Beth Hughes’ Story
Were you born deaf?
Yes, my dad knew there was something wrong and my mum was going to the doctor’s with me but she was told I was “slow” and that she was “fussy”. It was when I was 3 or 4 that I can remember going to the doctor and realising something wasn’t right. I was about 5 when I had my first hearing aid and I then realised I was deaf.
What did you think of your hearing aid?
I thought it was wonderful at the time because I could hear some things, like the wind. After the hearing aid my speech was much better.
What do you think of it now?
It was horrible; hard, plastic, big and on a hot day your ear was hot and uncomfortable.
What was it like growing up as a deaf person?
I never thought of myself as deaf. I was treated like everyone else. I never had sign language or anything special except the National Deaf Childrens’ magazine. Sometimes (once a month) a special teacher came to see me. I had no real support and no support in school.
What did you feel about school?
Ok, but it was tough. I was bullied but I would accept it and laugh it off. The teachers were harder and two were nasty to me at secondary school. Because I was different they wanted me to sit at the back of the class but I wouldn’t move.
Why did you have the Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA)?
I knew how good it had been for my son, David. I looked on the internet and had information about it. When I had David I had to accept that I was deaf because he was diagnosed with 18q deletion, which is genetic.
What is BAHA?
A titanium screw is put into the bone under general anaesthetic. The operation takes about 2 hours. It is less invasive than a cochlear implant as it doesn’t go into the brain but into the bone around the ear (behind or above the ear).
4-6 weeks later they fit the hearing aid with something like a press fastener. It has to be cleaned every day to make sure the skin doesn’t grow over the screw.
What do you hear now that you didn’t hear before?
People talking behind me, my footsteps, the movement of my hair or clothes. I can hear my son much clearer when he talks to me. I can hear better in noisy environments.
Why are you learning sign language?
Because I have always wanted to learn. It is a stepping stone into the deaf community. I never had the chance to and I love it. I absolutely love it!