Before the summer break, as part of our online journal, we featured our amazing volunteer, Vix. Vix was born with hearing loss and, in her brave and brilliant blog, entitled I am Deaf she has been exploring her deafness and its impact upon her life. We loved her latest instalment ‘Learning how to make a Fuss…’ It reminded us all of the importance of raising our voices to change the world, both for ourselves and others.
With Vix’s permission, we have reprinted an extract from her blog post below.
During these interesting times, putting aside my husband’s cancer diagnosis and treatment, home schooling, too many hospital visits to mention, all the mask wearing, temperature taking challenges, zoom call etiquette – I thought – why not add to my stress levels and look for a new job? I currently work part time but needed to increase our income.
For too long I’ve been hiding and not telling people I have a disability and I have actually not been doing myself any favours. I’ve struggled in the past because I’ve not told teachers/lecturers/managers that I need to lipread because it feels like I am drawing attention to myself and I am someone who likes to blend in with the background. I remember one lecturer who faced the whiteboard for almost the whole hour and I hadn’t heard a thing! I’ve sometimes told myself that I don’t need to say anything, but will speak up if I need to further down the line. Then somehow I’ve talked myself out of it as it’s terrifying to speak out in a lecture hall with a hundred other students. It goes against every fibre of my being to stand out and say to everyone, look at me! But I am different from hearing people, I am unique and there’s no one like me.
My deafness is a part of who I am and even when doing something like filling in job application forms, I’ve dithered over whether to put down that I have a disability. Sometimes I’ve ticked the box and sometimes I haven’t. I personally feel it’s almost too extreme to put disability. I’ve wondered about whether it’s possible to change the wording and just put deaf. I don’t see myself as ‘disabled’ but I am deaf. I am perfectly able. In this instance, I ticked the disabled box and explained that I needed to lipread and see people’s faces.
I have to stop worrying about what other people think and I have to get rid of that mindset that I’m making too much fuss. If I’m booked to go on a training course I have to make the trainer aware of my needs and to be honest, it still feels uncomfortable doing it. I always wonder what the other people on the course think and whether they think I’m just making a fuss. I still have to do quite a few zoom calls and will let people know from the beginning but again, I wish I didn’t have to sometimes. I’m used to hiding in the background but, by doing that, I’ve let myself down. I need to tell people so I can make my life easier and it puts me more in control of the situation. I need to stand up for me.
I actually ended up applying for two jobs and had four interviews in total. Two using zoom and two face to face. I ‘made a fuss’ and I explained how to make zoom accessible to me. Both the face to face interviews were outside and, in that environment, we were able to talk without masks. The interviewers were happy to repeat questions and were aware of the impact of background noise on our conversation.
By the way, I got the job and I can’t wait to start!
Thank you so much Vix, for sharing your story with us. Please do follow Vix’s brilliant blog here.
We’d love to hear your stories about empathy both for yourself and others. Please do get in touch!