Humans of Scotland

Clare’s story – bringing lived experience to Forth Valley Sensory Centre

Clare advocates to ensure people have access to essential information and inclusive communication with FVSC.

This story is about: DisabilitySensoryVolunteering

“I was born deaf and partially blind in my right eye. Furthermore, I had heart failure (a hole in my heart) and wasn’t expected to survive with or without surgery. Needless to say, here I am, 56 years later writing my story.

I got my first hearing-aid at 3 1/2 years old. I relied totally on lipreading with some listening to enable me to understand and communicate. The oral tradition was strongly encouraged. There was no mention of sign language, deaf people, societies that supported deaf children or radio aids. I didn’t realise I was deaf, I just thought I couldn’t hear properly.

I went to a private mainstream school. There was no peripatetic support in those days. The social worker was of the opinion that I would have better opportunities later in life than if I were to go to a school for deaf children.

It was not easy being the only deaf person at school, I had no-one to relate to. I passed 8 ‘O’ grades, and 5 Highers. At college I got radio aids which helped me to lipread/listen effectively, and I got my HND in Biological Sciences. Now I am a Specialist Biomedical Scientist with 30 plus years of experience working in hospital labs. For me, as a severely deaf person, this is an achievement in itself.

I learned BSL later at age 27 and I now use both BSL and spoken English/lipreading-listening to communicate.

I’m a volunteer at Forth Valley Sensory Centre (FVSC), an attendee of the trustee board, a member of the Centre Users Group, and a BSL working group. My role is to advocate and to raise awareness of issues pertaining to the Deaf community including Deaf people, Hard of Hearing people and Deafblind people.

I recently worked with the local Health and Social Care Partnership to ensure information on new fire alarm regulations was supported in BSL format on their social media. I also assisted local employer who were employing an assistant to work with a Deaf BSL user, for which I signposted to FVSC.

It is a very rewarding vocation.”

Learn more about the support and services provided by Forth Valley Sensory Centre.

Read about the establishment of the Scottish Sensory Hub at the ALLIANCE.