My name is Shona Beamsley from Whanganui. I will talk about Deaf identity. I grew up in the Deaf School at St Dominics in Palmerston North. I stayed as it was a boarding school. I stayed there from when I was 4 till I was 12. I found it was easy for me there. There was no signing, only spoken English, yes definitely more oral talking growing up.
I was there till I was 12 when I moved to a mainstream school. I thought I would be the same as everyone but no, I realised I’m Deaf and they’re hearing. It was a shock. It made me look at myself as I realised what was happening.
I couldn’t talk. I didn’t know what to do. I felt so different. I wanted to go back to the Deaf school. It was Horowhenua College in Levin. It was a mainstream school, different to the Deaf school. I felt very upset, I was not confident at all. It was different, definitely not the same.
I grew up there, I was very patient till I was 16 ½. Then I was at home when a Deaf man, his name was Steven Johnson (sign name) picked me up and took me to Deaf club. I had no idea what that was, or what to expect.
It was a shock, everyone was signing. I only knew how to speak orally. I didn’t know what to do. I had to be really patient and try to sign. Then over time I felt more confident. It was good for me to experience that.
Then Deaf people suggested I go and do the Deaf Studies course. I said ok but I didn’t really know what it was about. Wow, it was really really interesting, from 801 – 806. I found out about identity and I found out who I am. I realised that’s me. I thought it was about other things but no, it was about me.
I really want to thank the Deaf Studies course in Wellington.