Catherine at college

Profoundly deaf Catherine, 17, tells us how studying for her A-levels at college is different from being at school, and how she’s found the transition.

Photo of a teenage girl

Tell us about your deafness
I have a profound hearing loss, which was caused by meningitis when I was a baby. Hearing aids never worked for me, so I wear two cochlear implants. Sometimes I feel annoyed when someone gives up repeating what they are trying to say to me. I also feel insecure when I’m not wearing my implants as I don't feel safe and aware of my surroundings.

Why did you decide to go to college when you left school?
I wanted to experience the environment in a college so I would be treated as an adult and my school didn't have the subjects that I wanted to study. I really wanted to do the subjects that would be relevant to the career I want in the future.

Do you have any communication support?
I asked for a note-taker but ended up with a communication support worker who signs to me. I’m happy with this – I didn’t realise it would be easier for me to understand things than having a note-taker. My college are aware of disabilities so they make sure they provide support for those who need it straight away. It’s completely different from being at school, but I’m getting used to things.

Are your classmates, friends and teachers at college deaf aware?
They weren't at first but they learn quickly from me and my support worker. My teachers make sure they have my attention before talking to the whole class and they ask me if I understand.

What advice do you have for other young deaf people thinking of going to college after school?

I would say it's important that you make sure that the support you need is prepared for when you start. Also, never be afraid to teach your teachers to be deaf aware – it really helps!

Watch Ahmad talk about deaf awareness at college

Information for young people