Over the past few weeks I have seen a campaign by SignHealth and their supporters from within the deaf community, steadily grow.
I wanted to share with you, my personal experience.
At one point last year, a deaf friend was concerned enough to put me into contact with someone offering their professional help except, how could I talk to them when their sibling was one of the bullies? The deaf world was much too small, typical and predictable for my liking. I felt extremely claustrophobic.
Eventually, my GP referred me for counselling to help lift me out of my depression and certain trains of thought. Members of the deaf community had brought all of my life altering experiences on so it was only natural for me to want to stick with a local counsellor, who was hearing and had very little (if no) experience with deaf clients.
My counsellor began the first of our many intensive sessions, asking if an interpreter should be present to help us communicate with ease. This was enough reason to make me clam up. I refused their offer politely and asked if we could continue without one, as I was confident it would work.
I did not at the time trust anyone that had any connections to the deaf community; enough to be anywhere near me. Not even an interpreter bound by confidence because they too, I could not trust.
In time, my counsellor’s deaf awareness grew with each session and once they took me by surprise by saying, “I am glad we didn’t use an interpreter because you would not have told me everything. You would have been extremely cautious. I did not think our sessions would work without one and you proved me wrong. You have taught me that not every deaf person needs an interpreter present and not every deaf person relies solely on sign language.”
Their acknowledgement and increased deaf awareness made my heart smile. I suddenly felt freer than I had ever been and that feeling of being finally understood, not just me but the deaf community too, how diverse it actually is and how our needs and abilities differ, was priceless. This was therapy, albeit my way.
Each to their own for reasons that should be known to themselves, only.
It is vital that we fight to retain our choice to be counselled however we wish, be it the deaf way or the hearing way in order to be at our most comfortable, for our therapy to succeed. And for that, we should be grateful such a service like SignHealth exists because they do work, for those who choose them. For those who need them. For those who solely rely on sign language, for they do exist.
No one deserves to be ignored.
I wish SignHealth all the best with their latest campaign, to continue providing “a national psychological therapy service where all the therapists are fluent in British Sign Language (BSL)”.
Just because Sadiq Khan signed in a video of his, pledging to help deaf people in London, it does not automatically mean we, the deaf community, should vote for him to become our next London Mayor (2016).
Keep your wits about you. 🙂
There are many different needs and abilities to each specific member of the deaf community which is extremely diverse. One can raise further awareness personally by emailing him on firstname.lastname@example.org
However, it is always nice to see more and more people making the effort to be all inclusive.
Our elderly neighbour, Hilda, seemed exasperated with her mobile phone and she exclaimed, “My phone keeps on ringing all the time, I don’t know why!”
Me being deaf, I couldn’t hear if it was ringing or not said, “It might be a cold caller so register your number on the TPS site and by 28 days the calls should stop.”“Oh yes I’ll do that!” Hilda agreed.
Our other neighbour, Inga, joined us out of concern for Hilda who immediately pointed to her mobile phone inside her bag, “Can you hear it? It keeps on ringing… There it goes again!”
Inga seemed bewildered as we were given her phone. Her phone wasn’t ringing as it was off? We turned it on… Hilda then started giggling, realising it was actually her new hearing aid that was making the ringing sound.
She laughed so heartily effective, that we couldn’t help but laugh with her.
Bless her cottons!
Hilda’s hat had been placed over her hearing aids, setting them off. It set her off and relatively, us!
Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours
With a little understanding, you can find the perfect blend
“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.
While it is admirable that a class (in Bosnia) has learnt to sign to make a deaf classmate feel welcome and included, there is actually a whole school (in the UK) who has learnt to sign to make the students from their PHU just as welcome and included – this I have witnessed with my own eyes and was blown away.
So, if a class can do it, just take a moment to think outside of the box – somewhere, there is actually a whole school that deserves just as much recognition for their dedication over many years to be inclusive.
Oftentimes I am reminded of the challenging positions of past that I was subjected to on different occasions by those who let their negativity and jealousy get the better of them, by those who had one rule for themselves and another for others, by those who conspired to overtake my role as founder and owner of The Tree House. There were also those who dared to manipulate (others) in order to engineer situations for their own gains, only, for it to be all in vain.
Only a select few has stood the test of time, remaining by my side throughout, giving continuous support and respect and so, it is they who deserve to be applauded for their courage to do right by others. Their moral values are both honourable and admirable.
Inevitably, there came a time when I became extremely deflated, of all the triviality and nastiness out there, so much so that I was determined not to close down The Tree House, in defiance of those who then chose to exploit and/or bully me, for being who I am. For being different, for being honest and for standing on my own two feet. For not following the (m)asses.
Fortunately, I soon realised all the unsavouriness was still dictating the quality of my time, which, to me, is very precious knowing how short life can be. My beloved children consequently became my first, second and last reason, hence the decision to take a sabbatical.
All I ever wished for was a space (for people) to speak freely with the greatest of respect, without fear of being judged. This is actually possible but only as long as people remain respectful and open minded of one another, willing to improve and learn, even from one’s (their own) mistakes. Except, there is yet much to absorb and practise regarding patience and relatively, respect. Everyone is different and there will always be those from all walks of life, who will teach us who not to be.
Even, those who may choose to knowingly associate themselves with the likes of the unsavouriness still, after having witnessing events or having seen evidence of the events, after allowing “them” to manipulate them into choosing “their” side – “they” are now, their problem. Their conscience.
To get by in the world of politics, one has to lie, be cunning, devious, manipulate and hold no or very little regard for others. It is all a game of ego and greed for power. Whereas a honest and genuine person trying to do their best by the people, for the people, will unfortunately be singled out and descended upon by a baying pack of wolves, those who are in fact afraid of having their true colours exposed, fearing the truth and subsequently, being embarrassed of their own flaws.
There are those of us who may (appear to) stand alone for speaking the truth and telling it like it is. However, that is okay because our conscience is clear.
Now would be an ideal time to remind you of one of my posts titled “Positivity rules!”
There is no shame in being introspective, in being honest albeit respectfully, in seeking further knowledge, for it will all help you to become a better person. It is courageous at best since it is all about the survival of the fittest in our test of a lifetime.
On that note, do look forwards – not backwards as any impurities, which have been filtered out and left behind, are behind us for valid reasons.
Thus, why, I have decided to move on from such experiences. I have learnt so much more about people and their ways, the deaf world and how it functions. I can only hope you will appreciate this level of honesty, as I believe people deserve to know the truth since the truth always prevails.
We all have our own lives to mind and so, I wish you all the best in yours.
A token of gratitude and a tip of the hat please, for Andrew, Paul, Mervyn and all our readers / contributors simply, for being you.