the online news site, the television programme with subtitles, and that takes time away from something else we might have done. But this is still important: any academic will tell you that keeping on top of developments in your general field is crucial, because you never know how something will impact on your field. To demonstrate, the article above that had potential implications for my field…? Was in a science related field and mine is most certainly a humanities field. Any academic will also tell you that keeping on top of current affairs is also important. Even if you are in a field that has little to do with current affairs, no academic can afford to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the world around them. The days of being able to lock oneself away in the ivory tower of academia are long gone.

So what is to be done? Sadly, there isn’t a great deal that can be done about this. The best thing is to make sure that you use technology sensibly to aid you. How you do that exactly is very much up to you and your own particular situation but, for example, if you take the bus to uni, and you have a smart phone, reading a news app on the journey may be one way of using that time more productively. There is also the ability to set up automatic searches for things of interest to you and your field on the internet, when new articles are published that could be of interest to you, and so on. You can schedule time to go through specific things. I schedule time first thing in the morning, at lunch and in the evening, to scroll through the BBC news website, and read what I want to. I also schedule time on a Saturday or a Sunday morning to read through more intensive sites such as educational blogs, and the Guardian Higher Education Network. Experiment and find what works for you. If you have things that you do to overcome this, please feel free to comment and I will happily add to this blog entry.

Administration

The other thing that takes you away from your studies, and that your hearing compatriots largely do not have to contend with (unless they are disabled in other ways), is administration. I don’t mean here your garden variety admin – everyone has to do that, like it or not. I mean here, dealing with the admin that comes with external funding bodies like SFE for DSA (if you have it) and booking your support team.

I plan to write more in-depth blogs about both support teams and funding support at a later date, but suffice it to say for now that there is always the need to sort out the administration around this. As a case in point: at the moment, I am involved in sorting out not only the administration surrounding payment of my interpreters and note takers from the last academic year’s worth of classes (paid for by DSA), additional support for extra seminars and a postgraduate conference (paid for by the University), and interpreting support for some paid assistant teaching work that I did for the university, teaching undergraduates (paid for by Access to Work). Three very different sets of administration driven by three different sets of bureaucratic regulations. And it all takes time. A lot of it!

What I can suggest is the following:

1) Organisation is absolutely key. Get different files for each set of admin and make sure everything is neatly labelled and that you have copies of everything. Record who does what, when, where and for how long. Print emails if necessary. Assume that can go wrong, will go wrong, and have a fallback plan!

2) Draw up a contact database – on your phone, in your head, in a little black book, whatever works – of people who you know you can work with, and more importantly, who you cannot work with. I’ve only ever found one interpreter I could not work with but you need to keep a note of names of people who you don’t want interpreting for you, for whatever reason. This way, if you need a support person in a hurry, you have a range of people you can contact in the hope that they may be free. Don’t leave it to your local accessability unit at the university because it robs you of the control that you gain through making these contacts [not to mention the potential problems that can result when another layer is introduced for arranging appointments!]

3) Develop those contacts and maintain good working relationships with them. This is crucial, if, for example, there is a problem with the paperwork and you disagree over hours or a timesheet has been lost or something like that.

4) In developing good contacts, don’t forget to develop good contacts with university staff as well. Many universities and colleges will not announce the timetabling for the upcoming term/semester until immediately before the term is about to begin, at least in England. Maintaining good relationships with staff means the chances are higher that you’ll get your mitts on that coveted sheet of paper telling you when you need to be where, and you can get a head start on organising your support requirements. And I don’t just mean lecturers and the like here. Actually, although you need to be nice to lecturers anyway, I think for this, it is far better to develop good relationships with admin staff. They are so often unappreciated – by staff, by students. Don’t add to that, and in the immortal words of Wil Wheaton, don’t be a dick. Finally, remember, the carrot works far far better than the stick!!

If you can think of any other way that your deafness impacts on your time as a student, and the solutions that you’ve come up with to address these issues, please feel free to either drop me a line at deafstudentuk at gmail dot com, or leave a comment here. In addition, if you’re interested in writing for the blog, please let me know!!

‘Invis-abilities: the Elephant in the Room’

The elephant in the room

The elephant in the room

Yesterday I was contacted by Rachel Wayne, a PhD student from Queen’s University, Kingston in Canada. Her studies are in the field of Cognitive Neuroscience and Clinical Psychology and she recently came to some very personal conclusions as a result of some research work she was doing with her supervisor. The result of that one conversation with one person, as she put it, sparked not only a deeply important personal realisation but a whole series of blogs which culminated in a TEDx talk entitled ‘Invis-abilities: the elephant in the room’. The TEDx talk is well worth listening to (and for once, google’s autosubtitles behave themselves) so it is definitely worth a watch. Her talk may not be evocative for every deaf person, particularly those that see their deafness from the Deaf perspective, but it certainly spoke to me. This was particularly so in the part where she talks about feeling that she ‘had to constantly advocate’ for herself and what she needed in the classroom. I know there are times where I get so tired of being the needy one, constantly (or so it feels) asking for support for this event or that seminar. Just once it’d be nice to be asked “say, there’s this conference in August, do you want to? if so, I’ll sort out the support…”. Inspired by Rachel, I plan to write more about this at a later date.

But back to Rachel: her writings, in three parts, are also very much worth a read, where she reflects on how to enable communication with deaf people; gives some insights into deaf students in further and higher education and finally, some strategies that deaf students and their teachers can use and the bigger picture.

More information about Rachel and her work can be found here.

Networking

Networking

Networking

Networking is a key skill if you want to work in academia. It is so important, that The Academic’s Support Kit, an invaluable series of books for anyone wanting to work in the industry, has a whole book devoted to it – Building Networks – and I doubt very much that Boden, Epstein and Kenway are alone in thinking this way. Its a skill that needs to begin early – and as a deaf person, its a skill that I know I am lacking. [at least, in person. Online – I totally rock!]

With this in mind, I recently went to a postgraduate meeting. This, promoted as a series of seminars aimed at postgrads in my field at my university, with cake, tea, and an inevitable trip to the pub after, isn’t unusual in the academic world. It allows students, who often focus intently on their own little sphere, to keep tabs on work that is being done in the wider field; to discuss their work with their peers; to get help and feedback where necessary; and most of all, to make the contacts that in terms of their careers, will be invaluable. These are the people that I may be working with in future. Developing a good relationship with your peers is an absolute must for anyone who is serious about a career in academia.

I had, I will be honest, been avoiding this. I’d gone to the first, set up as part of the induction week and the university paid for an interpreter to come with me. I had a great chat with one chap about the focus of his MRes, and listened to the talks provided by the people who ran the group. So far, so good. Then came the bad news. SFE wouldn’t fund attendance at the seminars as part of my DSA, as its not a compulsory part of my studies. I can’t use any other source of funding for it, like Access to Work, as its not employment. The University can’t fund access to everything, and more to the point, this was strictly a voluntary thing. And there were bigger battles to fight: there was also the risk that DSA would not cover the various field trips that I needed to make throughout the year as part of my studies (in the end, the university agreed to fund those, thank god). So I let it lapse.

Then I got talking to one of my interpreters. She’d been a PhD student herself, in an unrelated field, and knows well the demands of academia, and is a trainee interpreter. When I mentioned this group to her, she offered to volunteer to interpret the sessions, as it would give her greater experience of working in a university setting. I lept at the chance, we agreed the time and date, and off we went.

We walked into the room where the session was being held to find just 5 people in there. We said hello, and then the people returned to their conversation. Fair enough, I thought, they were mid conversation when we walked in, and I talked to my interpreter instead. In sign language, which I think, in retrospect, was a mistake. Other people came in who were greeted and spoke to the group… and they all more or less continued to ignore me. They huddled in a little group at the other end of the room, and the only time anyone spoke to me was to offer me cake, or to respond to a direct question (I asked the speaker where he would be speaking from, and introduced myself and the interpreter – which is only good manners). The talk itself was interesting enough but I left feeling upset and disheartened by the attitude of the other attendees towards me, and wondering if I should persevere with this or just give up on it and find some other way to network.

I discussed it with my other half (who, I should add, isn’t deaf, wasn’t there, and isn’t an academic, but he is ferociously intelligent and occasionally comes out with smart stuff!). He listened sympathetically, let me rant about it for a bit [the words ‘clique’ and ‘bad mannered’ featured a lot, along with ‘disablist’ and ‘gonna write about this for BADD!’] and then simply pointed out: ‘did you say anything to them?’

‘um. well. no. but.. but… hearing! they’re supposed to be welcoming and stuff to new people!!’

Even I saw through the fallacy and stupidity of THAT one as soon as it left my mouth.

Yes, they are supposed to be welcoming but, ahhhh… give them a break. Yes, they made a mistake and they may well be kicking themselves for allowing me to walk out of there without saying anything to me. But seeing it from their perspective, I began to realise. Someone walks in, who they don’t really know, and they don’t know my needs, who I am, anything about me. I could be one of those incredibly touchy people who threatens to sue the entire world if anyone says anything that is even a tiny bit wrong (and yes, we all know they exist) so.. well.. can they really be blamed for taking the safer course? Am I not just as much to blame for continuing that status quo, not introducing myself (I am able to talk for myself, the interpreter is there to help out with communication coming in, not going out), not making my needs clear? Could I have done things better to try to ease their fears and help them to communicate with me?

In a world full of prejudice, regardless of whether you’re the one with an ‘ism’ or not, sometimes its all too easy to take the safe route and not say anything. I do that myself. Sometimes, when I don’t have communication support, its too easy, in group settings with new people, to take the easy route and not introduce myself, or to stand awkwardly and pray that sometime I do know talks to me. Sometimes I’m just tired and I don’t think I can be blamed for that. But if I can’t be blamed … then neither can they.

So. I’m going back to that group in a few weeks, with my interpreter. I’m going to email them ahead of time so they know I’m coming and who I am. Give them enough information so that they’ve got stuff they can ask me about. Bone up on the people who are in the group (the group’s on facebook as well) so that I have stuff I can ask them about. And then [this is one of those times where there’s a fantastic sign for it and the equivalent in English is a bit pathetic in comparison] … I gird my loins and step into the lion’s den.

Blogging Against Disabilism Day

bad01I’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!