Deafened and Hearing Impaired: We are a special case – By Mervyn James

Continuing recent views regarding the UK charities insisting BSL using deaf are a ‘special case’ and deserve access more than other deaf do by producing information not accessible to deaf who need subtitles only, or, both subtitles/captioning and sign. Ideally, public information videos aimed at deaf and others with hearing loss should be law include dual access of sign, and subtitling.

Indeed there are areas who would take this further and demand why no lip-spoken access… at ALL? The current deaf charity UK stance suggests an equality elitist attitude is being supported in the UK.  Where the addition of a cultural aspect, priorities communication access for the few. When it is so simple to include both formats at the same time, you have to ask why BSL areas demand no subtitling all the time when UK access n TV Media is accepted at less than 5% BY deaf charities ?

The biggest issue is the acceptances of sign-using deaf having priorities in access terms, there should be no prioritising of support or access, we should all have it equally. I would argue too, those of us gone deaf thus have lesser issues than someone born with deafness. This is not true. We have to counter loss, trauma, lack of access, poor and biased lobbying by charities and activists, mental illness issues, family break-ups, loss of social areas and friends, and the real sufferers of the ‘invisible disability’, which, deaf don’t actually allude to.

Inequality is unacceptable no matter how it is hyped up. By far we are not being served with support, it is vital those areas concentrating only on one form of access, should justify it, I don’t think they have, since most rely on subtitles even when sign is there, and the majority (95%), want subtitling only. The whole access campaign suggests the stats if not being deliberately reversed, are being hyped in a biased manner.

WE, I suggest, are the most in need if push comes to real shove, by numbers, and by factual statistics. I think charity should drop the lobby approaches that divide us, it plays into an ‘elite’ of support need area. You can see sign language, so technically we are still worse off because society still cannot see OUR issue. It is pointless to suggest we learn BSL simply to get help, this is then discrimination, not least, because the proposal fails to understand the people that idea is aimed at.

Who learns most sign language? Actually, HEARING do, not the deafened and HI areas. They were set up for us originally, then business took over, when the saw profit in it. Now ‘deaf awareness’ is solely the domain of the sign user. Hearing, attend most of the sign and lip-reading classes too, WHY? Because the communication access these classes do, are aimed at prospective support staff and those with useful hearing to utilise them, that excludes US. In part, families (Hearing), of deaf people have to pay to learn to communicate with their own, so the inequality just gets worse….

In a practical sense, making the most use of dual access via subtitles and sign is the most cost-effective way of raising awareness and supplying information and support, what we appear to be seeing is the whole concept hijacked to push aspirations of the deaf cultural activists instead, even to the point of lobbying Parliament to help them and ignore the rest. It has been left TO politicians to actually ask the question ‘What about the other deaf? What access do they need?”

Charities et all have a duty to cease supporting polarised approaches to access, pitching one deaf person against another, is no way to raise any sort of awareness, what it does, is raise the division barriers instead.

~ Mervyn James.

Positivity Rules!

Life in itself is one big challenge, testing us daily to see how we fare. The results of which moulds us over time into whom we are and for some who we do not want to become.

It is up to us, as and when to introspect, seeing the errors of our ways if any, to tackle and improve on these traits. It is also up to us how we deal with these daily challenges. Do we react instinctively or take a step back and contemplate? The latter is not so hard to do.

More often than not, reacting instinctively leads to destruction, sending one into a negative state of despair. Almost certainly sending you on a downwards spiral towards a quagmire, which can be a very dark place to be? Once that point of “trying to stay afloat” is reached, be it by another’s hand or words, it is time to review the situation why, who or what got you there in the first place and nip it in the bud. Find the negativity and turn it a positive because even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.

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“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

― Abraham Lincoln.

In order to get the best that we deserve, we need to give and do our best otherwise; one will get what they give. To react constructively comes, positivity in the knowledge and confidence that we have tried our best whilst remaining dignified in the face of justice. Only then, can we reflect and feel positively rewarded.

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I always say, “Keep on smiling – it is free and does wonders” so take the first step in being positive by smiling. To strangers, to your friends and families – in smiling, you are instinctively changing your outlook, your moods and the glow on your face. By smiling, you could be helping someone else – without even realising it. It takes an extremely special someone to rise above giving what he or she got, in order to be kinder on themselves and others. You too can be this person. Carpe diem.

Onwards and upwards – Positivity rules! Because it rocks.

Wishing each and every one of you best wishes for the new year – wherever you may be.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

 

In Dedication by Anon.

How many friends do you have?  I am not talking about Facebook “friends” now.  I am not talking about the people you kinda know, your acquaintances.  I am talking about actual friends.  If you were going through a difficult time, who could you turn to?  Who could you tell your story to without fear of being judged?  Who would let you cry on their shoulder?  Who could you text or call at say 3am and have a listening ear?  That is just the very question I asked myself at work the other day – and the answer for me personally, the very high figure of four!

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Four people in my life that I could consider a friend.  One of my friends goes back nearly 20 years.  20 years!  I sound old.  (Perhaps I am?)  Two of my other friends go back around 18 years.  We used to work together.  Of one of these friends, my spouse thinks we have an “odd” relationship, and yet we have been there for each other time and time again.  The other guy, we don’t see each other as much as we used to due to him moving out of town but when we see each other, it’s like we haven’t been apart.  It’s is never long before him and me are putting the world to right about various issues!  And my other and last friend, a very odd one this, this person I met by “accident” and not all that long ago.  I wasn’t looking for a friend.  It just … happened.  Organically you might say.  It is odd though because this person knows so much about me in such a short space of time.  We instantly “clicked”.  (Well, from my point of view we did!)   A person although I have known a very short space of time, compared to the others, has always been there for me, time after time, through thick and thin, good times and bad.

This post is just to simply say, “Thank you”.  Thank you to the four.  Life sometimes has been hard, really hard.  In the last year or so, particularly hard and challenging.  There have been times where the brown stuff has one and truly hit the fan, yet these four, at different times, have been alongside me to help me through it.  Times when I really didn’t know what to do or say.  When I didn’t know which way to turn, these guys have been there for me.   Thank you, thank you!  Although I have told my friends this face to face, I want to say it again, publically for all to see, “Thank you”.

I would urge you, if you don’t have someone you can call a friend, find one.  It’s an old saying that gets said time and time again, “A problem shared is a problem halved”, but it is oh so true.  These guys have been there for me, through thick and thin and if I can be of the same nature to any of the people who would consider me a friend, it would be my pleasure!

 

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true you’re a pal and a confidant. 

(Lyrics to the “Golden Girls” theme TV show)

Stop Online Abuse.

Being in the public eye for the past two years has subjected me to many forms of online abuse be it indirectly or directly. I have witnessed the “mob mentality” escalate appallingly fast when someone may have a different school of thought, or by simply being different. Take the time for example when I was attacked for choosing to speak instead of sign in my BBC interview. I naturally speak when I am with hearing people as I am more comfortable doing so yet my choice to speak was not respected by those who demanded that I signed just because I come from a deaf family. I was put between a rock and a hard place and I was damned if I did sign and damned if I didn’t. The sheer number of sheep flocking was astonishing – thank God I am not a sheep! These days, too many people take advantage of peer pressure to manipulate and dictate others what to do.

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” – Maya Angelou.

There will always be someone who can put forwards different perspectives on issues and situations due to their experiences in life and knowledge, making the impact for change greater – surely everyone deserves to be respected with kindness just as much as the next person regardless? It is extremely healthy to have variations of viewpoints so one can be educated and decide – especially for themselves.

When having a different opinion one tends to be singled out as a “Troll” yet to single that person out as a troll must be another form of abuse in itself.

The World Wide Web.

The World Wide Web.

However I have recently experienced a new form of online abuse and I have been left saddened by it. This experience has made me want to retreat, have nothing at all to do with the world wide web to distance myself from all the negativity and to restrain myself from reacting. Life is far too short.

To go onto social media and post potentially libellous material which names a person, persons and so on when they cannot defend themselves surely must be another form of online abuse? Especially when there is no evidence that the named party has attacked or done anything wrong yet people feel the urge to personally attack the named party? And what’s worse, people adopting the “mob mentality” by joining in and adding fuel to the fire. No one is born with hatred – it is instilled and mimicked. If only respect worked in the same sense.

Seeing that occur from a distance opened my eyes and I soon realised I had been in the very same position numerous times now. Unfortunately I know I am not alone in this experience for a friend of mine was personally attacked recently by someone posting a video onto social media publically naming him and criticising him. If only he had sorted his dispute out privately with the named person – he would not be now known as a bully within our circle of mutual friends.

I will not tolerate or condone any form of online abuse around me especially bullying. I made it clear that I would not stand for this within the Tree House in the form of personal attacks (or when we are named outside the safety perimeters of the Tree House which subsequently is inviting us to take action) or be associated with those seen to be contributing to the very public online form of abuse. Yet making it clear, I was inevitably set upon. My position as founder in trying to protect the Tree House from any potential damage was questioned, undermined. oppressed and criticised. Being unbiased and diplomatic sets myself apart from others and this helps me to look outside the box – as always I will do as I deem just, adapting to each situation based on my experience. Was my being criticised and slated another form of online abuse? Maybe not in their eyes but it certainly felt like it to me.

To have thick skin is very important and deaf people are extremely vulnerable to the various forms of abuse, be it online, within society, at school, at work and unfortunately at home. In all walks of life, there will always be that someone who will try to drag others down no matter who they may be, for being different. My scars have healed over many times now hence why my skin has grown thicker and if I can refuse to be manipulated, so can you. Positivity rules!

Do not encourage any form of online abuse because these emotions which are associated with being bullied will exhibit themselves within the victim(s).

◾Depression

◾Shame

◾Low self-esteem

◾Sadness

◾Difficulty trusting others

◾Anger

◾Anxiety

◾Frustration

◾Fear

The offenders’ hatred should not dictate your time and you would only be lowering yourself to their level if you join in or encourage it. Rise above it because people who show their true colours in this manner deserve to be reported to the police so keep a record of all the evidence and present it in order to take action. I have done this in the past being a victim and they have listened – they issued warnings to the offending parties. With actions comes consequences – if they can dish it out, they can certainly take it.

Please, don’t have one rule for yourself and another for others – put yourself in the victim’s shoes and walk hundreds of miles in it first, taking a look in the mirror before passing any judgement or criticism.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jnr.

It is about time online abuse in its various forms is stopped. Help by being a part of that change in stopping personal attacks, cyber bullying and all forms of online harassment. Fight back – especially for justice.

Thank you, for your time and patience.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Some useful links for your reference:

Internet Safety

Bully Online

Crown Prosecution Service

Taking action about Harassment.

Harassment Act 1997

and last but not least,

I would like to applaud Dr Taylor.

Update: Defamatory gossip is now being spread about The Tree House and myself which is once again another form of abuse – Please keep evidence of this as we have built up a case which we have taken action on with positive results.

Hungry? By Paul Leonard

Take a look at this picture, do you know where it was taken? What are they waiting for?  Was the photo taken at a bus stop?

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No, this photo was taken outside Covent Garden at around 6pm on Thursday just gone, the day before the newest iPhone from Apple came out.  Speaking with man in the checked shirt, he told me the new phone was due out at 8am the following day and so presumably the line would only get longer … and longer!  (I would of gone back the following day to take a look again, but I wasn’t well enough.)

At this time, there were around 6-8 tents that people had erected to sleep in over night and this queue which stretched the width (and longer) of the front of the Covent Garden Apple Store.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a huge geek and love all things technological but the site frankly sickened me!  Scores of people waiting to spend at least £600 of their money on a phone.

The very same evening, some of the Admin Team from Tree House met up for a Chinese meal.  Food was great, company was even better, just the staff were the problem (which we may save for a future post.)  The food was very tasty as I say and for 7 of us, the cost was just over £78.  We were all well fed at just over £11 a head, a bargain.  We had left over food and decided to pay for some boxes to take the food out with us.  The purpose, for midnight munchies?  No, to try and find a homeless person and give the food to them.

Just outside Leicester Square tube, we met Nigel, along with his dog.  Here he is with Sarah, Paul and Sara:

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Anyway, Nigel had left over spare ribs, lemon chicken, some rice and noodles and even some prawn crackers.  (He must of thought all his Christmases had come at once!)  We gave him the food and we made him and his dog very very happy!

This got me thinking about the messed up world we live in.  People prepared to spend a fortune on “fluff and stuff”, stuff that will pass away in time and break and yet there are people like Nigel, who in one day, would be lucky to make even 1% of the cost of the phone (£6) and still have to buy food from their begged for money!  Personally, I don’t agree with giving money to homeless people in case it fuels a habit that perhaps shouldn’t be fuelled but giving food and drink, this is the way to do it.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Nigel, this post is dedicated to you and certainly not the guys in Cupertino, California.  As I said to you that night, “Go well – whatever you do, do it well!”

 

~PAL

 

A Show of Gratitude.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that’s why they call it the present.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt.

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On this exceptionally memorable date, I would like to extend my annual show of gratitude to the doctors and nurses of Charing Cross Hospital who several years ago gave me the best birthday present one could ever ask for. 

A second chance to cherish life and being able to watch my beautiful children grow up of which I intend to make the most of.

I never ask for much but I would very much appreciate it if you too could show your gratitude to our NHS services, especially the Doctors and Nurses who devote and dedicate so much of their time and passion to ensure we get the best care around the clock – please could you join forces against any NHS closures and get involved?

For if Charing Cross Hospital had closed down then, I would not be around today.

And last but not least, to our beloved Tree House and its dwellers for creating such a unique place without any barriers.

It is what we all make it.

Please accept this dedicated post as a token of my gratitude for being true to yourselves.

Thank YOU, to each and every single one of you, my family and my friends – for putting up with me 😉

Carpe Diem – Everyday x

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

The Power of Music.

Following on from a recent post of mine “A Few of My Favourite Things”, I am now able to fit snugly into my (UK) size 8 jeans due to cherishing numerous chocolate cakes and being ever so gently kissed by the sun’s warm embrace.

The other day it dawned on me that I am getting closer to the light at the end of this tunnel that I have been in for the past year. Confidence that was once lost is once again being found, the courage within me is once again strengthening all the while cherishing even more so the time shared with each and every being.

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” – Aldous Huxley

Music is also another favourite of mine which has been beneficial yet in order for me to heal further and move forwards; I would like to share with you, two of my favourite songs that I signed along especially to, for after silence, sign language is also the nearest next to music that makes one able to express themselves fluidly as actions speak louder than words.

“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” – Confucius

“Can’t help falling in Love” by UB40

“Baby, can I hold you tonight?” by Tracy Chapman.

“The earth has music for those who listen” – Shakespeare.

There is music, in each and everything if you know where to look and/or listen. One of my favourite kinds of music has to be within Mother Nature. For example watching the blowing leaves or the long green grass swaying along, dancing gently in the wind. Naturally a truly calming experience.

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk besides me and be my friend.” – Albert Camus

Might I add, as equals.

On that note, to all those “friends” who taught me who/what not to be and to those new found friends of whom lately have become so dear to me, not to forget our followers too – for you have all unknowingly been supporting me along this road to recovery, in order to be me again. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the Tree House, for being there. Thank you, more than you realise – for saving me. I will be there for you too.

Positivity rules! All because that is how we roll.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

 

P.S. if you cannot find me, it is because I am hiding away due to sharing my videos! (That I made last summer)