Who Am I?
Hello and welcome!
Thank you so much for joining me for a few minutes.
Apparently, one’s ‘First Blog’ should be an introduction, a post which answers the question ‘Who Am I?’. It should cover my reasons for why I’ve decided to write a blog, and why you, Dear Reader, should continue to read what I have to say!
This is a tricky one, primarily because I don’t really know ‘Who I Am’ myself, and because there are so many angles, aspects and divisions of ‘Me’, that I don’t really know the best place to start!
First and foremost, and I suppose this is the important bit, I am a deaf musician. I was born hearing into a family of musicians and entertainers, with a few Deaf family members dotted about. I didn’t start to lose my hearing until I was a teenager, by which point I’d already started working professionally as a musician and entertainer. The transition from a hearing musician to one who struggled on stage and in rehearsals was a journey in itself and one which deserves an entire blog post of its own!
I was lucky in a way because both the primary and secondary schools I went to (before I was Home Educated! Again, whole other blog post!) had a Resource Base, which were units within the (mainstream) school for Deaf and Hearing Impaired pupils. Therefore all assemblies, concerts and lessons were interpreted by a Communication Support Worker. From my very first day of school I gravitated towards the HI kids, feeling like I fitted in with them more than I did the hearing kids. This was partly due to me having Deaf family members and my Mum’s insistence that we sign from the beginning! My Mum worked for the Portage scheme in Calderdale so the ability to use sign language was just the norm for us.
So when I say I was lucky, I really do believe that in some respects my transition from a ‘hearing person’ to a ‘deaf person’ was much easier for me than it can be for those who lose their hearing with no prior knowledge of the Deaf community and Deaf culture.
It was my goal to become an Interpreter for the Deaf, a journey which I started aged 13 when I took my Level 1 BSL, I then progressed through to Level 3 and worked as a CSW
until I decided to go to university as a mature student (mature at age 23 can you believe it!) to study Drama…. (whole, other, blog post). In my early twenties I worked in Leeds as a CSW across the colleges and universities, but I was starting to struggle with missing bits of information and being too proud to ask for help. The last ‘interpreting’ job I did was the Hull City Of Culture Launch event in 2017 with my beautiful Interpreter friend Louise. I really did struggle to hear and I felt this hindered the service I was providing; my confidence took a knock and I decided that becoming a fully qualified Interpreter wasn’t for me.
After graduating from university, I set up Access The Arts and embraced my deafness. I realised that my own experience wasn’t the norm for most people with a disability and this shocked and disgusted me to be perfectly honest. At no point had I ever had avenues to creativity cut off for me because of my hearing loss, and maybe that was because people didn’t see me as someone who was hearing impaired. For someone to access Music, Dance or Drama, in any form it takes, should they first be defined by their ability or disability? I strongly believe they should not. Music can be accessed and enjoyed by ANYONE. I’ve had this discussion with older Deaf members of the community, who feel they don’t need to be interested in music; they’ve never had access to it so why start now? The idea that Deaf people don’t ‘do music’ is outdated and limiting – music should be accessible for anyone who wants to try it, whether you’re Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Hearing or somewhere, anywhere in between. This does lead us on to the topic of Deaf, DeaF, HoH, HI, and identity. There are lots of fab websites which go into these terms more deeply (links below) so I won’t go into that here, but I can comment on my own identity in this haze of terms and labels.
There are still people, friends and family members even, who see me as a hearing person, despite my severe hearing loss, but because I can lip-read, they just assume I’m not deaf! I still don’t have the confidence to say, “I’m deaf, I need to see your mouth so I can lip-read please”, or “I’m deaf, I prefer to use BSL”. Labels are tricky, especially because there are so many connotations with the term d/Deaf. Should I really feel like I need to define myself within the d/Deaf camp?
I can feel something bubbling inside, especially during the pandemic and the use of face masks (whole other blog post!), it’s a sort of rage, a “how long do I have to struggle being deaf before I’m accepted as being deaf?!” rant that is slowly but surely taking shape in my diaphragm ready to be hurled from my mouth.
So then Dear Reader, I’m not sure if I can answer the question ‘Who Am I?’ definitively in my very first blog post. I can though, touch the surface of the tricky subject of labels, identity and disability, and simply say, Hello! I’m Amy-Rose, I’m deaf, my preferred language is BSL, I’m a musician, and I am passionate about accessibility.
Other useful information; I love drinking tea, being outdoors, singing loudly but not necessarily in tune, eating marmalade sangwidges, yes, sangwidges, photography and getting seriously annoyed that my jigsaw isn’t finished yet.
Any questions, comments or recitations gratefully received,
that’s all for now,