It took me a few extra days this month, following the full moon, to find the time to write the blog. On consulting the Old Farmer’s Almanac I see that July is the month of the Full Buck Moon this is when the handsome male buck’s antlers are in full furry growth mode. It is also known as the Thunder Moon because thunderstorms are so frequent during July. I can see that energy is,therefore,very much involved in July, matching my title here.
Busy times for everyone with holidays being planned, final exams, schools in finishing mode and if you have been procrastinating, like me, then time to settle into a new mode of working. I feel gratitude that I am here for yet another summer, just as I feel grateful for each new day and the love of good friends and family.
I had the pleasure of sharing some time with an old colleague from my Northern Ireland days and catching up on the progress or lack of it in the education system for profoundly deaf children. If you look at my page on deafness in this website you will know that I spent many years trying to support improvements in communication for deaf children, their families and teachers. It was an interesting time, mostly very frustrating but I learned a lot about myself and pedagogic life in general. My long suffering husband supported the mostly unpaid work but tried to subtly tell me that I really should move on before I got hurt. Of course one usually has to get hurt before learning to move on and that was no different to any other learning situation in life. I did as much as I could, saw a lot of progress momentarily and then found a lack of honesty and misunderstanding contributed to exactly what my husband wisely prophesied. After almost 20 years of my deafness and psychological research he, of course, left this planet and told me to get on with whatever I needed to do. I found that without his support I could no longer battle the status quo of deaf education and intransigence so I gave up that particular battle. You know when you are in deep grief and you try to help others ? – sometimes you just want to knock heads against walls and say “you think you have problems?” so it seemed wise to withdraw and regroup to see what next the world had ready for me to tackle.
I admire those campaigners who stay the course in whatever area they chose to support and perhaps I am a wimp but you know that saying everything is “for a reason, a season or a lifetime”? The recent discussions that I have had in fast and furious sign language covered so much of what we had worked together on all of those years ago, but also the usual ruminations about life itself. As a result of the conversations I realised that there is still so much that deaf people do not easily have access to. General knowledge and common information that we as hearing individuals take for granted are often denied to the profoundly deaf sign language user. I am continually grateful for my life knowledge and the ability to learn through hearing in a daily basis. How much more information has been crammed into my poor old brain in the 36 years since we shared a video production unit than that of my friend. She continually said/signed “BUT nobody told me about …!” Of course nobody told her because we are all wrapped up in our own lives and no one had time to think about the almost 60,000 sign language users in Uk needing extra communication access to EVERYTHING! Profoundly deaf people are not just you and I without our ears they are mostly you and I without our life education and access to general knowledge unless they were very lucky with a signing family and good communicating schools. Back in the day we worked very hard to make general knowledge and educational videos but it was a continual struggle for funding. We could get cash from helpful groups for equipment but not often to pay personnel. (Most donators are happy if a “something” is photographed and admired rather than a wage for people who so readily volunteered in those days!) Thank goodness for the BBC Children in Need scheme that saved us on several occasions back in the 80s. The videos are now on digital format but of course time and money is needed to update and record as archive material. The funds that remain from our diligent collecting, including donations from my husband’s funeral are stuck in an account in a school for the deaf and not accessible I am told! There are also Approximately 9 million people in the UK with some kind of a hearing loss. It is in fact the most common disability (if we are still allowed to use that term for deafness?)
This is approximately 19% of the total population or 1 in every 7 persons. (Stats from Disability Uk.)
I became used to showing the sub titles on my TV whilst my friend was here (I agreed not to use her name). I was quite amazed to see how poor a lot of the translation into words was. Whole sentences cut or mis typed needing my additional signing to make sure that the information was accurate. I know that subtitling is a difficult and professional job needing hours of training and also needing a high level of education in order to fully appreciate how to put a concept across. It made me remember all of those long meetings that we had with voluntary groups trying to decide how best to facilitate interpreting services that were still in their infancy 35 years ago. Volunteers from the friends and family were used mercilessly to keep deaf colleagues up to speed. I am told that in spite of professionally paid interpreting services, these days, profoundly deaf sign language users still have to rely on volunteers when the budget or the professional person is not available. I am sure it is a UK wide problem. Not mine these days but I still feel it important that I can use this Blog to highlight and perhaps encourage a whole new generation of supporters – deaf and hearing people working together can work well. – Just don’t expect to get financial aid I would suggest !???
My Face book notifications today showed me a video of yet another hearing family seeking help to communicate with their beautiful deaf child using signs. They had been forced to research for themselves to find the best way to keep their profoundly deaf child frustration free. This was often challenging their professional counsellors and teachers of the deaf who still do NOT approve of signs for deaf children in some areas although the research over many years (including my own) stresses it is essential for critical language acquisition.
My PhD thesis of 1994 illustrated the needs of the deaf community and their families. I am told that it has been used and quoted by several deaf academics since that time . Perhaps it should be published – I just left it on a shelf with the death of my husband coming hot on the heels of the Doctorate being awarded. OK reminiscing, about all of these thing has made me look at my personal life lessons yet again as I believe is essential for personal growth. Old wood needs cut away and new growth can flourish regular life reviews are essential I feel.
If you are interested in some personal energy growth and changing patterns within your life don’t forget the September workshop in Portand ‘s Heights hotel. The places are booking fast.
There will be more news of a new workshop scheduled for Belfast in November – watch this space.