Being positive about my deafness inspires the deaf children I meet

I take an eight tonne lorry around the UK, teaching young people and their families about deaf awareness

My day starts at 7am when my travel alarm clock starts vibrating under my pillow. As I am profoundly deaf, I rely on the vibrations to ensure I get out of bed, check emails and plan for the day ahead. After breakfast I am ready to hit the road and travel to the school we are scheduled to visit.

I manage the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) roadshow. We have an eight tonne lorry which converts into a classroom and we use it to travel the UK, delivering deaf awareness in schools. Without the right support, many deaf children and young people can feel isolated and are at risk of bullying and falling behind at school. The roadshow takes us to the heart of the community and means we can challenge some common misconceptions about deafness.

We arrive at the school by 9am, but every day is different and dependent on the needs of the school and their pupils. I start to prepare for the first workshop of the day, which focuses on the latest technology available to deaf children and young people, including alarm clocks, radio aids and apps.

I hold various sessions for deaf pupils and their hearing peers as the day goes on, and many parents and professionals visit too. One such workshop is My Future, which gives deaf young people the chance to learn about their options after school, and the support available to them. Before I know it lunch has come and gone and the school day is drawing to a close.

Many families face a wide range of issues, and use the roadshow as an opportunity to talk these through with me. A lack of deaf awareness – for example from sports clubs, music and dance groups – means their deaf children can miss out. Another issue that parents are naturally anxious about is choosing the best primary school for their child, with the right specialist teaching support and assistive technology in place. From listening to these experiences I can ensure our workshops and resources are based on their needs and tailored to provide solutions to the problems they are facing.

I thoroughly enjoy my job but on completion of a business management degree, I didn’t plan on becoming the manager of an information roadshow. Voluntary work at a deaf school in Peru made me realise that working with deaf children would be central to my chosen career. I joined NDCS in 2007 and never looked back.

I remember one family who visited the roadshow feeling quite disheartened because their young daughter was struggling in school, couldn’t participate in swimming lessons and found it hard to listen to music. We talked it through and when they returned a year later, the change was remarkable. She had a radio aid in school to hear the teacher more clearly, was listening to her favourite music with a Bluetooth neckloop and was swimming confidently.

Another school we visited recently had only one deaf pupil who was struggling with his new hearing aids. Since then, his confidence has really grown, and his friends are so much better at communicating with him now they understand more about deafness.

These examples remind me what I love about this job and why it is so worthwhile. I’ve always been very positive about my deafness, which has given me the desire to succeed, so it is very rewarding to know that you have inspired others as a deaf role model.

I enjoy seeing the value of the roadshow in the local communities, and like to think that in five years time the NDCS roadshow team will be delivering a greater variety of workshops to deaf and hearing children. There are currently 48,000 deaf children and young people living in the UK today and I’d love to see them all get the support they need to thrive in education and participate fully in school life.

If had an extra hour in the day, I’d have more fun with my three kids, doing things like taking them to explore National Trust properties – and I’d also squeeze in planning my next snowboarding adventure.

If you would like to feature in our Day in the Life series, or know someone who would, email

Damian Ball

The GuardianTramp

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