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D19 was born deaf, along with two of her five siblings. Now married to a deaf man, D19 has daughters of her own. Below, she describes her family life and living with deafness.

“Though my parents seemed to love all of us, they paid more attention to our hearing siblings than us. Because we are deaf they think we are not useful[…]. When I was young I wasn’t that happy, but when I got married I became very happy.”

“I went to deaf school but I couldn’t complete [it…]. I was struggling with the school’s activities, so I decided to stop. So my family put me into hair dressing. I learnt it for two years and opened my own salon.”

“[My family] used to support me when we were kids, but now I don’t get support from them[…]. The hairdryer I use to work got spoilt and I contacted people for help but they refused to help me. And my daughters are in school and I am paying much. So I am struggling to get money to buy one. [But i]f I have a problem I have to solve it myself.”

“I like being a deaf person because I have peace. I don’t hear what people say about me, and when you try to fight me I will not mind you.”

“People don’t isolate themselves from me; I am able to mingle with people, even the hearing people in programs, without discrimination of any form. Maybe the only problem I face is communication since most people don’t know sign language.”

“[M]ore deaf people are able to go to school now than previously. Previously, many parents used to hide their deaf children, but now you see more people taking their deaf children to school.”

“When I go to the hospital, I don’t like writing back and forth because I can’t write good English, and they also don’t have interpreters, so I take one of my children along to solve the problem. Because you need to explain everything to the doctor without hesitation.”

“Deaf people suffer too much. Even for deaf graduates the only work they allow them to do is to teach. Deaf people can also become police, nurses, doctors, but they don’t allow them to do it. They must allow deaf people to also do some of these jobs, because they can do [them].”

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D15 was born able to hear, but an illness at a young age caused her deafness. She is currently in junior high school, enrolled at a school for the deaf in Koforidua. Below, she explains how she and her family have navigated the impact of her hearing loss.

“I am supported by my family. My parents have been supportive throughout my education. My uncles and aunties have also helped me a lot. I have not been very much involved in my family; because I am young and also because of my inability to hear, my parents did not think about getting me involved. I personally feel that because my parents and family do not know sign language, I do not need to involve myself. Everyone in the family have made me feel accepted. They understand my condition and they love me. Just that they all wish that I can hear again. I feel very much satisfied with family life.”

“I am happy as a deaf person but I want to hear again. I wish that I can speak. Hearing people are more successful and most of the jobs require communication by voice which is impossible for a deaf person to do. I will like to hear again so that I can get a good job to make my parents happy. I am proudly deaf but would like to hear.”

“[S]ometimes I feel isolated because of my deafness. I cannot hear about many things happening around me. And because society does not know and use sign language I cannot always mingle. Besides, some people used to call me with derogatory words such as ‘mumu’ and also insulted me. This made me so sad.”

“[And] because of the inability of disabled people to walk properly and the blind cannot see, they are loved the most and the attention has been on them more than the deaf.”

“I always went to the hospital with my father because there is no interpreter. However, a lot of deaf people still have access to the healthcare. I hope that government will help to employ sign language interpreters in the hospitals.”

“I am still a student and I have access to education presently. In the school the attitude of our teachers is very good. At other times it looks bad[…]. A lot of deaf people have access to education today because there are qualified teachers who are deaf. Deaf teachers are better than hearing teachers because they use sign language which we understood better.”

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D13 was born with the ability to hear, but an illness at a young age resulted in his deafness. D13 is now a carpenter at a furniture company, but he has concerns about receiving the support he needs to establish his own business. Below are his reflections on the experience of hearing loss.

“When [my illness] happened, my parents took me to the hospital for medical check-ups.[…] I was not sent to prayer camps.”

“I attended normal school with my friends until I became deaf[…]. [L]ater I was enrolled into the School for the Deaf. I completed Junior High School but could not enter Senior High School because I failed my exams.”

“[Because] our teachers taught us by speech and I could hear my teacher’s voice a bit but my mates couldn’t, […] after lessons all my mates would come to me and ask me to help them. In the past we had more hearing teachers but there are more deaf teachers presently.”

“I have siblings who are hearing. Our parents’ attitude towards us has been the same. In the family there’s no preferential treatment. […However,] the family does not involve me in family affairs.”

“Being deaf, I feel that I cannot hear when my friends talk, but I try to listen at times by reading lips[…]. I really want to hear again so that I can communicate by speech.”

“I attend the hospital often. It’s all fine. More deaf people can go to the hospital but there are no deaf doctors. The challenge I faced in the hospital is whenever I went there I would sit for long hours – I could not hear if my name was called[…]. There are not interpreters in the hospital.”

“[The a]ttitude of people towards the deaf is better today than as happened in the past. […Yet] a lot of people are focused on helping persons who are blind and those with physical disabilities. The attention received by deaf people is not welcoming. Disabled people […] get information faster than us. When there is something to share among all disabled people, they will be the first […]. They always inform the deaf late. Treatment is not the same.”

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D6 and his twin brother were both born deaf. After discovering this, D6’s parents sought various cures for the deafness, though without success. D6 was then enrolled in a school for the deaf where his step-father taught, and he is currently in senior high school. Here he discusses his experiences growing up as a deaf person.

“[When] my parents realized that I could not hear they sent me to the hospital for diagnosis and treatment. This didn’t work so I was sent to the priest and was given some bitter drugs to drink. Yet, I could not hear so my parents sent me to the traditionalist. We did not get the desired result. My mother was very much worried so she tried all the means available to her.

“When I got admitted to Kibi school for the deaf, the feeling was good.[…] I did not know sign language but I often went around to socialize with my school mates and […] I was feeling very much excited because my father was always there to help me.

“After junior high school, I asked my mother to help me to secure a job with a construction company, but this did not work out because I was told that until I completed senior high school I could not be employed.”

“With all the support I have received, I feel very much satisfied. When I was in need of help, the family always there. Anything I need, I received. My mother was very much supportive. [However] I do not feel very much included because I am very young and I have to take care of my younger siblings so I have not been included that much in the affairs of the family.”

“My parents believed that I had a future so they always threw their support behind me. They never wanted to leave me because I am deaf. In the family, whether you are deaf or hearing you will be treated equally. But I and my twin brother received much attention because of our deafness.”

“When I was very young, my parents took very good care of me. They did a lot for me in the past, but presently they feel that I am an adolescent now and I can care for myself, so they do not offer the same treatment. The way deaf people are treated depends on their families. I think some of them who have a good family background are better treated than those from poor families. Other families left their deaf children.

“I think other disabled people are treated better than the deaf. The idea is that most people believe that deaf people can do anything; they have eyes, they can walk, they have hands and can do so the people do not see any problem in a deaf person. People feel that the condition of other disabled people is more dangerous so they pay more attention to them than to the deaf.”

“I wondered why I became deaf. I feel that I am saved because for some people if you are deaf, your family will not take good care of you because the idea is that if you are deaf you are useless. But I have come this far with the help of my parents and I am very much happy for this.

“I am in school now and this makes me proud. I never feel worried as a deaf person. I am very happy because I know that it was the purpose of God. I want to be successful in the future as a deaf person. I never want to regain my hearing ability because hearing comes with lots of negatives. For example, people insult you and you can hear them, which can easily make you angry; but in the deaf community things like this oftentimes have been taken as a joke. If I were hearing, a lot could have been said about me but as deaf person, I am free and cannot hear all these. Hearing people deceive, so I do not want to become like them. I am happy as deaf.”

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D5 was born able to hear, but became deaf at a young age. As she says, “I was sent to prayer camps and hospitals for a cure, but all to no avail.” From that early age, D5 has navigated life as a deaf person.

“[M]y father went to Winneba to look for a school for me to attend.”

“I went to Hohoe school for the deaf when I was five years old and I completed in 2014. I also had access to secondary education but couldn’t continue due to financial challenges; so I went into dressmaking as a profession. All the teachers took good care of us and our relationship grew fine. But the use of sign language was a problem because most of our teachers at the time could not use [it].”

“Access [to education] has improved well, and teaching is progressing steadily, and enrolment is increasing because of the high birth rates of deaf children.”

“Access to healthcare is good now. Deaf people get assistance from doctors and nurses all the time. Previously, we used to communicate in writing on paper because there was no interpreter, but today we have some interpreters who accompany us. The availability of sign language has given room for more deaf people to access healthcare.”

“My family members felt guilty when they found out I was deaf, but I do not feel sad. I am happy as a deaf person and I feel satisfied with all the support I have received from everyone.”

“[But though] I am deaf I wish that I could hear again because it would enable me to understand better. If I am able to hear, I can speak with [friends and family] and sign language will not be needed.”

“People have called me ‘mumu’ because I cannot hear and talk. This hurts badly, but anytime my friends or relatives heard about this insult they would come to my defence.”

According to D5, “[h]earing people think that deaf people cannot do anything because they cannot hear. This is a wrong impression and must be changed.”

At the same time, though, D5 has noticed that “most disabled people had better treatment than the deaf. People see their condition as something that deserves special attention and needing better care. People believe that deaf can do everything except to hear.”

“I share my concerns or problems with the leadership of the deaf community in my district and a few of my friends. Whenever I do, they take time to sit with me, advise, and encourage me.”

“[A] friend helped me to look for employment and I found work at the University of Education in Winneba. At work, the relationship between me and my boss was good.”