I think I’ve just found the least deaf aware teacher in the world. I mean, if there was a competition I’d vote for her hands down.
Every two weeks on a Tuesday morning our form teacher takes some time off to do fun things with her kids and we get a sparkly new form teacher (whose name after 5 months I’m still not sure of). Every Tuesday morning without fail she comes in and sits at the desk and takes the register; and every Tuesday morning without fail I’ve missed my name and been marked absent until she finally notices I’m present and gets a little annoyed. Then I patiently and slowly explain (in one syllable words) that I’m deaf and can’t hear her from all the way on the other side of a science lab, especially not when 20 teenagers are all trying to have their own conversations. In fact, I can barely understand her when she’s 3 feet away – but that’s not her fault.
This Tuesday was a little different. As sixth formers were not required to wear a blazer and so instead most of us wear a jacket over our uniform, we’re not really meant to wear them in class but nobody counts form. What happened next I only know because I’ve been told by my friends. Standing on the other side of the (very large) science lab she told us to take our jackets off. Some people complied, I was doing homework and didn’t even realised she’d spoken. Apparently she then repeated her request calling my name – no response. She walked closer and repeated again – no response. The first I knew was when she’d jabbed me in the arm and was right up in my face “DON’T YOU IGNORE ME, TAKE YOUR JACKET OFF.”
So I did. And then tried to explain that I couldn’t hear her and I hadn’t meant to ignore her, I was concentrating on other things. “I’m deaf, I couldn’t hear you…” the answer I got? “SO WHAT?” Well I guess this is only the 20th time I’ve explained all this, maybe a few more weeks are needed for the message to sink in.
And yes, so what if I’m deaf? I’m not asking for special treatment… Just a little awareness! But apparently our supply form teacher believes it too much to make sure everyone in the form can hear and understand her. Well sorry if that’s inconvenient to you Mrs Teacher Lady.
There is however a little more purpose to this rant than my frustration at undeaf aware teachers.
I remember back through the mists of time (jokes) to Lower School, that’s Years 9 to 11, and what I remember most is the dread and frustration I would feel every time I realised we had a… supply teacher.
Surely every teacher going through teacher training must at some point be told about “the deaf kids”, I mean wouldn’t it make sense to explain a little deaf awareness to them? Maybe teach them a little about Radio Aids? Most teachers will at some point come across and have to teach a deaf child. A lot of time and energy (and tears of frustration) could be saved if all teachers just understood a little bit about deafness before entering the classroom.
My experience of supply teachers is this. When you tell them you’re deaf they look at you like an alien from Mars. When you hand them a Radio Aid they treat it like a bomb. They write on the board with their back to the class. They don’t tell everyone to shut up. Basically, they make life a living Hell.
Oh how happy I am that in 6th form supply teachers don’t exist and when a teacher is ill you are given a “magic free”.
And if you're still with me! On a slightly lighter note...
I went to Wales this weekend with a friend and his mum and sister; I was absolutely amazed at how deaf friendly everything was! Everything from buses, to shops, to train stations and well just everything really had T switch signs; and after careful and critical inspection I haven't found a single one that doesn't work! I mean hallelujia! This England is the way forward!
Not just that but it gets better - on Saturday we went to Cardiff Castle. Normally I find these trips frustrating because I can't use the audio guides... But the lady in the office heard me muttering complaints and brought out a BSL interpreted guide! I was impressed. In fact, I may move to Wales!!!