ASHTON

35, Wedding Photographer

Profoundly Deaf

I am not at a loss because I am Deaf. I have gained insight into sign languages, cultures and communities which guide me to live in this normalised society. Photographing with film is my way of seeing the beauty in this.

I became Deaf when I was 18 months old after having the side effect from the wrong treatment for pneumonia. My Mother tried to get my attention by calling my name and playing my favourite toy drum before I was first diagnosed. Because I was a baby I never remembered being diagnosed but my Mother said I was extremely quiet and confused. I am still lucky being Deaf, it has given me many many opportunities in my life. I stopped wearing hearing aids when I was 13 years old as both my ears are 120/110db so I couldn’t hear with these hearing aids at ALL.

As I am British born and raised in Bradford, UK, my first language is British Sign Language (BSL) and I am also fluent in Auslan and American Sign Language. I started to use BSL when I was about 2 years old. My Mother and I only communicate in BSL and thankfully when she asked if I wanted to speak when I was 7, I refused. So she decided that BSL should be my primary language and simply that’s how I developed my Deaf identity. Otherwise I could be somebody that I wouldn’t like.

At 11, I moved (along with some other Deaf students) to a mainstream school with a beautiful communication support worker. I will never forget one incident: The supply English teacher ripped up my story in front of the class with 20+ smirking hearing student…Why? Because I didn’t fully know all the English rules. Of course I was very humiliated, but because of this happening, it has made me more determined and motivated.  Experiencing Deaf cultures are the main reasons that I am so grateful for being Deaf. Also I enjoy being a strong Black Deaf role model to Black Deaf young people in the UK. Growing up I had some strong Deaf role models such as a the BBC TV presenter Clive Mason. I always find different ways of communicating in the hearing community without any problems. As a destination wedding photographer, I have shot over 15 hearing weddings since 2011 and communication has been smooth rather than awkward for most of them.