I thought I would share a little anecdote from last weekend where I was busy volunteering at a National Deaf Children’s Society “Getting Ahead” training weekend in Epping Forest. As always, it was great to meet some deaf youngsters and see them in action learning how to develop their confidence, think about their future and pick up new skills. They all seemed to have a great time, despite the cold turkey some felt from having to go without their mobiles for much of the weekend…
Anyhow, during the weekend, the teenagers were doing some team building activities with the centre staff, who had clearly not met many deaf children before. One instructor went up to one teenager, who communicated orally and was not “obviously” deaf. Here’s how their conversation went:
Instructor: “So this is a group that’s half hearing, half deaf then?”
Teenager: “No, we’re all deaf.”
Instructor: “You’re deaf?”
Teeanger: “Yes, I’m deaf. I talk but I’m still deaf.”
It could have been a very awkward conversation but the teenager defused it brilliantly, whilst also giving some impromptu deaf awareness training to the instructors. But what made it quite a nice moment for me was that when I first met the teenager, I expected him to be like myself when I was his age – very oral and, in a way, denying and “pretending” not be deaf. Give him a few days at a NDCS weekend, he’s proudly claiming an identity as deaf and addressing it openly, honestly and confidently.
A nice little demonstration of what I think are one of the benefits of NDCS events for deaf children and young people.