By Gigi Rice
Could you repeat that again please?
I was born with hearing loss. Sometime somewhere in the creation off my being, some nerve endings didn’t quite play match up from A to B.
I’m not deaf but suffer from a moderate reduction in my hearing.
Hence my unintended and unwanted catchphrase,
“Could you repeat that again please?”
Occasionally followed by,
“So sorry, once more time?”
My parents first noticed when I was a baby that I didn’t turn my head to certain sounds but I was lucky enough to go on to attend small schools with small classes that I thought I didn’t have a problem hearing in.
At aged 12 I was offered the chance to get hearing aids, not that I’d have to wear them constantly but when I needed.
I would have rather DIED.
The thought of wearing aids was MORTIFYING.
So onwards I trotted through life, often missing vital pieces of information and much late night dorm chatter. As secret plans were whispered under the veil of nightfall I often would send things haywire.
To be fair, I didn’t know what the fuck was going on.
“Ommmgggg are you like DEAF or what?!!!”
(Urmm yes and ouch I hate it when people say that, but I’m going to keep it to myself)
“Sorryyyyyy, was just distracted”
“I like the volume on my headphones on full cause I’m really into just feeling the bass”
Feeling the bass?
Les Miserable and the Original Cast of Sweeney Todd is somewhat lacking in the house and grime vibe.
Finally, a the ripe old age of 21and realising that a lecture hall is a hard of hearings person’s worst nightmare, I gave in to my enemy. The aids.
What the fuck was I even worried about. They’re snazzy as anything. Super small, silver and I could definitely blag that they are a spy ear piece and I work for MI5.
It’s also great reaching this stage in my life where at 23, I just give no flying fucks about being ashamed or embarrassed about my hearing. Because unless I am able to hear you, I can’t hear you.
Revolutionarily simple but I have been in denial about it for SO LONG.
People are also fabulous.
We talk so openly about our fears, mental health, politics, taboos that no one cares that you’re technically disabled.
And people just accept it and don’t give me a weird look when I’ve asked them to repeat something five times because they’re sat behind a computer screen and I can’t see their lips.
The word disabled has still not fully settled with me yet. Because I don’t feel any different to anyone else or look any different, or have different dreams and needs.
Um, HELLO GIGI this is because disability doesn’t make ANYONE below anything else, its merely an added quirk, a dash of flavouring, like a dislike of chocolate or a love of breeding Mongolian ferrets.
And I realise that this is exactly how other people with differing “disabilities” to me feel too. Even more aesthetically obvious ones. It’s hardly a dis-ability. That very nature of the term suggests something lesser when really all it means is a difference.
But since when did difference in your dairy confectionary palette set you below other people?
We are all on one giant circular scale, there is no up or down. I thought about calling my hearing loss a Diff-ability but no one else whom has different skills that are not umbrellas under the term of disability is thinking about this. Legitimately no one.
Just because you can score a goal with your left foot, do you ever wonder about how to class your skill. No, of course you don’t. Even though, in the eyes of the devils advocate, this is an element about you that make you different to others and perhaps societally less or more.
Being deaf-ish has its perks.
I can read so fast that I don’t have to even read a sentence to understand what it says. The words appear more like a general picture that I can recognise. Excellent skills for a literary based career. I’ll have gained that party trick from years of putting subtitles on EVERYTHING. And then having to learn to read them at the speed of light before they disappear and also be able to watch the actors faces and performances for the emotion of such words.
Also, I can lip read accents with no sound.
It’s fascinating, it’s all about the placement of the words and the way they shape their vowels and consonants.
I’m sure at SCA that I’m going to find a wonderful, inclusive environment and can’t wait to meet you all.
Sometimes I’ll have my aids in. Sometimes not. They can be annoying. They often illuminate all noise, therefore the noises that your brain would normally filter out, get elevated.
No X, I don’t wish to hear about your Grandmothers colonoscopy in graphic detail while I’m trying to write a Robinson’s fruit shoot ad.
And finally, my dear readers, my amigos, my merry band of brothers-
I shotgun the front row central seat. Always.
Love, light and good hearing to you all.