TEDx talk: Navigating deafness in a hearing world by Rachel Kolb

Rachel Kolb is an English graduate from Stanford university. First ever deaf person to receive a Rhodes scholarship from Oxford university. In a TEDx talk she talks about the challenges of being deaf in a hearing world.

A lot of things from this talk resonated with me especially the belief that deaf people cannot write. I remember a teacher telling me this and as 13 years old at the time I believed it. As Kolb put it when we do this we put ourselves in a box and we are limiting ourselves in the process. But really with a growth mindset, practice and persistence anyone can develop a skill.

Her description of what it is like to follow a group conversation is amusingly accurate:

I communicate fine face-to-face. But walking into those kinds of group conversations is like watching a world championship ping-pong match with ten different people and half a dozen balls. There’s too much going to get much of it.

Kolb finished off with an important point how we always have a choice in what we opts to do:

And when I came to Standford, I was shell-shocked by this college social environment. You know, the keg parties, music blaring over there, people talking, all this stuff going on. And during those moments, it was very easy to think, “I can’t”. I can’t have a normal social life like another young person. But over time I’ve learned one very important thing: I have a choice. I might not be able to choose what is easy for me or what is difficult. But I can choose how to use the abilities that I do have. This might mean meeting with friends who do know sign language, It might mean meeting with friends one -on-one, two-on-one, maybe three-on-one if they promise to behave. And by embracing the choices that work for me, I have experienced many richly rewarding things as a result

Remember disability is not inability nor is being hard of hearing or deaf a reason to feel self conscious, best to try and embrace it and use it to your advantage.

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