A Woman Who Gladly Reveals Her Identity.
Hello, I’m Kanatsu Ote from Japan. I want to share my story here.
When I was in the elementary school, there was something wrong in my results of a hearing test conducted at school. So, I went to the hospital and was diagnosed with sensory-neural deafness and I started using a hearing aid since then. My parents often advised me, “If you can’t hear, tell the others about your hearing loss and ask them to help you understand.” Thanks to their advice and the friendly behavior of my friends, I easily accepted my hearing loss.
I, who grew up without any inconvenience, became a university student later. There was everything new, everyone wore different clothes, attended different departments and took different classes. My courses were also much more difficult and the professors gave lectures at a tremendous speed. At that time, I realized that I hadn’t been able to hear much though there was no change in my hearing ability. I recalled the days until high school where even if I missed to catch what teachers said, I could know what to do by seeing students around me and the important things were more often written on the blackboard and handouts. I noticed that back then I was relying on visual information to ease my hearing loss. Further, I also realized that the teachers and friends took very much care of me by using other ways to deliver messages to me instead of speaking. So, university was a new challenge to me.
As I always had the interest in sign language, I joined the Japanese sign language club immediately after entering university. There, I met deaf, hard of hearing, and (hearing) interpreters. When I couldn’t understand what others were saying, those interpreters would paraphrase it by changing the speed of speaking and would also use other alternative means like sign language and written conversation. After being in such a comfortable and adjustable environment, I realized that I had a lot to learn. This very experience gave me the identity as a hard of hearing person and the sign language, which I started to learn as “the language of the deaf”, also became one of “my important means of communication”.
While thinking about interviews during my job-hunting days, I worried if my hearing-loss would lower my qualification. And it made me quite nervous and unable to reveal my identity in front of others. My disability is not bad enough to receive a disability card. So, I could not use the employment quota for people with disabilities. As a result, I couldn’t reveal I wasn’t really good at phone calls during interview. At that time, I felt awkward hiding my identity against my will. But some companies noticed my hearing aid and said, “It won’t affect hiring at all, so please let us know about your situation.” I felt very happy at that moment because they spoke for me although I wasn’t being able to speak for myself. Since then, I don’t hesitate to reveal my identity anymore.
No wonder, my identity is a hard of hearing person. However, it is also true that, deep inside, I think I should act as a hearing person in public because living in the society including my work place, I have more chances to meet hearing people and I must adjust with them. So, I think it is okay to be okay even if I can’t hear a little because I have accepted the way I am.
Message to the Readers
I would like to tell all the partially hard of hearing people that there are many people in the world who have suffered like me. So, they must not think themselves alone. I think they have very few opportunities to meet people who have similar experiences and share their thoughts and worries. Moreover, they have to continuously live as hearing people in the society and they also can’t or don’t belong to the deaf community as well. However, like me, there are people who can understand. So, please don’t feel isolated. I hope my article will give you strength to make life better and beautiful as much as possible. Thank you.