As a young deaf teenage girl I often wonder to myself, “Why am I deaf? Why am I different? Why can’t I hear?” There’s people who often ask if the volume’s high enough or if I can read their lips without accepting that I have hearing loss but they see me living a life with a disability. There’s times when I tell people that I’m deaf, people look at me like I’m an alien or even look at me like I don't belong here. There are times when I hate telling people I'm deaf because they start feeling bad for me and act like I need to be fixed.There are times when I enjoy telling people I’m deaf because there’s some people who are interested in the deaf culture. Being deaf is not a disability in my eyes because we can do anything except hear. We are still human beings with dreams,desires and needs as well.
The doctors diagnosed my profound hearing loss when I was only 18 months old.My parents were shocked and did not want to believe it. As time goes by, they did everything they could to provide me with a good school with good speech therapy.From going to one school and another, I finally ended up in Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, which provided me with good speech therapy and a good part time mainstream program for higher education. As my parents raised me, they went through their struggles and overcame their obstacles. They accepted me with my hearing loss and tired to make me not feel left out in family events. I often want to thank them for making me who I am today.
What is being deaf like? Of course, I can’t hear but it’s like living the life of a goldfish in a glass bowl, always observing things, trying to figure out whats going on and seeing people talking but not really understanding whats going on. I might get a hi and bye from friends and family but I can sit at the dinner table for a minute or hours and be distracted by babies or by watching TV. Once I ask questions, the answers comes with “Nevermind” or “Oh,its not that important”. So that's what the life of being deaf is like.
There was one time when I went to the corner store with mom, my mom had told the store owner that I was deaf and that I can’t hear. Everyday since, he’s always trying to get my attention just to wave hello or to say “How are you doing?”with an exaggerated mouth movement. I find it a pain in the neck but always try to find my way to not get his attention. He manages to see me every time I go there. do admire him for trying to communicate with me but I find it embarrassing because theres other people in the store that don't know that I’m deaf and I like to keep being deaf a secret so I don't attract any attention.
Often at times, there are hearing people who come and visit Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, to see if they want to give donations. But often my peers and I feel like what’s the point in visiting? We are deaf and what’s so fascinating that makes you come here and visit. There are also times when there’s a whole group of hearing people who come in and stare at my peers. We all feel like animals at a zoo, instead having visitors staring at how fascinating we are and we believe that everyone should be treated the same even if we are just missing our hearing.
Therefore, being mainstreamed at Greene Street Friends School up to 8th grade and mainstreamed for the first year at Germantown Friends School has taught me to take the best of both worlds between the hearing world and the deaf world. As a deaf student at Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, I had so much communication with peers who are going through the same difficulties of communication as me. It’s the communication we cherish, the beauty of sign language with hand motions, and facial expressions that go along with it. I value the communication we have through signing. Meanwhile, being mainstreamed in a class with hearing peers can be difficult, because I'm always observing and always have fear of being judged because I’m different and I’m deaf. I’m always laid back and quiet when it comes to socializing with hearing peers because I always feel like I’m an outcast and feel like I don't belong but I’m the one who wanted an higher education and I’m the one who wanted to face the challenges of both worlds, to make me a better person than I am now.
Being deaf is challenging in some ways but it’s also part of who I am. Sometimes I wonder who I would be if I hadn’t had my hearing loss, but in the long run, I don’t regret any bit of it. It has helped me become a better and stronger person. I’m also proud of my accomplishments and achievements I have done. Like Helen Keller said, “ All the world is full of suffering. Its is also full of overcoming.”