Kayla shares her experience with education during COVID-19
I'm Kayla, I am 20 years old and I'm about to start my third year as an occupational therapy student but when Covid started, I was in year 12. I have profound hearing loss in both ears. And I wear cochlear implants to help me hear. I rely a lot on lip reading.
Onscreen text: What changed for you during COVID-19?
I'm from WA so we had lockdown quite frequently back then Then we had to do Zoom online and I thought it might be a bit easier but it was, it was still quite tricky because, you know, I couldn't hear through the computer very well I could see their faces on, on the Zoom call. It's usually the teachers that are mainly speaking on Zoom calls anyway, so they have their video on, their mic on so I can see and lip read. Sometimes the audio would lag. So it was very hard for me to match the words to their lips. And then if the classmates were speaking. Most of them never had their cameras on So it was a bit confusing, especially if multiple people were trying to speak at once, and then it's just like overlaps of voices, it gets a bit overwhelming. After that, we went back to school, but then we had a mask mandate for a while. Up till then, I never realised how much I focused on lip reading. And then I realised that, yeah, I just could not hear anyone. It was very hard for me to figure out who was speaking, particularly in a large group. Because of that I just kind of got burnt out very easily because I was just focusing so much, trying to figure out who was speaking.
Onscreen text: What helped when you went back to school?
I was encouraged more often to speak to my teachers and they would more than often reach out to me as well. It was a new experience for all of us, so it was really hard to talk about what can work. They were very supportive, but it was a very slow process as well. At the time, the teachers were allowed to remove their mask when teaching to the class, so that helped a lot. I have a little microphone that I use in school. It's very easy for the teachers to wear, they just clip on and that just streams audio directly to my processors and so that helps quite a bit.
Onscreen text: Do you have any ideas about what would help students with disability if there were events like this in the future?
I think that the schools need to work together more with the student themselves and perhaps their parents or guardians to look at what exactly is impacting them and to work together collaboratively to move forward and make necessary adjustments if needed. Maybe accessing or reaching out to people who have lived experience could help as well. It may make the process of implementing different things that may help a lot faster. Just seeing how it had impacted in the past and what had worked in the past, but because COVID was such a new pandemic, we had no lived experience whatsoever. So it was definitely a big curveball for everyone.
Onscreen text: Share your story disabilitycovidreview.education.gov.au