I am a Deaf man and British Sign Language user living in Glasgow. I am married with two Hearing daughters. It has long been my dream to become the first Deaf person to sail single-handed across the Atlantic Ocean. This I know will be a huge challenge for me, but like most people I have faced many challenges in my life.
It has often been hard for me to get people to see beyond my disability and instead to see my real potential. Over the years many well meaning people have tried to save me from the disappointment of failure by discouraging me from pursuing ‘unrealistic goals’ such as when I decided to study for a degree. Yet I managed to graduate with a maths degree from the Open University.
Institutions too have in the past underestimated my potential as a disabled man. For many years the authorities refused me entry into teacher training college for example, making it seemingly impossible for me to realise my dream of becoming a teacher. But after a long struggle I was eventually allowed to attend the college and in due course I became a qualified teacher. I have since taught Deaf children in schools in Edinburgh and Glasgow and presently teach in St Vincent’s School for Deaf Children. I am very lucky to be in my dream job and believe that I am in a unique position to be a positive role model for other Deaf children.
It is my great desire to sail across the Atlantic on my own and to use this experience to benefit my pupils and other Deaf children in the UK by showing them that dreams of such achievements aren’t just for hearing children but for Deaf children too. It is my intention to allow pupils to follow my progress throughout the race, to learn about weather forecasting and navigation and to communicate with me while I am at sea using visual ICT technology.
I want to show the world that your dreams can be a reality if you believe in your own ability. I believe in mine and believe that all disabled people should be given the opportunity to realise theirs. It has taken me 22 years to get past my first barrier – entry to the competition and even if it takes me another 22 years to get a full crew of Deaf/Disabled people to circumnavigate the globe – I will rise to the challenge.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Gerry Hughes. BA, PGCE.SEN, Dip D Ed