Donna, 50, from London, is studying for her Master’s in Public Health. She’s also profoundly Deaf. Donna says that with the right support, anything is possible – and she’s proof of that.
“For almost 30 years I worked as an administrative officer in local government, constantly bypassed for promotion. I thought: 'I can do more than this, I WILL do more than this. So finally, at the ripe old age of 46, I decided to go back into full-time education, studying for a degree in health promotion and public health.
I remember my first day – I was terrified! But my husband Carl and our two children encouraged me all the way and the university was so supportive – providing me with a notetaker and an interpreter – which was amazing! For years I’d worked in jobs with little or no support, no training and no personal development, often having to communicate with pen and paper, believing that’s all I could do. But here was I, partaking in lectures, and learning again – it felt great. A whole new world had suddenly opened up that hadn’t been there before. I enjoyed my Bsc so much that, currently, I’m studying for a Master’s and I'm considering a PhD when I'm finished.
“I thought: I can do more than this, I WILL do more than this.”
Having sensorineural hearing loss since birth, I’ve had to face challenges on a daily basis because of lack of deaf awareness and societal attitudes. It definitely affected my wellbeing and I was apprehensive to do anything that would take me out of my comfort zone. When I look at myself now, I’m like a changed person. I have so much more confidence and I’m just, well, happy! I should have realised what I was worth years ago and made the change before now.
There's a misconception, especially in the workplace, that deaf people can't do what hearing people can. But it’s exactly the same as with the hearing world – deaf people have a whole host of different abilities. With the right support, anything is possible, and I'm proof of that.”