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August 25, 2005

Photos helps deaf student 'hear'

From: Daily Mail - UK, UK - Aug 25, 2005

A deaf student has told how studying photography gave him a new way of "hearing" the world around him.

Luke Blackburn, 23, from Reading, Berkshire, spent years drifting from job to job before deciding that he wanted to embark on a career in the media.

After spending two years at Newbury College studying photography and media studies, Luke is on course to start a degree in film media at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

He sealed his place by bagging a grade A in GCSE photography on top of Bs in A-Level media studies and AVCE - Advanced Vocational Certificate in Education - media studies last week.

A skilled lip-reader, Luke's return to study was also aided by the college which provided trained communicators to accompany him to lessons to provide sign language translations and note taking.

Determined one day to break into the film world, for Luke, studying has helped him hone a sense of how images - both moving and still - can fill the gaps left by the silence around him.

"For me pictures are a source of information," he explains. "They are how I hear things, they are how I learn because by looking at the pictures I can visualise for myself without having to listen to it.

"I'm clueless with the radio. With music I can 'hear' it but I can't understand it.

"I can just about tell the difference between heavy metal and opera because they are different rhythms.

"With pictures I can see for myself what is being put across to me, I can see for myself the message that's coming across so strongly. Without that I think I would be lost."

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