Student Paul on Deaf Awareness
This week we celebrate deaf awareness in the UK. Paul Ntulia, a student of diplomacy at our campus in London, is a well-known name at our campus and within the deaf community, too. After completing his Master’s degree next year, Paul would like to study for a PhD or work as a diplomat, with the ultimate dream of becoming Prime Minister! He has written this blog today for Deaf Awareness Week 2017 and looks forward to hosting a deaf awareness event on our campus soon.
‘Deaf Awareness Week is a unique campaign in that so many different organisations participate, each able to promote their own work within the broad spectrum of deafness’ UK Council on Deafness
My name is Paul Ntulila and I am 27 years old. I became profoundly deaf when I was eight months old in 1989. I used to wear hearing aids but they weren’t for me! I am the first deaf person to study MSc Diplomacy, Statecraft and Foreign Policy at the Loughborough University London.
Growing up, I did worry that being deaf could prevent me from being successful in work. Being deaf can present a challenge when working within the hearing community, and I have faced challenges at work because some people have little or no deaf awareness. I think deaf awareness is very important so that deaf people can be fully involved in the hearing world as that presents fewer barriers and improves accessibility.
Growing up with deafness
I grew up in Newham, which is based in East London. I went to Lister Community School which is a mainstream school. I was lucky that they had great role models by having deaf instructors and teachers of the deaf. I can remember staff telling me ‘you can achieve anything’, which inspired me to be more determined and focused on achieving a high level of education.
When I was at that school I started getting involved in community projects and I realised that I wanted better services for deaf people. My father encouraged me to get involved in politics, but I decided not to because of my deafness. Then, on 4th November 2008, Barack Obama was elected as America’s first Black president. He inspired me to become a politician and a diplomat.
My early career
I’ve dedicated my career to helping and supporting the deaf community. After I left secondary school, I spent time promoting the inclusion of deaf and disabled people in Devon whilst working with NSPCC, where I was instrumental in helping the charity to understand deaf needs. At the 2009 Annual Council Meeting (ACM), I was made an Honorary Member of the Council in recognition of this important role and was the first young person to receive the award.
I also worked with the Diversity Board and was Co-Chair of the Youth Panel at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. As part of my role with the Diversity Board, I worked to encourage young people to become more involved in the Olympics. For example, I made sure they were volunteering and were excited about the event. I was involved in an Olympic volunteering project, recruiting young children from all schools in UK, interviewing and assessing them to find out how they were suitable for Olympics participation and involving them in the summer Olympic Games.
Newham Council chose to recruit a hearing person to manage the service for 3 years but this was unsuccessful. Using historical data, I proved that the service needed to be managed by a deaf person as the previous 3 years saw the forums failing, with people dropping out and fewer user of the drop-in service. I took over the role of Chair-person and was able to turn the trend around. There was an increase in deaf participation, and the drop-in service became a success. I have worked with Newham Council to set up a new Health Watch in order to improve access to GP surgeries and clinics, in the community. I have also provided deaf awareness training and delivered motivational sessions to professionals in Newham, which has had an impact on the social and economic inclusion and development of East London.
The importance of better access for deaf people
Loughborough University London has been extremely helpful in my decision to further my studies, but I would like to see more deaf students and disabled students at the University. And not just at Loughborough – but at any university! This would help the deaf and disabled students to get better jobs and change their lives through academic experience. However, the organisations, businesses, industries and academic institutions need a clear understanding about how to improve access for deaf and disabled people who are looking for employment.
Several of these learners face challenges and discrimination. Increasing austerity cuts affect essential services, which compounds these challenges. Deaf people need to look up to positive deaf role models because such individuals can provide an inspirational influence and this can have a positive impact on their lives.
Tips/Advice on what to avoid:
- Don’t assume that all deaf people can lip read or exaggerate your lip patterns. This makes lip reading even more difficult.
- Don’t patronise deaf people or think that they are unable to achieve.
- Don’t automatically think that writing things down is the solution to communicating with a deaf person.
- Don’t treat deafness as a handicap. It doesn’t prevent me from achieving success academically or in business, just like you!
Loughborough University London would like to thank Paul Ntulia for his blog.
Stay tuned for updates of Paul’s Deaf Awareness event later in the year.
For more information on Deaf Awareness Week, visit the UK Council on Deafness website.