I’m deaf. That’s how I prefer to put it. Small ‘d’ deaf, because I am not a full blooded member of the deaf community and its culture, but I feel an alliance to it. I have been in the hearing world by default almost, it’s not something I actively chose. I was born to hearing parents, wear hearing aids that enable me to pass myself off as hearing and with good speech that has very little deaf accent, and went to mainstream school. But I have often been knocking on the door of the Deaf community by learning BSL, volunteering at Donaldsons (deaf school in Edinburgh), now I volunteer to help teach English to Deaf people and combined with my BSL level 3 studies, I feel like I’m standing on the porch now. My deaf identity is getting stronger, the effect of being around deaf people more, learning sign language and my constant frustrations with the audiology department. If there is one place that make you feel almost ashamed to be deaf and not fitting into the hearing world, it’s the audiology dept.
Other people refer to me as ‘hard of hearing’, but I’m not as keen on that for some reason. Perhaps it feels a bit ableist to me, for the hearing world is ‘hard of deaf’. I do sometimes say I’m hearing impaired. It’s more technical I feel, I use it more when I’m on the phone because I find if you say you’re deaf the person on the other side gets really thrown, more than if you say you’re hearing impaired. Weird, but true.
I’ve got a line manager at the moment who says I have a hearing impediment. That’s not quite right. I’m going have to correct her at some point, but she doesn’t mean any harm by it so I’m not angry about it. More deflated.
So that’s my deaf identity. I will always be betwixt and between, not all one, not all the other, but I would like to hope I can be some kind of bridge between worlds. I’m deaf, and I’m proud of that.