At Whose Fecking Mercy, Exactly?

complain button

The other day I was concerned to find quite a passionate post, ranting about being denied the opportunity to watch a captioned screening of a film they particularly and most eagerly wanted to watch. They went as far as to complain to Cineworld because they felt as though they were “at their fecking mercy”. So not my words.

Then I spot an editor adding fuel to the fire by suggesting they write a post about the dispute they were locked in, with Cineworld – for them to publish on their blog. Surely an editor is meant to fact check first? Or are they just desperate for ratings…

These days I do not wish to get involved with anything deaf related because usually, it’s the brutal truth which people know but refuse to accept. They are happy in their dream world, assuming all is against them when the fight to break down barriers are sometimes of their own doing.

This current dispute with Cineworld is unjustified. Because I myself had been following listings not just from “Your Local Cinema” but comparing them with official listings by the cinema companies themselves.

your local cinema logo

Why would I accept a third person’s say so? I’m going to double check it and make sure it’s correct or otherwise. This is how I knew Cineworld was not wrong and so felt the need to inform the complainer, of my findings. That actually, ‘Your Local Cinema’ was in fact publishing incorrect listings on occasion and even listed non-existent cinemas. Some of which had long been demolished. I had been checking throughout the holidays as there were and are films we, that my kids and I, would like to see and saw for myself, the inconsistencies.

Double check, the information and yourselves. Try not to be so trigger happy, eh?

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

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The Right To Decide by Catherine Vest

A vlog about one’s very personal experiences was shared publically, this relatively hit home.

Vlog: https://www.facebook.com/cmcastil/posts/10102003581703274?__mref=message

Transcription:

“This is in regards to ‪#‎whyisign‬— I am one of those unfortunate individuals who was forced to learn ASL purely for survival. I was not linguistically deprived and was happy with my current method, which was Signed Exact English (SEE), until I was placed in a deaf school. The transition at the deaf school was brutal and I was bullied horribly because I signed differently. It is akin to bullying someone else who spoke differently, like talking with a stutter, lisp or some kind of speech impediment.

While many of you consider that it is a human right to have access to our language, I doubt many of you did stop to consider the possibility that bullying or tormenting someone else who happen to have different signing skills— that you may have denied our right to decide whether SEE or ASL would be best suited to our needs.

You took away my right to decide if I wanted to learn ASL and took away something that I grew up with and served me very well in many areas of my life.

You do not get to decide how my signing should look like- just like with our unique ways of communicating. This is how my sign looks like and you do not get to tell me that it sucks or that it does not fit in your ideal vision of how sign language should look like.”

Meanwhile… I would like to applaud Catherine Vest, for her courage in speaking out – in many senses.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Pitched Perfectly? If Only

Pitch Perfect was broadcasted on TV earlier this summer, it was only then my daughter and I discovered what an awesome film it was to watch. We enjoyed it tremendously and the subtitles were marvellous, I could follow every single word, the dialogue as well as the songs. I felt on a par to everyone else.

Recently I treated myself to a Pitch perfect DVD – I had debated with myself which DVD to buy, as the ‘sing-along’ version was available too. I could not make up my mind since I knew from experience that subtitles on DVDs were not as inclusive as on TV so my sister helped me to choose. We concluded the singalong version should allow me to watch the film’s dialogue as well as following the lyrics to the musicals however; this option of being able to toggle was not to be the case…

My daughter at present is home unwell from school due to a virus so I thought that by putting on the Pitch perfect DVD it would also cheer her up. I had very much been looking forwards to watching it once more in my own leisurely time. However, I have had to leave her side to let her watch and enjoy the rest of the movie since I could not follow/enjoy it.

The DVD menu gives you two options. First option is the “Play Movie” of which allows you to watch the movie without the karaoke style captions to the songs but upon selecting English subtitles for those like myself who happen to be hearing impaired, the subtitles omit the song lyrics. The second option “Play Movie with Sing-along” version only allows you to watch the movie with the karaoke style captions to the songs yet despite selecting English subtitles they do not show up at all for the dialogue remainder of the film. Examples of which are shown in the video below.

Why can’t people like myself who happen to be hearing impaired, watch a musical DVD (in general) at our own leisure with the subtitles reflecting the whole context of the movie? The dialogue and the lyrics…. Only then, it can and will be ‘pitched perfectly’…

Thank you, for your time and patience.

Nevertheless, my daughter thoroughly enjoyed the DVD…

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

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)

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)

Stop The Online Abuse.

Being in the public eye for the past two years has subjected me to many forms of online abuse be it indirectly or directly. I have witnessed the “mob mentality” escalate appallingly fast when someone may have a different school of thought, or by simply being different. Take the time for example when I was attacked for choosing to speak instead of sign in my BBC interview. I naturally speak when I am with hearing people as I am more comfortable doing so yet my choice to speak was not respected by those who demanded that I signed just because I come from a deaf family. I was put between a rock and a hard place and I was damned if I did sign and damned if I didn’t. The sheer number of sheep flocking was astonishing – thank God I am not a sheep! These days, too many people take advantage of peer pressure to manipulate and dictate others what to do.

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” – Maya Angelou.

There will always be someone who can put forwards different perspectives on issues and situations due to their experiences in life and knowledge, making the impact for change greater – surely everyone deserves to be respected with kindness just as much as the next person regardless? It is extremely healthy to have variations of viewpoints so one can be educated and decide – especially for themselves.

When having a different opinion one tends to be singled out as a “Troll” yet to single that person out as a troll must be another form of abuse in itself.

The World Wide Web.
The World Wide Web.

However I have recently experienced a new form of online abuse and I have been left saddened by it. This experience has made me want to retreat, have nothing at all to do with the world-wide web to distance myself from all the negativity and to restrain myself from reacting. Life is far too short.

To go onto social media and post potentially libellous material which names a person, persons and so on when they cannot defend themselves surely must be another form of online abuse? Especially when there is no evidence that the named party has attacked or done anything wrong yet people feel the urge to personally attack the named party? And what’s worse, people adopting the “mob mentality” by joining in and adding fuel to the fire. No one is born with hatred – it is instilled and mimicked. If only respect worked in the same sense.

Seeing that occur from a distance opened my eyes and I soon realised I had been in the very same position numerous times now. Unfortunately I know I am not alone in this experience for a friend of mine was personally attacked recently by someone posting a video onto social media publicly naming him and criticising him. If only he had sorted his dispute out privately with the named person – he would not be now known as a bully within our circle of mutual friends.

I will not tolerate or condone any form of online abuse around me especially bullying. I made it clear that I would not stand for this within the Tree House in the form of personal attacks (or when we are named outside the safety perimeters of the Tree House which subsequently is inviting us to take action) or be associated with those seen to be contributing to the very public online form of abuse. Yet making it clear, I was inevitably set upon. My position as founder in trying to protect the Tree House from any potential damage was questioned, undermined. oppressed and criticised. Being unbiased and diplomatic sets myself apart from others and this helps me to look outside the box – as always I will do as I deem just, adapting to each situation based on my experience. Was my being criticised and slated another form of online abuse? Maybe not in their eyes but it certainly felt like it to me.

To have thick skin is very important and deaf people are extremely vulnerable to the various forms of abuse, be it online, within society, at school, at work and unfortunately at home. In all walks of life, there will always be that someone who will try to drag others down no matter who they may be, for being different. My scars have healed over many times now hence why my skin has grown thicker and if I can refuse to be manipulated, so can you. Positivity rules!

Do not encourage any form of online abuse because these emotions which are associated with being bullied will exhibit themselves within the victim(s).

◾Depression

◾Shame

◾Low self-esteem

◾Sadness

◾Difficulty trusting others

◾Anger

◾Anxiety

◾Frustration

◾Fear

The offenders’ hatred should not dictate your time and you would only be lowering yourself to their level if you join in or encourage it. Rise above it because people who show their true colours in this manner deserve to be reported to the police so keep a record of all the evidence and present it in order to take action. I have done this in the past being a victim and they have listened – they issued warnings to the offending parties. With actions comes consequences – if they can dish it out, they can certainly take it.

Please, don’t have one rule for yourself and another for others – put yourself in the victim’s shoes and walk hundreds of miles in it first, taking a look in the mirror before passing any judgement or criticism.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jnr.

It is about time online abuse in its various forms is stopped. Help by being a part of that change in stopping personal attacks, cyber bullying and all forms of online harassment. Fight back – especially for justice.

Thank you, for your time and patience.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Some useful links for your reference:

Internet Safety

Bully Online

Crown Prosecution Service

Taking action about Harassment.

Harassment Act 1997

and last but not least,

I would like to applaud Dr Taylor.

Update: Defamatory gossip is now being spread about The Tree House and myself which is once again another form of abuse – Please keep evidence of this as we have built up a case which we have taken action on with positive results.