One of my random small jobs that I do from time to time is a volunteer session worker with the NDCS. Until March, my official title was ‘Deaf Role Model for the NDCS’, which sounds great, but then the funding ran out, so now I’m a voluntary session worker. Not to worry, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet and all that, and I think that the stuff we do is really positive, and necessary.
What do we do? Simple. At the end of an NDCS family weekend, I stand up in front of the parents, usually around 30 – 40 people – and give a 10 – 15 min presentation on my life, complete with slides. Brief rundown of family, school life, uni, life experiences, high points, low points, basically my experiences as a deaf individual, crammed into 15 mins or less, focussing on the positives where possible. The object? To subtly tell parents that ok, your child is deaf, it’s not the end of the world. They can still go on and do all the stuff one might expect a hearing child to do. This may be a simple message, dressed up in a personal presentation, but it’s clearly an important one if all the feedback sent to NDCS regarding the Deaf Role Model presentations is anything to go by.
This Sunday just gone, I was acting in this role for NDCS, in a average mid-priced hotel, in a conference room filled with parents. It went really well, there were smiles, there were tears, I could feel the happiness level in the room going up as I went on. And after, the parents were really sweet and even grateful, and some asked questions that I answered to the best of my ability. One parent even hugged me, and as always whenever I do this job, I went away feeling like I’d really achieved something that day.
On the one hand, I’m proud that I can do this kind of work for the NDCS, and I really feel like I’m making a difference.
On the other hand, I sometimes get depressed we’re needed at all. Of course deaf children can do whatever they want with the right support. I do understand that many new parents of deaf children have never met a deaf adult and so don’t know what to expect, I get that, I really do. I just sometimes wish that society’s expectations of deaf people were higher, and that general views of deafness were more positive.
Still. It’s a good job, one that gives me a great deal of satisfaction, and there are worse ways to spend a Sunday.