‘At school it’s brilliant’

I was born profoundly deaf. When I was five, my mum and I learned
British Sign Language together, and I was the first deaf pupil at
my primary school in Rotherham, my home town in South Yorkshire.

I began to lose my sight at 11. I was always bumping into things
and having little accidents as I played. One care assistant, who
was always telling me to be careful, sent me for a check-up.

To be told I had Usher syndrome was a shock. I was upset to start
with, but I have had so much support from my family, my friends and
my teachers at school. I know what it means to have Usher’s now,
and what it involves; I’m used to it.

At the moment, I go to Derby College, a residential school for the
deaf. I live quite a normal life, in that I have lots of friends
and I’m out every evening doing things – sometimes we go into town,
sometimes I go to the youth club. I can play sports too, but I have
to be careful. At school it’s brilliant, everybody can use sign
language, we’re mates, we talk about everything. Sometimes there
are arguments, it’s the same as any school, but it’s a lot less
hassle because we have more in common with each other.

My mum had to fight hard to get the education for me – the school
in Rotherham is a mainstream school with a deaf unit, with a
mixture of deaf and hearing children, but no deaf children my age.
Now I travel by taxi to Derby every Monday [it takes about 45
minutes] and stay at school until Friday.

The problem at home, though, is that no one can sign. I’ve no
friends in Rotherham, because everybody except my mum speaks – and
I don’t want to be talking to my mum all the time. I get lonely

Occasionally, I’ve had problems where hearing people have been rude
to me because they’re not aware of what deaf people are like,
making fun of me, waving their hands around and so on. It makes me
angry, and I think “It’s not fair, I never said anything to you”,
but they’ll have a go and tease me sometimes. Once, I went to catch
the bus to the town centre and, because my speech isn’t clear, the
driver didn’t understand me. I said “Rotherham town, Rotherham
town” over and over, but he couldn’t tell, so I was thrown off the

I hope in the future sign language will be recognised as an
official language in Britain, because then it could be taught as an
option on the national curriculum, and hearing people could learn
to sign. I would enjoy mixing with hearing kids.

I go for an eye test every year now to monitor my vision. It could
deteriorate in the future, but I don’t know to what level. I want
to go to college; if I get all my certificates and qualifications,
I’d like to go to university too, and then hopefully get a job.

The interview was by Lucy Taylor, 15, and Philip Liu, 14,
members of Children’s Express Sheffield Bureau. Children’s Express
is a programme of learning through journalism for young people aged
eight to 18. Contact:

 For Usher syndrome details, see

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.