A 24-year-old Yahaya Yusuf, who lost his hearing after a brief illness at the age of 10, has bagged a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from the Gombe State University, Gombe.
Yusuf, who was born in Kumo, Akko Local Government Area of Gombe State, spoke on his journey so far.
North East Trust gathered that after several attempts to restore his hearing proved abortive, Yusuf’s parents decided to allow him continue with his education in a conventional school where he completed his Junior Secondary School.
Narrating his experience, Yusuf explained that he was later transferred to a Deaf Special Education Centre in Gombe, where he learnt how to communicate in sign language and the ‘deaf culture.’
He said immediately after his secondary education, he was admitted to Gombe State University, adding that it was challenging for a deaf to school in a conventional university with no interpreters or sign language.
“One of the biggest challenges I faced are information and communication barriers as a deaf student with no interpreter in the university. Sometimes, I had to hire interpreter for assignment presentations.
“But in most cases, I communicated by writing. I sometimes felt isolated and lonely, although, some of the students were loving and caring. They liked to chat with me in writing,” he said.
Yusuf further explained that sometimes he missed tests or had to submit his assignments late due to lack of information.
He added, “more so, there are some shameless people that will call you names such as Kurma (deaf). I must admit that it hurts and sounds discriminatory. They are supposed to ask for my name given to me by my parents. But thankfully, those unruly individuals are few. Most of those who know me on social media call me, comrade.”
Yusuf further told North East Trust that with prayers, hard work, dedication and determination, he succeeded by reading all the course outlines, hand-outs, lip reading the lectures, text books, using the library as well as the Internet.
“Also, my course mates were always helpful by allowing me to copy their notes and informing me when tests and assignments were given by our lecturers,” he said.
According to Yusuf, he was supported for his studies by his parents and other well-wishers, as well as a scholarship from Professor Abdullahi Mahdi, former Vice Chancellor of the university.
He said, “what kept me going was the desire to excel and Ben Carson’s book, ‘Think Big’. It inspired and motivated me a lot. Whenever I felt like giving up, I read the book. The quote, ‘it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are coming from, but where you are going that counts,’ kept resounding in my mind. I believe I’m going to be great regardless of my disability.”
However, after successfully completing his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), the next challenge faced by Yusuf, is securing a job.
Speaking further, Yusuf said, “I was trained on ICT and computer skills both by NITDA and the NYSC Skills Acquisition programme. Since I completed my service, I have been trying to open a Business Centre, but due to lack of capital, I am unable to do that.
“I am trying to secure employment and or a scholarship to do my Master’s programme. I know it won’t be easy, but God willing, it is possible. There are many deaf academics in Nigeria. All you need is to get a sign language interpreter for easy communication,” he added.