Rikki Poynter – My High School Experience
Hello, my name is Rikki Poynter and I am a Deaf YouTuber. Not hearing, but a Deaf YouTuber. I’m even wearing the shirt. This video is not sponsored by YouTube. So today I want to talk about something that happened when I was in high school. I was 16, I think at the time. And it was in my U.S. History class, and it was one of the most irritating moments of my life. More irritating now since I’m more comfortable with my identity. And I’ve been in Deaf culture more often, and I have more Deaf friends, blah blah blah.
But, back in high school and before that I was still kind of that person, that was kind of like, “No I’m not really Deaf.” I just didn’t feel very comfortable with it, which is a whole different video for another day. In the U.S. and Canada sometimes in class you will watch films and they’re educational films, documentaries. And sometimes you’ll have an assignment and that assignment is to take notes. So basically you hear what’s being said, and then you write down the facts, sometimes it’s 10, 15, 20, 30 it all depends.
I hated these assignments with every fibre of my being, why? I needed captions. And were there captions? No, there were no captions. So, I remember this day I told my U.S. history teacher, I said, “You know what I’m going to tell you this now, “every single time we’ve done this, “they’ve been very difficult. “So I don’t know what I’m going to do.” And his response was to sit in front of the computer speaker. To which I just did that because I thought it would work, but no honestly it really didn’t. All that did was make the sound louder. Which yes, okay, I could hear it better, but I definitely could not understand it better. It was…just…so…muffled. And none of these films, never had captioning, and there were never kid films that do have captioning, because why bother, why bother?
I lived in an area that just wasn’t very accessible and didn’t really care to be very accessible and remember like I said this was before I really became confident in who I was as a Deaf person and all of that. And my parents couldn’t have cared less. Anyway so the point of this, I did the assignment the best I could, but when I turned it in much of the assignment was incomplete. I don’t even think I wrote 15 sentences, and we were required to write 30, I believe. Even in these 15 sentences that I may have written down I didn’t even complete a lot of the actual sentences. A lot of it were just half sentences, it was just bits and pieces of what I could understand without the closed captioning. And I sent it in, I had no other option, except for copy off someone’s paper, but that wouldn’t have been acceptable and I would have gotten in trouble for that.
So, what does the teacher do after he’s taken all of the papers? We were standing in line waiting for the bell to ring because it was about three minutes before class was over. And he reads a paper, by the way I’m doing a YouTube video, on a letter to Alexander Graham Bell. We will enjoy this later. But anyways, so he takes the paper, and he’s flipping through them, and he sees my paper, the Deaf student’s. The only Deaf student in the entire school. And he sees that it’s all incomplete and what does he do? Instead of pulling me over to the side and maybe having a conversation with me in private. He decides to literally make fun of me in front of the entire class. Makes fun of incorrect words, incomplete sentences, invites the class to join in on the making fun of me. It was just…frustrating.
Back then before I was comfortable with myself as a Deaf person, I laughed along with it, I did that for a lot of things. But now, If I could just go back in time, I would have called him out. I would have called him out, and every other teacher that I had, that did something similar or just wasn’t accessible. I’ve had many other instances, say with my math teacher, who would get frustrated with me because I didn’t understand something. Even though it’s like, “Hey, I literally am Deaf, “I do not understand what you are saying.” It’s just, uh, my God. So a little piece of advice, to all future teachers out there, even if you are going to a mainstream school to teach, if you have a Deaf student or a hard of hearing student that is there. One, if you are one of those teachers that will assign note-taking during a film, try to find a captioned version, and if you cannot find a captioned version find a different film, I mean come on. Two, if that person just cannot do that assignment try to find them something else to do, that relates to the main assignment that you would be assigning to your hearing students. But whatever it is that you do as a solution do not make fun of them in front of the entire class. That is the number one thing that you should not do. Even more than not giving them captioned films. This is a lot more personal. Just don’t do that. So that’s my story on that. I guess if anybody else has similar experiences feel free to leave them in the comments. And we can rant together. I will see you later, bye.
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