So, I’m Julie Ferguson and I have nothing on Helen Keller! I am, however, severely deaf and partially sighted.
My parents realised that I had a hearing problem when I was 2 years old, though I didn’t get my first hearing aid until I was 4. Unfortunately, when I was 4, nobody could understand me babbling away in my version of English, except for my mum and my brother. Apparently, I wasbad. I couldn’t even pronounce my own name (it sounded like Ooee Fehuhoh).
I was sent to speech therapy for intensive work before I started primary school, and I remember working on all those weird sounds especially “spoon”. My particular hearing loss makes it difficult to hear consonants, especially s, h, and f. Over the years, I’ve learnt to get around that by learning to lipread and to extrapolate from what I did hear.
Primary school was… interesting. I loved learning, I didn’t like being bullied for the way I spoke. I struggled with some sounds for years, such as the “ch” from “church” (I make it sound like “shursh”), and the other children picked on that. Because my hearing wasn’t reliable, I started to depend more on the written word, and I became a great reader. This was probably helped by having the subtitles on the telly all the time. Subtitles are great!