Our Interview with a Trainee Teacher of the Deaf
Tell us about yourself
I am 30 years old and severely dyslexic, I have not let this get in my way. In fact I love being that little bit different. I am a from a single parent Deaf family where the primary language is spoken English however there is a great pride for Deaf culture and identity and when I was growing up I was introduced to SSE as a communication method and lapped it up. I was signed to before speech. The visual nature became a much easier way to communicate and learn spelling especially. When I was 18 I decided I wanted to formalise my signing into BSL (as did my mother) we went to level 2 classes together and soon realised we were signing bsl in a matter of weeks. Lots of our signs were 'old fashioned' but my mum was adamant she didn't want to change! Stating that it's up to the deaf person, it's an accent! I loved her for this. She always talked about her childhood and how she had different experiences in mainstream, units or Deaf school and how she was forced not to sign and this had hindered her social life with Deaf people. I feel strongly that the communication method and amplification should be the choice of the Deaf person and if they are signers the teacher and TA should have a much higher academic Level of BSL than the child in order to develop their language and give theM a good model of BSL, So I decided I wanted to work with Deaf chn. I started as Signing TA and went on to become a teacher, I am now training as a Teacher of the Deaf.
I work within the Deaf unit of a secondary school at the moment.
I completed a degree in Theatre Education and Deaf studies at Reading university and NVQ 3 at Citylit.
Is BSL your 1st language and if so, how come?
I was introduced to sign (SSE/BSL) and spoken English simultaneously so would consider myself bilingual. Even though my school did class BSL as my 1st language.
What is it like being brought up by Deaf parents?
It is great, as a child I loved it! I still remember thinking I would become deaf once I became a parent! (4/5years old) I used to make lots of noise, talk to friends, play music and I was not 'told off' I was encouraged to be visual and reassured that just because writing and reading does not come easily to me that does not make me stupid! Deaf people are direct so I was not lost in a world of subtext.
Do you interpret for your parents?
When I was young I would at times interpret but mum would often tell people not to 'use' me. And if they just try and speak a bit clearer and repeat she will follow. I still remember interpreting speech days at school and parents evenings where I would change the info (a tiny bit!) to exclude myself from the telling off! E.g. 'All the children (except Sophie of course) are not completing homework regularly!' Or 'lots of children (but not Sophie, who is the best student ever) are causing problems at the bus stop after school' my mum found this funny and would always make it clear that I should never change important info. Now I use the phone or Interpret for people with strong accents but other than that she is very self reliant. She would rather use someone else if it is really important, however she says that not everyone understands that she does not want full BSL interpretation rather SSE/lip speaking with some BSL.
What do you do now?
Trainee teacher of the deaf.
Have you ever considered becoming an Interpreter?
No. I love the linguistics of BSL and wish to teach children to sign to a high level and unlock their cognitive ability at a young age. With this English vocabulary, understanding and use will be higher also.