LIFE

This Aussie Mum Was Told She Wouldn't Become A Lawyer Because She Is Deaf

'Any person with a disability will tell you the most disabling thing in our lives is people’s attitudes.' 

23/08/2016 12:20 PM AEST | Updated 23/08/2016 4:15 PM AEST
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Rania Saab was first fitted with hearing aids at the age of three, before getting Cochlear implants in 2010.

Rania Saab was halfway through her law degree when she contemplated dropping out.

"I remember sitting outside the Student Services Unit crying and crying and just thinking 'what am I doing, this is too hard,'" Saab told The Huffington Post Australia.

Having completed her HSC studies with top marks, Saab, who was diagnosed with severe hearing loss at the age of three, was armed with the confidence to pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer. Though all of that would change when her sister was involved in a near fatal car accident.

"It was quite difficult on me emotionally and psychologically. I was struggling to come to terms with the trauma and that meant I couldn't keep on top of my university work," Saab said.

Saab found seminars and tutorials challenging as people would talk around the room, making it hard for her to follow what was being said by the lecturer.

When I was 20, an ear, nose and throat specialist I was referred to questioned why I was studying to become a solicitor. He said, 'Why? You're not going to be able to hear in a court room.'

"I'd miss out on vital information and what I had to do in order to keep up with the rest of my peers was extra reading and extra work. It all became too much," Saab said.

But it was the thought of telling her family that she was going to pull out that gave Saab the motivation to keep going.

This wasn't the first time Saab's faith in her own abilities prevailed over any self-doubt she was feeling.

"When I was 20, an ear, nose and throat specialist I was referred to questioned why I was studying to become a solicitor," Saab said.

"He said, 'Why? You're not going to be able to hear in a court room,'" Saab said.

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"The Catherine Sullivan Centre and the Dominican Sisters do an amazing job of supporting children with a hearing loss and their families."

It was the mentoring and work experience programs offered by not-for-profit organisation Australian Network on Disability that enabled Saab to reject such small minded assumptions and take the leap into the workforce.

"I realised that I had taken other people's disabling thoughts and beliefs about my capabilities and made them my own," Saab said.

Perhaps the most devastating for Saab, now a mother of two young children, is the thought that other people who are living with a disability will accept such opinions.

"Any person with a disability will tell you the most disabling thing in our lives is people's attitudes," Saab said.

We're all here on this planet. We should all have the same rights and we should all be treated the same.

Changing the way people think about deafness is something Saab tackles every single day in both her job as a lawyer and a mother.

"We've taught my daughter, Emma, sign language -- she isn't deaf -- but what my husband and I want for her is to have exposure to children with special needs and to grow up with compassion," Saab said.

'"We're all here on this planet. We should all have the same rights and we should all be treated the same."

Rania Saab is a former student of the Catherine Sullivan Centre, an organisation that has provided education for young children with hearing loss since 1965.

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