Friday, 12 October 2018

DON'T Call me Deaf!

Silvana Kasi
When Silvana Kasi was 12 and an up-and-coming ballet dancer, she used to engage in a unique ritual before she danced. She would ask a friend to tap her on the shoulder when it was her turn to dance onto the stage for her solo. 

A violinist would also begin playing, signalling her to dance onto the stage. Trouble is, she couldn’t hear it. Once she was actually dancing, she didn’t have trouble hearing the entire orchestra. Her ear problems date back to when she was 9-years-old and had surgery on her right ear. 

Kasi had repeated ear infections as a child living in Albania. The result of her surgery was “devastating,” she says. The operation restored her eardrum but two weeks after surgery, her hearing was worse than pre-surgery. She explains these events in a matter-of-fact way. “My parents didn’t have a choice. Two or three times a year I had an ear infection." Getting tubes inserted, one possible treatment for North American children with reoccurring ear infections today, wasn’t an available treatment at that time, she said.

Astellas Pharma Canada gives back to the community She became increasingly aware of the taboo associated with having a physical disability. “I didn’t want to be called deaf.” When she and her husband were first married, even her own husband didn’t even realize she had a hearing problem. It took her mother-in-law to point it out to him. The woman had noticed she would sometimes call Kasi from behind and she wouldn’t hear her. 

Should pharmacists learn British Sign Language?

Saffah Huseeba Danial is a second-year pharmacy student at the University of Lincoln
Erm, HoH too!  Technically the UK state encourages all BUT those with hearing loss to use pharmacists as a consultation area for 'low level' health issues like colds etc, and issues of using tablets and medications that may clash.    But the legal reality, is they are prevented from actually doing a  diagnosis, the BMA states they aren't qualified to do that.

The inclusion in many pharmacies of hearing loops for aid users is as far as Pharmacies went because when challenged to provide signed support as the state told them to do, no one could sign or was willing to pay for it, and most don't switch loops on.  At the UK's largest one (BOOTS) and they said although they DID advertise access for sign users, they relied on staff who had attended taster sign sessions, and, she had left their employ 3 months ago....  After we left they removed the posters stating they were BSL accessible.  The problem we have with this item is no one is mentioning access for those who don 't sign and cannot benefit from a loop, deaf-blind need not apply.  So what's new?  Learn a bit of finger spelling?

Saffah Huseeba Danial is a second-year pharmacy student at the University of Lincoln. Have you ever wondered if sign language is communicated the same universally? I have — so I decided to delve further into the subject by booking a British Sign Language (BSL) taster session organised by the careers and employability department at my university. 

The session was delivered by someone who had lost their ability to hear after contracting meningitis as a young child. There were around 15 students in the session. I was the only pharmacy student; most of the others were studying psychology. I felt very excited to participate in such a rare opportunity, but I also wondered how people like me, with no previous experience with BSL, would be able to understand a session delivered in sign language. 

My query was resolved a short moment later: the teacher was accompanied by a translator so that we newcomers could understand. First, we were taught each of us what our names were in BSL. As the session progressed, I learnt that not only are there different versions of sign language around the world, but also different dialects of sign language in the United Kingdom. We studied the alphabet, how to tell the time and common phrases. I also discovered some of the many struggles that deaf people regularly encounter, such as people shouting in frustration and being impatient. 

However, I came to realise that something that is quite upsetting for the vast majority of deaf people is when someone gives up attempting to communicate altogether and walks away. We also learned that some signs in BSL would be considered profanities by the general public, regardless of the fact that the signs mean something completely ordinary in BSL, and are not profane at all. This was one of the points that I felt the need to raise awareness about. The session was by far the most interactive session I have ever experienced and I learnt a great deal about a subject I previously knew nothing about. 

After the session concluded and many questions had been answered, I began to ponder how my learning could be applied to the practice of pharmacy.

Charity News. Quit the teasing?

Sometimes we have to despair at charitable attempts to lobby on our behalf. This week the UK's largest hearing loss charity did yet another campaign about deaf (Not HoH?), people being teased and mocked in the workplace and elsewhere, which I am, sure is non-news to 99% of us who are at the cutting face of it all.

UK charity's reluctance to actually take employers, joe public, or the state on for contributing to it,  hate crimes, and even contributing to many premature deaths of deaf and disabled, suggests that after 107 years in existence they need to get a grip or give it up entirely. Grassroots are fed up of constant repeats of old campaigns stating the obvious but with no actions being taken to address them, while state mouthpieces on disability relentless attack us on a  daily basis.

Image result for sign language UK
Even deaf bloggers and activists are stuck records on repeat ad infinitum even supporting charity non-events like this one. Not a single campaign of awareness has succeeded in years for the HoH, and with the rise of cultural attitudes what there is, is bias.

It would be sad if it wasn't for the fact Deaf BSL members left this charity for dissing BSL and sacking its one and only BSL CEO years ago, because rank and file believed him unable to relfect issues of hearing loss, after that CEO left out 90% of the charity membership to concentrate on sign users instead.  They ended up handing him his P45.

Charity is dead, yet we still see some deaf and HoH bloggers plugging their wares, mainly because leaders and groups have lost out to the net.  Anyone with half an eye (Or ear!) can see that the 'Deaf' charity campaigns take the usual opportunist stance of turning the whole thing into an anti-Deaf one, instantly burying the reality of the hard of hearing suffering the same and indeed, more discriminations than they endure.  Each HoH campaign is a free gift to the BSL one, as media immediately seeks out the sole image of hearing loss ...... the BSL user, to front that awareness.

Related image
The only time we SEE the Deaf at hearing loss charities it is to complain they aren't included, and the HoH complaining their image is an old fart with a hand cupped to their ear. talking about the 'real' issues of ear wax removal and how to put batteries in their aids. We have near 10m doing this for goodness sake.

This 'Back to the Future' approach of raising awareness is a complete and utter waste of time, because they aren't taking the culprits on who distort awareness, or, the areas who think the D in deafness means Daft, Deaf or just plain Dumb.   ergo:

People are teasing us, employers won't give us jobs, welfare agencies say we are a con act, all deaf sign, stand in plain view and orate clearly,  yadda yadda, get a bloody grip we KNOW!  What we don't see is any change.

ATR has been lobbying 47 years and the record needs changing or we just accept nothing is going to change, and hide away in full view on the net, and pretend it is still all happening for us, as clubs, and deaf schools close around us all and educational access a system of haves and have-nots.  There are whole areas in the UK that don't have a single club or school, and when did anyone last see the Deaf join a charity?  They deserted their own BSL ones as soon as they got a mobile phone.

By far the glaring omissions in all campaigns for access is the reality only we can make it work, not a campaign.  We could suggest sitting there demanding everyone else complies to you is a complete waste of time.  Assuming the fact we are on a permanent fringe of everything and expecting others will adjust is pie in the sky thinking, especially and given the cultural areas prefers the fringe as this gives them both profile and edge and opposed to inclusion unless it keeps them apart!  Both sides of the hearing loss spectrum heading in different directions paying some sort of lip-service to each to avoid direct confrontation on the access and equality issues.