3 (More) Tips for Communicating with Teachers as a Deaf Teen
Being a deaf student in high school can be frustrating.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have teachers who understand your needs. But sometimes, you may encounter teachers who don’t have patience for deaf students, and having to repeat a sentence, enunciate, or give captions may seem cumbersome to them.
I’ve encountered this kind of attitude a lot from my teachers all throughout school, but most often in high school.
An Interesting Day
I walked into class like any normal day and approached my teacher. I had been absent two days due to an ear infection, and I had little to no hearing, even with my hearing aids on. I told her this, asking her if she wouldn’t mind speaking up that day.
After getting the materials I missed, my teacher asked “Did you watch the videos and do the homework?”
(The videos, however, had no captions)
I responded no, that I had almost no hearing and I couldn’t watch any videos because of it.
She looked at me suspiciously and let out a hefty sigh, rolling her eyes. “Well, you should have done it, it was homework,”
I explained again, that I had no hearing, and she responded as if I was wasting her time, audibly sighing and shaking her head.
Later on, when names were called out, she had to call my name several times before I realized it. As I went up to her, she sighed again and rushed the paper into my hands.
I remember leaving class that day upset and embarrassed. Everyone heard her annoyance towards me! I felt like a burden to the teacher. I didn’t understand what I did wrong; I explained my disability, politely asking if she wouldn’t mind speaking up a bit that day.
I don’t like to let myself get too down when these kinds of things happen. I understand that a lot of the time, these things are completely out of my control all I can do (and will do) is stand up for myself. I always make sure I am clear about what I need, and make sure I am able to work in my classes.
What should you do?
What can you do in situations like this? There’s no one thing that will always work, but there are some things you should definitely not do.
Here are three tips for discussing your hearing loss with teachers.
Don’t resort to being sarcastic, name calling, etc. This will get you nowhere, except maybe the principal’s office. Also, you may earn yourself an even worse reputation with the teacher. Be firm about what you need, but if the conversation is going nowhere, stop speaking to the teacher and find a higher-up to speak to.
If you feel you received unfair treatment or were wrongly denied something, don’t worry about if the issue is “little” or “not a big problem.” Talk to someone about it! Even if it comes down to simply ranting to a close friend, it’s good to get those emotions out.
Reach Out for Help
If you’re finding that these incidents keep happening, and it’s never getting better, speak with your parents, and possibly school officials. You don’t deserve to be treated as an annoyance. I know it is a little embarrassing to make “such a big deal” out of it, but you as a deaf student should be able to take part and understand the class.
Do you have similar stories? I’d love to read about them in the comments. Let me know!