Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

Bilingual & Bicultural

Bilingual & Bicultural

Brielle Hunt

Year 11, School of Isolated and Distance Education

What matters to me?                                                                            

What I feel passionate about is that people understand Deaf culture: what it's like to be Deaf and why it's not a bad thing.

So instead of complaining about how people don't understand me, I want to try to let others understand the challenges Deaf people, like me, face.

I became deaf because an underlying disease started attacking my brain and started affecting my temporal and occipital lobes. So, as they started 'dying', my hearing, along with many other things, slowly went away.

As I wake up in the morning, the birds are chirping, trees are swaying, kids are talking, mums are yelling, but I don't hear any of it.

I get into the shower and feel the water splash on me in an instant. Not locking the door, not playing music but being peaceful in my own tranquility.

I go for a run around the neighbourhood with the cars honking, the music blaring, the cyclists dinging, but I don't hear any of it.

I go out with friends, following one person's lips to the next. I sit quietly as I try to keep up. The waiter comes over and my friends see me in distress and repeat what the waiter has just said. The waiter might have an accent, a beard or mumble which makes it near impossible for me to lip-read.

I get dinner and the microwave beeps, the kettle hisses, the smoke alarm blares and the children scream, but I don't hear any of it.

I actually don't sound deaf, look deaf, or wear any hearing devices at all because I only became fully deaf over the last year. In 2016 I was perfectly fine.

Happily, I am learning how to adapt and cope. Surprisingly enough, I have actually held down a job for six months now and my employers still have no idea I can't hear!

Because I have an auto-immune disease, I'm in hospital a lot which means I used to miss a lot of school. But now that I am doing online learning with the School of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE), I don't miss anything. I can even log in to lessons from my hospital bed and access my courses 24/7 when I can't sleep.

I now use AUSLAN (Australian Sign Language) to make my way around. Some people will say “Oh, she's from WA!” as certain sign language is different interstate. But you can still find your way around it.

There are many devices that make my life easier as a 'Deafie.'

Like my pager: to see who's at the door; when the smoke alarm is going off; and when my wake-up alarm goes off.

Like my car: getting alterations so I can 'hear' Emergency Services vehicles.

Like my language: now that I know how to 'sign', I am an integral part of the Deaf Community.

Going from hearing everything to not hearing anything at all in a matter of months turned my life upside down, but for the better.

The Deaf community and culture is inclusive, welcoming, caring and humble.

And so can you be!

How?

Learn AUSLAN, Australian Sign Language. Offer to help Deaf people in your community. Get involved in Deaf culture.

You don't have to be Deaf to be a part of the Deaf community.

At the end of the day, a Deaf person is a normal human being but with a few little special twerks.

Make the Deaf feel included into the community! Make them feel a little bit “normal” in your world, not just in their own.