Deaf Life23rd July 2014

College Trip to a Show in London

Isolating deaf students cab be one of the impacts of a lack of deaf awareness within a college setting

by Robin Watts

Studying musical theatre in college, our tutors gave us the opportunity to see a new production of the West End show Miss Saigon. Everyone in the class was very excited about this and it was a first come first serve offer so I wanted to get my name and money in as soon as possible. Deaf in one ear, my tutors and classmates were aware of my communication needs during the course. Having already block booked the tickets there was no discussion of whether anyone would benefit from seeing a captioned performance.

Being Hard of Hearing, I think I would have benefited a great deal from seeing a captioned showing. When watching films in the comfort of my own home I will always have subtitles on, as I tend to miss some lines. This may have made me more reliant on the subtitles and in which case I would have enjoyed the show much more if it was a captioned showing.

Having, confirmed my place on the trip we had to get into college by 7.30am ready to leave on the mini bus at 8 as we had a four-hour journey ahead of us. I would like to say that consideration was made of my deafness during the 4 hour trip, but it wasn’t. With16 other people on-board, music playing with different conversations going on, it was very hard to be part of any group conversation and follow what everyone is laughing and joking about. This usually means I don’t bother to struggle and just switch off into my own little world, unless I have a very good friend with me and they are kind enough to tell me what I missed and why everyone is laughing.

I find that when I am in situations like this I can truly tell who my real friends are. If someone was to ignore me when I am asking them to let know what was said, I will make sure they are aware of my hearing difficulties and hopefully make then more aware of how to communicate with me. If they were to ignore me again I will not bother to ask this particular person again. But when people take the time to let me know what was said, it allows me to be a part of the group and enjoy myself in the same way as everyone else. Having someone deaf aware like Richard assisting me on the trip, allowed me to be a part of the group.

In London walking from the car park to the theatre, there was a small incident where I turned to look back at where the rest of the group were. When turning back around I had a woman in front of me looking very angry and storming off saying something I couldn’t quite catch. As I had turned leaving my deaf ear to the woman, I am assuming she was saying something to me and because I had not responded she thought I was being rude and ended up storming off rather frustrated with me. It’s strange how people never seem to consider that you might be deaf, they instantly jump to rudeness for an explanation.

We had some time to do our own thing in London, so we decided to go on the tube and get some food before the show. Whilst on the tube there were announcements being made but because of all the background noise I could quite make out what the announcements were saying. My friend told me that it was an announcement to say we weren’t stopping at Covent Garden where we had originally planned to get off. Shortly after the announcement was made it was then shown on a digital display inside the carriage, a simple system that helps people like me.

The show itself is highly visual and a joy for someone like me who just loves musical theatre. With more thought given to the block of tickets reserved by the college, I could have had a seat close to the stage and on the left hand side so that I could enjoy all the sounds without missing and constantly having to struggle to hear some of the on-stage entertainment. The show was good, but I just wonder if it might have been great with full hearing or with captions to support me. The journey back was a repeat performance with the background music making it difficult to take part in conversations. Richard continued to keep me up to date, but it always means I am a few seconds in the conversation so rarely able to input as no-one stops to allow me to catch up and then contribute. It’s like my views or opinions don’t matter.

I don't wear my hearing aids very often, so I have to accept I don't give a visual reminder to tutors and classmates each day about my deafness, but after two years of the course, you would hope that some deaf awareness would have kicked in!

Article by Robin Watts

posted in Community / Deaf Life

23rd July 2014