This content is only partially available in English.
This content is only partially available in English.

Studying with a disability

Nick Massing masters his bachelor’s degree studies – disability is not an obstacle

Nick Massing is in his third semester of a bachelor’s degree program in Digital Media. He wants to work in game or software development in the future. He also finds media design exciting. That's not unusual for a student at Mainz University of Applied Sciences. But one thing sets the 33-year-old apart from his fellow students: He has been deaf since birth and wears hearing aids on both ears. But that doesn't stop him from living his dream. Originally, Nick completed vocational training in the electrical field. “Unfortunately, that didn’t match my expectations,” he points out. Thanks to digitalization and accessibility, new opportunities are now opening up for him. There are more and more apps and programs for deaf people, and sometimes even a live subtitle helps in understanding something, Nick explains.

The fact that Nick is deaf is not even noticeable at first. He can read lips and articulate perfectly. However, it is not always easy for him to communicate with lecturers and students during classes. That’s why he always gets lecture notes from the lecturers. “I always have to do a lot of follow-up work, but I’m happy to accept that,” he says. He also exchanges information with his fellow students in WhatsApp groups, by email or in person. Looking back, he is very happy that masks are no longer required and hopes it stays that way. “With masks, my world went silent,” he says. His only communication – lip reading – was no longer possible. As a result, he has lost valuable contact with his environment.

Nick lives a normal life with his disability. “Although I notice sounds because of the hearing aids, I often don’t understand the context,” says Nick. But that hasn't stopped him from playing American football. On the team, they communicated by patting each other on the back. And if a foul ever happened, he wasn’t penalized. “I couldn’t hear anything,” he says with a grin.

He can’t play American football at present due to time constraints. “Because of my studies, I have to have very strict time management in order to study.” Nevertheless, he still likes to carve out time for one volunteer endeavor. Nick is part of the organization team of DeafIT. Once a year, the DeafIT Conference for Accessibility, Diversity & Inclusion takes place, where the latest topics and other issues from the IT world are presented and discussed. The conference is as accessible as possible with sign language, spoken language, and subtitles. Nick is primarily responsible for the website.