The Deaf Way.

There are particular people out there who anticipate a post from me each time an issue arises in the mainstream news or on social media concerning the deaf. This one is especially for you. Mwah.

There will always be people who will never be satisfied, regardless of who or what they happen to be yet others overjoyed with a simple balloon. There will always be people who think they are above others whilst others remain humble. There will always be people who are striving for change, some for better yet some, for attention. There will always be people who think of only themselves whilst others choose to be selfless. There will always be those who suffer from paranoia and others will not give a shit…. There will always….. There will always… There will always… There is always a balance..

Someone once upon a time caused an outrage when they decided that Justin Fletcher of CBeebies’ ‘Sometthing Special’ was signing “Fuck” when he was actually signing “Happy”. As a native BSL sign language user, the signs for “Fuck’ and ‘Happy’ are not even that close and it was clear as day, then and now, that he was and is signing “Happy”. The “Happy” sign has since sadly, evolved within Makaton as a result of someone’s bitter ‘misconceptions’. Makaton is derived from Britain Sign Language, both of which are man-made and is still a beautiful language, a form of communication (tool) for those who rely on it.

Whilst Sally Reynolds has decided to take Little Mix’s promoter to Court, many other deaf people do not and will not have the same level of access to legal services as she is able to. She is not the first to spit her dummy nor will she be the last. It is apparently, the deaf way.

One might say deaf people are in receipt of benefits to help pay for interpreters or in other words, access, where and when needed – IF any cannot be provided. There are events which will provide equality in the form of accessible inclusion as and when available, even when (politely) asked. If you consciously choose an event outside of any given dates, why would you knowingly attend, enjoy it to an extent and sue, perhaps ungratefully?

I hope people will feel encouraged in the meantime to patiently request, for their needs to be met regardless of what their needs and abilities may be. To continue having their right to choose. Just, do not take the piss by pushing your luck.

How you go about making a stand automatically reflects upon your community, for example, the deaf community as a whole. Not every deaf, deafened or hard of hearing member of the community can use or know BSL. Most do and will be able to use subtitles on TV and at the cinema so are able to make use of Captions at events where and when made available. Sign language interpreters be it in-vision or live is considered to be an added bonus, especially for the minority within the minority – who cannot get by in their everyday lives without sign language. My father is one of them and yet, he was born hearing.

While all our spots may never change, physically our bodies will. Let us all stop taking life for granted and help us, to help you, make a change. For a better and more inclusive place? God knows generations before us have tried, today’s are tying, should tomorrow’s continue our battles too? Until then, history will keep on repeating itself, deaf, (dis)abled or hearing.

This is one broken record.

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The ball is in, YOUR court.

Last but not least, I am choosing not to focus on the deaf world anymore because it is at a cost to me to keep on being passionate about deaf issues, of which keeps falling on deaf(ened) ears. Literally even. I have gone above and beyond in several instances only to be accused of seeking recognition by those whose noses were put out of joint. All because, I choose to tell things as they truthfully are. Accusing me, was and is, a sign of your/their weakness(es). I have now, much more important beings to focus on, I will however, continue to post as and when I wish to do so.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

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Deafness Blues

Challenges ahead

I was reminded today just how hard it can be, to be deaf.
An ATM was hungry and gobbled my bank card – not that anything was wrong with my card or account. Stupid (Link) machine played up. Arse.
Panicked a little as I had both X & X with me. I looked at Y in despair and said “My card is gone.” He also knew it was the machine and not my card cos I’m good that way 😜
Banks were closed… tried calling a number via my phone but I’d no credit. I’ve the minutes!! But not credit to call their rates… my money was in the bank. My card was in the machine.
Double arse!
Y’s luckily has dual SIM cards so he could use one of them to call the emergency line with.
Braced for hassles because he was speaking on my behalf.
“I need her to speak on the phone”
“She’s deaf, she cannot hear on the phone.”
Five mins later, I was asked to say my DOB into thin air, phone next to my lips.
How surreal.
Then my address.
Spoke to the ghost again and pushed away the phone. How uncomfortable that was yet it had to be done.
Bearing fraud in mind, card was stopped and a new card ordered.
X looked at me the n amazement, “What if you couldn’t speak clearly enough?!”
A night of despair and undue stress would have been the order of the day otherwise.
Gratitude overcame me and thanked Y for his help.
How frustrating.
For us all.

Treble arse.

~ SJ Sara Jae)

Update: There is no need to use Signvideo (which is only available with several banks) or Typetalk because downloading a mobile banking app will do the job. And then some.

Rumour Has It…

That I have had a breakdown. Hmmm, I must admit that when I heard that, I just had to laugh. Granted, for those of you concerned enough, it was not at all funny but alarming enough for you to actually approach me and find out the truth, for yourselves. I would like to applause those of you for having enough respect for me, to come to me, rather than conforming to the peer pressure of Chinese whispers amongst yourselves.

gossiping

“What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t witness with your mouth.”

As for the “breakdown” – it is absolutely and utterly untrue. IF there ever were one, it would have been before I founded the Tree House. There was a time when I was kicked whilst I was down but those who did not dare to look down on me – whilst I was down helped me back up again. After the Tree House was founded, there was another time when a good portion of my previous admin team tried to undermine, overpower me but I stood my ground, stood up (much to their horror hoping that I would stand by) and removed their flaws from damaging me, relatively the Tree House further. (A survival of the fittest of course) They still and will always try their best to damage it but that is their problem, therefore their waste of (negative) energy. These people are behind me, and so it should be the case, for you too.

I have now reached the stage where I do not need social media in my life – any longer. Social media has become quite the tool for sociopaths. It sucks people in, makes them mindless of others and sadly, the preciousness of face-to-face values is lost on most. If anything, the Tree House has been a lifeline to me for the past two years. I am oftentimes (albeit surprisingly) reminded that people can still be humane, respectful, kind, considerate, honest and genuine.

I do appreciate social media in the sense that it has reconnected me in the past, to long lost family and friends, for introducing me to some newfound friends that have brought laughter and tears to my heart. For reminding me, who not to be, who to steer clear of and just how twisted and bitter some people can be. That is not the way I wish to use my second chance at life – most people only get one chance and if they could turn back time and change certain aspects of their lives, they would. Thus, why, I am because I can. I have once again found the balance in my life in order for me to cherish life and social media is not part of that equation.

Look to the person next to you, to the cashier in the shops, to the stranger opposite you on public transport. Consider how they may be feeling or what they may be going through. They would love a friendly smile just as much as you do. Smell the freshly cut grass, cherish chocolate even – as a treat mind you! Strive to be righteous, honest and the best one can be. Find a way to being happy from within because being happy for a reason is dangerous since that reason can be taken away from you.

There is certainly no need for me to broadcast why I have taken a step back, a sabbatical, especially when it is for very personal reasons that only my family and a selected few friends deserve to know. They have after all, always been there for me.

Please, trust in me that when I say, I am more than fine, I am actually anticipating all the joy the future has in store, for me, and my children.

For… “What is coming is better than what has gone.”  

Onwards and upwards – Positivity rules!. 😉 😉

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

One Year On – Something Inside So Strong.

Upon reflection on how The Tree House has been nurtured since the seed of reality was first planted one year ago, how it has grown into a strong foundation and radiates with the warmth of the light from within. It is those who are able to welcome, include and consider diversity – all the various communication needs or abilities regardless, who exhibit a true strength of character.

Combine that strength with a sense of mutual respect for all and genuine intent to effect change for the better. Barriers are slowly but surely being broken down as the way forwards is being paved by those unsung, for simply being true to themselves and others in standing tall with courage.

With each and every one of you, wherever you may be – over the past year, there has been something inside growing ever so strong. Moreover, because of you wanting to be accepted for whom you may be and to have your voice – you are why we continue so. Onwards and upwards – wherever it may take us.

We are truly honoured to have been graced with the pleasure of your company.

Here we humbly share with you our very first anniversary tribute.

Thank YOU!

Can you tell who is hearing, hard of hearing, deaf or deafened in this video? Can you tell who relies solely on sign language to get by? Can you tell who is a CODA? Can you tell who is a lip-reader? Can you tell who tries their best to adapt to present company? No because that is the beauty of being so diverse and inclusive of all. All of which is not obvious in making this video and soundtrack possible.

Unfortunately we could not include all the clips and photos we were provided for this compilation as we sadly could not fit it all in order to show the full extent of the diversity. Thanks ever so, to all of you who contributed and supported us in the making of this video. It is very much appreciated – more than you realise. Please take your hats off to Paul for his time and patience in editing and compiling the videos together which produced the awesome final cut.

The full lyrics to the sound track on our video can be found by clicking on this link: (Something Inside) So Strong by Labi Siffre.

To view Sambuca’s or Danielle William’s (full length) signed song to the soundtrack “Something inside so strong” please click on these links: Sambuca’s signed song or Danielle William’s signed song.

Please feel free to join our rather diverse Facebook discussion group.

To be notified instantly of any new articles by The Tree House, please feel free to follow us on Twitter @treehouseviews, subscribe to our Facebook page and/or add us to your circle on Google + .

Positivity rules!

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Deafinitely Theatre at Shakespeare’s Globe.

A play by William Shakespeare performed in British Sign Language (BSL) by Deafinitely Theatre seemed inconceivable to some so I was most interested to see how it fared in a language that was so beautifully visual to that of the equivalent in written form. There is nothing like this available in mainstream theatre nowadays so there is a new world opening up hence making this my very first time to see a show of this nature – to experience it without having to read the synopsis in a programme during the interval.

By Deafinitely Theatre
By Deafinitely Theatre

Naturally, when a spare ticket was available after reading favourable reviews by friends, I grabbed the opportunity to seize the day and looked forwards to it tremendously, not knowing quite what to expect and experience. Just that I was “in for a real treat!” Everyone seemed eager to watch such a play of which we had all read great reviews about, inevitably making us all the more inquisitive. It seemed extremely apt that a play by Shakespeare was being performed at Shakespeare’s Globe. Seeing the Globe in all its uniqueness and glory gave me a sense of the individuality and era of the times.

The Globe Theatre
The Globe Theatre

I had only studied Hamlet at school and the old English still fascinates me yet how could a play by Shakespeare be transformed into sign language? The best thing to do was to forget about trying to figure it all out and just enjoy every moment, absorbing the whole atmosphere which had brought together a mixture of hearing and deaf people together. The community spirit was once again alive – this was of more importance.

Photo by Daniel Ondiz
Photo by Daniel McManus

Sounds of mystical music started to play live on stage, the performance was about to start! Faeries came alive setting the play into motion. Summarised captions were available at a certain height either side of the stage. As the show started to gain momentum, the whole experience started to be realised. “Puck” (Alim Jayda) by far was the most eye catching, who delved into character from start to finish being able to multi-task signing, acting and speaking albeit mischievously. “Bottoms” though, was my favourite as he (David Sands) managed to *really* make me laugh. “Hippolyta/Titania” simply wowed me. “She” was performed by a girl called Nadia Nadarajah, who I first met when she arrived at an old school of mine, being only 11 years old. It was such an honour to be able to watch everyone, to see how Nadia’s confidence had bloomed and who she had become since our school days. The overall passionate acting by the whole cast made up with a mixture of hearing / deaf actors and actresses some of whom are also CODA’s, well and truly brought the stage and the Globe’s spirit alive, leaving everyone feeling exceptionally impressed.

Photo by Heidi Robertson.
Photo by Heidi Kovisto-Robertson.

Watching a show, which seemed to have been adapted integrating the old with the new, in sign language – I find it immensely hard to put into words. As actions speak louder than words – some of you will know the score. The feelings, sights and sounds experience of it all I had never felt before. The sun was shining, a cool breeze could flow – a pigeon would swoop by, live refined music was being gently played setting the mood. The talking hands and body languages in silence was simply breath taking and an art form in a class of its own. Having loved each and every minute, I could now understand how a written play could be transformed into a visual yet very speech rendering show. Perhaps, not ideal for children as there was adult humour evident also. A thoroughly truly magical yet sensational and unique experience – one I would love to experience again. And again. And again!

Also one, I would highly recommend you to see.

Once the notion the show and experience of it all was ending, I felt sadness at having to leave the whole setting. Stepping through the antique doors of the Globe, it was clear as day Fate had decreed a group of old school friends were to meet once again at the very same performance on the same day, after many years!

Tammy, Louise, Andrew, Sara and Emma - Friends reunited.
Tammy, Louise, Andrew, Sara and Emma – Friends reunited

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Other reviews:

As quoted in the The Guardian‘s review regarding Deafinitely Theatre of their 2012 Globe to Globe production of Love’s Labour’s Lost
‘Deafinitely’s aim has always been to bridge the gap between deaf and hearing audiences, and the gap gets smaller here. It’s not only a new approach for existing Shakespeare fans; it also provides a great introduction to the playwright…… Definitely, I’d say, theatre for everyone’

As quoted in a review by Laura Seymour who is writing a PhD thesis on cognitive theory and Shakespeare in performance:
“This production’s mixture of British Sign Language, visual vernacular, and other visual storytelling (always arresting even to this non-signer, though I definitely understood the sign Quince was using for ‘Bottom’), and its continual, gently atmospheric background music, perfectly encapsulates Deafinitely’s mission to provide a theatrical experience that is inclusive of both Deaf and hearing people, and both those fluent in British Sign Language and those who cannot sign.

Interestingly, the moments when I felt the audience most came together were when the converse was true of the characters: when the mechanicals made visible the gap between the Deaf and hearing characters among them. Here, moments of misunderstanding or wilful misinterpretation were a delightfully innovative way of bringing out the humour in what Shakespeare intended to be a hashed, misread, and atrociously acted play-within-a-play.”