British Sign Language.

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Deaf & deaf

The one thing I have noticed about (British) sign language is how it is always evolving. How they signed in the 1930’s is different yet similar to today’s. Back then it was mainly fingerspelling at a very fast speed!

https://www.bslzone.co.uk/watch/deaf-world-archive-films-deaf-people-1930s/

I also observe that there is no right or wrong way to sign a word, due to regional “accents”. Much like how spoken languages is always evolving, has accents and have adopted foreign words too.

I bring this up solely because I’ve noticed people continuously trying to correct a person’s signing “No, wrong!”, I have even ‘heard’ (pardon the pun!) that someone was trying to suggest to the signing community, not to adopt any foreign signs.

There are different signs to words like “Deaf” and “Thank you” today, to what I learnt as a child.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Whole School Can Learn To Sign, Not Just A Class.

While it is admirable that a class (in Bosnia) has learnt to sign to make a deaf classmate feel welcome and included, there is actually a whole school (in the UK) who has learnt to sign to make the students from their PHU just as welcome and included – this I have witnessed with my own eyes and was blown away.

So, if a class can do it, just take a moment to think outside of the box – somewhere, there is actually a whole school that deserves just as much recognition for their dedication over many years to be inclusive.

schoolfront

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

The Deaf.

I happened to be in the vicinity of the National Portrait Gallery when I was notified that Grayson Perry had done a piece on the deaf community as part of his “Identity” series. This intrigued my friends and I so we seized the opportunity to view his art work – some of which resonated with us, especially the “Memory Jar” and “A Map of Days” which was rather unique.

The episode which portrayed Grayson Perry’s time and artwork as a result from having spent with selected members of the deaf community was being broadcasted the very same day, amongst his other research with other aspects of “Identity”. Once I saw the artwork that reflected the deaf community on display in the National Portrait Gallery, I just knew there would be a repeat of certain schools of thought, of which some will say is justified for their own reasons. I decided not to watch the said episode for my own personal reasons which was respected.

The Deaf.
The Deaf.

grayson perry 2

However, I suggested another piece of Grayson Perry’s artwork to my husband as I thought he would be interested in that aspect of Identity and he took it upon himself to watch the episode that featured Grayson’s research and the artwork. It happened to be shown in the same episode as “The Deaf”.

Subsequently we had a chat and I felt compelled to relay his thoughts to the rest of the Tree House dwellers for another angle on it all coming from a hearing person’s perspective.

My husband (who studied at St Martins Art College) says…

“As an artist it is not Grayson’s fault that he could not portray deafness very well because he is not deaf himself therefore could not grasp the true concept which is why his poster came out rather boring as deafness and sign language is very visual”.

On the other hand, my husband also felt “certain people who were chosen, were very selective in who they “grouped” with.” 

My husband then reminded me which I completely forgot about, how he did an identity project for his Masters as he is an “alien” in this country – One aspect of his project, he made a video of me signing and this video went up for debate amongst the students who were left feeling frustrated at not being able to understand and they dictated that he could not use this video because he was not deaf. He shut them up by saying it was part of identity and who he is, being an alien in this country – reversing the frustration back at them, at not being able to understand and/or follow a language.

It takes a lot for my husband not to like anything and what he perceived being presented via the deaf people in the episode was nothing new – to him.

I can only wish Grayson Perry had the opportunity to be exposed to a wider spectrum of the richer diversity within the deaf community so he could truly understand the issues that comes with deafness and our various communication abilities, skills and needs. There is no deaf culture or D/d per se – is there a hearing culture, H/h? Is there a blind culture, B/b? Let us not create any more division when there is no need or justification for it.

On that note, we would like to invite Grayson Perry and anyone else who may be interested in the deaf community to visit us at the Tree House, who would also be more than welcome to come along to any of our events in order to meet us for a truer insight into just who we are, a community that respects each and every one’s needs and their/our choices of communication methods which results in TOTAL communication. A community that respects each and every one for who they are and wish to be. A community that is inclusive of all.

But not one that would even dream of wishing a child would be born deaf.

Thank you for your time and patience.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Between A Rock And A Hard Place.

In just one day, I had never experienced so much irony.

First things first, a BBC researcher contacted the Tree House because they were alerted to a trend “Nomination Drench” of which they wanted to learn more about. It surprised them that said trend was stemming from within the deaf community, a couple of us were invited to the BBC’s New Broadcasting House to be interviewed by camera but we had to try and keep our answers to ten seconds limit each. I think we (the deaf visitors) felt a tad miffed by this method because we tend to need at least an hour or so (it seems!) to discuss something in depth with passion and detail not to forget the effort that goes into our facial expressions, body language, sign language and lip-reading. It was then explained to us that there would be a separate more in-depth interview for the radio.

My first thought was “Hmmmm?!” This was an interview about what was trending from within the deaf community to be broadcasted over the radio. That felt a lot like putting an advert over the radio for the deaf and an advert in the papers for the blind. This point was kindly and politely made by myself and they understood it from our point of view, thinking it was a very good point. We all learn something new every day and I could see they gained insight, experience and deaf awareness from just our presence and the interpreter (Andrew Green) who helped to bridge the communication barriers. Many thanks to Communication ID for being there for us.

Andrew and Dexy inside BBC's Radio Studio.
Andrew and Dexy inside BBC’s Radio Studio.

We all very much enjoyed being at the BBC, seeing how they worked and being interviewed by them. Delighting at going inside on what seemed like a mini tour. It felt very open plan and communal compared to their old BBC building. To the presenter I asked if the videos on their blog would be subtitled for the deaf community to access on an equal and united basis and he reassured me they would be.

Something else was trying to eat away at the back of my mind, keeping an eye on the time (not literally!) because I knew there was going to be a protest taking place right outside the very same building and that a few of my friends also may be in the vicinity taking part. This did not help my nerves any as well as being extremely camera shy. In order to help raise awareness for the deaf community and for the BBC to achieve their objective I had to push myself to see it through while the other two seemed so confident and enjoyed being in the frame.

The other two people who were also being interviewed, Dexy Wallace and James Clarke, I felt relief knowing there would be an interpreter for them. If there had not been one, I have no idea how they would have all coped and it would not have been without any great difficulty. I decided I would try my best to respond verbally to the questions asked of me during the interview because at the back of my mind, I predicted there would be a percentage asking “Only signers once again, what about lip-readers? They are always forgotten” Don’t forget, both of my parents are deaf and being surrounded by sign language, I am at “home”.

Soon my nerves eased over time and my head was nodding in agreement now and again to what the other two people responded with. It became a moment that was cherished by myself because there we sat, a BSL user and another who was deaf blind, myself (who can adapt to present company) brought together by the BBC who had no idea just how much this trend “Nomination Drench” had brought the deaf community together both in person and in spirit. But most of all that another deaf community was defined and strengthened once again via the use of social media.

To read BBC Trending’s article on “Nomination Drench” trend read “here” or watch here:

Even Water Aid is adopting the trend to say thank you 🙂

With every beginning there is always an end, our Interviews ended which sadly meant our experience was over but another one was about to start as my thoughts turned once again to the protest – This was a protest at the BBC due to their supposed bias towards Israel and lack of coverage on Palestinian issues. The noise was absolutely deafening, chants of “Shame on you!”, “We want change – NOW!” and “Palestine!” seemed to alternate amongst the rallying crowd. I admired how peaceful people tried their best to keep it because that is what Islam is about – “Peace”. All they were requesting is justice and awareness just as every human being deserves, as equals.

A woman who braved her pain just to be a part of the protest. Photo by SJ.
A woman who braved her pain just to be a part of the protest. (Photo by SJ)

Once again I felt this wave of self –confliction – not long before then I had been inside the BBC being interviewed (in which I did try to point out Gaza, Palestine and 3rd world countries having access to no clean water if any) yet here I was, absorbing the atmosphere that was directed at the BBC.I felt as though I was between a rock and a hard place when all one could do was go with the flow and take one step at a time. Life tests us to see how we deal with what fate decrees for us and that subsequently defines who we are and who we will become.

While the past few weeks of “Nomination Drench” has been fun as it encouraged people to overcome being camera shy, seizing the day in order to be a part of a refreshing trend that once again brought a sense of community together – My heart tells me it is now time to try and remind you of those who are suffering and on that note, I am going to tackle perhaps one of the most complicated issues known to mankind.

Another being between a rock and a hard place on “Waging A Dirty War

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

“Happy” Days!

Thank you ever so to our Technical Support, for helping us to produce this delightful video and to our daughters for being so brave in signing this against their usually extremely shy nature at their school’s summer fair.

We wish each and and every one of you a very “Happy” day – every day!

Guaranteed to make you smile and feel good.

– SJ.