Student beats her disability and achieves 
a doctorate

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A PARTIALLY deaf student has overcome overwhelming adversity to achieve a PhD.

Hannah Scott, 34, was born with glue ear, a condition where the middle ear fills with glue-like fluid instead of air, and rhinitis, a blocked nose.

This caused her hearing to suffer right from birth, so she was unable to pronounce words, and delayed her early stages of development.

Dr Scott, who is also dyslexic, refused to let her disability get the better of her and, as a result of her determination, gained her PhD at Manchester University.

She now lectures part-time at Edge Hill University in London to support other teachers and professionals training to become special educational needs co-ordinators.

Dr Scott, originally of Sovereign Close, Ore, said: “I was born partially deaf in both ears and because of this could not pronounce words very well. It delayed my development in the early years and I had to have grommets fitted in both ears.”

A grommet is like a tiny pipe that is put across the eardrum, it lets air get into the middle ear and hearing improves immediately.

Dr Scott, who now lives in Manchester, had to have several similar operations in her childhood.

She said: “By the time I was at school my development was really delayed, as I could not pick up sounds of words.

“At All Saints School in my third year an educational psychologist suggested I be put in a special needs school.”

Dr Scott went to Torfield School and told the Observer it was one of the happiest times of her life.

She said: “Torfield was fantastic and I loved my time there. As an educationalist myself, Torfield focused on building up the confidence of children and helping them to value themselves.

“Staff there were fantastic and I was sad to leave.”

Dr Scott moved to Hillcrest after leaving Torfield but she said her experience there was not as happy, being subjected to jibes because of her situation.

Her academic journey began in September 2001 when she started an Access to Higher Education Initial Teacher Training course at Hastings College (now Sussex Coast College). She also worked as a part-time support worker to help adults with learning difficulties.

Dr Scott passed her course and then gained a BA (Hons) degree in Learning Disability Studies at Manchester University in 2005.

She achieved a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at the University of Bolton, specialising in community education.

Dr Scott then gained a MSc in Educational Research, finishing in 2007.

She started her PhD in September that year and researched ways on how to empower young people with learning difficulties and how practitioners might support them.

Dr Scott said: “It has really been a battle for me and I have been fighting all the way to overcome these obstacles. Rather than accept them I retaliated, became obstinate and fought against them.”