The #hotfingers Challenge.

In usual true Tree House spirit we sometimes tend to spin off lines from songs to get that loving feeling going. A song from a classic film was started off by yours truly and a fellow dweller gave me the idea of challenging people to fingerspell one  extremely long word from a particular song. Can you guess which word it was??

Here is a chart to help you or a video by another beloved Tree House dweller.


Hence the birth of the #hotfingers challenge which encouraged several dwellers to learn finger spelling to complete their challenge and for some, even how to film themselves so they could form a part of this challenge. This completely humbled me just seeing the passion unfolding. Some of us had to do several takes because one swore and another screamed in frustration!

Last but not least who has kindly narrated throughout.

How would you finger spell this word, in your sign language? Please show us as we would love to learn from the various finger spelling manuals.

Carpe diem 🙂

By SJ.

(Photo credit to

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.


~ SJ (Sara Jae)

What Is “Deaf Culture”?

E. Adamson Hoebel’s book of Anthropology: Study of Man. “describes culture as an integrated system of learned behaviour patterns which are characteristic of the members of a society and which are not a result of biological inheritance.”

Ask a British person “What is British Culture?” and they may struggle for the very first few minutes before trying to answer with possibly the majority using examples due to characteristics based on tradition, customs, habits, cuisine and environment they live in. Ask a deaf British person and most likely he will give the same answer as a British person who happens to be hearing. My question is as deaf people do we actually have a separate set of customs and traditions to the British who are hearing?

How did the deaf community start using the term “Deaf culture” when it is actually a subculture – a particular social group within a national culture? If “Culture” is not supposed to be applied to biological or genetic inheritance – is there such a thing as a hearing culture?

Are we making it hard for ourselves if we are excluding ourselves from the world around us by creating this “Deaf Culture” or is it a positive thing that should be celebrated?

Being deaf makes those of us unique in the sense that it is a hidden disability but there is a percentage who corner themselves even more so expecting the hearing world to understand them, to learn sign language and come totally their way. Those who think that, do so because they believe there is nothing wrong with them – that the negative lies within the hearing world and so they should make that effort. This again is sometimes not of their own doing when they have been so immersed with their own surroundings and peers for so long. But there are those who may go to an extreme when so proud to say “Deaf Power!” – Even several hope their children will be deaf too. They have on occasion been branded as Fascists. Yet with that kind of mentality nothing will be achieved in terms of improving services and access for deaf people in general.

Those who are able to wear hearing aid(s), have a cochlear implant or learn/choose to speak do so in order to improve the quality of their lives and in an attempt to be able to engage with the hearing world better. This is not a bad thing to want to do. To meet half way and for this reason I believe parts of the deaf community should not be looking down on these people as some sort of traitors who in their eyes are betraying the so called “Deaf culture”. The hypocrisy of these people is very clear when they rely on a hearing person or their own hearing children to be their interpreter and will not accept anything less when they can make the effort to meet half way. My point is, the more we isolate ourselves from the hearing world – the harder it will become for the hearing people to make any effort to understand us.

Extreme views are never a positive thing in any walk of life so you can only imagine (for some to an extent) my utter disbelief when someone arrogantly once said “Interpreters should be grateful to the deaf community for providing them with a job”. Some may also say that providing interpreters, and the time it takes to get one is drainage on the tax we all pay.

Just because we happen to be deaf, deafened, HoH, deaf-blind and so on, it does not mean certain attitudes, chips on shoulders etc. exist only in one part of the world that we are in – this behaviour will manifest regardless, wherever one may be. Except that it does not give anyone the right to disrespect, degrade and/or humiliate another.

There are also those who dictate to us still that we should be using the “big D or little d” to identify and potentially divide within the deaf community – once again, would you use a big H to identify and describe certain hearing people or their world? I do not even feel comfortable using the term “hearing world“ because this is everyone’s world supposedly united – for each and every single one of us. So why impose that onto our own? Or accept it even especially when it is not grammatically correct?

Sadly, people are far too easily influenced by others around them. People have for so long been telling others what to do and/or who to be and it is high time for that to stop. For people to think for themselves and stand on their own two feet, to not follow the flock just because of peer pressure. To be true to yourselves and do what you feel is right – ask questions and seek knowledge, for knowledge is power whilst striving for equality – as equals.

“The beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people”
“The beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people”

Now ask yourselves wherever you may be, what is “deaf culture”?

– SJ (Sara Jae)

Many thanks to SLFirst for publishing this article in their magazine.

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


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)

Suarez Bites The Dust – Adios!

Luis Suarez, what a naughty boy he is, instinctively yet again bit another football player, Giorgio Chiellini, for the third time (so far) during his footballing career. Is this acceptable?? No. It’s disgraceful!

Luis Suarez biting Giorgio Chiellini, Italy vs Uruguay match 24th June 2014.

Does FIFA need more evidence which is damning enough for Suarez’s third time unlucky?

Luis Suarez biting Otman Bakkai. Ajax v PSV 23th Nov 2010
Luis Suarez biting Branislav Ivanovic, Liverpool v Chelsea 24th April 2013

If so, here is my version. With the famous delayed live captions in true UK style.

None of this allegedly “Did he bite or not?” He did bite and he knows it – hence why he showed no joy at the win. Also, none of this “He fell into my eye” when he clearly BIT and left teeth marks as a parting gift. Nice (!) Though he did try to make out as though his teeth were hurting due to being “elbowed” when actually his biting caused the player to instinctively react in order to defend himself.

Bite marks clear as day.
Bite marks clear as day.

Besides, Diego Godin who scored the winning goal for Uruguay should not have even been playing as in his previous match, he should have been given a second yellow card (equalling a red) for a foul he made which should have meant he was banned from this match. With actions comes consequences, the referees are not doing their jobs properly in the very first place.

Suarez bites the dust – Adios!

Do one.

Rant over….


Now, I shall leave you with a video depicting Inclusion at its very best and respect – regardless, which I shared to the Tree House FB group very early on when the World Cup 2014 started. Enjoy.

Hopefully this will remind society how it should be done 😉

~ 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)

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.”