There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank page, not being able to come up with the words you want for something that is, in fact, an important topic and one that happens to be constant in one’s life.
Digression aside, though I relax by blogging about the fictional worlds created by books and Disney, I want to start bringing a few more personal insights onto my blog. One way I thought of doing this is by writing and talking about d/Deaf Awareness and Accessibility – a societal aspect that my family and I deal with on a daily basis.
It is also something that not many people think of until they actually need it. However, with 1 in 6 people being d/Deaf or Hard of Hearing (UK statistic taken from Action on Hearing Loss) it is possible that every one of us will, at some point, be in a situation that requires a certain level of understanding and knowledge about deafness and hearing loss.
And I am saying this as someone who is Hearing.
So why is all this important to me?
Well, there is only one answer to that and it is my sister!
I state in my About page that I often act as my sister’s familial British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter and that is because she is profoundly Deaf.
Growing up in the middle of the Deaf and Hearing Venn diagram is all we’ve ever known, not really sure if we should completely throw ourselves into one world or combine the two in the hope that we find a balance. And I’m saying ‘us’ and not just my sister because as children were often joined at the hip, doing the same activities because my parents knew that if I was with her, she wouldn’t be left out. Don’t get me wrong, she went to two brilliant schools that gave her friendship and confidence in the Deaf community, but back at home in our village, it was a Hearing society, one that couldn’t care less about how it acted and what provisions it could make. As a result, it defined us both because no matter where I went, or who I spoke to, I was always the child “with the Deaf sister” as if it was somehow my identity. We are two separate individuals with completely different personalities but we have a closely-knit relationship that has influenced me in varying ways. I’m not going to get into it as this introductory post will be long enough, but suffice to say I wouldn’t be sat here writing all this if it wasn’t for my sister and the knowledge that we can do so much better to dissolve the barriers constantly erected in society.
Now we are both adults, and especially since my sister moved back into this predominantly Hearing society called my village and started going to a local college, we are more aware of the lack of awareness and accessibility.
But what does it mean?
Awareness (noun): the state or condition of being aware; having knowledge, consciousness, understanding….
Accessibility (noun): the state or condition of something or someone being easy to approach, reach, enter, speak with, or use.
In terms of deafness this could be:
- knowing some Sign Language,
- Not interrupting when someone is trying to speak or sign
- writing notes on a device or notepad
- having subtitles/closed captions on films and tv programmes,
- contacting people via text messaging, emails, video chat,
- speaking clearly and not mumbling,
- being patient and repeating when something hasn’t been understood (something I admit I still need to work on when it comes to my sister)
- having an induction loop in public places
- flicking a light switch on and off to get someone’s attention
- and understanding that the only thing a d/Deaf person can’t do is hear.
That last point is the most important one I can make.
I know that I will have missed off some other big examples but you get the idea. I regrettably admit that I do have moments when I lapse and forget that all this should be second nature. I really kick myself down to the ground when this happens and yet I have often ranted online and to my immediate family about circumstances when awareness has fallen short of expectations. My sister is also the first person to tell me when something goes wrong at college, or someone has teased her about her deafness.
It shows how much every day is a school day, and I am hoping that by starting this section of the blog, I’m helping myself and everyone else to spread the awareness and understanding that is needed.
I know if she wanted to, my sister would say all this herself. Nonetheless, she is happy for me to do it instead because she knows I’ll explain everything more clearly, or as clearly as possible considering I am known to ramble.
When I set all this up a couple of days ago, her approval was important to me. I had no intention of doing all this without her knowledge and input because at the end of the day, why should it be up to me?
It shouldn’t, but if I can help to spread awareness with her support then I think that is a wonderful thing.
And I think that brings this rather long introductory post to an end.
I do have a lot of other posts and ideas planned for this section, but if there is anything about this that interests you or you want to know something specific, just put it below and I’ll see what I can do.
Thank you for reading and have a good day!