Azar gives an insight into what it’s like to be a student at Communication Specialist College Doncaster

I wake up at 7am, the vibration on my phone alarm wakes me, today is a really important day and I know that I need to look smart as I’m heading off to London with some of the other students, and the management team from the college and Trust, to an event at the House of Lords.

So I put on nice clothes and shoes and make sure that I look my best before heading to the mini bus to take us to the train station for the train to London. My travelling companions are two other students, who are also deaf, and our tutors, along with the principal and chair of the Deaf Trust, best behaviour all round then!

Someone said that the then mayor of Sheffield Magid Magid was on our train and he came down to chat to us. We taught him to sign his name and told him where we had been and what we had been doing. He made the journey there interesting.

Sadly we weren’t allowed to take photos in the House of Lords but it is a very impressive building and we took plenty of photos outside and at other landmarks.

We had been invited to talk to MPs and other officials about our specialist college and they wanted to know the difference to us between mainstream education and specialist education.

I shared with them, via my interpreter, my experience of being in mainstream school, on my own, the lone Deaf person in a hearing world.  It was not a good environment to learn in for me and I can honestly say that since coming to Communication Specialist College Doncaster my confidence and knowledge have improved hugely.

 They wanted to hear about all of the pros and cons and we were happy to share our experiences with them.

It was good to talk to them about Doncaster, our courses, I’m studying English, Maths, IT and doing work experience at a local estate agents, Haarts. They were interested to hear about my role where I type letters, research on the internet, email clients and help with the office admin. Work experience is a big part of our college life and will help us when we leave and look for work. I really enjoy being in the office and working with the team there and it is always good to talk about this experience.

It was nice to be asked my view of the college and it was good to see that they are aware of us and the deaf communities.

Sharing my experience of staying in Doncaster as a residential student was good, my family live in Cambridge, but I live and study here and go home when I can to see them. Having a good specialist education is important and there isn’t a college on my doorstep that could meet my needs.

We had a small lunch and of course did some sightseeing, we had come a long way, so it made sense to see some of the main sites in London, before heading for the train back.

Our train was delayed, for a deaf person the way you are alerted to this is by seeing lots of people looking annoyed and then you find a screen to see what is going on. We can’t hear the announcements which is why we often travel with our hearing tutors or interpreters with us.

It can get quite confusing but now thanks to mobile phones we can type out our query as a question and show it to the staff there so that they can then write down the answer.

I’m now really good and confident with my British Sign Language (BSL) so I can communicate well with other deaf people, when I first came to the UK from Holland seven years ago I knew Dutch Sign Language and Afghani Sign Language but no BSL so I had to learn it from scratch.

We talked a lot on the train on the way back about our day, and it was a really special day, one that I won’t forget in a long time.

We got the mini bus back to college and went back to the residential block where it was time to talk to friends and play a little bit of PS4.

This was not a typical day in my life but it was a really special one and it has given me the confidence to say to hearing people, if you see me out and about, don’t be nervous, don’t be scared, try and communicate with me. It is great to see that more people are learning to sign or have some Deaf Awareness, it is helping us to break down barriers and communicate more easily. I’m Azar and I’d be really happy to talk to you.