Last night, I was watching a short film called The Silent Child. The film is about Shenton’s own experiences as the child of a parent who became deaf. The film features profoundly deaf six-year-old first-time actor Maisie Sly as the titular child. British Sign Language (BSL) is used in the film and her parent believe speech-language would help a “deaf” child with a better life and future without sign language. At the end of the film, I cried and my body tingles because I have been through a similar experience as six-year-old Maisie when I was a child. My time in Montserrat when I was a kid wasn’t great. It was horrible, people would look down on me and treat me like an outsider, for instance, my pre-school teacher slapped me because she thought I was being rude and wasn’t listening. I do not want to go on talking about it because it hurts me because being deaf, I did not really have anybody to talk to at school and my parents didn’t know what to do with me but “find help” by moving to England in 2000.
When I first came to England, you probably think my life was perfect after having my first hearing aids and I would get my speech back. It wasn’t perfect. I’m grateful for my mom who took so much effort and time to learn sign language to be able to teach and communicate with me. On the other hand, my dad would teach me how to talk properly and I didn’t learn how to speak properly until I was about between 8-10 years old. Yes, I was bullied at primary school because the kids didn’t want to talk to me because I can’t talk or hear. But, I still go up to hearing children and play sport because I didn’t want to see myself differently. I want to be normal, I want to be treated as normal, not an “alien”. I’ve been through the dark time when I struggle to speak to people whereas sign language with extra support has made me who I am today. Honestly, I am grateful for those kids who bullied me because they have made me stronger, better and realised that I am capable to do anything. It is because it’s not about how you can’t hear things that makes you can’t do something. It’s about how you run your life as a deaf person to fulfil your dreams and you have to believe in yourself. Have Faith.
I went to mainstream primary school with a deaf unit. I never really hang out with my deaf friends at school because I didn’t want to be different but I went through the dark moment when I couldn’t get back up but my parents who did for me. I started my love for sport there because it takes me to a different world where I can be happy and not think about what people think of me. I went to boarding school for the deaf because I couldn’t cope being bullied with hearing kids. I’ve had best 7 years of my life going to boarding school for the deaf because they taught me how to be independent and gave me a purpose life where I told myself I have a future and dream I can achieve. Then I went to university and to be honest with you when I was an undergraduate student, it wasn’t that great. I didn’t get I wanted but you know what? I published my first ever paper about my personal experience in sport as a deaf person. Do you know why? because I have people who believed in me, my supervisors, my parents, my brothers, my sisters and friends. I struggled to hear the people in a group task, lectures and every place I go at uni but I am grateful to have those people who supported me.
Here are the things you need to know:
- 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents with little or no experience of deafness or knowledge of how to communicate with a deaf person
- Over 78% of deaf children attend mainstream school with no specialist support in place.
- Deafness is not a learning disability. There is no reason why the majority of deaf children should achieve any less than hearing children.
- Deaf children need to be able to communicate effectively, access information and influence the world around them by any appropriate method whether through sign language, oral communication or a combination of approaches.
- Without the right support, deaf children and young people are vulnerable to isolation, abuse, bullying, poor self-esteem and low levels of achievement.
In the world we live in, people still think us deaf people are different to hearing people. Well, my friend, did you read the key information above? We are not different, we are normal human beings. Why not bring in sign language to schools to make the world a better place to live in. Every deaf child have different dream and goals that they want to achieve. I am doing masters and never in million years I thought I would reach this far and I am going to Canada for Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise. Unbelievable opportunity! It is all because of sign language is what got me being able to communicate with my parents and friends then I learned how to speak afterwards.
My advice to hearing people: Just go and learn sign language, even the alphabets or something like food. If you do that and be the reason someone smile and you might change a life.
My advice to deaf people: Don’t just sit down playing games or watch tv because you feel that you can’t do something. Just go to school, travel or whatever to get whatever you want to be and work hard because you will get there. It takes time, just have a little faith.
Take care y’all.