A few months ago, being deaf wasn’t exactly considered an advantage in life. Things have changed a bit since then! The other kids are struggling, having to learn sign language so fast, now that their lives depend on it. But I went deaf when I was five, after a fever. I started learning sign language aged six. I’m eleven now so I’ve been doing it for five years. There’s hardly a word I don’t know. The other kids used to think it was ‘that weird signing thing’ I did. Now they need to learn it so fast, they spend a good few hours of each school day on it.

They’re safe at school because the classrooms are soundproofed. It’s when they go outside that it gets risky. Our school is surrounded by a big canal network, you see, and the waters get deep, especially after it rains. It used to be cool walking home along the canals. There were geese and swans and colourful narrowboats. Now the waters are empty, and there’s usually loud music blasting out along the waterways. That would chase any birds away, even if the waters were safe.

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