JESSICA

20, Studying rehabilitation councelLing

Hard of Hearing

"Discovering my hearing loss was a chance for me to connect with another community. Learning Auslan has been a great way to meet like minded people."

 

My current diagnosis was confirmed 4 years ago after a visit to the audiologist confirmed my levels of hearing had significantly decreased. Although I was diagnosed earlier, I didn’t really notice the impact of my hearing loss until my second year of university, when it started getting worse. It was, and to some extent still is, difficult to accept, mostly because of assumptions many hearing people have about those who are not hearing.

I became very embarrassed when I realised that people believed I was unintelligent because I could not understand them, which led to me internalising a lot of shame, and originally developing a desire to hide my hearing loss whenever possible. Adding to the shame was the general attitude of many hearing people in my life, that my hearing loss was something that I should go to great lengths to ‘fix’.

Learning about the social model of disability (the idea that there’s nothing inherently wrong with any body, person, or level of hearing, but disability arises because of the environment that does not cater to the needs of people with non-normative traits) had a very positive impact on me.  As did learning Auslan and becoming involved in the Deaf community. Accepting the idea that there was nothing “wrong” with me was so liberating for me and has helped me unlearn my shame.

If I did not have hearing loss I would be a completely different person: the challenges faced as a result of it have shaped me. In addition, I would likely not have sought out the Deaf Community, or Auslan (I started studying this in 2015), if I was Hearing, and so I’m grateful for who I am and the community I’m involved in.

I face people academically and socially who deem me “not deaf enough” to require accommodations, and I find myself having to justify my needs for such things. I became aware of my legal rights in the workplace and in education, and have made use of advocates and student union services to make sure my needs are met. I’ve learnt how to firmly, but respectfully, demand the access I’m entitled to.

I’m still learning and growing, and so my answers to these questions may change as I experience more, and become more aware. In addition, I can only answer these questions for myself and don’t presume to have the same opinions as everyone in the community.