Deaf awareness week: Snowboarding instructor urges ‘just be normal when speaking to us’

  • Watch Michael's story and step into the world as he hears it.

The UK’s first deaf snowboarding instructor is urging people to ‘just be normal’ when speaking to those with hearing loss. 

Michael Easton is also a personal trainer, and says being profoundly deaf has not stopped him from achieving his goals. 

“Deaf and hearing people are the same. We don’t live in different worlds. We are linked together. Even though I’m deaf, I still talk to hearing people,” he explained. 

Michael, who grew up in Cambridge and now lives in Milton Keynes, uses lip reading to understand what those who do not use British Sign Language are saying.

“Being deaf, it’s hard to communicate with hearing people, as they may misunderstand what I say, and feel embarrassed."

This week marks Deaf Awareness Week, which is focussed on deaf inclusion and aims to highlight the impact of hearing loss on everyday life. 

“Deaf Awareness Week is important because it shows people how to communicate with deaf people.”

“To make communication with deaf people easier, just…talk normally, and maintain eye contact. It’s simple. Just face the deaf person and be normal. Try not to exaggerate.”

One third of adults have no idea that a child born profoundly deaf can learn to listen and speak as well as a hearing child, according to research commissioned by the charity Auditory Verbal UK (AVUK). 

Michael, who was born profoundly deaf, is able to speak with clients every day in the gym or at Hemel Hempstead’s Snow Centre. 

“I use sign language with deaf people, I talk with hearing people. We’re all in the same world.”