jill_smiling_28may2015_crop-to-circleMy name is Jill Cooke and I have been living with a 90dB hearing loss since 1982. My hearing started causing me problems when I was in my mid-20s and by the time I was 33 it had failed completely. There was no illness, no trauma, nothing. My hearing just disappeared.

Inevitably, my deafness is how I am – when you meet me, you can’t miss it – but it is not what I am. It doesn’t define me.

These days, I am a history-hobbyist, an insatiably curious researcher into social history. I write, I have been an editor and proof-reader; and in my hearing days I was a teacher. I just happen to have two deaf ears.

I am one of the Friends of The National Archives and, as a Friend, sometimes review books for TNA’s Online Bookshop. I am also a member of the Isle of Wight Family History Society. I do not belong to any dedicated ‘deaf’ organisations, though I was involved with the UK’s National Association of Deafened People (NADP) in its early years. My life then took a different course – I had a baby.

I concentrate on what I can do (and do well) and the things that interest me. ‘Expand within your limitations’ seems as good a motto as any. It’s got me this far, anyway.

My research into one surname and its history is being reported here: The EZARD Study.



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