Somewhere Over The Rainbow…

Somewhere over the rainbow...
Somewhere over the rainbow…

Hold your horses!

‘Tis not the Wizard of Oz version but this one from an awesome movie called “Face Off”. I still remember the very first time I laid eyes on this film, a particular scene has stayed with me since then because….

In my experience, being deaf in a hearing world can be such a cacophony of experiences, which can make it a most chaotic place to mingle, so much so that I tend to find myself wanting to tune out, recoiling into a world of my own. Some may say for one’s own sanity and protection, a chance to cease what mental fight there may be. A moment’s retreat is I suspect, what aids me in retaining a calm composure thus enabling me to think with more clarity whilst observing such a discordance of unrest and triviality.

Deaf people are oftentimes overwhelmed with what I term visual “white noise” the very moment we leave the protection of our homes, such as strangers’ faces distorting in order to express and enunciate. In going about their hasty routines, people appear to be clamouring. The meaningless bass sounds of congestion produced by the ongoing traffic. The wayward sounds of any tempestuous weather is lost and therefore, in vain. All of which, are seen and felt but not heard.

Meanwhile there are those of us who may be able to associate sounds with said actions, perhaps from memory or facilitated by hearing aids but silence otherwise, is at times golden, by giving us some respite from the full extent and purposes of sounds.

Yet being able to hear and appreciate music is quite something else to cherish hence, another reason why, I love this scene so albeit from differing perspectives.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Written to conclude my “Silence is Golden” article. 🙂

Surfers Paradise

I would like to seize the day and contemplate out-loud whether there is a justified fairness in the eligibility rules for a freedom pass, regarding those with varying degrees of hearing loss.

Except, what I am about to say regarding Cochlear Implant users may offend them and if that turns out to be the case, I sincerely apologise in advance, for being honest.

Those with a profound or severe hearing loss (like myself) cannot hear very well at all, with or without any hearing aids, are eligible for what Londoners call a “Freedom Pass”; this is a travel permit scheme which allows the named holder to “surf” London using the public transport system.

However, there are those who are categorized as having a mild form of hearing loss and if their range of loss does not meet, the minimum required – they are deemed ineligible for a freedom pass. One can work out the reasoning behind that since they may have enough residual hearing to, sort of, ‘get by’ without any hearing aids yet whilst supported by hearing aids they could be, almost, on a par to a hearing person. Nevertheless, the stress of travelling remains albeit for almost all of us since whatever announcements are broadcasted, not even hearing people can comprehend.

Moving onto (successful) cochlear implants users – A CI is considered the most superior hearing aid of all; this will enable the user to hear extremely well and ever so clearly, once again, more or less being on a par to a hearing person.

Why then, do those who are not eligible, have to miss out on the benefits of a freedom pass when there are CI users who can potentially hear better than them, remain eligible for a freedom pass? Go figure…

Inevitably, there will be those who throw their arms up into the air in protest, demanding the same level of benefits since they feel, they too should not have to pay to use the public transport system.

Above all, an unfortunate fact remains. That almost each (if not all) Travel Concessionary Department(s) has not acquired the necessary experience or relevant qualifications, in order to assist them adequately with reading audiograms or differentiating between the pros and cons. This inexperience does not help them or us, at all, so how can they truly appreciate the injustice that exits, in their rules of eligibility.

Thank you for your time and patience.

Rant Over 🙂

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

That Isolatin’ Feeling

The other day I was chilling out and watching a film, during the ad break, there was an advert that halted my train of thought and left my emotions reeling.

In this advert, there was an elderly man was sitting around the dining table with who I presume was his family who were talking away. I instantly related to this moment because of my own experiences of not being able to follow multiple conversations around the dining table, even with my own family. I hesitated for a moment, wondering who had made this advert and if it was finally an advert for becoming deafened, age related hearing loss and the like?

This man looked isolated, sad, lost and lonely. By this stage, I was really trying to be patient in finding out the purpose of this very advert as that sense of isolation really resonated with me and I am sure, many other deaf people or those starting a new life in a foreign country, unable to follow what was being said.

The said commercial; http://youtu.be/DFOJHXtID7k

The Alzheimer’s Society made this very effective TV commercial referring to Dementia; Their video depicted a very difficult time that unfortunately many other people can also relate to. I was left feeling helpless once I had seen their advert, having been reminded of that isolating and potentially confused feeling, frustrated that the same emotions and situations occur to others but for rather different reasons. However, in a state of despair, my thoughts then turned to those who unfortunately suffer from dementia as well as having a form of deafness. Could it be for them, a dose of double whammy as that feeling of isolation would almost certainly be intensified?

With the Alzheimer’s Society, they vow to be there because “Life doesn’t end when dementia begins“. They are at least, trying their very best to keep that lovin’ feeling

Never judge a book by its cover as there will usually be an illness(es) or disability(ies) which are sadly invisible and all beings deserve respect – regardless.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

(Photo credits go to the Alzheimer’s Society)

Stabbing Eardrums

To our friends across the big pond,

SJ happened to be watching a programme on British TV the other night called the “U.S. Bounty Hunters”.  A fugitive was being sought and to the bounty hunters amazement; they found him hiding behind an upright mattress. He was then thrown down to the ground and naturally he resisted in being restrained. Then, to SJ’s horror, the fugitive’s eardrum was stabbed in order to subdue him so they could put the restraints onto him.

Stabbing an eardrum? Seriously? Who would commit such an act?! An act as such could be extremely damaging and dangerous.

Please, could you help us find out if this barbaric act is illegal?

As a beloved Tree House dweller says, “If eardrum piercing is illegal in any states of America then two wrongs do not make a right.” While another beloved dweller would have said it was an offence against the US Constitution, which forbids “cruel or unusual punishment”.

We look forwards to “hearing” (please pardon the pun!) your thoughts on this matter and any information you may be able to provide as to whether this act is legal or illegal. For it should be the latter.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

 

The Suffering of Deaf Children In Gaza

There are many untold stories and here is one of them……

“The idea of making cartoons was started after the war, after being inspired to help the many traumatised children within Gaza. They suffered from psychological and behavioural problems during the war, as with all children living in a state of armed violence. Their idea behind the cartoons is to show the world what the children living in the Gaza Strip are suffering from and what they have witnessed during the war.

Deaf children specifically were in a state of isolation during the war because they were unable to go to school or come to the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children for someone to explain what was happening around them as not all families were able to use sign language to explain the reason behind the brutality. They would only see is their families leaving their homes; mothers barely had time to pack some things and take her children and leave, sometimes even forgetting some of them.

They also suffered from power outages and were unable to communicate with anyone, as they had to do so only in sign language, and although the parents were there, it was difficult to communicate in the dark, thus leaving the children isolated.

The biggest fear felt by the deaf children in Gaza is the fear of losing their arms and hands, as that it their only means of communication, so that scared them the most. They had always hoped if something were to happen to them, that they would be martyred immediately rather than lose their arms, because if they did, they would have no way of communicating with the outside world.

One form of psychological rehabilitation used by Atfaluna, for both all the children and the employees, was the use of drawings, which were later turned into cartoons for the deaf to express themselves. We are happy that these cartoons were very popular and received attention from all across the world.

Video by MEMO’s Mohammed Asad.”

Source.

Hearing Hands.

Once upon a time, Muharrem, who has a degree of hearing loss went about his daily routine as usual. Except, he was then pleasantly surprised to see strangers all around him using sign language, which made his day pass by easier.

When he finds out why and how, his reaction is priceless and most likely this heart-warming stunt will make you shed a tear or two, also.

All because a world without barriers is everyone’s dream.

This ad was made by Samsung, Turkey in order to promote their video call centre – for people with hearing problems.

The Deaf Community – An Important Message.

Many years ago, deaf people were not considered to be in a position where they could be a proactive member of society. For at times, families would hide their deaf child away because they felt ashamed simply because they had a child who happened to be deaf or even worse, were not diagnosed as deaf but for want of a better word, dumb. Some of these people were mistreated, abandoned and abused.

Looking around us today, it is a completely different picture. It is not yet perfect but the deaf now have a community which has come a long way and I am using the word “community” and not “culture” because the word “culture” is rather complex and divisive. When one uses the word “culture”, it is in reference to customs, habits, language and many other factors that belong to a particular group of people who are different to others.

Sign language alone should not form the basis for a “deaf culture” because deaf people are born into a culture that already exists – if you are born into the British culture then by default you are British. Bearing in mind, that sign language is derived and based on our mother tongue. Both deaf and hearing people as well as monkeys and apes can use this form of visual language. On the other hand, it would be wrong of us to assume anyone who may be hard of hearing, deafened, deaf or deafblind automatically know sign language. To presume that everyone deaf can sign is not correct and it is misinforming our society of today.

A baby who has been born deaf into a British hearing family, growing up with the family’s customs and ways, can he suddenly deny his family’s culture and refer to himself as deaf only? Insinuating, that because his family is hearing, they do not belong to a “deaf culture” despite having tried their very best to provide their child with an enriching and balanced upbringing, encouraging him to speak, sign and integrate with his peers regardless of whether they were deaf or hearing.

It would be extremely hard for me to separate myself from the people that taught me everything I know and in the process hurting them in return by secluding myself to another particular culture, especially one that we find difficult to define.

To put it simply, we have habits (no, not those long brown gowns!) which is interpreted by some as “deaf culture”, or more appropriately termed as learned behaviour. On the contrary, we can learn it, be aware of it but it does not mean we have to adopt it.

Sadly, there are deaf parents who hope their child will be born deaf because they believe they belong to a deaf culture only and by having a hearing child, they would break that familiarity to what they only know. This is an extreme stance to have and it is one that is potentially damaging.

By simply saying to hearing people “If you do not make the effort to communicate with me then I will separate myself from you all together” is so not the route to take; the more they see of you, the more they are forced to understand you. I say forced because hearing people have the option to learn at least some basic sign language like finger spelling which should at least be made part of today’s school curriculum.

One (i.e. Paddy Ladd and his Deafhood book) could argue that residential schools for the deaf is the main continuity for “deaf culture” being learned – perhaps forty years ago but not today. Because forty years or so ago, the differences in technology, segregation and concentration then and now could not be more evident unless influenced and taught otherwise by the older generations.

As stated on NDCS website, “90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents with little or no experience of deafness or knowledge of how to communicate with a deaf person”. The other 10% would probably grow up with sign language as their first language in cases where the deaf parents also sign rather than having to wait until they have contact with other deaf children, which is normally the experience of the other 90% at school. Approximately, nowadays, 90% of those deaf children born severely or profoundly deaf are likely to be implanted before their second birthday – More than 60% of the children at Mary Hare School now have implants.

Where hearing aids and implants are concerned, people have feared deaf identities and the linguistics will be lost, “I am still deaf” one may remark. Of course, you will still be deaf because your hearing aid(s) or implants will not be in use 24/7 and you will have grown up as a deaf person, lip-reading, signing (if able to). The deaf majority at present, thankfully, now sees a CI as a superior hearing aid, which actually has very little bearing on “deaf culture” despite a tiny percentage that are anti-CI and vehemently trying to turn people against CI’s by using an excuse along the lines of “social cleansing”.

There is a term albeit rarely used, which is the “hearing brain”. I understand this to mean when someone loses hearing later in life after growing up living life to the max as a hearing person possibly could, has been fortunate to receive a cochlear implant, only to characteristically revert to whom they grew up as. Do we or rather, should we put that down to “hearing culture”? When it is whom they have learnt and happen to be, within themselves and society just as we are who we are and that others have taught us who to become.

My fear of seeing people belonging to one culture and denying everything, everyone else around them is that there is a danger of separating ourselves from the mainstream culture we have to live in and share.

In being exclusive, this will undo all the hard work that has been achieved before us, by the many generations of deaf people. They are the ones who struggled and fought hard to finally be accepted within the mainstream society today. If anything, we should continue to strive albeit much harder to keep this sense of inclusion and integration developing but there is a cycle, especially where learnt behaviour is concerned, reoccurring in many senses that people need to break out of this habit, especially if they want to advance further as an inclusive and diverse community.

There is a still a lot that has to be done, in terms of educating society that we are all equals and just as capable but not by creating and realising any further divisive ideas. With positivity, forward thinking and unity, this can be achieved by the deaf community but only if the will is there.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)