A DEAF woman who has suffered prejudice and misunderstanding has turned her disability into her life’s work.

Ayesha Gavin, 36, from Weir, was born profoundly deaf into a family who can hear.

She then attended Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School, struggling to feel included in the gossip and fun going on around her.

She said: “People often think I am stupid because I can't hear, or that I don't need, or want to know what’s happening.

“Some people have the automatic assumption that you aren’t worth talking to, or they can be patronising, and talk down to me.

“When I use sign, people sometimes become embarrassed and don’t want to talk to me, because they aren't sure how to.

“But I was extremely lucky as I received fantastic support from staff when I was at school, because they went on deaf awareness courses.

“Then in my adult life, when I said I wanted to be a teacher myself, I was told I would never be able to, because being deaf would mean I wouldn't be able to control a classroom situation.”

But she defied expectations and became a teacher, driven by the desire to spread understanding and now has her own business teaching sign language. Ayesha’s family, who live in Burnley Road, are quite unique.

She has a husband, Mark, and children, one-year-old Alexander, and Evie, five, who are not deaf, and communicate with her using a mixture of sign language and lip-reading.

She said: “Signing with our kids meant we could communicate with them far earlier.

“For example they were able to tell us at around three months that they wanted milk, and not cry. Whereas just lip-reading can throw up funny situations. Like one of the kids might ask for a pear to eat and I will say, ‘your bear is in your bedroom, let's go and find him’.

“It can lead to frustration and confusion on both sides.

“However, the solution is for them to sign ‘pear’, or sign ‘eat’, or maybe say more to give me the context, such as, ‘I'm hungry, I want a pear’ and I will realise and get them a pear!”

Ayesha will be offering discount sign language courses to families at the Horse and Bamboo Theatre, in Waterfoot, in July and August.

For more information, visit www.ayeshacomm unications.co.uk.