Feeling Loved.

Quite some time ago at my son’s school during assembly, they were learning about communication.

a mother and her child doing sign language for I LOVE YOU

One of the pictures they used was of this sign and no one knew what it meant. That is until my son put up his hand and said “It means I love you in American Sign Language”….

A teacher approached him afterwards and asked him how he knew, “My mum is deaf” he explained.

Go, go, go sign language!

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“I Love You” in British Sign Language.

Valentine’s Day should be every day, not just for one day a year.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Outdated Attitudes.

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“The disability is not the problem. The accessibility is the problem.” – Mohamed Jemni.

Not always accessibility but rather, attitudes.

A friend shared this earlier which helped me to appreciate yet correct it a bit further… since the out-dated term “Deaf-mute” was used in my presence earlier this week, this left me feeling speechless. If an elderly person had said it, I would not have minded so much but she was thirty ish.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Yes, I Can.

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I saw an advert on TV some time ago which used the words “I can” and this advert inspired me to put the question to our dwellers to see, what they CAN do….

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Here are some of their answers.

I sang in a choir (a hearing one), played clarinet to grade 8 and the obvious one that most people seem to be shocked about “Oooohhhhh my gawd! You can driiiive! Cleevverrr!”

My friends think I can do everything and even things I say I would find hard to do because of my hearing loss, they’re the ones telling me: “Why not, go for it”, so I guess I’m lucky. However, years ago, some of my family members and relatives seemed to think that it was “amazing” that I had got a university degree (as if deaf meant stupid) and my sis in law once told my mum that I was “lucky” to get a good man as a husband, due to my hearing loss!

I had a similar experience – my husband is hearing and someone in his family said he ‘must find it hard’ with a deaf girlfriend (this was very early on) We’re all people – hearing or deaf it doesn’t matter, some people have strange/misguided ideas about relationships and equality. I tend not to think in terms of ‘I can do this despite being deaf’ – in my eyes, I think being deaf has given me more determination. Life is tough for most people, I think everyone has potential and it is often what we do with it and the resources we have that make the difference between ‘I can’ and ‘I can’t’.

I’ve had hearing people say to me ‘You’re so inspiring, being deaf and doing a degree!’ and…. ‘how can you hear music?’. I am a singer and a musician because I can.

I’ve met some people who seem shocked to learn that deaf people can dance.

I had a boss who shifted my mindset from can’t do to can do, now I’m talking on phones, gibbering at Portuguese in work, smiling a lot more and having fun!

My old school told my mother that I would not be able to do music or French?! I did both in the end, at Mary Hare School.

I was told I couldn’t rock climb once… because I was deaf (said by a professional climber)

I was told at 16 that I couldn’t go to university as I was deaf but I went to four in the end.

I didn’t go to Uni – I was often asked why with sympathetic looks “Was it because you are deaf and you would find it difficult?”, “ No, I chose to travel….”

I couldn’t sign 3 years ago however now I can have a conversation in sign language. 

I can choose when I don’t want to hear. 😉

I have friends who kept relying on people to help them, I told them that they could do it themselves. They assumed that because people were there for them, they felt they couldn’t do it themselves. I decided to show them that they CAN do it.

Empower yourselves, because you CAN and you WILL.. 🙂

Positivity rules, what else CAN deaf people do?

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

(May you now realize, where the inspiration for the #ICAN posts came from.) 🙂

Sign Language.

I simply could not resist! I had been wanting and trying for quite some time whilst passing through, to take a photo of this particular sign, to add to my collection.

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I finally managed it only for my daughter to look at me and exclaim, “Mummmmmmy!”

I was like “Whaaat?!” 😛

She once thought it meant cigarette butts but I dutifully taught her that it also meant… Bums.

The look on her face was priceless. I very much prefer the humorous interpretation of what is a double meaning, wouldn’t you? 😉

Next?!

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

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)