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 the 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)”.
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)