I had to go into the local pharmacy this morning to pick up a prescription for my daughter, the staff were all wearing face masks.
Talking at me….
I’m patiently letting them know I’m not able to understand them as I am profoundly deaf and I cannot lip read them with their masks on.
They started pointing away here and there, still talking at me, I’m close to walking out but my daughter needs this prescription.
Someone gave me a pen and paper, I write down what I’m there for and who it’s for. Hand the pen and paper back… Prescription is found and she returns, trying to talk at me again.
I’m close to feeling emotional, anxious and once again I patiently remind her that I can’t hear her or lip read her because of her mask, or any of the mask wearing staff within that shop.
She realised and finally empathised, lowered her mask and spoke to me with a smile in her eyes.
What a world of difference that made. 😏
I had to go to the bank last week to sort an issue out, the staff in there were wearing those transparent facial shields – it may have been surreal still but it was certainly a lot more “friendly” and we could still easily communicate. I’d pick that over a face mask, any day.
As I went to check my bank balance by paying the ATM a visit, I saw an elderly man impatiently waiting outside the bank as I approached. I knew it was closed due to it being a bank holiday / VE Day so decided to inform him it was closed today. He didn’t want to believe me.
I pointed at the polite notice on the bank’s door… I said that’s today. He spoke to me whilst wearing his face mask… I’d previously told myself I wouldn’t communicate with anyone wearing a mask simply because I cannot lipread them. I decided to be patient with him as he was elderly and informed him that I am deaf, that I can’t see his lips while he’s wearing the mask. He laughed.
I reminded him once more the bank is/was closed and he frustratingly left to do his shopping.
After obtaining my mini statement, as I started to walk home, there was such a noise which made me look up to the sky to see what it was and there I saw, the red arrows flying over in a V formation. 💖
The best things come to those who wait?
One day, our children’s generation will be saying, “During the coronavirus….”
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.
“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.