Therapy, The Deaf Way.

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By SignHealth.

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)”.

#TherapyTheDeafWay

Finally yet just as importantly, I would like to applaud SignHealth for adding captions to their videos, making it more inclusive and accessible to all. Thank you, for doing so. 🙂

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

A Pleasure To Meet You.

I was encouraged by my best friend to share a video, that my daughter managed to sneak off me. (The little minx!)

I had previously been too fearful to share it because in it I speak. (I say “Is it recording?”) The last time I spoke in a video which was for the BBC, the fall out was unfortunately, predictable.

Too many people presume (albeit dangerously) and try to dictate our choices rather than respecting them.

By the way, I have signed ever since I could, because I have deaf parents – I believe in total communication.

So, come on over to The Tree House and meet me, cyber wise. Do feel free to share your videos too.

Positivity rules! 🙂

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

One Size Fits All

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“Trying to follow a conversation in a group through the use of lip-reading is like watching a ping pong ball be swatted back and forth across the table while trying to read something written on it.”

~ J. Parrish Lewis

 

This may be perfectly put but it is divisive because the exact same principle could be applied to any form of communication, trying to follow regardless of what mode or language it is in…

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

The Fight To Become The Next London Mayor.

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 sadiq@labour.org.uk

However, it is always nice to see more and more people making the effort to be all inclusive.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

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)

Age Old Attitudes Still Prevails

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A couple of years ago, my daughter kept asking a good friend of hers to come round after school. Her school friend desperately wanted to come but it soon transpired she was not allowed to. This disappointed my daughter greatly so. Upon enquiringly why her friend was not allowed to come, it transpired that her parents thought I was incapable of looking after her, “It’s dangerous” – simply because, of my deafness.

I could not believe my eyes at the time, what I was lip-reading…

After disclosing it to close friends and seeing their reactions, none of which was very constructive, I decided my best option was to contact the parent support advisor from the school and explain how unfair it was, that such an attitude was preventing two good friends from some quality time together, outside of school. I received a prompt yet agreeable response – they obviously educated the mother as her daughter was eventually permitted to come round.

Two years on, except this time her mother cannot pick her up so she subsequently asked me to drop her off home. I was happy to do so and agreed, “Fine!…” She paused and sensing her bout of contemplative hesitation, I decided to smile to put her at ease.

She turned to my daughter and told her, “Get your dad to bring her home…”

Hmmm, I did not know what to think or feel but to let it be. At least, the girls were happy… Slowly but surely, it is at least an improvement on the age old attitude, two years before.

Even though her home is within walking distance, there is no danger whatsoever.

Yes, deaf people can drive (shock horror!). I once had a friend who had no choice but be driven home by my (deaf) mother. He was rather nervous at that. Come to think of it, my mother also smiled….

Is smiling potentially dangerous?! Perhaps, one needs certifying? After all, smiling does seem to bring trouble 😉

Nah, I think I shall keep on smiling, all because it is free and does wonders.

Patience will prevail over such attitudes.

~SJ (Sara Jae)