Wednesday 4 May 2011

Deaf Awareness starts here

It’s hard to believe it’s Deaf Awareness Week already, isn’t it?

It seems like only yesterday that I was writing about it here…

So it seems fitting that yesterday, I could have done with asking for a little deaf awareness.

You see recently, I have joined a new gym. It’s a lovely, shiny, all-singing, all-dancing gym, with every class imaginable and lots of fancy equipment. One of my favourite classes is spinning because I feel like it more than burns off my daily chocolate intake, so I have recently been trying out all the different instructor-led classes to see what they are like.

Last week I told the spinning instructor that I was deaf and she checked over to me at regular intervals in a nicely unpatronising way to make sure I knew what was going on. I liked her!

Then yesterday, the instructor – a man – arrived late and rushed in, turned the lights off and set the music blaring before I’d had a chance to mention that I needed to lipread the important things.

So there I was, sat in the dark, completely unable to hear anything, and by then it was too late to stick my hand up and bellow, ‘I’m deaf!’ across the class full of people.

So I did this one basically senseless…

I couldn’t see, and I couldn’t hear, and after the hill climb, I couldn’t breathe either.

And to think I do this for fun!

As I’ve said before though, the responsibility to be deaf aware does not begin with hearing people, it begins with us deaf peeps. We have a responsibility to make our needs known, to say what helps and be proactive in letting people know we can’t hear.

If we expect help, then we owe it to people to give them the very best knowledge of how they can help.

At the next spinning class, I may well be more proactive, but if I don’t tell the instructor I’m deaf, then I can’t get upset about not following the class.

Yesterday was actually an incredibly empowering. I was able to successfully get through a class with absolutely no idea what was going on and no guidance, and I took responsibility for that.

And the best part? Well, actually this was the same as the worst part – the class was in the dark, so no one could see me getting it wrong, gasping for breath and slowly expiring in my bike saddle.

Spinning today?

Bring. It. On!

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