Thursday, 30 June 2016

Confessions of a Deaf Undergraduate

Hey guys!

I send you my deepest apologies, I haven't blogged for weeks now due to personal circumstances... But here I am once again!

As promised I would write this blog post about my experiences as a deaf student. I have completed my degree with a 2:1!! (65%). I'm so pleased. I set myself a goal and I reached my goal! If I can do it, anyone can! But only with adequate support provision which is what I am here to talk to you about. 

So ... as many of you know I was studying Childhood Studies which was a three year course! I feel immensely proud of myself, considering the fact that I am severely-profoundly deaf. There have been many occasions when I thought I wasnt going to complete the degree and nearly gave up because of my many struggles.

For those of you deafies who are reading this and considering taking the University path and feel a bit anxious and doubtful about the whole idea, fear not! - I will talk about my experiences in this very blog post! Hopefully it may assist you in some way to make a final decision or perhaps just help you gather some more information as part of your decision process?

As many of you know, I begun my 1st year commuting twice a week to the city of Norwich. I didn't fancy staying away from home because the idea scared me! Although, this does not mean that you deafies shouldn't! This was just my own personal worries. University does sound and feel daunting for many of us, but for those who suffer a disability, I can assure you, there are many ways around these barriers if you seek the correct support.
For me, I was surprised at the amount of support I was offered as well as entitled to. This was only because I did not receive any educational support previously. 

I must stress the importance of researching what you are entitled to as a deaf student, otherwise speak to a professional in this area of expertise or your teacher of the deaf (if you have one). I was lucky to have my teacher of the deaf, Sheila, who has fought my corner throughout my higher education life.

I am not able to provide you information regarding the procedures that you have to go through to get the support, although I am aware that one must apply for a Disability Student Allowance. I'm sure this can be found on the Gov website. I must stress that it is important that you read this through carefully. For those of you who want to know, the support I was offered was note taking support, one to one off course support, transcriptions for videos as well as an extra room for exams and 25% extra time for examinations.

It is important that you understand, this depends on what type of hearing loss and severity levels you suffer. The more significant the loss you have, the more support you are entitled to. Some of you may feel embarrassed for applying for this kind of support. I admit I was to begin with and for the people who asked me, I simply explained the severity of my loss to people and cracked a joke saying I'd fail the course if I didn't get my note taking support (that is actually true). Having a sense of humour is important to break the ice with other students and show what a fun person you can be. Deafness does not label you, don't let it! 

My attitude slowly improved towards seeking support. I realised my entitlements and understood that it was my right to be able to study like other students. Speaking up about your struggles and offering suggestions is important to ensure you get the adequate support. For those people who had bad attitudes towards the fact that I had support... screw them! If they even tried to ask me a question about the lesson content, I simply wouldn't assist them if they behaved badly towards me. Those who treated me well, I was more than happy to help them if they dropped me a text message asking a question or two.

I thought this blog post would be particularly helpful and I hope it is, as I learnt along the past 3 years about what kind of support I was entitled to. It wasn't until half way through the second year when I was made aware that I would be entitled to a transcriber. Basically my teachers would have to email this support person the link to the videos and this would be forwarded on to a transcriber who would transcribe the video for me and then simply email this to me and my note taker. I highly recommend that you bring this up to the support staff if you are seeking support for University.

My Uni experience wasn't exactly how I hoped it would be on the social side. After many tears, I got over it. It didn't matter if I had a positive attitude and laughed at myself and had a good sense of humour... People were still (excuse my language) bitches! Nobody said anything to my face, all of their negative attitudes were picked up by myself non verbally. I'm not going to waste my time writing about some stupid girls who wouldn't hang with me because it was 'awkward' and I was very 'deaf' otherwise this post would be boring and a waste of time. 
But now I realise that I wasted my tears over them. I walked away with a massive achievement... A 2:1 in Childhood Studies which will hopefully bring me one step closer to working with deaf children... My dream job! Not only that, but I walked away with a friend for life. My lovely note taker. She wasn't just a note taker but she was more of a friend than anyone else and really if I'm honest, she made my Uni experience bearable! I got through the lessons knowing I had a friend to support me and someone to work in pairs with when everyone turned around and moved away to avoid me. I'm meeting up with her in a week or so for a catch up and a natter which I'm looking forward to! 

It goes to show, some things aren't so bad after all! My graduation is in October, so I'll make sure I post up plenty of pictures for you all! 

Thank you everyone for your kind words and support throughout my Uni journey! I just want you all to know that your words of support have made a huge difference and gave me a push to the finish line and made me believe in myself. Thank you my lovelies!

Here's my Dissertation below... I got 69% for it! 1% off a 1st class grade!

Louise xxxx 

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