It’s been so long since I last posted, and I am sooooooooo immensely sorry for that. The truth is that I’ve been so consumed in my health matters that I seem to neglect everything else, especially blogging – with the notable exception being my studies (try as I might, I just cannot neglect my studies, don’t ask me why!). Can someone please tell me how does one strike a balance between one’s academics and other pursuits in life? Let me tell you, managing your health is a job in itself! I seriously need to hone my time management skills…At the end of a tiring day, I just want to curl up in my bed and watch all the American TV series I love back-to-back (I’m a Criminal Minds buff.)!
Instead of babbling on and on about my laxity in blogging and other pursuits, I ought to get to the point of this entry or risk you falling asleep…Just the other day, I was contemplating about what it’s like being Deaf, and more importantly, what it’s like being Deaf amongst your hearing peers in college. It was not easy, let me tell you. I became Deaf in 2009, but the year started out with me being hard-of-hearing (in case anybody is wondering, I have a genetic condition which causes tumors to grow in my nervous system, most commonly on the auditory nerves). You know what, it is actually harder being hard-of-hearing than fully Deaf in a hearing world. Take it from someone who’s gone through this: I think the hardest thing about it is that people think you can hear them, and asking them to repeat themselves over and over again irritates you and the person whom you’re talking to. 2009 is also the year when I first enrolled in college, specifically with UIU through its Malaysian partner, SEGi Subang Jaya.
As I’ve come to learn, Malaysia in general is not well-equipped to deal with the disabled community, much less provide services such as Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) to Deaf students in college. Unlike Malaysia, American colleges are required by virtue of the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide such services as CART to those who need it. CART is a system where a trained transcriber uses a stenography machine and a laptop to transcribe aural conversations into written text in real time. That’s right folks; this technology allows a Deaf individual to follow a conversation as if he or she was hearing it, further allowing that individual to participate in the conversation in real-time.
Returning to the point of my post, if I have to sum it up in one sentence, I would say that I was pretty much isolated at my college campus. It was almost futile for me to go to class as I would sit there and wait for the class to finish, and wait to take down the lecturer’s PowerPoint notes which I already had prior to the start of the term as the lecturers were kind enough to accommodate my Deafness, and they did what they could to help me out. I wouldn’t generally blame the apathy of people in wanting to talk to me, because I understand it is frustrating to talk with someone who can’t hear them. I would also imagine that they do not come across Deaf people often enough and as such, hearing people are without the skills necessary to communicate with those who are deaf. Additionally, I lacked the knowledge and skills at the time to compensate for my inability to hear. I also think that I was ashamed to some extent that I could not hear and as a result, feeling ashamed caused low self-esteem which in turn caused me to withdraw from college life.
Thankfully, all was not lost as I managed to do pretty well academically despite being Deaf. This is because independent study was fostered at an early age, with more focus in my high school days with Alpha Omega Academy. As a teenager, I liked to learn things on my own and practice an autodidactic life. This was in part influenced by my Granddaddy Petrus, who was for the most part, a self-taught man and as such, he taught me some invaluable skills of learning (for example, he’d pick up a number of things from the Reader’s Digest, Times Magazine and National Geographic every month.). In many instances, the transition between high school and college is a difficult one as students find themselves forced to learn things on their own for the first time. They often find that in college they have to take the initiative to keep up with their classes and professors. There is no one to discipline you or force you to keep up. As such, even though I was unable to hear the lecturers or participate in class, the prepared notes on PowerPoint were sufficient for me to not just get by, but make the Dean’s List in 2009. To be honest, I am proud of my achievements despite all the barriers I faced in college that year.
My health has not been consistent since 2009, forcing me to take a sabbatical from SEGi. However, I have not been resting idly as I have enrolled with UIU Online until I am ready to go back to SEGi. The transition was both easy and challenging at the same time. It was easy as I am already familiar with an American-style education, and it was challenging due to the heavy workload. Take it from someone who knows; distance learning classes are a lot tougher than traditional ones, and I think they intentionally make them that way. It is definitely not a walk in the park so don’t get your hopes up thinking it’s an easy road to your degree! For one thing, student participation is mandatory and it is part of your grade, and participation is not giving germane responses to the academic questions you get week in and week out. You have to give responses that are backed with much research and much aforethought. There are also a lot more essays that are due in these courses. Suffice to say though; being Deaf in an online world isn’t such a bad thing as everything, including all communication, occurs in written text. I even acted as the team leader for several group projects; a rather daunting and near impossible feat for a Deaf student studying in a Malaysian college.
At this point in time, I have been able to maintain my desired GPA, and although I did not have the appropriate accommodations in the past, I managed to work it out and do without them. By the way, I forgot to mention that I was somehow able to top my Psychology class at SEGi despite being Deaf in a hearing world, indeed power to the Deafie!
Until next time, the end for now!