By Any Means Necessary

A recent article at the Rim actually made me think and see things a bit clearer after recent posts over at the Tree House was questioned regarding our preferred methods of communication…. I did not know whether to laugh or feel insulted as I had not seen any evidence within the Tree House to justify said question. Dwellers were extremely quick to reinforce the ethos of the Tree House and supported the fact that it was a place where everyone could be themselves and accepted regardless of their communication needs and/or abilities. After a few moments of head banging on the wall, peace was once again thankfully restored.

At this moment in time, the rifts between certain communities could not be wider. Attitudes in today’s society seem to be going backwards that even I am disturbed to find this trait exists within our own government.

In our case, I shall use the example of the “deaf world” and “hearing world”. A lot of it comes down to other people segregating the two worlds, categorising and judging. I have not felt accepted in either “world” because of how they have perceived me to be “different” and dictated how one should be,  i.e.: I was damned if I did sign/speak or damned if I did not sign/speak. Coming from a family who happened to be deaf and having signed all my life you would assume I would not present myself the way I do – why should I appear in a certain way? I am who I am and here in my world, there is only one that everyone shares. No one is categorised unless they categorise themselves and impose the two worlds onto us.

Why does there even have to be any restrictions in the first place when it comes to communication? All forms of communication should be embraced and not rejected. Surely it is an advantage if one can express themselves by different means necessary? Over time as communication evolves and improves, it will become even more enriching for us as there is nothing wrong whatsoever in being multi-lingual.

 “If all my possessions were taken from me with one exception, I would choose to keep the power of communication, for by it I would soon regain all the rest.” – Daniel Webster.

SOS
SOS

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Show Us You Care. Be Deaf Aware!

To Whom It May Concern,

‘Deaf Awareness Week’ is upon us, so we thought we would take this opportunity to highlight what deaf awareness means to all of us. ‘Deaf Awareness Week’ happens for a reason and we wanted to share with you why we think it is important.

First of all, as a collective group of deaf people, we wanted to educate those who want to learn about what deafness is like for some people and how to overcome what may appear to be issues and barriers. In some cases there have been situations related to deaf awareness (or in many cases the lack of it), which have resulted in life threatening or even life-saving events. Although these situations are rare, they are still happening as a result of misunderstandings caused by peoples’ lack of deaf awareness. That is why it is so vitally important to inform you of the various support, needs, abilities and equipment the deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind people have and require.

Most people do not realise there is a deaf person besides them, or in front of them. It is the majority of the time, a hidden disability. People only realise it when it becomes visibly clear. The person may start to sign or their hearing device(s) becomes visible. More often than not, when they do not respond to your pleas of “Excuse me please” – they are assumed ignorant or rude.

For some people ‘Deaf Awareness Week’ has started to lose its impact because it feels like it is the same old beat year after year. Although it is one way of trying to drum it into some people who may not be aware of it or what it represents, for some other deaf people they may know the tune all too well. It naturally gets a little irritating for the deaf when they see no changes taking place in society to raise deaf awareness. There is not much point trying to tell other deaf people what they already know. We feel that we need to teach everyone in our society the importance of deaf awareness, whether you are deaf or hearing and touch their inner souls. Deaf people need to actually feel that changes are taking place within the hearing world and that real steps are being taken to reach equality and inclusion for all, regardless of anyone’s disability or differences.

“What are those in your ears?” is one of the most common questions deaf people are asked, by young children especially. Once again, it is because they are visible. “They are hearing aids – they help people to hear more” we say. An amazed expression inevitably takes over their sweet angelic faces. The children then grow up, knowing that deaf people exist. This is because they have interacted and been friends with them, to some extent. Why is it then, that adults who know there are those living with hearing loss around them, cannot make the adjustments to at least meet deaf people half way and show greater deaf awareness??

We travel just like hearing people do, on public transport. Yet we endure panic attacks whenever tannoy announcements are made. Why is this? Because there are no on-screen displays to relay what was said over the tannoys, for those who cannot understand or for those who misheard and would like confirmation, such as – foreigners who cannot speak our language. Sounds consist of many different layers and hold so much information. Yet we, the deaf, hard of hearing, deafened and the deaf blind miss out on hearing and processing vital travel information like this on an everyday basis.

Subtitles (otherwise known as captions) are a vital tool, not only for deaf people but also for many others who would benefit from them. They are inclusive, educational and also they can be turned off whenever they are not needed. Why do we need to keep asking for them to be provided? Why do we need to keep asking for interpreters, be it a Signer, Lip-speaker or note-taker? Surely we are not asking for too much, to be remembered and considered. To be asked what means of support we would like. To be honest, that precise moment when someone who understands, remembers and is deaf-aware comes out of the blue – it is heaven sent. That elated overwhelming feeling is just indescribable. Only a deaf person would understand what it feels like.

Imagine what it would be like if you resided in a country, whose language was not your own native language (both spoken and written). You feel like an illegal alien seeing and feeling the chaos happening all around you. You can just about hear the hustle and bustle but not understand it due to the intensity. It becomes unbearable having to endure this on a daily basis. Then suddenly after what seems to be an extremely long period of isolation, a friendly, considerate and kind person asks you in your mother tongue, if you need any assistance. For you, that would be a God-given moment. This is what it feels like for us to be deaf in our own society, every day.

What if you were seriously ill in hospital and you desperately want to know what is wrong with you and what is happening to you. But you cannot ask, or be understood by the doctors and medical staff. They try to tell you but you cannot understand them. You feel immense frustration at leaving your health and life in their hands while realising just how fragile it is and how little you have understood about your own health. We believe it is inevitable that a deaf person’s life will one day be taken accidentally due to a misdiagnosis or fate decreed a path that turned by being lost in translation.

Imagine the love and pride you feel for your children. You have the opportunity to meet their school teachers and hear their praises. The school assemblies you are cordially invited to because your child is receiving a certificate or is taking part in a school play. You want to cherish every single moment. For us, we leave feeling disempowered and frustrated because we simply cannot follow or enjoy it to the maximum like everyone else.

Deaf awareness is just not there, in everyday life to support us. Yes, technology is advancing all the time and it is admirable how much more inclusive it has become. Because of it. But, it is up to people like you to want to instil that inclusion. The technology is there for you to use to increase access and promote equality for all of us. You only have to use it.

“Ask, don’t assume”. What do we mean by this? – This is when people assume what they think we need and provide for us accordingly, instead of asking. This needs to change. For instance, it is a common assumption that deaf people all use sign language. This is simply not the case. Although there is a sizeable minority who use Sign Language as their main method of communication, there are many more deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people who do not know sign language and use other methods of communication instead. There are various communication needs that different deaf people require across the broad spectrum, and their level of hearing loss and communication methods relatively vary widely too. Therefore, please, ask us what we would like in place, in terms of communication support, to enable access and to empower us to make us feel equal to everyone else in society. If the right communication support is not in place, this is when we most feel disempowered and disabled.

“Nothing about us, without us”. What do we mean by this? – So many times people will speak on our behalf about what they think we want or need. Without asking, consulting or including us – this for some people would be an insult because for us, we know best what works for us and what we would like in place. For some people, we understand its a form of paternalism. For others, it may actually be about publicity and/or trying to raise funds for their particular cause or charity.

We admire and respect people who empower deaf people to be independent and equal to everyone else. We take our hats off to these people because they understand what it is like to be deaf. This is what we need. They more or less understand to an extent the awareness and insights from being a part of our language and our culture. Good deaf awareness only happens when the empathy, understanding, consideration and support is there and it is truly meant.

So, in order to demonstrate good deaf awareness, we recommend the following simple but effective top communication tips to ease communication with deaf people:

•Make sure you have the person’s attention before you start speaking.

•Places with good lighting (so that you can be lipread) and little or no background noise are best for conversations.

•Face the person so you can be lipread and speak clearly (as you normally would) using plain language, normal lip movements and facial expressions.

•Check whether the person understands what you are saying and, if not, try saying it in a different way.

•Keep your voice down as it’s uncomfortable for a hearing aid user if you shout and it looks aggressive.

•Learn fingerspelling or some basic British Sign Language (BSL).

These tips are very simple, but are likely to lead to much better communication exchanges with a deaf person. For most deaf people, unfortunately their “Deaf Awareness Week” lasts a whole lifetime. For some, it’s a tragic yet progressive or sudden nightmare. To lose sounds and connections gradually or just like that can feel like a living hell. People who are more mindful of others tend not to take anything for granted.

As an example of what it feels like to lose your hearing try this video which stimulates the various hearing loss sensations (by ‘Hear the World‘). Please watch until the very end.

No captions were (ironically) made but we hope that it gives you an insight into how much we rely on captions in our everyday lives. At the doctors and hospitals when they announce our names as we wait nervously in reception for our turn at appointments. On public transport when someone makes an announcement over the public tannoy informing us that a train has been cancelled, diverted or delayed, for instance, and we don’t know about it. The list goes on and it breaches health and safety rules in many aspects.

No one is perfect but all it takes is good manners, common sense, respect, kindness and most of all, education. Knowledge is power. Good deaf awareness (be it in your home or work place) leads to empowerment, inclusion and full access in our society for all deaf, deafened, deaf-blind and hard of hearing people.

Thank you for your time and patience. Please, show us you care by being deaf aware!

Yours sincerely,

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

A collective group of people representing some of the 10 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK.

The Tree House Facebook group and blog

When is someone “too young” for a Cochlear Implant?

Just the other day a baby was in the news for being the youngest to have a cochlear implant at the age of 3 months and 3 days old. Evie Smith had the first device implanted in her right ear, and then the second one seven weeks later.

Evie Smith
Evie Smith

Such a young and vulnerable age to be undergoing something potentially very traumatic that could affect the rest of her life and her parent’s lives who bravely chose to make this decision on her behalf. Evie became profoundly deaf after contracting pneumococcal meningitis which led to bony growth – or ossification – in her inner ear. It was a case of now or never. That does not mean they had no choice but to have the implants done there and then as there are those who have had their ossified cochlear drilled through to allow the implant’s electrode be threaded in. This also means the recovery period takes longer and potentially more pain. Evie is now aged six months – and returned to St Thomas’ NHS Hospital in London last week to have the devices activated.

Putting aside the baby’s illness, the question arose was “How old or rather how young would be suitable for them to get an implant?”

Various perspectives came to light whilst respecting each other’s choices, feelings and decisions. It was extremely educational and very insightful. Here are some of those.

One reader’s view was that it is morally wrong as it seems to be a great pity that parents and guardians these days are not being given sufficient time to consider wider options (& pro’s & con’s) via both the medical and social/linguistic perspectives. That it is crucial to send out clear messages that there are mitigating circumstances involved, not just for the sake of having one so early after being born.

Another member’s view was one that is shared by quite a few. For parents to wait until their child was old enough to make a balanced and informed decision, for themselves and until then, they are too young.

One has a friend who experienced the pressure to have her baby implanted. She refused and was continued to be pressured. She then asked about specific risks and they brushed them aside. It was all one direction, there was no balanced information. We can wholeheartedly understand a parent wanting the best for their children, wanting to ‘reduce the impact’ of deafness on their child or their family life. It would be good if parents considering implantation of their child to be assessed and provided information by two maybe three separate parties – a holistic approach. What one party won’t share the other will, thus parents will have both the pros and cons.

Another does not like the idea of these decisions being made for children, unless it is a matter of life or death, which is different. From her perspective, she is thankful that CI’s were not around in her day and her (hearing) parents did not have to make that decision for her to have one. She knows they would have put her through it given the choice because they would have been persuaded that it was the best thing for her.

A young man who a reader knows, his mother was pressured to get him an implant. She adamantly said no and that she would wait until he was old enough to decide. He can speak, and sign, and was asked at 13, 16 and 19 “Do you want one?” and he chose not to. He shared the fact that he was very happy his mother chose to let him decide.

Some people feel there is no point in trying to fix what isn’t broken. Others feel hearing aids are conducive enough for them and that they would not really benefit from a CI. They are happy as they are and proud of it.

When one reader’s son was first diagnosed as having a hearing loss, she was immediately pitied by audiologists and given information about cochlear implants (she was even told there was hope of nerve transplants within 5 years). It was never an option for her as the idea of surgery to make him hear just seemed to be too much like playing god. He is who he is…. it just so happens that he is deaf. Not all parents will embrace the idea of bringing up a deaf child, but sadly there still seems a lot of pressure to make them ‘hearing’ She was only told about the options available to help integrate him into the hearing world, no information about British Sign Language (BSL) yet Makaton was mentioned and she was directed to watch Mr Tumble?! Not that there is anything wrong with Makaton as it is derived from sign language into a simpler form for those who again have no choice but to rely on it as their language. There was no advice given on centres for the deaf where she could possibly discover stories about successful deaf people. She had to do that for herself and agrees that parents should have a choice but with all the options explained clearly.

The two next-generation methods now being researched are implanting electrodes directly into the acoustic nerve and more recently there are experiments into the possibility of implanting directly into the cerebral cortex. So this means that in the fullness of time almost any kind of deafness can be treated to some degree. This is beyond the CI and in a few years’ time may replace it.

An awful story was shared about a blind man who had been given sight for the first time in the seventies or eighties. The Doctors found him sitting on the window ledge with his feet dangling over the edge (outside). The doctors were freaked out, panicked and asked him what he was doing. He told them that he was going to step onto the path and go for a walk – He was five stories up?! He had no, and was never able to develop any ‘depth perception’. Additionally, although he could see, he could only ever draw things that he had touched. It is a really sad story as he spent the last 6 months of his life sitting in a darkened room and committed suicide eventually. An extreme example for comparison but some are really inclined to believe that those born deaf with no access to sound have brains that are hard wired very differently.

Currently several people are on this journey and one family shared with us that they were still undecided. They have signed to their son since they found out he was deaf at three months old. They know that a CI is not a cure for deafness and he will always be deaf. They are not trying to fix him but worry when he is 13, 18, 21 what he will feel about the decisions they made. They believe BSL should be his primary language and want him to have the best access to sound be that hearing aids or CI. There is a developmental window when he is most likely to benefit so waiting until he is significantly older is not really an option due to neuroplastic opportunity. He can always choose not to use his CI but he won’t be able to turn back the clock to make a CI as effective then as it might be now.

One reader’s only regret is that they were unable to have a CI at the earliest possible age. As unfortunately the technology was not around then. But it definitely would have fallen into the life changing category as it would have given them the independence they needed.

There are some professional individuals today who know nothing about the beautiful British Sign Language, deaf culture and history. Sadly these people go on to make life changing decisions for deaf children and adults. It is these professionals that speak for us, dictate how our community should be and how not to be. We have a voice of our own and it is frustratingly sad when some people distort our voices to suit their own agenda. We are just as capable as they are of running the country, perhaps even better?!

One common relative that seemed to unite everyone was the fact that we all hoped and wanted the child to have the best of everything. To hear, speak and sign. To embrace everything. And there are quite a lot of CI users today who do just that. Lizzie believes the best way of being is to embrace and play to the natural strengths of every human being. It doesn’t matter if you’re deaf, hearing etc. Inclusive in its best incarnation means that – embrace everyone and their strengths. An ideal society would be like that.

All the medical evidence tells us that the earlier the implant is done, the better the end result. Neuroscience has provided new information about critical periods for brain maturation, characteristics of plasticity in a maturing brain, factors that affect central auditory pathways, and cortical re-organization that can occur when stimulation patterns differ from the norm.

The inevitable question was finally asked of me – based on how the discussion had developed, would I still take the view that parents should wait until their child can consent?
This question made me smile because the discussion had proved conclusive in two very different senses – morally and medically.

Morally, for peace of mind I would prefer to let the child choose for themselves what they would like as I feel appreciative about being given that choice myself. I have deaf parents and at one time my name was put down for a CI. In the end, I decided not to tempt fate as I can hear with my hearing aids just as well as I would with a CI. If my circumstances changed medically, I would then re-consider my options.

From a medical perspective, I can now see the benefits of getting a CI done, the earlier the better – provided the child still has the best of all worlds around them. Most importantly for the child to be happy and content regardless of what their medical status is. If it turns out that hearing aids does not work for the child but a CI would then that is their right, to try and give them the best chance they deserve – to take the best option available to them. When it is weighed like that medically, being able to hear to whatever extent is better than not at all. Everyone is different and it is more or less a case of each to their own, based on their medical histories.

A friend who is also an audiologist has this to say about one’s experiences and their journey: As ever with controversy; never a right nor wrong. you just have to act as best as you can given the circumstances at the time.”

Thank you to all who made this potentially controversial topic into a most interesting, balanced and pleasant setting, certainly living up to it’s designated web address “views from the tree house”  It is one reason why others and I love “The Tree House” so much because in our eyes, we are all equals – regardless.

~ SJ (Sara Jae) 

Please feel free to follow us on Twitter @treehouseviews and join our Facebook group The Tree House.

A funny thing happened on the way to ENT….

A compilation of humorous moments – just to make you, the readers smile and laugh – after all, it is free and does wonders. I very much hope that you too will enjoy reading this and be laughing with us. For those who smile and laugh, it will be “mission accomplished” 🙂

Conche ear trumpet
An antique hearing aid made using conch shell.

One day while they were shopping in a stationary / gift shop, Steven’s daughter, Georgia,  asked him “Dad, does this mean you now have a magnet in your head?” (who recently had a cochlear implant operation) She then proceeded (without him looking) to whack a fridge magnet on the side of his head!

This instance reminds us of this photo which a member captioned his thirty grand fridge magnet.

Gillian explains while it’s not really funny but, the first thing that comes to her mind is many years ago when her two year old toddling son, toddled round her bed one morning, picked up her hearing aid off her bedside table and innocently plopped it into her cup of tea. Which taught her to always put her hearing aid away out of sight whenever she was not wearing it!

“Damn auto correct” has often been the bane of humorous moments yet there is a balance which is mishearing, for example as Gareth explains. He once drove his wife and her 22 year old daughter, past a supermarket development. They were discussing the golden crested newt which was delaying the development. He exclaimed, “What do you mean by, golden prostitute?!”

LOL

Sara would very much like her tinnitus to turn itself off at the button of a remote control… It seems to have its own mind. Though, for some it must be better than hearing voices inside one’s head? Perhaps. She was one day sitting at a pc when she heard a voice thus startling her. She got up and looked around her home but there was no one else home so she went back onto the pc, perplexed. Until, she heard the voice – again?! This was starting to make her feel rather spooked – she just had to check her home once again. For her peace of mind….. Still, no one else was to be seen…. But, soon the voice came back?! “It’s three o’clock”

“Damn you talking clock!” She exclaimed at the pc for spooking her like that. Someone had installed it and she did not know it.

Once, Robin suddenly heard unusually loud explosions and shooting?! He thought a fecking war had broken out right outside his front door!

Can you just imagine?? Sara wandering around the house thinking she is going nuts, hearing voices and Robin is ducking and diving for cover! Well, he actually rushed out of his seat, looking out the window, eyes wide with confusion! It was actually a preview trailer for some action movie which had started playing away by itself on the other tab of his internet browser.

LOL

Gillian also remembers once when she was in a hairdressers and whilst sitting there having her hair cut, she noticed in the mirror that there was a sudden buzz of activity as two or three of the girls were hovering around her chair looking rather worried and checking all the electrical appliances. This went on for a few minutes until her hairdresser informed her that there was a funny noise originating from her handbag….. Bet you can’t guess what it was?!

She had taken her hearing aid off before having her hair washed and put it in her handbag. She had forgotten to switch it off or didn’t switch it off properly! That horrible whistling noise had them all really worried though.

One reader said that when he previously relied on hearing aids, he could not really hear very much let alone with them. Any high pitched sounds were non-existent to him. Occasionally he would have hearing people tell him that the alarm on his watch was going off. It would set itself accidentally and then go off at some random time. He does not know how often this used to happen but he thinks it might account for some of the odd looks he has had in the past. It happened so often with one watch that he even took the back off and removed the beeper.

LOL

Sara recalls being in Holland, enjoying the retail therapy atmosphere there but kept noticing people were looking at her. She could not work out why. Until someone, kindly let her know “Your phone is ringing” That was not the only time either.

Another instance was after walking into a petrol station, the assistant there curiously said “There is music coming from around you”… She looked at them in wonder and kindly smiled. They insisted that music was playing. “Music to his ears perhaps!” she thought… Was it dope?? Not while at work she hoped. She subsequently realised that her mobile phone had instinctively somehow started to play music, all by itself.

Lizzie relatively remembered that she had been listening to some music on her iPhone with a loop one afternoon. She then popped into a shop to buy some lunch. She unplugged the loop but kept getting smiley looks from people and thought “Wow, everyone’s so nice in here!” It was only when she went outside that she eventually checked her phone and it was playing Michael Jackson – very LOUDLY!

LOL

After Kirsty moved into her new house, two weeks later the neighbour bravely said “Your fire alarm is going off”. “OH goodness, thank you for telling me – how long has it been going off for?”…. “Ermmmm” he looked down, “twooooo weeks”

“Oops!”

Kirsty checked her phone one day at 11am, there was a text which she had received at 10.30am. “I’m locked in the utility room” it said. Oops once again?! So off she finally went to rescue the ol’hubster. Their son had locked him in! And it wasn’t an isolated event either. Unfortunately for him, Kirsty doesn’t carry her phone everywhere though it was rather peaceful when the ol’ hubster was locked up she added.

There is always a balance, mistyping, mishearing so naturally there is also (lip) misreading. For example, a while ago Paul was telling his wife, Rebekah, that they needed a new fridge freezer … “What do we need a new Freddy Freak for?!”… “Who (or what) is a Freddy Freak?!”

Another occasion is when Sara’s mother decided to pay the hairdressers her usual visit. “I would like to make an appointment please” she politely asked. “We can make you an appointment with E.T”. Mum was rather perplexed and exclaimed to herself “E.T?!”… But instead she asked “Pardon?” “We can make you an appointment with E.T” Mother was inclined to retreat. The receptionist then proceeded to show her the bookings book and pointed at…. “Katy” Mother thought to herself “Vee!” The receptionist’s broad northern accent had played a massive influence on her lip speaking patterns.

She also once told Sara how it went at the bank. Upon arriving at the counter, she informed them that she was deaf. The lady said “Oh, I’ll put the loop on for you!” Her mum responded with “But I don’t wear hearing aids?”… Lady says “That’s ok, I’ll put the loop on for you” :-/ Bless her cotton socks for trying to help. 🙂

Lol with a touch of facepalm.

One day, as a young girl Jane was walking besides her mother who was also deaf, signing away. Her sister and grandmother who were both hearing were chatting away and smiling mischievously, walking away from Jane and her mother in the subway. To gain some distance. She noticed their body language and her intuition told her to walk a bit slower. Another passer-by over took them. Jane looked straight ahead and could no longer see her sister or grandmother but she was with her mother so she was not too concerned. When suddenly, this passer-by got walloped over the head by her sister! Who was hiding just around the corner, waiting eagerly to pounce. She had been carrying a roll of cardboard paper and planned to hit Jane over the head with it but fate called her bluff and a poor guy got the shock instead! Jane says she will never forget the shock on her sister’s face and the passer by who was clearly taken aback. Jane’s grandmother, bless her, was trying rather hard not to laugh as she apologised on her granddaughter’s behalf who must have been only 7 years old at the time.

One’s favourite memory has to be when they saw a strange person running up and down outside their home, doing star jumps, waving around. They tried to ignore them as they had only lived at their new residence for a couple of months. A few minutes later, they tried to see if this character was still around… He was albeit in his pyjamas?! They looked around the home for their husband to inform him there was potentially a madman in their vicinity but he could not be found – anywhere. They opened the front door hesitantly and peeped around the corner as cautiously as they could. A bonny smile broke out as soon as they realised this “madman” was their husband, running up and down, star jumping, waving, banging on the windows all trying to get his wife’s attention. What on earth would the neighbours be thinking?! He had locked himself out and his wife had not yet put on her hearing aids. Silence is golden? 😉

LOL

If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy “Happiness is the best medicine.”

Thank YOU. 🙂

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Making a complaint regarding NHS and/or Government services.

Sharing some mutual concerns that these days there are quite a few organisations and charities which potentially have good intentions but they are misleading when they can make one think they have power to make a change within the NHS. So please, be aware of those. This gives us another reason why the UK needs an approved governing body for deaf issues.

The ones who can actually make a change would be the Care Quality Commission (CQC) who I recently contacted as they did not provide any videos in British Sign Language (BSL) Eventually they replied with a link to their YouTube channel which was not good enough for the deaf community as the access via their website did not provide this. So once again I contacted them via Twitter…. eventually they provided me with a link much to my delight, now showing equal access to their context just as the other needs were met. Thank you CQC, for adding this format to make your context more accessible for BSL users too.

They the CQC, as a regulator, a major part of their job is to monitor services’ performance against national standards such as:

  • treatment, care and support provided by hospitals, GPs dentists, ambulances and mental health services.
  • treatment, care and support services for adults in care homes and in people’s own homes (both personal and nursing care).
  • services for people whose rights are restricted under the Mental Health Act.

CQC    CQC

Another service one could choose from is the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombusman whose role is to investigate complaints that individuals have been treated unfairly or have received poor service from government departments and other public organisations and the NHS in England. They too have added a BSL video on their website “make a complaint”.

There is another alternative which is potentially Healthwatch. Who state on their website, are the national consumer champion in health and care. They have significant statutory powers to ensure the voice of the consumer is strengthened and heard by those who commission, deliver and regulate health and care services. Here is their video “What is the Healthwatch Network” which is in BSL and subtitled.

Also there is the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) who commission most of the hospital and community NHS services in the local areas for which they are responsible. Commissioning involves deciding what services are needed, and ensuring that they are provided. CCGs are overseen by NHS England, which retains responsibility for commissioning primary care services such as GP and dental services, as well as some specialised hospital services. All GP practices now belong to a CCG, but groups also include other health professionals, such as nurses. (You will need to find your local CCG to contact them.)

Services CCGs commission include:

  • most planned hospital care
  • rehabilitative care
  • urgent and emergency care (including out-of-hours)
  • most community health services
  • mental health and learning disability services

Please contact the CQC, Ombusman, Healthwatch, CCG and your country councillors (as one or more is delegated to liase with the NHS) via their website links as provided on this blog to make your complaint and voices “heard” otherwise, how will they know the deaf / hard of hearing community exist? How will they truly make changes to meet our needs for equality and full inclusion? If we cannot share our experiences directly to them and that we too have a voice of our own (which others may be taking advantage of for their own gains).

There are those who do have genuine intentions and want to bridge the communication barriers between both the hearing and deaf worlds – I tip my hat to those but nevertheless, please keep your wits about you and look outside the box, to see which service will and can make a change, for the better. For inclusion and equality within the NHS and government services on an united basis.

Please take a moment to remember those in developing countries especially where there is evidence of corruption, bribery and lack of rights for the residents there. Those who face difficulties and challenges a hundred fold due to their disabilities. I have seen with my own eyes how their governments have neglected them and believe me, some people in this country take for granted just how lucky they are. To have roofs over their heads, warmth, comforts and food. Free NHS and plentiful medicine. I have no issues with those who want to strive and improve on what we already have in a positive sense. Yet we should not rest on our laurels. It is important to keep the people in charge in check otherwise the standards will inevitably drop. Imagine what it would be like, if you could not express yourself via spoken word or sign language, being unable to read or write?

Thank you for your time and patience.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)