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.
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.
There are many untold stories and here is one of them……
“The idea of making cartoons was started after the war, after being inspired to help the many traumatised children within Gaza. They suffered from psychological and behavioural problems during the war, as with all children living in a state of armed violence. Their idea behind the cartoons is to show the world what the children living in the Gaza Strip are suffering from and what they have witnessed during the war.
Deaf children specifically were in a state of isolation during the war because they were unable to go to school or come to the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children for someone to explain what was happening around them as not all families were able to use sign language to explain the reason behind the brutality. They would only see is their families leaving their homes; mothers barely had time to pack some things and take her children and leave, sometimes even forgetting some of them.
They also suffered from power outages and were unable to communicate with anyone, as they had to do so only in sign language, and although the parents were there, it was difficult to communicate in the dark, thus leaving the children isolated.
The biggest fear felt by the deaf children in Gaza is the fear of losing their arms and hands, as that it their only means of communication, so that scared them the most. They had always hoped if something were to happen to them, that they would be martyred immediately rather than lose their arms, because if they did, they would have no way of communicating with the outside world.
One form of psychological rehabilitation used by Atfaluna, for both all the children and the employees, was the use of drawings, which were later turned into cartoons for the deaf to express themselves. We are happy that these cartoons were very popular and received attention from all across the world.
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.
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.
Here I compile some of the frustrations the deaf community feels, sometimes on a daily basis. With injections of humour here and there 🙂
I am tired of seeing a phone number on parking ticket machines because I cannot use the phone to pay.
I am tired of talking lifts. Just wish they would shut up! Never mind the telephone in the lift with the number to ring in case of a breakdown or emergency! Duh!
I am tired of being treated like an idiot by hearing people.
I am tired of “I’ll tell you later” but it never materialises!
I am tired of intercoms.
I am tired of being judged.
I am tired of the constant tinnitus in a whole world of its own.
I am tired of being patronised.
I am tired of people having a go as bullies.
I am tired of being the odd one out! (to which SJ responded “We can all be odd together!”)
I am tired of hearing the words “It doesn’t matter!” Of course it matters.
I am tired of having to stand up for justice.
I am tired of Mondays!
I am tired of people being all talk and no action.
I am tired of not being taken seriously.
I am tired of thinking people are talking to themselves (bonkers) when they are actually on hands free mobile!
I am tired of waiting for Channel 4 on demand getting their act together and providing subtitles for iPad!
I am tired of people manipulating others for their own gains.
I am tired of people saying “You are not missing anything!”
I am tired of being left out.
I am tired of a particular job requirement “Must be able to use the phone.”
I am tired of people moaning and being so negative.
I am tired of being a second class citizen.
I am tired of seeing other (deaf) people telling others what to do.
I am tired of background music when actors are talking.
Cue background music: Doooooe – a deer a female deer, Raaaaay, a drop of golden suuuuun, Meeeeee – a name I call myseelf, Faaaaaar – a long long way to ruuuuuun, Seeeeew – a needle puling threeeeeeead, Laaaaaaaaa – a note to follow soooooo, Teeeeeeea – a drink with Jam and breeeeead!
And that’ll bring us back to doe oh oh oh! Hence forth comes the musical tinnitus.
I am tired of not being able to understand what any train or plane announcements are saying – whether to panic yet or not!
I am tired of people’s attitudes – always complaining – they need to consider how lucky they are to live in the UK with a decent life….
I am tired of always being the last to understand or be informed. Tut tut.
I am tired of seeing online forms asking for a telephone number but no space to put the full type-talk number in so I have to remove 18002 from my number then I get hearing people phoning!!!!!
I am tired of not being able to go to the movies anytime I wish.
I am tired of the radio whenever they broadcast shows concerning deafness or deaf people.
I am not tired of kicking ass!
I am tired of always having to strain my eyes more to concentrate on lip reading.
I am tired of feeling belittled.
I am tired of segregation, exclusion and discrimination.
I am tired of people asking to speak to me on the phone when they have been told I cannot hear on the phone but still, they insist to speak to me on the phone?!
I am tired of seeing how quickly people are so willing to follow the flock.
I am tired of people thinking they can pass on skills from someone who has just “attended” a (deaf awareness/sign language) course – it just does not work like that….
I am tired of finding out things in the office then being told they’ve all known for ages and as usual I am the last to know!
am tired of the lack of inclusion and inaccessibility in today’s day and age.
I am tired of my mobile fire text alert (testing every week) going off at least half an hour before the real fire test goes off.
I am tired of being abused by egocentric manic d/Deaf ( & hearing) people.
I am tired of being told to “Get on with it” when that is what we have been doing everyday?!
I am tired of not being able to switch off at night time!! (as a hearing dweller commented because the deaf are lucky in being able to turn off our hearing aids – ahhh silence is golden! Oh yes just rubbing it in….)
I am tired of the bloody answerphone and not understanding a word said….
I am tired full stop lol – 24/7 campaigning is a hard slog.
I am tired of deaf politics and political correctness gone mad and madder and even madder!
I am tired of having to stay strong for so long.
I am tired of all the injustice in this world – stop the planet, I want to get off! (ah you don’t – you’d miss all the fun!” as another dweller tried to persuade SJ)
Thank you to all who contributed – very much appreciated x
The French film, “La Famille Bélier” (The Bélier Family) is apparently being boycotted. Why? One may ask.
Here is a couple of (quoted) paragraphs from the deaf sportspeople to give you an insight;
“The film uses hearing actors to play the roles of deaf characters, the result of which is an embarrassing and crass interpretation of deaf culture and sign language. Make no mistake, this is like blacking up for the Black and White Minstrel Show. Couldn’t find any deaf actors? Just get some hearing ones to wave their hands about. It shows a level of disrespect for deaf people and disregard for a genuine language with the nuances of any spoken language. In the UK there is a pool of experienced deaf actors and sign language interpreters. If the same exist in France, shouldn’t the makers of Le Famille Bélier have called upon them? And if they don’t exist, we should be asking why not.
Deaf people’s culture and experiences have long been appropriated for the fascination and entertainment of others, and in the process kneaded into a bastardisation bearing no resemblance to real-life experiences, because it is rare that deaf people are actually involved in the production process. Accurate representation of deafness is a good thing, it can entertain and educate in equal measures – but films and TV shows about deaf characters, told through a hearing lens, using hearing actors with pidgin sign language, are demeaning, depressing and cause more damage then good.”
My initial reaction after reading through it all was to think objectively (as always) and responded to several links of the source (as written by Rebecca Atkinson of The Guardian) which is being widely publically shared hence my now, very public thought on this topic.
When the casting team find an actor or actress who happens to be deaf and experienced enough to play the part satisfactorily then they may sign them. Just like with the Olympics, if athletes meet the standards they then qualify to compete. The very same qualification process applies to deaf sportspeople too.
I do not see why (deaf) people seem to keep spitting their dummies out all the time – has any deaf people actually auditioned for the part?? Some are dubious as to whether they actively sought deaf actors out for the part but nonetheless I am sure they advertised and did their research as all films and actors do as that is their job and one would hope they fulfilled the requirements.
It is being portrayed overall as an insult to the deaf community when this does not mean it is the general consensus of the whole yet very diverse deaf community but individual interpretations based on personal experiences and emotions which are most likely reactions upon impulse. Just because some people are boycotting this film whilst encouraging others to do the same, does not mean everyone else needs to follow suit.
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle.
I happened to be in the vicinity of the National Portrait Gallery when I was notified that Grayson Perry had done a piece on the deaf community as part of his “Identity” series. This intrigued my friends and I so we seized the opportunity to view his art work – some of which resonated with us, especially the “Memory Jar” and “A Map of Days” which was rather unique.
The episode which portrayed Grayson Perry’s time and artwork as a result from having spent with selected members of the deaf community was being broadcasted the very same day, amongst his other research with other aspects of “Identity”. Once I saw the artwork that reflected the deaf community on display in the National Portrait Gallery, I just knew there would be a repeat of certain schools of thought, of which some will say is justified for their own reasons. I decided not to watch the said episode for my own personal reasons which was respected.
However, I suggested another piece of Grayson Perry’s artwork to my husband as I thought he would be interested in that aspect of Identity and he took it upon himself to watch the episode that featured Grayson’s research and the artwork. It happened to be shown in the same episode as “The Deaf”.
Subsequently we had a chat and I felt compelled to relay his thoughts to the rest of the Tree House dwellers for another angle on it all coming from a hearing person’s perspective.
My husband (who studied at St Martins Art College) says…
“As an artist it is not Grayson’s fault that he could not portray deafness very well because he is not deaf himself therefore could not grasp the true concept which is why his poster came out rather boring as deafness and sign language is very visual”.
On the other hand, my husband also felt “certain people who were chosen, were very selective in who they “grouped” with.”
My husband then reminded me which I completely forgot about, how he did an identity project for his Masters as he is an “alien” in this country – One aspect of his project, he made a video of me signing and this video went up for debate amongst the students who were left feeling frustrated at not being able to understand and they dictated that he could not use this video because he was not deaf. He shut them up by saying it was part of identity and who he is, being an alien in this country – reversing the frustration back at them, at not being able to understand and/or follow a language.
It takes a lot for my husband not to like anything and what he perceived being presented via the deaf people in the episode was nothing new – to him.
I can only wish Grayson Perry had the opportunity to be exposed to a wider spectrum of the richer diversity within the deaf community so he could truly understand the issues that comes with deafness and our various communication abilities, skills and needs. There is no deaf culture or D/d per se – is there a hearing culture, H/h? Is there a blind culture, B/b? Let us not create any more division when there is no need or justification for it.
On that note, we would like to invite Grayson Perry and anyone else who may be interested in the deaf community to visit us at the Tree House, who would also be more than welcome to come along to any of our events in order to meet us for a truer insight into just who we are, a community that respects each and every one’s needs and their/our choices of communication methods which results in TOTAL communication. A community that respects each and every one for who they are and wish to be. A community that is inclusive of all.
But not one that would even dream of wishing a child would be born deaf.
In the post I received a letter from my local concessionary travel team which left me feeling stunned and concerned for other people who also happens to be deaf, living in my local borough. I knew not all would be claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or be in receipt of the Higher Rate Mobility Component.
Me being me, I set out to challenge the Local Authority over concerns they raised within me in said letter by sending them an email which I can only hope I made it clear enough that one could not send out a letter like this without giving those who are eligible any other alternatives to provide proof they are entitled as not everyone claims DLA or gets the higher rate. If people / councils are going to manipulate residents into feeling worry and despair then surely I am going to pull them up on that!!
“Dear Sir / Madam,
Thank you very much for your letter advising me to renew my freedom travel pass. There are issues within the letter which concerns me because not every deaf person gets the Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance – surely our deafness which is covered by the eligibility rules should be enough?
I recall in the past Hounslow Borough requesting our audiograms of which I am sure many were obliged to produce however being told I was not deaf on my audiogram was a farce and I had to defend myself by correcting them that if they were going to ask for audiograms as proof of our deafness they should be employing an audiologist who is qualified to read audiograms and then able to determine who is deaf enough or not. I have been profoundly deaf since birth and this felt like an insult to me. I was then allowed to renew my travel pass but it was not without any ill feelings.
The subsequent new Freedom Pass renewal system went very smoothly and was a pleasure however this time around; I am left stunned at the lack of knowledge in the differences between disabilities and our needs. You are requesting proof of mobility of which some may not choose to claim or do not have the higher rate of. I understand that this rate gets automatic renewal but it is very unfair to ask this of those who are eligible already by being deaf – covered by the rules for the Freedom Pass by the Transport of London and the “Guidance to Local Authorities on assessing eligibility of disabled people in England.” I attach photos of the categories and some points from the Guidance for your information.
22 For applicants outside the above categories, the Department recommends that the next most robust means of assessment is likely to be via local authority lists of registered disabled people where these are relevant. This is covered in more detail below for people who are blind or partially sighted, or profoundly or severely deaf. Where a person is registered with an authority outside their current area of residence, the local authority may wish to consider the desirability of contacting that authority as against other means of assessing eligibility.
39 There is no statutory registration system for deaf people. However, many will be registered on a voluntary basis with their local authority social services department. The register is open to people who have varying degrees of hearing loss, so in checking the register a local authority is advised to check that the applicant is profoundly or severely deaf before issuing a national concession bus pass.
Please could you now explain to me, why we are being expected to provide proof of our income/benefit when it has nothing to do with our eligibility for a freedom pass when we are already eligible and entitled to one due to our deafness? It is becoming even more apparent to me just how much knowledge staff has in terms of the differences in disabilities and the various needs / abilities of each resident in the borough. One cannot send a template letter to all those categorized, claiming DLA when they may have other disabilities that decrees them eligible otherwise.
My records should show evidence of the audiograms I provided you with in the past and I would have thought this was more than enough proof of our disability which we happen to have. To see other people like myself be put through this ordeal is very unfair on them and because of this, I will be taking this up with certain charities that advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing, local mobility and disability teams as well as Transport for London as it also concerns them it being their concessionary passes of which we fulfil their criteria that one could mistake you for overlooking.
I would be more than willing to come in for an assessment but only if you are able to reassure me there is a qualified audiologist present – who can sign. Or as the guidelines suggest, you could contact my local audiology department for the necessary proof.
29 Where, as a last resort, it is necessary to use a GP, the contact should be made direct by the authority, having secured the applicant’s agreement, and the GP should only be asked for answers to factual questions. They should not be asked for an opinion on whether someone meets the criteria.
I have asked for another copy of my awards letter as requested which should not be any of the concessionary team’s business so will also be taking this up with my local MP and councillor as our deafness and audiograms in the past should be more than enough evidence to allow us to continue being in receipt of Freedom Passes. The rules and eligibility guidelines is there in black and white which works out for the best all round to protect everyone in their best interests.
I look forwards to “hearing” (pardon the pun!) from you.
(Full name not disclosed on here for privacy reasons)
Updated on 12/11/2014
My second email:
Dear Sir / Madam,
Last week I emailed the below (forwarded) message to some of the recipients named above and received no response except from Hounslow’s Advocacy team. I am appalled at the inefficiency of the customer service given by the civil service because they are paid to do their jobs, not to ignore residents and to actually know the guidelines for Travel Passes without being told them from eligible users.
I had to phone the concessionary Travel team the other day who instructed me to obtain a letter from my GP when it is clear in the Guidelines that this should only be done as a last resort and if this info is required, the authority concerned are the ones who are supposed to contact the GP’s. My GP is currently writing up her letter to confirm my deafness however we should not be required to provide new evidence every x number of years in case we miraculously become hearing because this is a life long disability. I understand this is one way to weed out the fraudsters but this is very troublesome for those who are genuine and those who do not need to be exposed to template letters regarding mobility and rates of the DLA because it’s not applicable to them when they are eligible otherwise.
29 Where, as a last resort, it is necessary to use a GP, the contact should be made
direct by the authority, having secured the applicant’s agreement, and the GP should only
be asked for answers to factual questions. They should not be asked for an opinion on
whether someone meets the criteria.
I will email my GP’s letter to the concessionary travel team once I receive it for their records and I trust this will be good enough as reassured by the admin staff who answered my call which was relayed via my husband. But what about everyone else who has had to endure signs of ignorance from those who instructed their office workers to carry out such an inefficient job yet this is not their fault when they are only being told what to do?
One of my friends who does not claim DLA and is deaf, received the exact same letter as I did asking for proof of the higher rate of mobility – this confirmed to us this was a template letter being sent out to everyone concerned. Hence showing the extent of knowledge regarding our various communication needs and abilities from those not in the know when they should be – after all, its their job which they are being paid to do? Being in the know would make life so much easier all around – nothing about us, without us.
Please, could someone this time take a moment to respond and reassure me they are looking into the inefficiency of it all as it affects both ourselves and yourselves.
Thank you ever so, for your time and patience,
A response from one of my councillors:
“I am sorry that you got so little response to your letter, but many Councillors will have thought that they have little chance of affecting the outcome, and cannot see what they can usefully do. We do not have any contact with the staff who make these decisions, and no input into how they devise their procedures. If I could see a way of making them simplify what require of you I would do it, but I am sure that any intervention from me would be ignored.
You make very good points about the bureaucracy surrounding disability making it so much worse. I have a family member whose struggles to get the flu jab would almost fill a book. No one wanted to take responsibility for letting him have an egg based injection although he has had them for years without any reaction. I do bear such things in mind when we make changes to services at LBH, and try to ensure that common sense prevails.
I hope Hounslow’s Advocacy team are able to help you to move things forward, and I am sorry that I cannot do anything to assist.
to which I replied with;
“Dear Sir / Madam,
Thank you very much to Councillor XXXX XXXXX for responding – it was nice that someone finally took the time to do so however it left me feeling quite stranded because I thought that was what Councillors were for? I was advised that they CAN affect the outcome. The guidelines for the councils are quite clear as you have been elected to represent us and do our bidding – in my case, the councillors on the Chiswick Riverside / Turnham Green ward. The council staff work for the councillors, of whom are obliged to follow the laid down guidelines.
You should be contacting the councillor with the disability portfolio and subsequently go to the staff if the rules / guidelines are not being obeyed or fulfilled which is very obvious in this instance with the issues I have presented to you.
It is already hard enough for deaf people to reach the correct contacts because we cannot scream down the phone demanding to be put through to those in a higher position – it’s a much slower, longer, and more stressful process trying to find the right people to speak to. Yet most will not take the time to respond to an email and brush it under the rug. As I have experienced bar two people so far.
Please do not make us feel like we are not your responsibility and that we should find someone else to complain to – we need to be listened to by you because we are feeling the side effects of the inefficiency within the council’s structure, that you work for. It is crystal clear no one knows the guidelines, or has the knowledge regarding different disabilities and needs to carry out a more successful system for it to work with minimal stress and imposition on others.
All those who happen to be disabled/ deaf/ without speech/ blind and other eligible statuses should not have to feel aggrieved by the “bureaucracy surrounding disability making it so much worse.” We should not have to provide new evidence every x years in case someone has grown legs or become hearing again. when the exhausted avenues of evidence we have provided in the past should be more than satisfactory. We have a lifelong disability that people know nothing about and it is those people who dictate our lives according to their limited knowledge of our disabilities and various needs.
I find it extremely hard to explain how frustrated I am at the barriers I am encountering and seeing my family and friends experiencing the very same barriers. I am not doing this for myself but for all the residents in this borough who have fallen victim to a system which is extremely flawed especially for those who have been eligible from day one.
When there is a will, there is a way – please, help your residents who happen to be disabled to have a fairer experience which is justified based on our various disabilities and needs? One cannot send out a template letter (just because it is easier to do so) without giving those who are eligible any other alternatives to provide proof they are entitled as not everyone claims DLA or gets the higher rate for mobility as this is not applicable to all.
To be concluded….
Update: I had heard nothing at all since my last email to the Team which enclosed a copy of my audiogram and a letter confirming my deafness and the level it was at (and always had been! and always will be!) so I relatively soon after paid a visit to my local Town Hall where the receptionist made a call to the Concessionary Travel team on my behalf. She finally had some good news for me – my Travel Pass would be renewed and will arrive in the post early in the new year, 2015.
We will always have to fight for our rights, even though we are entitled.
A recent article at the Rim actually made me think and see things a bit clearer after recent posts over at the Tree House was questioned regarding our preferred methods of communication…. I did not know whether to laugh or feel insulted as I had not seen any evidence within the Tree House to justify said question. Dwellers were extremely quick to reinforce the ethos of the Tree House and supported the fact that it was a place where everyone could be themselves and accepted regardless of their communication needs and/or abilities. After a few moments of head banging on the wall, peace was once again thankfully restored.
At this moment in time, the rifts between certain communities could not be wider. Attitudes in today’s society seem to be going backwards that even I am disturbed to find this trait exists within our own government.
In our case, I shall use the example of the “deaf world” and “hearing world”. A lot of it comes down to other people segregating the two worlds, categorising and judging. I have not felt accepted in either “world” because of how they have perceived me to be “different” and dictated how one should be, i.e.: I was damned if I did sign/speak or damned if I did not sign/speak. Coming from a family who happened to be deaf and having signed all my life you would assume I would not present myself the way I do – why should I appear in a certain way? I am who I am and here in my world, there is only one that everyone shares. No one is categorised unless they categorise themselves and impose the two worlds onto us.
Why does there even have to be any restrictions in the first place when it comes to communication? All forms of communication should be embraced and not rejected. Surely it is an advantage if one can express themselves by different means necessary? Over time as communication evolves and improves, it will become even more enriching for us as there is nothing wrong whatsoever in being multi-lingual.
“If all my possessions were taken from me with one exception, I would choose to keep the power of communication, for by it I would soon regain all the rest.” – Daniel Webster.