Deaf Awareness Advocate

Women UK have the pleasure in talking to another amazing woman.

‘I am Louise Goldsmith, I’m a 24 year old Deaf advocate. I have Bilateral Sensorineural hearing loss of a severe to profound nature. I also have both anxiety and depression, which is manageable to date. I won a regional volunteer award for the ‘Action On Hearing Loss ‘charity in 2015. This was awarded to me for my passion and commitment to raising Deaf Awareness through my Twitter page and my blog writings. Since then I have increased my social media presence and created my very own Deaf Awareness website, Instagram and Facebook page, which I use on a regular basis.

In 2016, I graduated from City College Norwich with a 2:1 degree in Childhood Studies, which is one of my greatest achievements to date. I was shocked to learn of the amount of support I was entitled to when I started University. My greatest support at University was my note taker Elisabeth, who went above and beyond to ensure that I received well and understood the lecture content that I missed out on.

I attended mainstream schools for my education, my deafness was picked up and diagnosed at the age of 7. The cause is unknown and still remains a mystery today. My family are all Hearing and this shocked them all to the core. My Mother especially grieved for the hearing that I lost, but fought hard to raise Deaf Awareness to teaching staff, to ensure that I received a good education.

My high school experience was difficult. I kept my deafness hidden and went lengths to ensure that it remained that way (having my hair cut shoulder length so I could get away with having it tied up in PE). After speaking to my form tutor in confidence about my struggles hearing my peers in Drama classes, he suggested I openly tell them all about my hearing loss and the fact that I wear hearing aids. I was dead against this idea, as I knew my peers would not be understanding. To my horror after walking in late to class that afternoon, I discovered that he went against my wishes and told the class! From that day forth, I was verbally bullied for my disability, being the only student with a hearing loss as severe as mine, I was tripped up in the corridor and treated badly. My parents watched my confidence dramatically drop and my anxiety levels rise in my teens. They felt powerless due to me expressing strongly to them to not take action because I knew that the bullying would escalate.

Once I left school having passed all my GCSE’s and A levels, during University, I decided to start a Deaf Awareness blog in March 2015. I searched for Deaf bloggers online and unfortunately could not find anyone to connect with. So I decided, why not be the first? I now blog via my new website: www.louisedeafawareness.com

My close family throughout the years have been my rock. My Mum, my brother Mark, my Dad, Grandad and late Grandmother. My Grandmother in particular was one of my true heroes and an inspiration. She was partially blind and suffered Macular Degeneration. She constantly encouraged me to be open and proud about my deafness. Sadly we lost her in February which hit us all hard. She was my biggest supporter and could relate to me on a personal level because of her sight loss. We both used to say “you do the seeing and I’ll do the hearing!” I miss her terribly.

From this day forth I have decided to carry on raising Deaf Awareness and vowed to make my Grandmother and of course, my Grandad proud. I have already made an audiology appointment to change my boring beige hearing aids to some lovely pink hearing aids!

Despite my struggles throughout the year, this has fuelled my motivation to raise Deaf Awareness and fight for Deaf people’s rights. I deliver presentations to different organisations from Universities, Rotary Clubs, Girl Guides groups etc.

I deliver my presentations to people of all ages and adapt my content to suit the audience. I have already delivered a presentation to support staff at the University that I attended, which was great fun! I know that facts alone about deafness does not truly explain the depth of this disability, which is why it is important to speak openly about my experiences, teach others and raise Deaf Awareness in society. I would like people to be more open minded and demolish the misconceptions of deafness. Since leaving education, I feel that my confidence has grown and I feel a lot more motivated to educate others.

I have met up with local cinema managers in my area to discuss the lack of subtitles in our cinemas, to enhance accessibility for Deaf cinema lovers like myself. The Equality Act highlights that public services need to make reasonable adjustments to promote accessibility. I feel that most public services have forgotten about the Deaf population, which is why we all must never give up and fight for our rights. In the future, I look forward to having my very own Hearing Dog! It is a very long wait but I have a lot of different things to keep me busy during that waiting period!

Feel free to check out my social media platforms:

Website: www.louisedeafawareness.com

Twitter: @LouiseDeafAware

Facebook: Louise Deaf Awareness

Instagram: @Louise_Deaf_Awareness

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