Saturday 23 September 2017

Sister Spotlight: Deaf Not Stupid

My youngest sister wrote recently about the hearing impairment she has had since birth and the way it has impacted her life.  I loved the article:

I learned from an early age that if you don’t make a fuss about something, neither will other people. Because I didn’t make a big deal about my deafness or draw much attention to it, other people didn’t either, and assumed it wasn’t a big thing, nor did they treat me differently. In hindsight, this had its blessings but also its drawbacks too. It meant that I didn’t feel too much of an outsider or felt too different, but it also meant that I wasn’t always able to talk about my disability with some people when I needed to. In one way, I normalised the issue, but in other ways I blended in a little too much, so people couldn’t see that sometimes I had to try harder, or I would struggle to make up for my deafness.

One of the reasons I wrote this post was because I wanted to articulate how important it is for me – as a woman of colour, as a Muslim woman,  as a deaf woman – that these things do not limit us or stop us from being like everyone else, or doing our best. As a child I was very conscious of my disability because I was surrounded by it – fellow deaf students, support teachers who shadowed me, speech therapists, and even the equipments we had to use to aid our hearings, and it made it harder for me to make friends quickly, nor did I have a lot of confidence. But I will also say that this didn’t stop me in my achievements either – I continuously got the highest grades and awards for my years through most of high school, and left with the highest GCSEs and A Levels in my year because I was determined to not be held back.

The thing is, I have never seen her as disabled in any way.  In fact she made me understand very clearly that having a disability does not mean you have to be dis-abled in your life.  There are those who don’t have an impairment, but disable themselves through their laziness, lack of confidence or procrastination – having avenues to do so much, but never really getting anywhere in life.  Then there are people like my youngest sister who is bright, competent and sociable and has achieved and continues to achieve so much mash'Allah.  This article illustrates just that to me.

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