Neither deaf, nor hearing – Liz’s story
I was born with a collapsed eardrum in my left ear. When I was 8, I was provided with my first hearing aid. I was so excited to receive this magical little device that helped me hear things I didn’t even know I had been missing (I was especially excited because I got to pick a purple one!).
When I brought my new toy to school, however, the excitement soon turned to embarrassment. All the other kids kept pointing and telling me I had something stuck in my ear. I no longer felt special, I felt like a freak.
All through primary school and high-school I refused all the services offered to me. I refused to wear my hearing aid. I refused special provisions in tests. I refused to be part of social events for hearing impaired kids. I even refused to sit up the front of classes. I suffered for it. I missed a lot.
Now that I am 21 I have begun to wear two hearing aids out of necessity.
Even with my hearing aids, I miss a lot of things. Going out with a large group of friends to a restaurant or a bar is something any young person would love to do. I hate it. I sit there, surrounded by people I love, and I feel so isolated. I cannot hear them. I cannot be part of their conversation. I cannot communicate.
At work recently, a lady jokingly yelled into my face that I should ‘turn up my hearing aids’ when I couldn’t understand her. I’ve never seen anyone tell a blind person to adjust their guides! She wasnt trying to be malicious. It was an awkward situation….it IS rather awkward when you’re trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t understand you. Her reaction was to lighten the situation by telling a joke…I didn’t find it funny.
There are also jobs that I am too scared to apply for, even though O am perfectly capable of doing them, and doing them well. Who is going to hire a waiter who has trouble hearing the orders? Who is going to hire a receptionist who can’t hear the phones?
I am at a disadvantage compared to a lot of my peers because I was born with an abnormality. I have fears and social anxieties that many of them do not have to deal with. The services available for young hard of hearing people such as myself are scarce. There are some services for the Deaf, and I was provided with hearing aids, but I honestly don’t think this is enough. I feel like I am not deaf enough to be given any additional support. I think people assume because I am ‘just’ hard of hearing, I dont need any extra support. I don’t think that is fair.
I have so much I can contribute to this world. My hearing impairment won’t stop me. But the barrier created by lack of support services and public understanding, is definitely slowing me down.