Anisa And Samian Face Deportation

There is a petition that is fast being shared via social media directed at the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to grant Anisa and Samian indefinite leave to remain.

“They have been living here with their loving foster family since they were abandoned by their parents in January 2013. Anisa and Samian are both profoundly deaf. They have attended mainstream schools in Tower Hamlets and are now at a specialist school where they are learning British Sign Language (BSL). Their foster family, with the support of Tower Hamlets education authority staff, are also learning BSL.

The Home Office claim that Anisa, Samian and their foster family are lying. They claim they are still in touch with the children’s parents, but have provided no evidence to support this. There is an appeal hearing to decide the case on 30th March.

As members of the local community, we demand that Anisa and Samian are allowed to stay in the UK where they have an established network of care, support, friendship and specialist schooling which meets their communication and educational needs. If deported, they go back to a very uncertain future in Bangladesh. It is disgraceful that such vulnerable young people should be treated in this callous way by the British Government.”

Having worked for the Immigration Appellate Authority in the past, they, the Home Office most likely will have the evidence required or, the lack of supporting evidence from the appellants to reach this determination.
Otherwise, what the public / the appellants need to do is prove that they genuinely fear for their lives upon being deported to their homeland.

Anisa (14) and Samian (12)
Anisa (14) and Samian (12)

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

 

Ten Reasons Why We Would Like Change.

We are all too aware that changes need to be made and asks ‘What would you like to see be changed?’

(SJ says, “I would like” because her grandmother always said, “I want – never gets”!)

Here is a list of some of the changes the Tree House dwellers long for;

I would like to see the deaf community put their differences aside and work together to improve access. I wish they would realise no one is superior or inferior to another.

I would like to see a bridge built between people of every walk of life (deaf and hearing for example) working together to establish common ground and to work out ways to bridge gaps that exist between the two camps.

I would like to see the deaf community unite regardless of different communication abilities to work towards the same aims because that would make inroads more.

I would like to see a day when being deaf does not feel like being punished for something you did not do!

I would like peace because I am a troubled person.

I would like people to stop having one rule for themselves and another for others because that is just selfish and unfair.

I would like change to happen from the top down so everyone is equal regardless of whether they are deaf, HoH, deafblind, blind, hearing or different in any other way.

I would like to see respect and tolerance between all human beings across the planet, and the gap between rich and poor hugely reduced.

I would like people to realise just how diverse the deaf community is and that not everyone is reliant on the same assumed method(s) of communication.

I would like to see the deaf community and the hearing world to look at the full picture instead of looking at one spot constantly and focus on the diversity cos we all are diverse and lastly unique…

Compiled by SJ (Sara Jae)

How Would You Like To Be Called?

I had been anticipating my ENT appointment for months now and finally this day had arrived. But, what a day?!

To begin with, I had been a regular patient at my local audiology department but when we last phoned for another appointment – I was notified I had to be referred back to audiology by visiting my GP, to ask to be referred to ENT who would then put me back through to audiology. What a palaver but if I needed new ear moulds and hearing aids then so be it. I persevered.

Going through the broad spectrum of emotions and thoughts, as I decided I needed to be there at least twenty minutes early to claim a prime position, in the waiting room – close enough to scan lip movements for any names being called out. I had clarified with the receptionist if they would be calling out names, she confirmed this and that she would let them know I was hard of hearing. I explained that I was deaf to reinforce just how profound my hearing loss is. “Oh ok, same thing” she replied. I had to remain calm and took my seat albeit feeling rather surprised.

“Mumble Mumble” started off the processing by the nurses and trainee doctors. Feelings of dread were not appeased nor swayed when I noticed this LED display board to one side welcoming patients;

“Welcome to ENT you will be called through to see a member of the ENT team”

IMG_0966

My GP’s surgery has the same sort of contraption except they use it to announce patients’ names on it, for a certain designated room to be seen by Dr X or Y. So relatively I wondered why the ENT and Audiology departments despite being specialists, could not implement the same quality of service to be inclusive of all. Digital technology in this day and age has advanced greatly but not in our NHS hospitals it seems. This needs to change for the better, for their sake and ours. After all, they did ask how patients wanted to be called.

How would you like to be called?
How would you like to be called? On the screen in ENT.

A Tree House dweller informed us that he once had a placard with his name on it whilst waiting for his appointment, much to the other patients’ amusement at the time. Unfortunately that is how appalling services can get and this is what he felt he had resort to in order to be seen.

I was now sensing the other patients in the ENT waiting room were becoming restless, demanding to know when they would be next seen and this poor nurse was trying to appease them. By this time I had managed to pull myself together from feeling quite annoyed at being passed to audiology and then back again to ENT not knowing why or if I would be seen, if at all. If they were getting angry at being delayed by mere minutes, I thought to myself how should I be feeling only to be made to wait potentially a few months extra for my new ear moulds and hearing aids after waiting months already, especially in such an environment?! I decided I was not going to let them feed me any negativity and found some inner peace to remain patient.

Patience is a virtue.
Patience is a virtue.

From not the usual place names were being called out (the doors in the photo above) but further to the side – I just about saw my name, whilst glancing, being clearly spoken. My turn – Glee and amazement at catching that! I had the consultant this time around who was particularly interested in my family’s history of deafness – why they were deaf, how and if my children were “ok”. He then enquired how my hearing aids were. I mentioned I had had them for about ten years now and the last time audiology tried to provide me with a new pair they did not suit me so handed them back hence why I was now eager to try again as my current ones were starting to become slightly temperamental. I am also scared of being left stranded with nothing to hear with. He explained to me that any new pair of hearing aids is most likely not going to suit me based on my audiogram so he is ordering a head scan to find the biological cause of my deafness since my mother was born deaf – cause also unknown and my father became deaf through meningitis. He was especially interested in my mother’s deafness and if she could talk well. “Yes” I replied, “Just like I can”. The consultant then expressed. “I would like to put you down for a cochlear implant if the new hearing aids do not work for you”. Instantly emerged a brand new, never experienced before emotion and it is one I cannot find the words to describe.

As my consultant returned me to the audiology’s waiting room and found me a seat; I thanked him for his time. Suddenly I found myself dismayed, wondering why I was once again back in Audiology! Recurring feelings along the lines of, “Do they know I’m here / am I in their queue?” I scanned once again for any names being called out. Whilst scanning one caller, I had not noticed another came out to call but noticed she had gone into reception to make a query about this piece of paper in her hand. She came back out and said… My name – Glee once again! Phew, that was a close call I determined– I had missed that first time around because I only have one pair of eyes.

Ear moulds casts were made and she too concurred that the new hearing aids might not work very well for me due to the “different new sounds” they would make. But as anticipated I was going to have to wait at least two months more for another appointment to get and try out these new hearing aids. If only they had seen me when we first called as I was already a patient then, I would not have had to wait so many months more. She understood my frustration and said she would try to get something earlier.

A cochlear implant? Me?! I must admit though being an honest person, if I hadn’t written this article regarding cochlear implants I most probably would not have been as open to the idea. One thing I do know at this point in time is that I am not looking forwards to the realisation of being left with less than adequate hearing from prospective replacement hearing aids – my current ones have lasted me for so long and they will not always continue to serve me well. Remaining positive though that the new pair will work just the same or better and if not, perhaps the next steps are meant to be. I would very much prefer to have the same quality of sounds or better – not less. Just as you would expect a replacement PC of the same specifications or upgrade to better specs.

Does this mark the beginning of what could be the next stages in my journey? Only time will tell and more patience once again. Upon reflection, I realised that by asking patients to be referred through all over again it was giving the consultants a chance to catch those that may have filtered through first time around and a chance to produce a more updated yet better care?

Going back to the title of this article, “How would YOU like to be called?” Be the change you wish to see so start that ripple effect by being courageous and letting your GP’s surgeries, Audiology and especially the ENT departments know, just how THEY can be more inclusive and improve their services.

Carpe diem!

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

I Long To Be….

There are barriers that our deafness prevents us from fulfilling certain aspects of life so I set dwellers a task to finish this sentence according to our own interpretations and dreams for in dreams are seeds planted of reality.

“I long to be….”

For in dreams are seeds planted of reality.
“For in dreams are seeds planted of reality.”

 I long to be free as a bird.

I long to be confident.

I long to be loved for being me.

I long to have stress free conversations, access to services where everyone is aware of our needs.

I long to be a performer on the stage where I warm people’s hearts and put a smile on their faces for days weeks and even years later.

I long to be able to give my daughter the best possible future without having to constantly chase education and medical professionals.

I long to work for education authorities who understand that a deaf child is not going to “get better” next year, and yes, they will need continued support.

I long to be someone who can make a difference and inspire others too.

I long to be given more access to services without having to constantly struggle with basic things like shopping, ordering food in a restaurant, or travelling.

I long to work somewhere I feel I belong, where I don’t feel socially isolated, and where colleagues are deaf aware, or willing to learn deaf awareness.

I long for access but the crafty part of me would like to continue crafty conversations where not everyone understands!

I long to be understood.

I long for a world where web live chat is a common alternative to phone calls!

I long for the day when hearing people no longer frown at me and say ‘I telephoned “Joe Bloggs” [whose deaf] yesterday but they didn’t answer the phone??!’

I long to see the technology we REALLY need to communicate (as deaf people) SPEED UP …and coming up to speed!

I long to see society take responsibility for excluding us in developments, new services, buildings etc.

I long for people to understand that Hearing Aids are great, but do not “solve” my “problem”.

I long to know if I’m meant to feel complimented or insulted when people say to me ”you’re deaf, really? Wow don’t you do well’

I long for hearing people to simply accept us as one of them.

I long to see an approved national independent governing body for all deaf issues.

I long to see people no longer dictating and undermining others.

I long to be a classroom teacher still, a job I have done for 30 years.

I long to be understood by the hearing community (of which I am part) and not have them say when I say I work with deaf people stupid things like ‘oh, you must know Braille’.

I long to read people’s minds… so I don’t have to make attempts at listening to them.

I long to be awarded a life-long exemption certificate from the hassles of having to prove I have not miraculously become hearing due to the inefficiency of the government and their services.

I long to be able to sing along with everyone else as I can hear the words of a song or even just be able to know what the song is and who the artist is.

I long for people to stop hanging up on type talk calls!!

I long to be taken seriously by all. Too often are my views brushed aside or disregarded simply because I won’t always be as confident in voicing my views as a deaf person in a mass of hearing people, and also some disregard because I am still young.

I long for labels to be dropped – at the end of the day we are all human, we all live on one planet and we all have the right to be ourselves – throw the labels away.

I long to able to occasionally be able to take back everything I’ve said, when I’ve answered a question only to find out I misheard and nothing I said makes sense in the conversation.

I long to be able to go about living my life the way I want to without having to adapt to what society insists we do!

I long to be always a Spring Chicken.

I long to open up narrow minded people to the wonderful and diverse world we are a part of as it is they who create barriers and divisions!

I long to see access rights for all the various communication needs and abilities.

I long to be accepted for the intelligent person I am.

I long to be considered as an equal and included as an equal based on justice.

I long to be listened to…..

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)

The “Read My Lips” Challenge.

A lip-reading challenge called #readmylips was set upon the Tree House dwellers by Kimberley Lucas which the members embraced with open arms and acceptance. A series of lip reading challenges ranging from easy to difficult not to forget memorable and humorous was the result. However, this shall not end within the Tree house as we invite you, to guess the song/poem we are silently reciting and once you have – please challenge others too as this is all part of raising awareness about Lip-reading.

Lip-reading to some comes naturally while others are self-taught and others rely on sound and context for assistance.

Have fun with these #hotlips and ‘Carpe diem’ !

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Waging A Dirty War

Sadly too many people are ill informed regarding the Israeli-Palestinian situation, the governments and the politicians of the West DO know the truth but because of their agendas, they will not act upon it to resolve anything.

No matter what you say about this issue, people will always accuse you of being bias one way or the other, only ignorant people would see it from one side of the fence and show bias with a closed mind and follow their friends just like sheep.

I came across Miko Peled’s very honest speech on YouTube which tells his side of the story about Israel:

(It is an hour long but it is worth watching if you really want to know the truth. You can turn on the captions but bear in mind they are automated subtitles so they naturally have a few mistakes. However the automated subtitles have many errors but with a bit of help and patience I have managed to compile a list of the errors alongside the corrections. This list can be found at the end of this article.)

Miko Peled who is an Israeli Jew and was born into a prominent Zionist military family, his father was a well-known Army General and Miko himself served in the Israeli Army. His sister who lost her daughter to a Palestinian suicide bombing was a friend of Netanyahu (the current Israeli prime minister) and this incident happened while Netanyahu was also the prime minister then.

My introduction of Miko would have you assuming that I am biased already because how can I pick an Israeli Jew to shed a light on the issue of Israeli /Palestinian conflict? Never assume!

Far from it, Miko tells it like it is. Nothing deterred him from telling the truth, telling the truth was his mission and I am sure in the process he must have lost many friends. When you speak out, you have a lot to lose and life can become a lot harder for you and this why I feel he has nothing to gain apart from telling the truth.

Here is a summary of Miko’s book by LUDWIG WATZAL

Miko Peled, The General’s Son, a journey of an Israeli in Palestine.

Mika Peled.

In 1997, a tragedy struck the family of Israeli-American Miko Peled. His 13-year-old niece Smadar was killed by suicide bombers in Jerusalem. Born into a prominent Zionist military family, his father was a prominent general, who turned after the Israel’s “war of aggression” in 1967, into an advocate of peace with the Palestinians, the real owners of the land of Palestine. The tragic death of his niece served as an “eye-opener”. His personal journey from a Zionist by education, family and societal socialization into an outspoken critic of Israel’s colonial and aggressive policy is convincingly documented in his extraordinary book: “The General’s Son”.

His sister, Nurit Peled-Elhanan, reacted very unusually to the tragic death of her daughter. She did not blame the suicide bombers but the occupation policy of the Israeli governments. At that time, Benyamin Netanyhu served his first term as Israel’s Prime Minister. As a mother, she did not call for revenge because Israel’s long lasting mistreatment of the Palestinian people created people like them. Miko Peled makes it also very clear that Israeli policy has to be blamed. His sister, Nurit Peled-Elhanan, is a well-known professor for language and education at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her latest book “Palestine in Israeli Schoolbooks” (or video) shows how Israeli school children are indoctrinated by outright racism and Zionist ideology. This manipulation occurs at different fields like images, maps, layouts and use of language in History, Geography and Civic Studies textbook, The manipulation by education aims at the marginalization of Palestinians and reinforces Jewish-Israeli identity.

The author himself was a victim of Zionist indoctrination that stigmatized a whole people to enemies he has had no opportunity to really know. This insanity ended when Miko Peled met for the first time Palestinians in San Diego. With these meetings began a journey from darkness to enlightenment. Step by step, he stripped himself of the taught ignorance of the so-called “other”.

Forty years later, Miko Peled followed into his father’s footsteps, General Mattiyahu (Matti) Peled. He was the first famous member of the Zionist military establishment who “violated” the esprit de corps. Courageously, he debunked the Zionist mystique about the Six-Day War of June 1967. Everybody, who is not a partisan, knows that it was a war of aggression, planned by the military establishment, the second generation, against the will of the political leadership, the immigrant generation. One should read the statements by Israeli politicians like Menachem Begin or other top brass of the military elite. But neither the US nor European academics incorporate their statements into their analysis because it would destroy the myth about the Six-Day War that Zionist Hasbara (propaganda) has created.

The author combines the exceptional history of his family, the political development of the State of Israel and his personal conversion to a fundamental critic of the policy of the different Israeli governments. As a former soldier he knows what he is talking when it comes to the Israeli army: It is the “best trained, best equipped, best fed terrorist organization in the world”, so Miko Peled in his speech on October 1, 2012 in Seattle. “Their entire purpose is terrorism.” What will the “Israel Lobby” and its fans in the US or Western Europe says against this realistic characterization? They will yell out: “self-hating Jew”; “Anti-Semite” would not work well against a former Israeli soldier, or their other ridiculous accusations. Presumably, they will just hush up. Nevertheless, should it occur to the public that their only argument against Peled’s very convincing arguments might be character assassinations? What Peled writes cannot be confounded by the Zionists all over the world. Even the universal weapon of “anti-Semitism” would go unheard.

Not the so-called anti-Semites or the so-called self-hating Jews have to justify their legitimate criticism of the brutality of the Israeli government policies against a defenseless people but the Zionist crowd in the US and all over the world. Peled stresses that the “Israel Lobby” and their cheerleaders have to explain why a so-called “Jewish and democratic state” colonizes against international law, human and real democratic rights a people and destroy systematically their existence by house demolitions, expulsion, torture, settler and military terrorism, uprooting trees, build Jewish-only roads, establish a different law systems, one for Jews and the others for “barbarians”, or the massacre in the Gaza Strip in 2008/09 that caused the death of more than 1400 people, most of them women and children. How the “Israel Lobby” does explain more than 30 laws that discriminate against Israeli Palestinians who live in Israel proper and are citizens of the State of Israel? More and more Jews with conscience in the US turn their back on Israel. They are fed up that Judaism is taken hostage by Zionist ideology. Norman Finkelstein’s book “Knowing too much” and Peter Beinart’s book “The Crisis of Zionism” are evidence for this theory.

Either the whites in South Africa or the whites in the south of the US did not like equal rights for “blacks”. Both racist regimes were not dissolved “by consensus”, writes Peled and he continues saying: “But Zionism like racism has to go. The Zionist state has to be replaced by a democracy.”

– LUDWIG WATZAL

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13540289-the-general-s-son

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Generals-Son-Journey-Palestine/dp/193598215X

These are just some of the reviews left by readers of this book.

This review is from: The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine (Paperback)

I expect like most I previously hadn’t thought too much about the history of Israel or as it turns out, the arcane, arrogant attitudes of the leadership of the Israeli people. This book through the personal story of Miko Peled gave me an insight to both and opened my eyes to the real situation in place today between Israel and Palestine and its people. My views are now more refined and lead me to believe that the Israeli government has serious questions to answer and much for which to atone.

 This review is from: The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine (Kindle Edition)

Miko Peled takes the reader on a journey across the divide of hate created by Zionism in both Israel and Palestine. In tackling the apocalyptic cruelty of extreme far-right statehood and racial supremacism, his touching humanity towards his Middle Eastern brothers shines through. Great read.

 This review is from: The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine (Paperback)

Miko Peled’s credentials are impeccable; he was a captain in the Israeli Defence Force, his father was a General in the IDF and his grandfather took part in the declaration of Israeli independence. Despite all of that he has now turned his back on Zionism and explains in the book, with humility and humanity his reasons for doing so. After conducting his own research he also discredits many of the Zionist myths, including the background to the 1967 war and the true circumstances behind the Palestinians leaving their homes and homeland. Probably because of its explosive contents, this book has had little coverage in the UK media, all the more reason to read it.

"From Israel with love"
“From Israel with love”

“I was 39 years old, I was here in United states and that was the very first time I ever met Palestinians, I grew up in Jerusalem, I was born and raised in Jerusalem a mixed city, the first time I ever sat with Palestinians in a normal setting as a completely equal people was here in United states because even though Jerusalem is you know so called united and so on it is completely segregated”

“This country (Israel/Palestine) has a FIFTEEN hundred-year old history of Arab and Muslim rule, it was an Arab and Muslim country more than anything else in history, so that has to be destroyed monuments have to be destroyed names have to be changed the history have to be rewritten to connect once again to King David to today’s Israel and completely disregard the fact that this is in fact an Arab country that is in fact in the centre of the Arab world”

– Miko Peled (extracts as spoken in his video above)

Map of Palestine.

I hope the madness of Israeli leadership will stop one day. They are generating so much hatred towards themselves from the Arab world; they are not doing themselves any favours. If the tables are turned one day and they find themselves pushed to the sea they will only have themselves to blame.

The Jews have hi-jacked the term ‘Semite’ to apply to them, when a ‘Semite’ is basically a definition of the Arab race, there is actually no such thing as the Jewish race, u can have black Jews, Indian Jews Chinese Jews ad nauseum infinitum. A shared belief in a specific religion or philosophy does not constitute a ‘race’, the Jews are in fact the biggest anti-Semites ever who are taking the pith by bombing the Arabs during their holiest month which only goes to show just how oppressive they are – in other words, “Bullies”.

What Israel is imposing is actually an act of crime which the world is turning a blind eye on. If we are bystanders to injustice, we invite injustice our way. Where are the Palestinian’s human rights?? Hitler tried ethnic cleansing on the Jews which is what the Jews are doing to the Arabs. Where is the support world over, for the Palestinians?!

UNITED NATIONS RESOLUTION 3013 from 1973:

“The struggles of people under colonial and alien determination and racist regimes for the implementation of their right to self-determination and independence is legitimate and in full accordance with the principals of international law”.

For live updates on Israel’s military offensive on the Gaza Strip, click “here“.

A mother and her child.
A mother and her child.

Each and every one of us is someone’s child – How many more can the world ignore? Where is the justice and peace? There is not a parent in this world who could ignore this.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

 

 

The mistakes from the automated captions on Miko Peled’s video and the corrections alongside it:

Sinus = Zionist

Joomla = Jew

The design dist = The Zionists

Our fight = Arafat (Yasser Arafat)

Pillow = P.L.O (Palestinian Liberation Organisation)

Brock = Barak (Obama)

The arab eyes in = De-Arabising

The advising the country = De-Arabising the country

Sign ism = Zionism

And design a state = a Zionist state

Piano Master = P.L.O ambassador

The Picture my anus (LOL) = the picture of my niece  

Big nose = Big news

One Day In Our Lives.

Having stepped into our lives for one day, you will remember how scared you were crossing the road and how hard it was to use an entry doorbell system. But most of all what it was like to be deaf and how it felt; frustrated, exhausted and withdrawn all by having to focus on people’s lips and being extra cautious of everyone and everything around us. In just one day you saw how attitudes changed around you and perhaps how people judged a book by its cover.

“Going deaf for the day was one of the most insightful yet exhausting days of my life.” – John Barrowman.

We thank you for choosing to spend one day in our lives. For some people, one day has been known to be too distressing. For others, a whole new world opened up which left them more mindful and considerate of our various needs and abilities. Kudos to you for dedicating a day in your life in order to understand what it may be like to be deaf.

However – you knew that was coming right?

Eloise mentioned, “On the one hand, good to spread awareness, but on the other not a true representation of it at all. These people have a ‘simulation’ of a mild-moderate (conductive) hearing loss. Now try adding tinnitus, distortion, balance issues, fluctuations on hearing, hyperacusis to certain sounds, and more to that. It would be nice to give them a REAL taste of what it’s like – for say, a week – with all the added complications and various other things added on top. With being deaf, there is no guessing what’s round the corner sometimes!

Also the people who do this are going from a completely hearing perspective, knowing their ‘condition’ is only temporary. Okay, this might help to simulate someone with a sudden CONDUCTIVE loss but not a sensorineural one, and no more than moderate. They won’t have built up coping mechanisms so they’re more likely to feel angry and aggrieved at things we are generally used to, and not angry at longer-term effects or experiences we have as deafies. The ‘problem’ in this is that hearing loss isn’t very simple – every person has a different experience of it. So John Barrowman still has the ability to talk to people verbally, but will never experience the communication barriers of someone who solely uses BSL.

But as I say, equally, it’s a very interesting thing to do. It gives them SOME insight into what we deal with. It’s pretty much impossible to simulate a sensorineural loss for someone who has perfect hearing – so why not go 2nd best and simply block up their ears? It’s the easiest solution for a complicated task. I have a fab ‘party trick’ that I do when I’m teaching schoolchildren about hearing loss when I do talks. I get them all to put plastic cups over their ears and all talk at the same time. The noise generated by say, 50 voices, is distorted by the cups and background noise is emphasised. Most of the time the children can’t understand what the child next to them is saying. And that’s teaching them why deaf people struggle with background noise.”

My GP once told me that everyone can lip read – at least 25% of us, hearing and deaf, can without realising it. But it does not happen “just like that” as Tommy Cooper would say. It is a brave thing to do to be part of that ripple effect in raising awareness however it is done, I am more concerned about those who feel the salt rub in that little bit more because I used to work as a care assistant – my clients never liked seeing someone get in a wheelchair to see what it was like only for them to get up and walk away afterwards. While it is useful for some people, it balances out for others.

Eloise added “Lip-reading’s not really that easy – we all do lip-read (deaf or hearing) but obviously we have to really rely on it more. When I was younger (maybe about 9 or 10 – still in brownies) I took part in a disability awareness week. This was my pre-hearing aid days. I went in a wheelchair for a few hours around town with some friends and the leaders at Brownies. That experience has always stayed with me because people stared, pitied etc. But that’s me, as a ‘walking person’ who only did that for a short time. I didn’t REALLY experience the day-to-day struggles. I didn’t have to think too hard about accessibility or getting home somehow. Or about having to get myself in to bed etc.”

A few people shared a similar concern that videos of this nature would suggest everyone suffers from the same relative effects and we all need a dog as John Barrowman is Hearing Dogs‘ celebrity ambassador for 2014. This to some would smack of being a publicity stunt and a ploy to advertise but if it helps to raise awareness at the same time then why not? Any publicity is good publicity. Just we ask, as mainstream as possible.

Helen expressed her opinion by saying “I think it would be a better impact if they get the ear plugs AND be in a foreign language environment then they would be struggling with sound AND communication issues for a week. John Barrowman in a Japanese or Spanish city for a week would be more interesting – to see how he deals with the daily life e.g. shopping, travelling locally etc.”

Hear hear! (Pardon the pun) as we all agreed this would really give someone a truer insight.

While Andrew reminded us this is… “You may have heard of the Medical Model and the Social Model? Well this is medical model. The idea that giving people a dog will cure the deafness. In just one day they can’t really cover the social side to any degree, so this is medical model. I don’t think it is a great idea to favour one or the other model. Most of us benefit from gadgets like hearing aids and flashing doorbells. Straight medical model. But the effect on our lives is mostly social, it’s about people’s perceptions of deafness (“I’m only deaf, not daft”) and how people won’t employ us because they think we can’t cope. That’s 100% social. So to describe deafness in those terms you can say that everyone falls along the spectrum of medical/social mix to some degree. That’s why I think some people are wrong in running down the medical model. It has its place in the grand scheme of things but there’s much more to us. We’re not that simple.”

Isabelle contributed “I don’t see it as someone “doing things on our behalf”, but I see it as a hearing person trying to get a glimpse of what it might be like to live a normal life in our society without hearing, or with less than perfect hearing. Perhaps we should all consider things like that. I sometimes go around my house closing my eyes and trying to do things without seeing, so that I can get a tiny idea of what it’s like for my cousin who is blind, or for other blind people. I believe that, whilst it’s perhaps not the best way to raise deaf awareness, or promote the ABILITY of deaf people, it’s a positive thing to see a famous person on TV trying to see things from the perspective of a person with a disability (or if one doesn’t want to think about deafness as a disability, trying to see things from the perspective of someone who has a hearing loss). I think we have to be careful not to over-criticise such attempts, because it may be counter-productive. Perhaps we need to take a more pro-active role ourselves, rather than except others to come and ask us to come up with ideas?”

As Angel remarked because she “actually began to appreciate the different levels of accepting what John Barrowman and previously Pam St Clement and Tim Vincent is really down to who you are and how you view your deafness and when you became deaf. I am fine with what they are doing purely because they are showing other hearing people this is a worthy cause and touching on a subject that is; well, as they keep saying invisible!!! Maybe stepping back and considering the various ways that hearing loss is represented from mild right down to totally deaf will put the exercise into perspective. I believe we will all view this with our own experiences of hearing loss and how we have dealt with it and what life has dealt. For that I respect we are not all going to agree however I will support anything that helps to raise awareness in any small form and of course raise money for a worthy cause.”

On top of all that, it is always best to put across a balanced and informed deposition as it is all educational and part of the ripple effect in helping to raise deaf awareness. Thank you to those, who have dedicated just two minutes, half an hour or a day to step into our lives as best as it could have been constructed just to understand our medical model as it is in our predicament and how best to adapt to our needs. When it touches a soul so much so that they want to be a part of that change for the better – herein lies true insight and passion.

One day in our shoes will at least contribute in making the world a better place, for you and for us as it is all educational and a part of the ripple effect – please don’t take anything for granted or forget that we have to live the rest of our lives with this deafness albeit with both the social and medical models.

Thank you for your time and patience.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

(To read John Barrowman’s diary “Deaf for the Day” – click here.)

Be A Good Sport – Not A Spoilsport!

When the Olympics first began, competitors used to start making their way there, months beforehand on foot from their homelands. The ‘lucky ones’ (who had the means) would ride on their four legged animals. Just so, they could take part. As long as there is a will, there will always be a way.

I keep being reminded of a healthy debate I contributed to some years ago on another forum – due to an age old record player which needs fixing, I have decided it was time for me to publically contribute my opinions.

The media, unfortunately, lacks the inclination to present both sides of the stories on the same piece of paper when everyone deserves to see the balanced argument with explanations, rather than just one side of the story brewing some ill feelings.

An ancient olympic statue

Firstly,

Here is a quote from the Paralympics FAQs:

“Why are deaf athletes excluded?

ParalympicsGB is non-discriminatory and applauds all disabled sportsmen and women who achieve on the world stage. Deaf sportsmen and women have taken part in their own Games ever since the International Silent Games (now the Deaflympics) of 1924. As a result deaf sports are not members of the BPA and are not funded in the same way as other NGBs. Athletes with a hearing impairment do compete in the Paralympic Games when the hearing loss is one of their impairments but when they also have another impairment which is classifiable at the Paralympic Games.”

As deafness is considered an impairment by the IPC, it therefore falls within their eligibility rules – so, shouldn’t there be a category/classification for that particular form of impairment?

But then again as someone rightly pointed out “Blindness is a sensory disability not physical yet they are in?”

Deaf people are not excluded – from the Olympics. As there are athletes past and present – as listed on this link: Deaf people in the Olympics.

Just that deaf people are sometimes stuck between a rock and a hard place, sometimes not of their own doing.

Deaflympics first held their event in 1924 because in the olden days, there was no deaf awareness at all within society. Which is understandable and it was within their rights. Yet now times have changed – so has technology. There are now starting light indicators and systems in place to alert those with deafness. The only problem I can spot is there is no “False Start” indicator (that I know of) to alert them of such – at my school, there would be a line dropped down into the swimming pool whenever there was a false start, to alert the swimmers.

Modern times require modern attitudes.

Here is a quote from a friend who wishes to remain anonymous:

 “Though international meets for Deaf athletes, under various titles – Deaf Olympics / Deaflympics, have existed many decades before the Paralympics. Had the Paras been formed first, I suspect they’d have already categorized Deaf / HI and not only under the current additional disabilities – as for those who competed within the CP classifications. Methinks main issue is communication within, and wanting to organise under the same facility and not as an afterthought (using speech-to-sign interpreters). Personally I think the Deaf should lobby to become a part of the Paras but with deaf organisers as in a slightly separate arm of the umbrella organisation. Majority of the Deaf around the world have experienced negative discrimination indirectly or otherwise, so understandable is the desire to perform as a collective on an equal footing, recognition by peers is that powerful. “

Regarding the lack of Paralympic funding or lack of deaf participants – the younger deaf sports generation needs to be told why this is so in the first place as the decision to remain separate from the Paralympics and have their own games, did not involve them. Let them have their choice and the right to use their voice to be “heard” what they would like to see happen. The older generation, just needs to be reminded that their decision to remain separate caused their funding to cease further.

There are foreign Paralympic participants from third world countries who have had no or very little funding and they have been driven to raise their own funding by doing sky diving jumps etc just so they can participate in the Paralympics. They are not complacent at all. Just google for them and you will find them – I did.

It is such a shame to see that people forget how good their life is, how free everything is. How available money and equipment is. That one’s decisions have consequences. They / we have all these things yet certain people still want more money to be handed over.

There is no excuse not to participate in the Olympics / Paralympics when one can / wants to do so – they have the means to treat one as an equal, as long as one wants to be treated so – it would be fantastic to participate in the ‘lympics AND have their own Deaflympics games. What’s so wrong with that? One would be a better sportsperson, in all senses.

I am a big fan of equality as you may have worked out already however I have spotted this paragraph on the Deaflympic website:

 “Unlike other games for athletes with disabilities, which are all directed by non-disabled officials, the Deaflympics are run by deaf people for deaf athletes.”

Is this not discriminatory? There will be hearing coaches/teachers for the deaf or qualified officials who have dealings with the deaf yet they have no right to be a part of it?

The Paralympics and the Olympics do allow deaf participants if they meet their sporting standards. They are not refusing them – they cannot. Otherwise the deaf would point and say ‘Discrimination’. We would all be the first to lobby for their access and rights had the Olympics and/or Paralympics denied the deaf. Turn the tables and what would happen?

There is not much to ask for in the games – do all the foreign nationals who are taking part need a language translator to be with them all the time? Are all the announcements translated in succession? Of course one will be provided if there is a meeting or interview etc if needed. Yet again, the translator is most likely to be a volunteer so using the expenses of hiring interpreters etc as an excuse, does not really fly. I used the example of foreign nationals because they have the most in common with us in the sense that we have difficulties with following/understanding speech/language – do the foreign nationals make an issue out of not being able to understand another foreign language? They cope. Just like the rest of us could / would. With a smile and a positive attitude. 🙂

There are other examples who require far more assistance than the deaf do yet the Deaflympics are the ones who are asking for the most assistance / to have certain events dedicated to them. They to refuse to participate because the committee said no to interpreters? Then they have the cheek to ask why they don’t get the same level of funding as the others who are taking part, regardless.

Do we need assistance to use the loo? To take a shower, to change our clothes? To be fed? To get from A – B?

People take life, limbs, senses for granted. It’s here with us now but it could be gone tomorrow. You never know.

The Olympic and Paralympic committee know what each and every disability needs or means. They cannot be fooled. They are treating everyone as an EQUAL as long as they want to be treated so.

I was told by someone from the Deaflympics that they have participants who have faster times than some of those in the ‘lympics – Let’s give them their moment of glory in the elite world games. Let’s give them the encouragement / support they so deserve?

We as deaf people get hearing aids automatically as very young children because of the wealthy country we live in, just because we can. Other deaf children in poorer countries have to do without. What annoys me most of all, is that there are certain people saying others get everything they want which in my eyes is rather cheeky and spitting the dummy. So much so they will even use the “deaf card” in order to get what they want.

Do people actually know how long a child goes without a wheelchair before it is their first set of wheels? Someone who once worked with me felt stuck in a manual wheelchair because there was no support or funds for her to have an electric one. She was working so she could save towards one.

Why should they have to experience all of that and be told ‘they get all the support they need, all the funding they want’?!

If that was the case, there would be many more Paralympians taking part.

An independent investigation is needed.

No one has taken the initiative to question what is being said and/or why, to think for themselves. To find out what’s on the other side of the coin – it is very easy to imitate when one has a close connection to certain people due to influence of a natural bias.

The deaf community have every right to have their own games as everyone else has their own inclusive communities. The deaf will always have their own Deaflympics to have the opportunity to shine / compete in all events, within the deaf community / world. It is their right. As the OAP’s and other like minded/bodied communities are entitled to their own.

Just I ask, for them to view the Olympics and the Paralympics as a place where everyone comes together as equals. No one is asking them to drop their own games or refusing them participation.

Fitness levels are filtered out and dictates who wins a medal. It is not the impairment / disability although they will be filtered into the appropriate categories.

It is the future deaf generation that we need to concentrate on, to help them think along the same lines – equality, integration – which needs to be incorporated as soon as possible.

Be a good sport – not a spoilsport!

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Disabled Parking.

Some of the troubles the deaf-blind have to face – that even we are not aware of just as much, ourselves.

Parking like this is a hindrance, endangers and disables pedestrians using their guide dogs from safely walking on by.

She says whom I quote:

“I have asked my husband to film this for awareness to show how blocking pavement affecting us and evidence. The great way to raise awareness about parking on pavement blocking us, it’s forcing us to get on the road. In the fact, I’m deafblind I’m never able to know if another car is about to come, my guide dog refused to go through the gap because it’s too narrow, it’s very unsafe for visual impaired people with guide dogs, and other people with any assistant dogs, prams, wheelchair. Please be considerate and be kind not to park your cars on pavement. Feel free to share video thank you.”

Disabled Parking.
Disabled Parking.

Hence the title, “Disabled Parking” simply because they cannot park – correctly.

Another friend remarked how the other day, after seeing the above video which demonstrates one of the daily frustrations the deafblind community faces:

There was a van parked on pavement of a quite busy road, there were a chap who lives near me who has blindness and uses a guide dog, last night I was walking Boris and I saw his dog refusing to go anywhere, I asked if he’s alright, he said the dog won’t go further or go in a different direction (because he only knows this specific route to home and he uses this route every day), I said there’s a van on the pavement and he said “But the road is very busy too!” So I assist him different way of getting home without having to go through the traffic. He was very grateful, I left a note explaining the situation and said if it happens again the police will be called on the van (and photo taken with date on it!”

Show us you care by being aware!

~ SJ (Sara Jae)