I’m turning 20 next month, so with 7 years of experience, here’s the dl on what no one tells you about being a deaf teen:
Unfortunately, I often felt quite isolated when I was at school. I didn’t have many friends and people didn’t want to talk to me because I’m deaf. It was like I was an alien compared to other human beings! School is great, and if you have friends then it’s brilliant. I just wanted to list this because I’m quite surprised at how horribly some teenagers can act, and get away with it. If you can, try to educate others about your hearing loss so they understand. Here are some tips.
As you get older, you have the option of using more advanced hearing technologies that really make your life easier and more fun! I have a Phonak Compilot and Roger Pen, which I use at school and at home. They allow me to listen to music and to watch TV by streaming the audio directly to my hearing aids.
You’re getting to that age where you’re too old for people to do things for you, so take small steps to become independent. You may have tasks such as homework, work, applying for universities or participating in extra activities, but you might also want to become more independent with your hearing. Start booking audiology appointments, remembering to take your hearing aid batteries with you, and telling people how to communicate with you. You’ll feel great about it!
As much as I hate saying it, discrimination still happens to D/deaf people. I even had a teacher tell me once that I couldn’t study Media because I’m deaf! My one piece of advice, don’t let ANYONE stop you from achieving anything, just because you can’t hear! Let them give you a chance to prove them wrong, like I did with my teacher! Remember that nobody knows what it’s really like to be deaf, apart from yourself or if they have a hearing loss too!
When I was younger, I always thought I’d never have a social life as a teenager. I didn’t have many friends because I’d find it hard to communicate. As I’ve grown through my teenage years, I’ve come to realise who my true friends are. These are the ones who go the extra mile to make sure I’m included and can understand what I’m dealing with. Now, I’ve been out for meals, nightclubs, on dates with my boyfriend and done many social things that any teenager could wish for!
There are other deaf teenagers out there, you’re not the only one. Why not see if there’s a local D/deaf club around?
Don’t let your hearing loss stop you from socialising. It’s important to have a work-life balance and to be happy. There’s ways around communication and there are many deaf-friendly activities to do, with awesome hearing technologies available to make your life just that little bit easier.
Depending on where you’re from, some places have discounted travel passes or Disability Living Allowances, which you could be entitled to. These discounts and benefits help make your life easier. Why not research to see if you have anything like that near you?
Quite often, we’re brought up to believe the world is a lovely, easy place to live, work and socialise in. This isn’t the case I’m afraid! As you get older, you have to do more things, like travelling, shopping, contact companies for different reasons, sort out banking etc. Most often for D/deaf people, the most common form of communication is email or text or sign language and its unbelievable how many times a phone number is only available!
D/deaf people often have to go the extra mile to get through to the company, whether it’s emailing, writing, Tweeting or pestering them in any other way! I wrote this blog on Web Accessibility, and I also fought to make my local cinema deaf-friendly. If you find that something isn’t accessible, reach out to the company. It all helps!
When you’re a teenager, you’re most likely to be studying, or moving onto college or university. Communication is a big asset for D/deaf people and it can have negative effects, like concentration fatigue. Long periods of concentrating, lip-reading, and signing can make you tired and can cause headaches. If you feel like you’re always zoning out in class, don’t let people think you’re just bored. It could be concentration fatigue.
My last tip, the most important one in my opinion… D/deaf people CAN achieve anything they dream of, given the right support.
If you have your heart set out on a goal, career or hobby, prove to people that you can achieve it! It’s great to set an example and prove to the hearing society, that D/deaf people are able. Just because we can’t hear, doesn’t mean we can’t achieve!