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Being DEAF at University: What it’s really like

Laughing in lectures at the jokes I definitely did not hear

Imagine going to Sugar and meeting all these new people in a dark, noisy and squashed up place, I definitely can’t imagine that.. most of you can. Now before you say I’m boring or I never involve myself into “uni” life, ask yourself why?

Things 'hearing' people need to know

Being told 'you don't look deaf' , 'but you speak so well, how can you be deaf' , 'so hearing aids make you hear again, so your not really deaf then', all these statements hold the most uneducated, ignorant people.

Firstly, what are deaf people supposed to look like? Aliens? Secondly, why does my speech determine the authenticity of my deafness. Finally, hearing aids DO NOT magically take away my deafness… they just let me hear SOME sound.

So hearing people, take note. Don't tell a deaf student at uni that they don't 'look' deaf, because let's face it, they are. Don't run away like you've seen a ghost when they say 'I'm deaf'. Try to open your mouth a little more, so we can lip read you, but don't open it like a hippo (your doing too much there babe). It's so simple, just ask the deaf student what their communication needs are.

For example, my communication need is that I’m one of those deaf people who lipread, this means that I will 100% stare at your lips to figure out what your saying, it doesn’t mean I’m checking you out but p.s please can you put lip balm on because I don’t have a choice about whether or not I read your lips.

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Why I'm fed up of being excluded

When I'm waiting outside my lecture rooms, everyone talks, its the norm, but do you know how much concentration and focus I have to have, my eyes and head are constantly turning to whoever is talking, it's like watching Wimbledon, left, right, left, right. This is before I even get into the lecture. Like hello? You know I'm deaf right, like I told you… so turn round, face me so I can see what your saying.

During a seminar, we did a 'journey' activity where the tutor speaks with calming music in the background and we all.. close.. our.. eyes, I mean the last time I checked, I definitely am deaf.

I wear bright pink hearing aids and rarely have my hair down, so I am sure the tutor noticed why I had my eyes open the whole time, she even had the nerve to ask me what I saw during the 'journey', I should have just said 'exclusion'. At first, I thought maybe she doesn't know I am deaf, until I found out that she did know and had been repeatedly told about me… what is it that hearing people love about excluding deaf people.

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My bright pink hearing aid

One of the most irritating things for a deaf person, I'm sure all deaf people will agree with me, is when there's NO SUBTITLES on the video clip that is shown in lectures/seminars. Do you know how depressing that is, I am basically watching people speak gibberish, I honestly have no idea what is being said and then I am being made to fill out a sheet of questions about the 'gibberish' I just watched.

People say that University is where you meet your life long friends, hell no…. I find it so difficult to make friends with people, those with Irish, Scottish AND worst of all, Scouse accents, I 100% cannot read those lips. People who barely even move their lips… WHAT ARE YOU SAYING. The most annoying thing is beards, beards right over the lips, to them it looks like I’m lipreading but really I’m just staring at a maze of what they had for lunch.

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But for real though, uni life isn’t easy for us Deaf students. Lancaster students, you need to step up and be deaf aware, honestly please don’t come to me and tell me you know A B and C in Sign Language, I don’t care… have a full conversation with me and then you qualify as a deaf aware person.

You’ve got to do better Lancaster kids.