Different is nothing to be afraid of
I remember a moment, a long time back when I was able to hear out of my own ears without the need for a cochlear implant. A moment when I was hearing. It is quite a significant event that I have cherished and learned from. Remember I said in the last post that perfect is just another word in our vocabulary. I'm about to show you just that.
Back when I was in higher education I perceived my first ever time seeing a person with a cochlear implant. Let's just pause there for a moment, I'm about to share with you the true reflection and reactions of me back then. It was the first day of my studies. I was sat at the desk waiting for the tutor to open her mouth and introduce herself. Out of the corner of my eye I realised a person in front of me with this unusual device on the back of their head. I couldn't quite get my head around what it was until somebody started moving their hands along with the tutors voice. Sign language, it came to me they were Deaf. I didn't know much at all about Deaf people. I'd never seen anyone who was Deaf before. I had know awareness or knowledge about Deafness in general, it was completely new to me.
I walked passed the person in the hallway at break and I wanted to approach them. '' Hello, I'm Ryan I'm in your class. I couldn't help but see the device on the back of your head what is it, if you don't mind me asking? How does it work? '' It never happened, I never said those words, I did the complete opposite... I just avoided them. I questioned myself how do I approach them, what if I offend them. It was different to me, I couldn't understand it, so I backed out into the background. I didn't try to communicate with them. I realised everyone in my class had the same reaction as me... Why?
For some bizarre reason humans are afraid of what they don't understand, what they can't get their head around. It leads our mind overthink with an automatic response to avoidance.
I now realise that lack of awareness and knowledge was the key reason for the above reaction occurring, not just for me but for everyone in that class room who had working ears. Not knowing what Deaf was, apart from a person not being able to hear. Wrong! My lack of awareness again led me to follow up on a stereo type and mislead me. All deaf people know sign language, can't talk. Yes, I thought this way about Deafness back then. I'm not perfect, but I can only learn from events that have happened and more so now than ever, maybe more than anyone could understand.
I've had an opportunity given to me. I've have stood in the shoes of someone with hearing, I've lived through events as a hearing person, I know how hearing people think and react to things. Now I'm profoundly deaf myself. I'm in the shoes of the other party. Something I never really expected. It just shows how much we take for granted. I can't say, if I didn't go deaf I'd be doing this but for once in the time that I have been deaf. I'm glad I contracted Meningitis, I'm glad I lost my hearing. If I hadn't I'd still be that un-thoughtful and judgemental person.
Now it's time for me to stand be honest, to support and improve the lives of anyone on the spectrum of Deafness to spread Deaf Awareness to make sure people don't react in the way I did, when they see a Deaf individual in front of them.
Don't be the person I was, open your minds and encourage differentially.