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)

Independence.

© The Tree House 2014
© The Tree House 2014

Remaining independent is one of the main reasons why the Tree House (so far) has no sponsors or partners who can influence our balanced views to suit one’s needs or agendas. Every minute and beads of sweat that has been spent in dedication towards the Tree House is purely voluntary – out of generosity and passion. I am sure that I am not alone in truly admiring those for giving and for not receiving because all of the contributed writings, edited videos are of very high standards.

Now and again, there will be moments of holding one’s breath because we strive to provide an impartial and independent platform for those who are or wish to be “open minded, forward thinking, think the unthinkable, and say the unsayable all the while thinking outside the deaf box.”

By facing reality and being realistic of our deaf ways, it does mean that now and again there may be acts of dispelling myths. We all need to keep up with the times, accept, respect current ways of modern thinking whilst being inclusive of today’s diversity. Only then can “we” move on.

However, if a neutral sponsor who is willing to remain impartial, open-minded, keeping in line with the Tree House’s ethos and has the loyal dwellers best interests at heart shows an interest, they will then be considered. As that is one aspect, we would be willing to move forwards with because it is not about us but the society we have to live in and share.

“To thine own self be true” – Shakespeare.

~ 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)

Ten Reasons Why We Would Like Change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would like peace because I am a troubled person.

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

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

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

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

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

Compiled by SJ (Sara Jae)