Being hearing impaired is part of who I am as a person. I believe I have incorporated it into my life with both hard work and good humor. I do not shy away from opportunities or challenges because I am hearing impaired. I meet them head on and determine the best way for me to “get” all the information I need from a hearing standpoint after evaluating the situation. I am fully involved in school activities and believe that being hearing impaired is a disability only if you make it one.
I Know What It’s Like to Have a Hearing Loss
I’ve always loved the idea of growing up and being somebody who helps people. I always shout to people who don’t have a hearing loss “you don’t understand!” I love the idea of being able to say “Yes I do” and they’ll say “No you don’t, you don’t have hearing loss” and I’ll be able to say “Yes I do.”
I used to go to a deaf and hard of hearing program but now I am going into regular high school. I grew up speaking ASL so English is my second language. Life is pretty great because I am able to speak with my deaf friends and hearing friends! I have deaf friends who live ten minutes away from me so I can talk to them using new technology where you can communicate with your friends called VP, Video Phone. There is a video that you can get that you put on TV and you can dial a phone number if they have it. There is a new one that you can call like a telephone (Video Relay) There is an interpreter. You can sign, talk and it’s like a normal conversation like right now except it’s through technology….
[Later] The cool thing is the technology that they are making for us! There is a sidekick. There is AIM. There is email. These are easier rather than dialing and waiting and all that. There is better communication. It is cool to be able to use my signing to communicate and it’s cool to use my voice to communicate too. Signing is great and it’s cool! The other thing that’s cool is that if I don’t want to hear something that is really bothering me, like if my parents are yelling at me and I don’t want to listen to them, I can just turn off my hearing aids.
I Want to Be an Engineer
I want to be is an engineer because last summer I went to MIT and National Technology Institute for the Deaf and it’s a college for technology. I went there to a Tech Girl’s Camp and it was for girls going into 8th grade. We went there for a week and we built our own computers and we made our own websites and learned science stuff like astronomy, chemicals, C.S.I. The most fun I had was building the computer that I really enjoyed doing and bringing the computer and putting it in my room. I am involved with technology.
I think that overall in my case I hated being treated differently. I never liked having any type of special treatment. Even now I’m a little reluctant to go seek out the resources I may have access to, but it is just so that in my case I feel as though I don’t have that much hearing loss in comparison to others. I’ve done pretty fine without them although my suggestion is not that you should not seek out any help. I think you should just realize what you need and when you need it. I have to admit that I am a little rebellious when it comes to wearing my hearing aids but I make sure that I know what my priorities are and I make sure that I take care of my needs when I should.
Figuring Out Who I Am
When I tell people that I never realized that I was hearing impaired until I went to college, people look at me with surprise. I was born hearing impaired, but when I was growing up I was never was made to feel different and I didn’t even feel a deficit. Then I arrived at college and I was on my own. I didn’t have my old friend network, I didn’t have my parents to stand up for me and I didn’t realize that I needed to ask for help. Over the course of my time at college I was surprised to run up against some professors who were less than accommodating. Learning to deal with ignorance in a bastion of education was an unpleasant surprise. But my most positive take away was: Yes, I am hearing impaired, but I’m not an impaired person. I can do almost everything that anyone else can, just as well and maybe even better!
I Was Really Shy, But Not Anymore
Growing up, I was very shy very self-conscious of myself. I was overweight, I had acne, and as I grew up, I just did not want to stand out any more than I had to. So even in high school I didn’t advocate for myself well. I didn’t like using an FM system, because I had really old technology. Back in the day, I had the type of antennas in the hearing aids that pull out, and nobody wants to wear antennas. So it wasn’t until college, when I met other deaf kids, and they had an identity, because one of the deaf kids went to a school for the Deaf, and had a great Deaf identity and knew other Deaf kids. They all knew other Deaf people, and knew what they needed, and stuff, because they were surrounded by peers just like them, and I never had that. I was the only one in my grade with a significant hearing loss. So it wasn’t until I met them, that I was like, “You know, I can speak up for myself too if they can do it.” As soon as I met other Deaf kids, and fostered a friendship with them, I realized that I wasn’t so different! And it’s okay to stick up for myself and to get what I need, because I am not alone.
Mark, an Audiologist