"I WAS BORN HEARING-IMPAIRED, BUT THE DOCTORS NEVER SAW IT UNTIL I WAS SEVEN.
For 7 years, I didn't know that the silence I was in, and the fear of the world, were actually related to a disability. I learned to speak by lip-reading and was able to interact with other children and my family by studying their facial expressions and lip-reading. Then, at the age of 7, after several criticisms from the teachers about my ignorant attitude towards their questions, a medical check-up and a scanner revealed an anomaly. My parents were in shock and above all sorry they had not seen it earlier.
I WAS EQUIPPED FOR THE FIRST TIME WHEN I WAS 8 YEARS OLD.
I had a period of refusing the device for a few years. Discovering the real world, the real noises, the water, the birds, the notes of music, was incredible but also scary and very unpleasant when it was about the noises of paper, dishes, klaxon ...
Once I was wearing hearing aid, my insertion was much easier with the other children, but there is always this feeling of exclusion that you get from hearing people. I managed to overcome my shyness thanks to the drama that I still practice today and that taught me to let go and express myself.
IT WAS IN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL THAT THINGS GOT COMPLICATED.
I moved house a lot, so I changed schools a lot, with a disability, it's very hard. For me, I had a bad experience at school. I had small hearing aids and I spoke normally, but the disability was there... I never had any help for my schooling in junior high school, no support, nothing.
The teachers refused to see my handicap as if they were afraid of this difference, which is not horrible in itself. My only support was from my parents, they had to fight all my schooling, regardless of the school, to get help because I was mocked by the other students but also by the teachers. One of my teachers at the junior high school held me up against a door in front of a hundred students because I didn't hear that she asked me to hold the door for the students behind me. This kind of humiliation reflects my whole life, the ignorance of this handicap causes violence but above all suffering. I felt like a clown for the teachers and children, as if I was being used to make others laugh because I answered wrong or didn't react.
How can you at 9-15 years old be able to accept your handicap and overcome all this without leaving any marks? How can you ask a little girl with a hearing impairment to get along with her peers and teachers to warn them about her disability?
Over the years I have come across some extraordinary people who will always be part of my life, through their help which has been a great gift to me.
WHEN I GOT TO HIGH SCHOOL, MY WORLD VIEW CHANGED.
I thought, "You're changing schools, you're taking on your disability." Everything I went through, I turned it into a strength, and from there, everything changed. I learned that if you take on a handicap, nothing can happen. I made a lot of friends, I revealed myself in a way. In fact, I understood that when you consider yourself normally, others will also consider you normally and even respect you more because of your disability.
I taught others about my disability, even laughing about it, and nobody could reach me after all that. I still didn't have any help with my classes, no dedicated disability person to talk to, until my senior class when a third time teacher supported me for the first time in my life. The teachers were much more careful, letters were written, etc. Unfortunately at the university, I am no longer being followed and I am once again in difficulty. Fortunately, I never had to repeat a year.
From my senior year on, I was more and more exhausted, I felt that my hearing aids weren't enough for me anymore. After my numerous annual follow-ups, my ENT told me that I had lost almost everything in my right ear and that my left was not far away either. In July 2019 she suggested me to have a cochlear implant surgery in my right ear. I agreed and had my right ear implanted in October 2019, 6 months ago now. I am very happy with my implant today, I will surely do the left ear in a few years. This handicap hasn't prevented me from doing what I like to do: cinema, I've also made some music videos where I do sign language that I've been learning since high school. My dream is to be an actress for TV or cinema.
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to have been in contact with the Fondation Pour l'Audition and I am very happy about it. I hope that my testimony will help some people and make them think. I am still suffering from certain forms of discrimination today. I think that today's generation will make a difference and that if we teach others about our disability and our daily reality, the future will be very promising for the deaf and hard of hearing community."
Thank you to Rose for sharing her story with us! If you too would like to submit a testimonial, please click here!