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A-Level Results: Deaf Students ‘Proud’ After Covid Mask Struggles

August 19, 2022

Two deaf students who struggled to continue studying when face masks were made compulsory in colleges say they are proud of their A-level results.

Dinah Mandell and Holly Sanchez-Rosemurgey also had to battle with trying to understand teachers in Zoom classes when the pandemic struck.

Holly says she thought about dropping out “because I didn’t feel like there was any point”.

And Dinah says getting her results is a “real sense of achievement”.

At the height of the Covid pandemic, pupils had to be taught from home because schools and colleges were closed.

And even when they were allowed back, they were often made to wear face masks as part of the government’s guidelines.

‘It’s been a long journey’

Dinah, whose hearing loss started as she finished her GCSEs, says she struggled with online learning because of the automated subtitles, which posed particular challenges for complex words used in subjects like chemistry and biology.

In 2021, the 18-year-old campaigned for schools to better support deaf and hard of hearing students – with her petition to provide clear masks gathering more than 75,000 signatures.

Dinah, who wears a hearing aid, tells Radio 1 Newsbeat she relied “heavily on seeing people’s faces and lips to work out what someone is saying” so having a clear face mask in school would’ve been a big benefit.

But she says she received “massive support” from the the National Deaf Children’s Society and is now off to her first choice, Leicester University, to study medicine.

“I’ve done sort of an extra year of A-levels as I took a gap year between my GCSEs and A-levels,” says Dinah, who lives in London.

“So when I started I was navigating Covid and also being a student with hearing loss at the same time, which had its challenges.

“It’s been a long journey and though I didn’t take the normal route, I am really happy with the end of it, it’s a real sense of achievement.”

‘I essentially just wasn’t learning’

Holly, 18, has severe to profound hearing loss and was so impacted by the introduction of masks and remote learning that she had to re-take a year of sixth form.

She was studying languages and says she found it “really difficult during lockdown” because of a “lack of awareness”.

“There were no sign language interpreters because obviously it would have to be interpreted into a different sign language,” she says.

“On Zoom, there were no subtitles so I essentially just wasn’t learning at all as I couldn’t understand.

“In terms of confidence, the pandemic knocked me really badly and because of that my grades plummeted.”

Holly, who lives in Nottingham, is now heading to university to study languages and philosophy.

She also has plans to do a masters in internal politics or relations and says she is proud of how far she has come.

“To get from there to get from there to actually getting good A-levels and getting into university. That’s a journey that I’m really proud of.”


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