Hello - my name is Brent. My sign name is ‘stretch’. Am thinking of the time when I realised I’m Deaf and use sign language.
Way back I went to the School for Deaf from age 5 – 9. At that time there was not much signing, we had to keep our hands down all the time. There was no signing.
From 9-16 I went to a mainstream school. At that time, I knew nothing about sign language, nothing. I was more in the hearing world, talking like hearing people do. I was involved in a rugby hearing team, I had hearing friends, the idea of being Deaf never occurred to me. I was fully immersed in the hearing world.
So as time went on, at 16 I left the hearing school until my hearing started to go. My hearing got worse and worse. It became harder and harder to be in the hearing world. I found myself becoming isolated and withdrawn.
One day I was thinking – maybe there is a Deaf Club?? This was around 1980 or so. I borrowed my mothers car and drove over. I walked into Deaf Club – WOW. That was the moment I saw sign language everywhere, I saw some Deaf people who I remembered from my class at the School for Deaf many years ago. Yeah, yeah, I felt a connection.
I began to pick up sign language, I was able to pick up sign language quickly. I became more and more involved with the Deaf community from there on.
That was the time I straight away recognised that sign language was my language and I’ve been signing ever since.