Deaf Life13th October 2013

Young, Deaf and Undeterred

Robin Watts is 18 years of age and briefly explains some of the issues faced by a deaf girl growing up

by Robin Watts

‚ÄčRobin Watts 2

I wasn’t born deaf. As a child, I had repeated ear infections that resulted in me becoming 90% deaf in my left ear. Consequently, from the age of 12, I had to wear a hearing aid. Because ear infections caused the deafness in one ear, I couldn’t participate in any water sports for fear of further infection in the other ear, and the risk of becoming total deaf.

A major drawback of my deafness is that I have to be facing people when they talk to me, otherwise they think I am being ignorant and just ignoring them. It’s strange how people jump to the conclusion that I might be ignorant, rather than think I might not be able to hear them. This affected my school life. For example, I had sit at the front of lessons so that I could hear what the teacher was saying. Sadly, I also suffered ridicule because I was wearing a hearing aid.

I loved singing when I was younger, so I joined a local drama group. I remember winning the lead role in our production of Footloose, but I struggled with many aspects of the singing due to my deafness. This knocked my confidence, and still affects my decision making, but I have persevered and have gone on to participate in many productions. Because of my deafness, I feel I have to work twice as hard as someone with good hearing.

My hearing aid is not very discrete so I have kept my hair long to hide it. The trouble is, I do a lot of singing and dancing and it is so cumbersome it often falls out, or I need to take it out because of the feedback, and my cover is blown.

I also find that the hearing aid is not always helpful, especially at a large social gathering, as it picks up all the background noise. It is the same outdoors because of the ambient noise. I wantto hear, but sometimes it’s so bad that I can’t concentrate, as there are just too many noises.

I try to keep in good health because if I get a cough or cold I have next to no hearing at all. If I am honest I struggle with my deafness, and I often decide not to wear my hearing aid because I want to avoid being stigmatised. I am studying musical theatre in college, and still doing drama, so I’m trying to be strong, but it’s not always easy!

Article by Robin Watts

posted in Community / Deaf Life

13th October 2013