Friday, 23 December 2011

2011 in my world...

Being in NGR after a really long time away, I had come to realise that it was much,much more than an appropriate risk. I took stock of the best and worst case scenario of my decision. Best case scenario, many people especially parents would see the 'light' of all the GOOD things that deaf people can do (and do even better)...with a change in attitudes (for the better) in the society and with a result of a much improved non-discriminatory government policies for Persons With Disabilities. Worst case scenario, the government turns a blind eye and refuse to change their position. But in both scenarios, I believe that I can inspire at least one person who is able to inspire others. Now that would indeed be worthwhile.
You see, investing in the lives of those who need some motivation to stick their head out in a cruel and selfish system in NGR is actually a risk. Think about it.

Seeing an awful audiogram not long ago indicating that my hearing has further worsened made me to ask myself difficult questions about almost everything. I would like to think that despite it all, I have actually become a better person. You see, I no longer let anyone define who I am. There is a quote which I really like and it says: 'I was once afraid of people saying "Who does she think she is?" Now I have the courage to stand and say "This is who I am"'.  I no longer seek approval to be who I should be. I no longer need to prove myself to anyone. I discovered that to be content, it is not where I fit in that matters. I have had enough of living my life in the way that others expect me to. The strength I have to face and fight my battles every single day can only come from my faith in God who sees the BIG picture. At the end of the day, I have no excuse not to use whatever I have been blessed with to make my little corner of the global village a better place than I met it.

In my own life's journey, I have been extremely fortunate to meet and have great people in my life. People who let me be me and I want to say a very,very BIG thank you! I have had to say goodbye to certain people whom I felt that maintaining bridges with them would be a waste of my precious time. It's never easy but as we all know that it is a choice that we have to make every now and then.

As 2011 draws to a close, I have taken inventory of the mistakes that I have made and to learn lessons from them. And also time to write a new chapter! Things in general does NOT seem to get better for the average man in NGR with impunity. His basic human rights get trampled. Just take a wee moment and imagine what it would be like for Persons with Disabilities. At the time of writing, the President of Nigeria still has not assented to the Disability Bill!! One year since the Bill was passed in the legislative arm of the government after 7years of being on the floor!! I have lived outside of NGR in the developed world for roughly half my life and it is a stark contrast to NGR. Things that people take for granted in a developed country are what some people fight extremely hard for (eventually with nothing to show for the sweat and tears). What is even more tragic is that many,many more are resigned to feeling that their lives are worthless just because the society views them that way.

Plans are in the works to REALLY do something/make a difference and I'll share with you in due time.

Please permit me to take this opportunity to thank you for reading my blog and to wish you all 'Happy holidays' and to have a great and fruitful year ahead!

Gov. Al-Makura again...

Today I learnt that Gov. Tanko Al-Makura, the Executive Governor of Nasarawa State (unfortunately not my state) got 500 of his indigenes to have hearing tests and earmold impressions made. For these fortunate 500 will be the beneficiaries of new hearing-aids in January 2012. Wonderful!!!

I wish the recepients a great rehabilitation and I thank the kind governor for his efforts!

Thursday, 22 December 2011


An episode at a government office during the week left me pondering on how much longer I would need to educate people....unwilling people that is; on hearing-aids.

Needing to get some information, I walked up to a clerk who was somewhat 'engrossed' at his work. I asked a question and he barely mumbles back in reply. I asked him to repeat himself. He then mumbles again! I was getting a bit impatient with his lack of professionalism when fortunately, another client intervened and told the guy that I was wearing hearing-aids; to which the clerk retorted that he thought I was wearing phone earphones. Really????!!! A lady comes to your desk and asks a question, looks intently at you whilst waiting for you to answer her enquiry. You don't even bother to look up, barely mumble and the excuse is that you thought she was wearing earphones even when she asked you to repeat yourself. **shaking my head** It took an observant person to save the day.

And that's not the first,second,third,etc time that this has happened to me. The hairstyles that I have been wearing rather often is the woven up-dos which exposes my ears. It is worse when my hair covers my ears. I have seriously contemplated wearing brightly colored hearing aids. But they won't help my cause. People would get the impression that I am an uppity girl craving for attention to her new 'earpiece'. **sigh**

 It is worse when I come across unfamiliar and low accents and when I seek clarification, I get accused of being snobby. **sigh sigh**

Deaf Awareness 101- speak clearly and that should be Communicating with everybody 101!

Earphone/piece indeed!!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Happening in China.....

A few days ago, I learnt that the Chinese government would be sponsoring 16,000 deaf Chinese from poor backgrounds to have a cochlear implant! This is being funded by the Central Government of China and the second government-funded program organised by the China Disabled Persons' Federation.

Here is the article and the link:

More deaf kids from poor families to get artificial cochlea embedded free

 BEIJING, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Sixteen thousand more deaf children from low-income families are expected to have artificial cochlea embedded free between 2012-2015, under a program funded by China's Central Government, a Ministry of Health source told Xinhua Tuesday.

This is the second such government-funded program organized by the China Disabled Persons' Federation.

During the period of 2009-2011, the government paid for the embedding of artificial cochlea for 1,500 poor kids with hearing disabilities, and for their follow-up rehabilitative training. Peking Union Medical College Hospital and another 26 hospitals carried out the operations.

Based on the success of the first three-year program, the government has decided to continue with the effort to help more poor children to gain hearing ability.

This time, another 10 hospitals, including Shanxi Provincial People's Hospital, have been added into the list.   

Lovely news!

The first deaf female MP

Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen from South Africa was elected to the Parliament in 1999. She currently serves as the Vice-President of the World Federation of the Deaf.

She earned both her Bachelor's degree in Social Works and Master's in Social Work from Gallaudet University. During her tenure in the Parliament, she was the chairperson for Joint Monitoring Committee on the Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Children, Youth, and Disabled Persons.

For more information, see the following link:

Source: Gallaudet website.    

More deaf MPs

Culled from: Deaf Sachsen websiteA quick research took me to the deafchurch website where I was informed about 3 more parliamentarians in Europe apart from Helene Jarmer.

They are: Dimitra Arapoglou from Greece, a Belgian Flemish- Helga Stevens and Dr Ádám KÓSA, a Hungarian.

Another website tells me that the European Union of the Deaf campaigned for them when they stood for the Euro elections. This shows that barriers can be overcome in the right circumstances ie great support especially communication-wise. I think that 2 of the parliamentarian use sign-language intepreters.

Culled from Deaf Sachsen website
From R to L: Dimitra Arapoglou, Helga Stevens,Dr Ádám KÓSA,Helene Jarmer.

More on deaf MP

See what a Saturday late afternoon research has led me to......

Helene Jarmer, who according to Wikipedia is the 3rd culturally deaf person to be elected to a national parliament in 2009 and that she became deaf at the age of two as the result of an auto accident. She attended a school for hard-of-hearing students after having been categorized by physicians as being hard of hearing. This afforded her a better quality of education, since in those days the schools for the deaf in Austria were not in the best condition, because none of them allowed sign language to be used for instructional purposes. She graduated as a mainstream student from the Technical High School (Höhere Technische Lehranstalt) of the Ungargasse Education Center (Schulzentrum Ungargasse) in Vienna, Austria.

Jarmer attended and graduated from a teacher training program to be qualified to teach deaf and hard-of-hearing students at high schools (Hauptschule) and in schools for the deaf. After that, she taught for eleven years at the National Institute for the Deaf (Bundesinstitut für Gehörlosenbildung). During this time she taught a bilingual class which included both deaf and hearing students alike, as part of a laboratory school setting.' (culled from Wikipedia)
Photo courtesy: Diepress website
Sign Language Users- I'm sure you know what she is saying! 

Interesting, isn't it?! Especially the part where she lost her hearing through an auto accident.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Another deaf MP

 The only deaf MP in Latin America is Diego Lombana (from Panama); he was pivotal in getting the legislation to recognise the Panamanian Sign Language when he was just 7 years old!! As a result, the law has been informally known as 'Diego's law'. His involvement in the government in Panama has helped to change the attitude of the public towards the deaf.

Here is the article and the link:

Deaf Panamanian parliamentarian visits KDES

 Diego Lombana, the only deaf parliamentarian in Latin America, visited with a Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) fourth grade class while on a delegation visit from Panama to Gallaudet University.

As an elected member of the Asemblea Nacional (National Assembly), Lombana has supported legislation to promote the recognition and use of Panamanian sign language. Attitudes towards the abilities of deaf people and people with disabilities in Panama are slowly changing in appositive way thanks in large part to Lombana's participation in the government. Lombana came to Gallaudet on November 3 as part of delegation including the Panamanian ambassador to the U.S., the Honorable Mario Jaramillo, to meet with Gallaudet University president T. Alan Hurwitz to sign of memorandum of understanding between the University and Panama. The memorandum calls for the establishment of a new international center in Panama to promote the advancement of higher education, teaching, learning, research and services for deaf and hard of hearing students and professionals from Panama and Latin America. The center will be located in Panama City, Panama.

This was not Lombana's first visit to the University. He had visited Gallaudet and KDES with his mother when he was just five years old. The experience of seeing so many deaf people freely communicating inspired him to return to his country and meet with members of parliament to encourage them to officially recognize Panamanian sign language. The officials agreed, and assigned a legislator to Lombana's cause. By the time Lombana turned seven years old, a law was passed for the recognition of Panamanian sign language, informally referred to as "Diego's Law." It was not until Lombana himself become a government official some 20 years later that the law has become more actively used and enforced.

The students in Francisca Rangel's American Sign Language class had no idea about the larger diplomatic mission of Lombana's visit to Gallaudet. Instead, they were intrigued to learn more about this 26-year old deaf man from the Central American country of Panama who came to visit their classroom with his hearing mother and younger brother.

Lombana settled easily into one of the classroom chairs set in a semi-circle of desks and began engaging with the students, showing a map of where he was from and explaining about his job in the government, and life as a deaf person in Panama. The students leaned in eagerly, waving their hands to get his attention and to ask him questions. Lombana is used to finding creative ways to communicate across many languages. Deaf from an illness in his toddler years, Lombana's mother tirelessly advocated for her son to learn Panamanian sign language, spoken Spanish, and written English and French. So, in communicating with the students, Lombana signed in Panamanian sign language which his mother translated into spoken English to an interpreter who translated to ASL, assisted by a Spanish language translator Silvia Golocovsky, coordinator of multi-cultural student services. When the students asked Lombana questions, the whole process was reversed. It was complicated, but the fourth graders kept up with the flow.

The students immediately connected to Lombana being from a Latino background, one student mentioned that her Mom and Dad were from Mexico. Lombana shared that the day of his visit, November 3, marked the celebration of the Independence of Panama like the Americans celebrate the Fourth of July. The students were curious about how the event was celebrated? Did they have fireworks? No, Lombana said, but "we do have huge parades and people dress up in fancy costumes representing different parts of the country." They asked him about sign language in Panama. He showed them some common signs like "Mother" being a pat on the cheek, and "woman" signed with a tug on the earlobe, and the sign for "Panama" where the two hands come together like a gate swinging in and out to signify the Panama Canal.

Lombana travels the world advocating for organizations supporting people with disabilities and health issues, in addition to his government job, he is pursuing a master's degree in computer communication at the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá. His first ambition in life was to be a pilot (which he still wants to pursue), his second to become a priest (which he decided not to pursue), his third ambition was to become a politician (which he is), and his fourth? Well, he said, some day he might run for president of Panama.

As he left the KDES classroom, he turned and waved to the students and signed, "I will be coming back."  


Photo courtesy: Latino Media Telemetro website

Deaf MPs

I really like this particular article which was gotten from the New Zealand Herald website....

The Green Party is celebrating the election of Mojo Mathers as their 14th MP after the counting of special votes increased the Green's share of the party vote and number of MPs to a record high.

The Green's share of the party vote increased from 10.62 percent on election night to 11.06 percent at the final count. In four of the last five elections, the Green Party has gained an extra seat in Parliament after the special votes were counted.

Ms Mathers said she was delighted at the result and was looking forward to the first day of Parliament on 20 December. Ms Mathers will be New Zealand's first deaf MP and the fifth in the world.

"There are many barriers to democratic participation for disabled people. I hope my presence in Parliament will result in improved accessibility and access to political information for everyone, including those with a hearing impairment."

Ms Mathers has a Masters with Distinction in conservation forestry, has worked as a parliamentary advisor for water issues and was a joint owner of a small business offering forestry management services.

The mother of three is also passionate about representing people with disabilities.

"The recent Human Rights Commission review of Human Rights identifies disabled people as the most disadvantaged minority in New Zealand. As a deaf person who lives and breathes green issues, I am a strong advocate for inclusion for everyone."

Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said the party had been happy growing to 13 MPs and was now ecstatic with 14.

"It's a proud day for the Greens. The 2011 election has delivered us an historic result that cements our place as the third party in New Zealand politics," said Dr Norman."The Greens are part of an international political movement that is in ascendency and our success in this election proves there is a desire for good green change to happen in this term of Parliament.

"We will work constructively in Parliament to advance our key issues of cleaning up our rivers, raising kids out of poverty and creating good green jobs, while also providing opposition leadership on issues such as assets sales, welfare reform and charter schools.

"We are very pleased with the outcome of the MMP referendum. Keeping MMP and proportional representation was important.

"We look forward to the review of MMP and hope it strengthens and further improves our voting system.  (

Photo from the Tvnz website

My brief research to find out more deaf MPs around the world took me to a BBC article of November 1999 on Lord Ashley who was UK's first totally deaf MP. Here it is:

"Lord Ashley is perhaps the worst adversary any government would want to face when trying to drive through unpopular changes to disability benefits.
The former Labour MP commands enormous cross-party and public respect for his vigorous campaigning for disabled rights and his inspirational personal struggle to overcome the effects of deafness.
Probably the most famous deaf person in the UK, he lost his hearing in 1968 but continued to serve as an MP until 1992 when he was made a life baron.
Such is his reputation that his condemnation of the most controversial measures in the Welfare Reform and Pensions Bill carries great moral authority.
Ministers may privately cringe when the 75-year-old peer declares the legislation would not only cause great hardship but also break the moral contract between government and people.
Just as embarrassing for them, his campaign against the Bill in the Lords forced the legislation back to the Commons on Wednesday - prompting a second major backbench revolt against the proposals.
Now with the Bill set to return to a hostile House of Lords, Lord Ashley insists that it is ministers who will "blink first".
'Rebellious nature'
Such defiance is characteristic of a man who admits he has always had "a bit of a rebellious nature".
One of three children born to a poor couple in Widnes, Jack Ashley was only five when his father, a factory night-watchman, died.
"I was always very anxious to campaign on behalf of disadvantaged people. I feel an affinity with them," he once said.
Leaving school at 14 to work as a factory labourer, he became a shop steward six years later and was a local councillor at 23.
He studied at Oxford on a scholarship. Another scholarship then took him to Cambridge, where he caused waves by being the first president of the union who refused to wear evening dress during debates.
In 1951 he unsuccessfully stood for Parliament as the Labour candidate for Finitely. 

After that he worked as a producer for the BBC, making documentaries and political programmes before entering the House as MP for Stoke-on-Trent in 1966.
Overcoming deafness
A ministerial career was predicted until at age 45 he became deaf.
His best-selling autobiography records how his hearing slipped away to nothing after something went wrong following a routine ear operation.
Lord Ashley famously recalled that the last voice he heard was that of the late rugby commentator Eddie Waring.
After initially fearing he would have to give up politics, he decided to battle on and learned to lip read aided by his wife, Pauline.
Other MPs, including political foes such as former Tory prime minister Edward Heath, helped him to take part in Commons debates by turning towards him so he could get a clear view of their mouths.
Others helped him to modulate his speaking voice which he could no longer hear.
Tory MP Neil Marten, sitting on the opposite bench, would put his hands on his head to indicate that his Labour opponent was speaking too high and on his knees to show that he was too low.
But that was where the cross-party co-operation ended. Lord Ashley established himself as an MP who was combative and outspoken in his fight against a wide range of social injustices. His terrier-like attacks on Tory ministers earned him the nickname "that bloody Jack Ashley" long before Lady Thatcher became known as TBW.

"Early on when I first lost my hearing, I think people were a little fearful about attacking me. But as I re-established my confidence, that soon fell away," he recalled.
Despite his pride in his working class roots - he founded the Cloth Caps Club for proletarian MPs - he was always on the right of the Labour Party.
As he became increasingly famous as passionate advocate for disabled rights, he became president of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf.
His celebrity grew even further in 1993 when his hearing was partially restored by a cochlea implant, an electronic device which stimulates the nerves in the inner ear.

Lord Ashley spoke of his delight of at last being able to hear his grandson even though all human voices sounded like "a croaking dalek with laryngitis"    (  

Courtesy: Disabilitynow

Some things jumped out at me from the last article: '....moral contract between government and people', '... Other MPs, including political foes.... helped him to take part in Commons debates by turning towards him so he could get a clear view of their mouths. Others helped him to modulate his speaking voice which he could no longer hear. Tory MP Neil Marten, sitting on the opposite bench, would put his hands on his head to indicate that his Labour opponent was speaking too high and on his knees to show that he was too low....'.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Art exhibition by deafblind artists

Many thanks to my friend S who is deafblind and has been gracious to share certain info about deafblindness in general. I'd like to encourage people to check out this exhibition (which starts on Monday 12th December) in London, UK.

Picture courtesy: SENSE
As the article above states about Lloyd McCullough who drew the above '....Lloyd McCullough’s fantasy images are testament to the richness of his imagination. His artwork takes its viewers into a beautiful and mystical world. Lloyd was born profoundly deaf with Usher syndrome. His love of art began as soon as he learnt how to hold a pencil and he has a BA (Hons) in Illustration.

Photo courtesy: SENSE 
The photo above was taken by Ian Treherne.
"... Ian Treherne also has Usher – he was born partially deaf and has limited vision. After discovering in his teens that his eyesight would gradually deteriorate, Ian picked up the camera and began to document those places that people walk past everyday without a second glance. Finding art in areas that most people take for granted, Ian’s work spans urban wastelands, city-scapes and scenes from nature."

See how we can take things for granted?

I really admire art by artists who are able to overcome challenges to present something(s) beautiful. I am issuing this as a challenge to NGRns to support deaf/blind/deafblind artists particularly in developing countries like NGR.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Part 2: Tuesday 6th December 2011

So many grumpy faces in vehicles left baking in the sun whilst waiting for the 'marginalised and long neglected persons of the society' attempt to make a mark in history. If these brains behind the grumpy faces could, for a few precious seconds, grasp that disability can happen to just anyone and I mean ANYONE.
Getting squashed in a road traffic accident on the pot-holed roads in this country with poor emergency ambulatory treatment is one fast way of getting a disability! Or how about getting a febrile illness and getting dosed up wiith ototoxic medications? That's another way of getting a disability. If this Bill gets passed into law after so much sweat, pain, deaths, torture that many PWDs suffer without any support from the rest of the society then the society had better be grateful that we fought for everyone!!!

Enough of the sermon (or is it rant?); let me take you back to what happened afterwards.

We attended the symposium which was held at the National Human Rights Commission. This event (and the rally) was jointly organised by JONAPWD (an umbrella association for PWDs in NGR) and International Republican Institute  (IRI). Some organisations were represented: USAID, National Human Rights Commission, ActionAid and a couple of others that yours truly's ears did not grab quickly enough.
Gov. Al-Makura and Senator Bode Olajumoke were on the high table with the former Chief Justice of NGR- Justice Uwais. Good speeches were made. In particular,in his solidarity speech, Gov. Al-Makura spoke about how policies were formulated with the assumption that all citizens were able-bodied and that there is ability in disability. He also shared how he faced discrimination after being hospitalised for almost a month in which he became profoundly deaf. So you see why I listen to him? Because he KNOWS what it is like! The state he governs- Nasarawa State is the state of reference. I saw proper buses that are specially-adapted (first ladies, please take note!!). I am truly glad for Nasarawa citizens!
I am now saying the next statement with a very solemn expression. *Justice Uwais' speech was loooooong!* And seriously peppered with issues of human rights and pushing for the Millenium Development Goals that NGR is struggling to achieve. Listening to him certainly drove the messages home that in order for any development goal to be achieved, passing the Bill would be expedient. Since I had never seen him speak before, I was slayed in a good way.
Media coverage was good but I did not see any NTA personnel *shrug* Says a lot for the government.

The general consensus among the PWDs back at the National Assembly Gate was that if the president doesn't assent to the Bill quickly enough, he should expect campers at the Official Residence. Not a bad idea at all. Bring your food, wrap up warmly and hopefully with the breaking of day.....?

And apologies for committing the cardinal offense of not taking pictures at both the rally and symposium. I,however, took 2 videos at the rally because my phone went dead- remember, I completely forgot that yesterday was the D-day. hope to upload the videos soon. AND I'll endeavour to source for some photos from other participants. Thanks in advance for your understanding and cooperation!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Tuesday 6th December 2011

...everybody was equal albeit for a few hours.

I looked forward to the rally last week and ...completely forgot about it this morning. Fortunately, my friend L texted me asking me where I was when she couldn't find me.*shock horror*
*Wheew* I got there quite alright and met cars queuing up for miles on both sides outside the National Assembly(NASS) gate. A sight cheered up my spirit when I got there. Loads of PDs in nice colored shirts(which youu'll see in the videos). Most who were mobility challenged were strategically positioned at the gates. Ha! Who would have the guts to roll down on wheelchair-bounds and those on makeshift manual trolleys. I was impressed that none of them were harassed by the police or any security detail. Harassment of Persons With Disabilities is usually the order of day in NGR. Rifle buttings on the head, barks and scowls. Not today! Instead some policemen were even fighting themselves and giving the rest of us the luxury to film them on our phones and cameras. *sigh*
My friend L went along with Gov Al-Makura, former Senator Bode Olajumoke (who tirelessly pushed for the passage of the Disability bill on the floor of NGR's upper House during his time as a Senator in the last dispensation) and a couple others into the 'hallows'. The rest of us were feeling chuffed to cause a bit of a commotion among the normally impatient and ruly Abuja drivers who wanted to enter or exit NASS.
The general mood among the rally participants was one of bated hope. People hoping against hope. Hope for wider recognition of their basic human rights. Hope that people would finally understand that it is NOT charity that PWDs want. Hope that people would finally get that disability is not a crime. Hope that others realise that they could get a disability tomorrow and that disability is not a choice. And of course, hope that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would make a fist around a pen and sign the National Disability Bill indelibly into law. And thus make 22.5million PWDs (and their families and communities) happier. Is that too much to ask for?!!?
I had a lot of interesting conversations particularly with blind and mobility-challenged who came for the 'sensitisation' rally. I must say that the blind in particular inspire me. I was told a story of how a blind man actually and thoroughly enjoys a game of football by visualising ....from a radio commentary!
I think that the police had just a wee bit of humanity and became 'our friends' just for that time...

Please bear with me; I am quite tired right now and I promise to finish up later.

PS Finally I get to upload a video. Some notes of warnings...the video is more than 5minutes long- (BIG APOLOGY TO THOSE VIEWING IN PLACES WITH POOR INTERNET CONNECTION); the quality is uhmmm..... please bear with me! I WILL get better with time!!. If I can get hold of some photos, I'll put them out here.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Yesterday's result....

...was 4-0!!!! Well done to the guys for whooping Juilius Berger although they were told to take it easy on them right from the beginning! Well done once again!

PS I was reliably informed that Gov. Al-Makura did the kick-off.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Oh dear...

Right now as I write, the match between the National Deaf Football Association and Julius Berger would have kicked off by now. Apologies to all who personally invited me. I am cheering you all where I am.
The match is one of few activities to mark the IDPD 2011; hopefully, 8am on Tuesday will see us marching on a 'sensitisation' rally from Eagle Square. And we pray and hope this time around that the President would give his assent to pass the Disability Discrimination Bill into law. So if you are an Abuja resident or just happens to pass by/through Abuja, spare 40minutes of your time to lend your support. Each and everyone of us cannot live in a bubble all through life; conditions without any form of disability is usually temporary!

My friend shared an interesting article from the daily mail website:

Deaf man suing after being jailed for 25 days 'without a sign language interpreter

Authorities detained a deaf man for 25 days in jail without providing a sign-language interpreter, lawsuit has claimed.

Domestic assault charges were eventually dropped against Timothy Siaki by Adams County officials.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court seeks unspecified damages and a finding that Adams County officials violated the Americans With Disabilities Act over his May 14, 2010, arrest and detention.
The Denver Post reports Siaki doesn’t read or write English or read lips, but he does communicate through American Sign Language. Deputies arrested Siaki after a noise complaint at a motel where Siaki and his fiancee were verbalizing sounds while arguing.

Deputies responding to the complaint knocked down the motel-room door and tackled Siaki after he failed to respond to their commands.

An Adams County sheriff’s spokesman says officials need to review the suit before commenting. Siaki’s fiancee, Kimberlee Moore, as well as Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition advocacy group are also plaintiffs in the suit.

Adams County Sheriff Doug Darr is named as the defendant.

'There were 25 days of his life that he had access to nothing — no information on why he was being held, no information about his case or what was going to happen to him,' said Kevin William, an attorney who filed the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Moore tried to tell the deputies that Siaki didn’t hurt her but couldn’t because she was not provided an interpreter or any aids.
The suit claims Adams County is violating the ADA by failing to provide an interpreter or auxiliary aids for deaf suspects during their arrest and booking process.

'To this day,' he said, 'we don’t know why he was held for 25 days.'

Williams told the paper the coalition recently settled a similar case against the Lakewood Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office that call for very specific policies for compliance with the ADA.

'They need policies and procedures for folks who are deaf,' Williams said. 'People just assume that a deaf person understands what they are saying.'

The link to the story is:

So you see what the ADA can do? In a country like NGR where Persons with Disabilities are treated like trash, just imagine the difference it would make!

Bring on the Disability Discrimination Bill!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Happy 'International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IPDP)'

As many would know, 3rd of December has been designated as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities by the United Nation. Since it falls on Saturday this year, certain activities have been postponed to next week in NGR.

Here is what the UN says re: this issue:

Persons with disabilities make up an estimated 15 per cent of the world’s population. Almost one-fifth of the estimated global total of persons living with disabilities, or between 110-190 million, encounter significant difficulties. Furthermore, a quarter of the global population is directly affected by disability, as care-givers or family members.

Persons with disabilities encounter many disadvantages in their societies and are often subjected to stigma and discrimination. They remain largely marginalized, disproportionately poorer, frequently unemployed and have higher rates of mortality. Furthermore, they are largely excluded from civil and political processes and are overwhelmingly voiceless in matters that affect them and their society.

Experience shows that when persons with disabilities are empowered to participate and lead the process of development, their entire community benefits, as their involvement creates opportunities for everyone – with or without a disability. Including persons with disabilities and their communities in developmental efforts is important to advance the development agenda.

Thus it is imperative that development efforts around the world include disability issues when determining policies, programmes, as well as allocating funds for developmental programmes and projects. Mainstreaming disability in development is a strategy for achieving equality for persons with disabilities.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is both a human rights treaty and a development tool, provides an opportunity to strengthen developmental policies related to the implementation of internationally agreed development goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), thereby contributing to the realization of a “society for all” in the twenty-first century.

The General Assembly in its most recent resolution 65/186, seeks to convene a High-Level meeting on disability in 2012, with a view to strengthening efforts to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of development efforts.

Sub-themes for commemorating the International Day of persons with disabilities in 2011

This year, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs requested the input of its partners and the general public for suggestions on a theme for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2011. Many responses were received from both, the UN system and civil society.

Now, for the first time, the Day will be commemorated under a general theme with supporting sub-themes to draw attention to key areas that would work in synergy to mainstream disability in all development processes.

Based on the main theme of IDPD 2011 “Together for a better world for all: Including persons with disabilities in development”, suggested sub-themes are:

Mainstreaming disability: including a disability perspective in all development processes (more information)
Gender: including women and girls with disabilities in development (more information)
Including children and youth with disabilities in development (more information)
Accessibility: removing barriers and promoting disability-inclusive development (more information)
Promoting data collection and statistics on disability (more information)
Include: Observance of the Day provides opportunities for participation by all stakeholders – Governments, the UN system, civil society and organizations of persons with disabilities – to focus on issues related to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development, both as beneficiaries and agents.

Organize: Hold forums, public discussions and information campaigns in support of the themes of IDPD 2011 to find innovative ways and means by which persons with disabilities and their families can be further integrated into the development agenda.

Celebrate: Plan and organize performances everywhere to showcase - and celebrate - the contributions made by persons with disabilities as agents of change and development in the communities in which they live.

Take Action: A major focus of the Day is practical action to mainstream disability in all aspects of development, as well as to further the participation of persons with disabilities in social life and development on the basis of equality. Highlight progress and obstacles in implementing disability-sensitive policies, as well as promote public awareness of barriers to the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in their societies.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Switched at birth

First off, I'd like to appreciate my deaf friend L who improved my tv experience yesterday. She showed me how to get the subtitles activated on DSTV satellite. Unfortunately, it worked on about 5channels but STILL, it's better than nothing. And guess what I watched and enjoyed too?! 'Switched at birth'.

I picked the film because of the great interest I have in child psychology. Anyhow with the subtitles on, I was now getting on the roll! I practically sat straight up when the scene at which Daphne Vasquez was being introduced to her biological parents came on. With a huge smile on her face, she introduced herself with sign language and 'that' voice. Her mother (the woman who brought her up) interpreted for her. Her biological parents were shocked (and I was intrigued!).

I quickly texted my friend L to tune in but because she was not able to watch it, she asked me to record (thanks for the brainwave!).I was able to get snippets of it on my phone and I promise to upload them when the internet connection improves *sigh*

So the plot unfolds, the storyline was very believable and I could relate with Daphne in some ways. Daphne's biological parents were extremely wealthy; they naturally wanted her to leave the deaf school she was in and attend the school which Bay (the girl who switched with Daphne) goes to in order to get better opportunities in life. Daphne's mother had explained to the biological father about Daphne's being comfortable being deaf when he offered to pay for the cochlear implant so that she could be part of the hearing world. An interesting film and the Daphne character endears herself to me a lot with her great sense of humor! Oh and she got deaf from meningitis at 3years old.

Just read here that it is actually a tv series:

Interesting and I am not saving my breath to watch more (or all the) episodes of this series because of the power situation here.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Telephones,stethoscopes and....SHOUTING!

I get loads of questions from a lot of people on both sides of the fence. From deaf people who ask how, despite my profound deafness, do I manage to be able to use the telephone- well, it took me well over 25years practice of speech recognition (without lipreading) to be able to use the telephone (usually with the loudspeaker activated which also means no privacy in public). As my hearing loss is predominately of the low frequency kind, I have challenges with understanding most male voices especially if they are not articulate. That was the same strategy I used in picking up low frequency heart, lung and bowel sounds with my electronic (and amplified) stethoscope. Practice and loads and loads of it. Background noises during telephone conversations and auscultation can be very frustrating.

From hearing people, I get asked 'Am I sure that I am even profoundly deaf since I can use the telephone?' The reasons why I could do that are the same as above. That said, I don't relish telephone conversations for obvious reasons.

'Don't shout!!!' Let me clear the air on this. Shouting does not mean that you get heard easier or better. In fact, IT IS A NO-NO! Increasing the volume of your voice make your speech sound distorted. Just don't waste your energy and endeavour not to add to noise pollution by overly magnifying your voice. Distinction and clarity is the focus- not loudness.

So next time you call me or see me face-to-face, better think twice before wasting valuable energy shouting as a way of communication. I switch off very easily! And whispering into my ears? Don't attempt that either. I am a fabuulous keeper of secrets but whispering into my ears don't cut it. *shrug*

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Sign Language Interpreters

"Enemies of the sign language, they are enemies of the true welfare of the deaf.”-George W. Veditz

The above quote, to me, is pretty much straightforward. That is to say conversely, to be friends of the deaf (and support their welfare), you support sign language.

All the Sign Language Interpreters (SLI) whom I have met in NGR are really nice people; not condescending towards the people that they help. Genuinely wanting to help; some actually have family members who are deaf and that has influenced their decision to be (trained SLIs). And others studied at a special education department. But none are full-time SLIs because they don't get paid properly! Foreign language interpreters/translators get paid so why shouldn't sign language interpreters? One main reason here in NGR is that the fundamental human right(s) of the deaf are simply not recognised. 

When that changes, I expect that SLIs are paid properly.

Thanks to all the hardworking NGRn Sign Language Interpreters who endeavour to make the lives of the Deaf in NGR easier.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

When someone makes an effort to communicate in your language, it is only natural for you to open up. That goes for everyone in the world; be it in Mandarin to a native speaker in Beijing, in French to a waiter in a cafe on the street of Paris.

When it comes to deaf people meeting other deaf people, I have a great story which was told by my friend, J. During one of her frequent travels (and which ultimately changed her life), at the airport, a man tapped on her shoulders and signed to her when he saw that she also wore hearing-aids. Known for not 'talking' to strangers easily, she warmed up to him and to cut the long story short, they got married. She a deaf African-British and he a deaf Slovakian. Interesting, isn't it? Language barrier somewhat overcome in this case.

According to wikipedia, (which I would need to verify from a friend who is a World Federation of the Deaf exec.) there is what is called 'international sign'. Which was what Kohei used.   

'International Sign (IS) (........ International Sign Language (ISL), International Sign Pidgin...........) is an international auxiliary language sometimes used at international meetings such as the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) congress, events such as the Deaflympics, and informally when travelling and socialising. It can be seen as a kind of pidgin sign language, which is not as conventionalised or complex as natural sign languages and has a limited lexicon.' International Sign Pidgin? Cool, I must say!

Talking about airports, I found it interesting that while I was booking for a ticket online on one of the recently-launched airline traversing NGR's skyline, I saw 'special requirements'. Not one from shying away things like that as a traveller, I clicked on 'deaf passenger' but unfortunately, the booking could not be completed online. I would so love to see what happens if they knew a deaf passenger was coming. Well, it is just not good to miss a flight especially in NGR so I give Abuja airport a 0/10 for absence of visual and extremely poor audio announcements. However, I give them 4/10 because a staff was happy to inform his colleague at the departure lounge to help me out. A minus was given because he wanted my mobile number just so that he could alert me when it was time for boarding (???)

Asking directions from strangers get mixed reactions from me because I have had several instances particularly in Lagos where I have been misdirected. But that is not going to kill my lobe for travelling. I DO love to travel. However, for a hearing person, it can be stressful and even more challenging for those with hearing loss.

The travel bug bite is still very itchy.....

Monday, 21 November 2011

Stabbed for signing

I know! The title of this post is extremely unnerving; having heard about an unfortunate deaf man in the US who was shot at the back of his head while withdrawing money at an ATM. A couple of armed robbers put their gun at the back of his head and warned him not to turn his head. Or he must have felt the nuzzle of the gun at the back of his head and turned around. Whichever way, he died. His life wasted through no fault of his.

Now in this scenario which happened sometime this year in Florida. The story was reported in the NYDaily News website:

Group of deaf, mute friends stabbed at bar after thug mistakes sign language for gang signs
Sunday, May 01, 2011
A group of deaf friends were stabbed at a bar in Florida after a woman mistook their sign language for gang signs.

Alfred Stewart, 31, was partying at the Ocean's Eleven Lounge in Hallendale Beach, Fla., with some friends who were also deaf on Saturday night when the group's signing caught the eye of gang-banger Barbara Lee.

The 45-year-old Lee though the group was throwing gang signs at her and responded by flashing gang signs back at them, cops said.
The group motioned for her to leave them alone.

Eventually, Lee left the bar but returned with two members of her crew, 19-year-old Marco Ibanez and a 17-year-old who was not identified, cops said.

Ibanez allegedly pulled a knife and began stabbing Stewart and his friends.

Stewart and three of his friends were taken to a hospital and treated for stab wounds.

A bouncer at the bar who had a bottle smashed over his head in the melee was also taken to the hospital. None of the injuries were life-threatening, officials said.

Lee, Ibanez and the 17-year-old were arrested and charged with aggravated battery.

Stewart's mother, Brenda, said there was no way her son was making gang signs.

"Only sign language," she told WSVN television. "That's the only way all of them, they do sign language."

THE GOOD NEWS in this story was that:Barbara Lee, 45 and Marco Ibanez, 19, were arrested after the stabbing.
ASL is actually the third widely used language in the US so it does make sense for people to learn it. Just like Spanish and English is taught.

My inquiring mind would like to know what would have happened if this happened in NGR? **sigh** Nobody is going to tell me that 'the police is our friend'!

Are you PC?

That is- are you 'politically correct'? The 'Politically Correct Police' is very much active in the West. But not so in developing countries like NGR. *sigh*  I am not saying that it is expedient to be politically correct all the time.
Terms like 'hearing impaired' and 'hard of hearing' to mention a few have been bandied around for years but sometimes I think that it is best to say it as it is. Just say 'deaf' and most people with a certain amount of hearing loss won't kick up a fuss about it. But terms like 'deaf and dumb'? Hey no! 'Dumb' in today's language means 'stupid' and deaf people are farrrrrrr from that. 'Deaf and mute'? Don't try that either. 'Mute' means 'unable to speak at all'. It is incorrect to use that term as some deaf people are able to make sounds which may not be comprehensible to others. Some deaf may accept 'deaf and silent' especially if they signspeak.

Often I have come across these terms which have rendered the term 'deafness' more politically correct 'aurally inconvenienced', 'visually oriented'. but to come across a politically correct and VERY correct term for a hearing person ' temporarily aurally abled'. Did you read that? 'TEMPORARILY aurally abled'. *shrug* Anybody can become deafened at anytime anywhere. *shrug* Sadly, that is a fact.

I deliberately did not delve into political correctness changing the original sign language 'signcabulary'. Quite a complex issue there.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A great breed of Governor

Yesterday (15th Nov) was the 58th birthday of a special Governor who is hearing-impaired. The Governor of Nasarawa State: His Excellency, Tanko Al-Makura.

A governor, who against all odds, emerged to be the People's favorite to govern his state. I happen to have known this humble gentleman for several years.
To mark his birthday yesterday, he chose to spend the day with JSS3 students and taught them Social Studies. Incidentally he was a teacher in my home state in the 1970's. His desire was and still is to inspire people to greatness and he did exactly that yesterday. The topic of his 45minutes tuition was on value and discipline. Of which is severely lacking in NGR today. A student walked him to his car and told this governor that he had inspired him to greatness. I wish that more governors are like him.

It is clear that despite his own hearing challenges, he is well above his own peers. He is able to inspire many and I believe that he can.

Thank you, Mr. Governor for impacting the youth in your state positively the way you did. Wishing you wisdom and goodwill to make and leave a worthy legacy not just for Nasarawa State but for NGR.

Photo courtesy: nbslafia website

PS....Watch out for my mini-documentary...


We are in 'Movember' -the month formerly known as November. The time to see mo (moustaches)of all shapes,sizes. A very good excuse to not to shave the bits of fur above and around your mouth (for the men, that is). As a 'Mo Sista', I'd like to raise awareness on men's health particularly prostate cancer. For the men, if you are at least 40 years old, it is time to pay a visit to the doctor/ docteur/ likita/ medico/ 

For more information. please visit the website:

And here are the styles and take your pick ;-)

Images from enemy of peanut website 
From the perspective of a deaf person, lipreading men with moustaches styles like trucker,regent, gringo can be a nightmare! And don't talk about beards *sigh* although I think that they look aesthetically nice.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Deaflympics qualifying match

...between NGR and ALG at the National Stadium, Abuja. It was my first time at the imposing and seemingly well-maintained structure which was reasonably clean. The place where many a heart of a man gets the poor or lacklustre performance of his team.

Anyway, here I was, once again, in the midst of an orderly group of people. I would estimate that about a 100 turned up to watch. The game kicked off at 4pm AFRICAN time (which was actually few minutes past 5!).

I found it interesting that during the National Anthem, the players signtalked it rather than put their hands over their heart like statues as is customary in all international and national sports competitions over the world.

I won't go 'commentary' on the match which saw NGR win and of course, hopefully on its way to Athens '13 except that I noted a gifted player who had another condition apart from deafness.  During half-time, the cheerful mime group entertained us. The entire ALG delegates were very gracious.

I will put up the videos and pictures shortly. Please accept my apology for not putting them up at the time particular posts are submitted.


The photos and videos... Uhmmm, viewing would involve some sort of neck exercise and stretching...

All taken from my mobile phone hence....

I took about 6 videos on my phone and it took me well over an hour to upload just one!! Oh NGR!!!!!!!!!!

At the Deaflympics football qualifier match today

...between NGR and ALG, I met a very,very interesting personality! The Silent Rider!!!! Kohei Hakamada!

He is a deaf Japanese who, upon retiring, embarked on a round-the-world motorbike trip. He started in June 2010 and hopes to finish in....*gasp* May 2014!! Seeing that I love travelling, I was really excited to meet him. With a well-worn map of the world, he showed me the places he rode to so far. His first port of call on his adventure was South Korea. From there, he travelled to Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel,Jordan,Egypt,Sudan,Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda,Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Congo, Cameroun, Central African Republic, Chad and of course, NGR. I will do the counting later.

Right now, his motorcycle is undergoing repairs here in Abuja. And his next stop is Niger Republic. And onto some West African countries and the coastal areas of North Africa to Europe and to South America and then to North America. Indeed the trip of a lifetime!!

I believe that Kohei is in the Guinness Book of Records. Kohei was born deaf (communicates only through -international- sign language) and this trip is, in fact, his 2nd round-the-world trip; having had the first between 1973-1977 as a hitchhiker!
Wishing Kohei an enjoyable and safe trip! Arigato!!

He has very kindly permitted me to take a photo of and with him. I'll put it up later.

I am still shaking my head in amazement!

PS... The photos as promised...

The Silent Rider himself!
Yours truly and Kohei Hakamada

Thursday, 10 November 2011


"...I remember...feeling incredibly strong. It was me...and it wasn't me" - the quote by Dr. David Banner aka 'The Incredible Hulk'!

Very interesting to note that the actor in this role, Lou Ferrigno is deaf/HOH having lost his hearing as an infant following an ear infection. Lou started weight training at the age of 13 and went into bodybuilding to build his self-esteem. He won a couple of titles which included IFBB Mr. Universe. He also trained with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has also trained Michael Jackson to get fit in the run-up to his 2009 Comeback concerts.

Here is what Lou says about the influence of his hearing loss on his life: "...if I hadn't lost some of my hearing, I wouldn't be where I am now. It forced me to maximize my own potential. I had to be better than the average person to succeed." That I can identify with.


Can you lipread me?

**mouthing: Can you lipread me?** 

I am a looooooooong-time and habitual lipreader---it helped me get my eyes checked out early because I was forever squinting. If my hearing-aids get angry and decide to take a hike, never to come back or the batteries die, my eyes and brain have to work much harder. I oral speak other languages apart from English: French,Spanish, Hausa, Idoma, Mandarin, Italian, German (somewhat in descending order of fluency and knowledge).

I regard myself as a native English speaker although on paper, my mother-tongue is not English. Mainly because the language of my speech therapist was English and I grew up with an English family who spoke.....English-the Queen's English no less. I learnt French in school up to secondary school 'O' Levels (and chuffed that I got a distinction because the listening part was such a nightmare); I taught myself Spanish as it is quite similar to French. I know just a bit of Italian and German. The rest of the languages are TONAL languages which means I have to listen extra extra extra and lipread ultra ultra ultra carefully. One word means different things all based on the iNtOnaTIoN! Harder when I speak especially when I get the specific intonation right. I shrug and roll my eyes (and inwardly hiss) when ignorant people exclaim that I am not fluent in the language that my birth parents speak or even Hausa which I had to use to communicate with non-English speaking patients during my undergraduate medical studies.

Last summer, I had fun learning Mandarin which have 5 tones for most letters. And you guessed it, I learnt to lipread in class. I guess the tutors were very forgiving because they realise that I chose to learn Mandarin. I am proud to say that my efforts pay off in Chinatown and Chinese restaurants.

Here is an article that may interest you. A true life story told in a tv series about a deaf lady who worked for the FBI and just by lipreading, she cracked cases.

"....Based on a true story, Sue Thomas:F.B.Eye follows the adventures of Sue Thomas at the FBI in Washington, D.C. She's one hard-headed, soft-hearted woman whose talent for reading lips helps crack crimes and bag the bad guys in places listening devices can't penetrate. With her hearing-ear dog, Levi, Sue's a glutton for jeopardy - and there's (almost) nothing she won't do to bring notorious criminals to justice. This remarkable, edge-of-your-seat drama is an inspiring tribute to the ability of the human spirit to overcome adversity and achieve great things."

Hearing dogs

I am sure that all of us have either heard of or encountered guide dogs for the blind. But guide dogs for the deaf? My experience, though vicarious, of a hearing dog some years ago was interesting. Someone I knew lived alone and wanted to keep a dog as a pet. After much persuasion, she settled for a hearing dog. Her experiences is somewhat similar to this lady in the link/article that I am about to share (except that her dog didn't go blind).

Here is the article:

We've all heard of Guide Dogs for the Blind - but did you know there are Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, too?

Mother-of-three Marjorie Houseman, 58, a JobCentre clerk from Forres, Scotland, has a golden retriever called Barnaby who acts as her ears.

By an extraordinary quirk of fate, Barnaby has gone blind - so Marjorie returns the favour by acting as his eyes. Here, she tells how us how Barnaby and Marjorie are the perfect match.

Barnaby and I didn't hit it off immediately; that's to say, I liked him, but he wasn't so sure about me. His attitude was 'I will work for you, but don't ask me to like you'.

He took a long time to settle in, but it was a wonderful day when he started to wag his tail and follow me.

I think he had been wary because he had been only six months old when he was rescued from a high-rise flat in Glasgow.

It's quite likely he had been illtreated as a puppy. He certainly showed signs of fear at certain things.

Hearing dogs can be anything from a poodle to a mongrel. The majority are taken from rescue kennels, though others are donated.

The next stage in our partnership was when I had to go down to one of Hearing Dogs for the Deaf's two training centres, at Cliffe, near Selby in Yorkshire, to meet him.

The training centre has a lovely flat for you to stay in so that the dog can be with you 24 hours a day throughout a week of intensive training.

I was taught about caring for him. Then we had to learn to work with phones and other household sounds together.

Barnaby is really good at his work. He is very intelligent. He takes the time to think things through, and he amazes me with the things he does - things that were not part of his training.

If there's milk on the cooker and I go to the living room and it boils over he will rush and tell me.

It was a shock to me to discover he was blind. He has cataracts on both eyes. At first I just thought his eyes were a bit glazed but I didn't really notice that he could not see.

Once I knew he was blind it was just a matter of making a few adjustments for him - trying not move the furniture about and not leaving my shoes where he can fall over them.

Despite not being able to see he can still find me at work or at home because he knows the places so well. He even seems to know the number of steps at work.

When we are out I now guide him. He just trusts me to know where we are going. There is a great, special bond between us now. I Mthink it is even more marked since he became blind.

After six years together I know he would never let me down and he knows that I would never let him down. He did have an eye operation, a new laser treatment, which has a 98 per cent success rate. Sadly, it failed.

My deafness is caused by otosclerosis, which is a problem of the middle ear which can be hereditary. I never really noticed that I couldn't hear very well, but I can remember the change from primary school to secondary school, was a nightmare.

Frequently I was told how I was so stupid, how I hadn't worked or listened. Then I went to train as a nurse and that went wrong for me as well. I still wasn't aware what my problem was: I just thought it was lack of confidence.

My deafness became really marked when my daughter was born 30 years ago. It was hard. I had three children under school age and I had a disability that made me panic at night because I wouldn't be able to hear the baby.

Then it was arranged that I should have a stapedectomy, the operation which can sometimes cure otosclerosis.

I had been on the waiting list for 18 months when we had to move overseas to Malta. My husband, from whom I am now divorced, was with the RAF. The operation was done there and the night I came home it was lovely. I could hear again.

Then, overnight, I could feel the hearing go again. I was just unlucky. The surgeon tried again a year later, but he told me that there was only a 50-50 chance and it didn't work at all.

I had a hearing aid fitted when I came back from Malta. It's the highest-powered NHS one, and I also have a special phone with an amplifier which goes over the hearing aid.

The hearing aid takes in all the background noise, so if I am watching television I won't pick up the sound of the alarm. And at night you have to take the hearing aid off to let air in to your ear so it doesn't become infected. That's when Barnaby is really vital.

Once you have relied on a hearing dog the feeling of emptiness when you have to do without one is horrendous.

On one or two occasions I've had to leave Barnaby at home in an emergency and I just can't function without him. It's like somebody has cut my arm off. I'm stressed that he's not with me. He did have one unfortunate little trait, but that was probably to do with him being a rescue dog. Now he never steals food in front of your face, he waits until your back is turned!

Very interesting!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Security* Security* Security* Security* Security*

Need I go on? How else can I make emphasis on security and its importance in the lives of deaf people.

I am writing from a country where security of lives (and properties) are increasingly ignored. THIS IS MY OPINION AND MY PERSPECTIVE.

In my 1st year at university, I was going to school to collect a textbook from a friend. All I can recall is that I wasn't having lectures on that week day (whether we were on break, I don't remember). On getting to the main school gates, a crowd of students were hanging out; to me, that was not out of ordinary. I met my (now deceased) cousin who warned me to go home immediately. I wasn't about to obey until I knew what was happening. I didn't get any satisfactory response. Unfortunately, I did not disappear as quickly as I should have for soon afterwards, a total melee broke out. Utter pandemonium. I had to run for my life. I will not go into details here about the riot (which I later learnt turned out to be), my brush with gun-totting mobile policemen and my first experience with tear gas.

Years later, after graduation, a religious crisis broke out and I was extremely fortunate that I was away in Port Harcourt in the South of NGR. Only God knows what would have happened if I had been in Jos at that time. My sadness is that I have absolutely no idea if my deaf friend whom I call Doda is alive.

Deaf people are especially vulnerable during times of upheaval. Running to the wrong side of town. Or even in the wrong direction can mean the run towards the end of your life. Failing to speak or ask for help is another way of getting your life wasted.  That is depressing to think or imagine but it is the sad reality.

Can the leader of this country please step up???!!!!!

And if anyone knows the whereabout of Doda- a deaf girl who should be between 28-30 now and who lived close to Dogon Dutse and Angwan Rukuba. Thanks in advance!

And may we have peace!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

still on sign language...

An interesting article titled 'How do you communicate?' appeared on the Jersey News:

Islanders in Jersey are being asked to think about how they communicate.

A new training programme has been launched in the island to help make communication with deaf and hard of hearing people easier.

The programme known as the Standard was developed directly from deaf people expressing the kind of difficulties they face when communicating with people , whether in a social or work situation. The Standard is aimed at businesses and associations whose staff have everyday contact with deaf or hard of hearing people.

Laura Goldstein, Chairperson of the Deaf Partnership Board in Jersey, said: "The Standard is all about making an organisation's services fully accessible to deaf or hard of hearing people in a way they might not normally be. The people who deliver the training are all qualified Adult Education tutors. They are also all deaf or hard of hearing, so have a deep level of understanding and experience to bring to the course."

"When an organisation undertakes to train employees in The Standard, they may receive a bronze, silver or gold recognition award depending on how many staff complete the course, explained Laura. This award makes the company visibly deaf aware and will give confidence to any deaf or hard of hearing customer that their communication needs will be supported."

So far, organisations including the Town Hall, Careers Jersey, Workwise and the Jersey Employment Trust have expressed an interest in sending front-line staff on the course.

As part of Deaf Awareness Week (from 2nd to 8th May) islanders who are deaf or hard of hearing are being invited to open days at the Hearing Resource Centre at Overdale they can find out more about aids to help them live their lives more

There you go! Active collaboration between the government and its citizens to pursue human rights for the of which is the right to be able to communicate in your prefered language.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Quite chuffed

....that one of the committee head of my diaspora group which is organising a youth jobfair to help mitigate the soaring rate of unemployment in this country is VERY willing to include unemployed deaf graduates in the event  provided that I bring along a sign language intepreter to facilitate communication. I could scarcely contain my excitement!!!! I have to say that I am proud of this lady because in addition to requesting for a SLI, she did not hesitate for one second and said "Yea, it should be all-inclusive". So yay!!!!!!!

An estimated 500 youth (graduates) are billed to participate so I am going to look for as many unemployed deaf graduates as possible. And hope a prospective employer in my group will favorably consider to employ at least one. (Or I am going to bully one to do so ***chuckling***)

The event is coming up sometime in January and I plan to volunteer (and keep an eye out for the deaf participants); that should be fun. I am fervently hoping that other members of my group will be more Deaf-aware and that would spread to others outside the group in the society. It must start somewhere!

Any suggestion/comment are highly welcome!


Sunday, 6 November 2011

Sign language is cool! Part B

Although I watched extremely few episodes of Sesame Street while growing up, I never 'met' Linda the Librarian on that program. I only learnt recently that this character was played by a deaf actress, Linda Bove for 32years. Interestingly, she used Linda the librarian to introduce sign language and enlighten chidren on issues of the deaf community.

I am curious to know if any hearing person who, as a child, followed this program and learnt anything about sign language, deaf culture or the deaf community. Is there any popular children's program today  with a deaf character or a character that signtalks?

Please drop a comment! Thanks!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Selective hearing of the most annoying things that someone could say to me is 'You have such/very selective hearing...'. As if..... I remember numerous occasions when I was accused of perking up when good things are mentioned and being blank/blank-faced when not-so-nice things are mentioned. I sincerely wish it was so and not so.

But that is not to say that I have not deliberately chosen to ignore some people. I had the "misfortune" of spending a few (miserable) years at a NGRn all-girls' boarding school. Oh my word! Many students particularly those in senior classes were so EVIL and derived pleasure from inflicting misery (emotional and physical) on other students. One appallingly bad habit that these students had were to call 'Hey you!' when calling you. Excuse me!! Having been brought up in England to have typical good manners, I found that disrespectful. I have a name, use it! If you don't know it and you genuinely want to get my attention, send someone to run after me to inform me that 'my services' is/are wanted or better still exercise your pretty legs to run after me. Not throw something at me. Yes, I have had an incident when a senior student threw something at me---just to get my attention. Can you beat that incredibly crude behavior?!!! Well, sometimes I hear and sometimes I don't hear. And the times that I actually do hear/notice the mannerless students call me, I plainly ignore them and tell them pointedly that I did not hear them. **shrug**

And don't let me even start talking about the brutish behavior of a prefect, who for NO good reason, slapped my ear so hard that my hearing-aid FLEW in the middle of a crowded (and grubby) dining hall. (And that lady had the nerve to send me a friendship request on facebook and almost succeeded in sending me back into a place that I firmly closed the door at). One bright spot however was when I received an unexpected award for being the most courageous student in the school which was presented to me by the then-Vice Principal Mrs.Nwanuobi (bless her!) which seemed to be the motivation to keep me going in that school. By sheer haaaaaard work, I eventually graduated with 6distinctions and 2credits despite all the naysayers. Believe me, I'm deliriously glad that was all in the past so I feel NO guilt whatsoever in not supporting that school in any form/way/capacity. Full of the most deaf-unfriendly and discriminatory bunch of people that I had the misfortune of sharing breathing space with in my entire life (thankfully I have since met people with great minds and beautiful hearts). I beg to digress....

So hearing people, take it easy on hearing-aid wearers, cochlear implant wearers, hard-of-hearing people, lipreaders, sign-talkers if you think that they are choosing and picking what they hear. Chances are, they are not!


Friday, 4 November 2011

Deaf beauty queen

Not the 'mirror in the wall,who is the fairest of them' type. Heather Whitestone was crowned 'Miss America' in 1995.

She lost her hearing at 18months from antibiotics to treat a bout of influenza. ****I find it interesting that some people in the West whom I have read up on lost their hearing at 18months. I am sure that that the loss would be detected at a far older age in NGR by which time,the child's development would have been d e l a y e d!****
She grew up reading lips and learning how to speak. And was criticised by the deaf community for not learning to sign language (OUCHHHHHHHH!) but has since learnt it.
Heather had a passion for ballet and graduated from Jacksonville State University. When she won the Miss. America title after participating and winning other beauty pageants, she started her S.T.A.R.S. program around America. S.T.A.R.S. stands for "Success Through Action and Realization of your dreams." S.T.A.R.S. has five points which are: positive attitude, belief in a dream, the willingness to work hard, facing obstacles, and building a strong support team.

Heather also served as an executive board member on the President's Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities.

I recall reading about her faith defining and shaping her life. She wrote about her life experiences in her third book, Let God Surprise You: Trust God with Your Dreams.

Following an incident in which she did not hear her son's cries for help, she opted for a cochlear implant in 2002.


Sign Language is cool-part A

Cool facts about ASL (which is used in NGR):

1. ASL is not related to English!!
2. ASL is a manual language that relies on movement rather than sound to denote meaning
3. It grew out of French Sign Language in the early1800's.

4.Though deaf people and communities have been using sign languages for a long time, ASL was formally born at the American School for the Deaf in 1817.
5. Thomas Hopkins was inspired by his neighbor's deaf child so Gallaudet went to France to learn how to educate deaf children. At the Royal Institution for the Deaf in Paris, he studied methods teaching sign language to children with Abbe Sicard. However, Gallaudet was not able to finish his studies before he had to return to the United States, and he asked that Laurent Clerc, a deaf teacher at the Institution, come back to the States with him. Clerc agreed, and the two men went on to found the American School for the Deaf in Connecticut.

6. Because of Clerc’s French background, ASL was heavily influenced by French sign language, as well as by the sign languages that were being used in America at the time, particularly that of the large deaf community on Martha’s Vineyard. (The professor who part -supervised my master degree thesis- Prof. Nora Groce carried out her research in that community and subsequently published a book on it)

7. Just as British English changed as it came to the United States, so did French Sign Language adapt to its new environment.
8. British sign language is very different than ASL.
9. ASL has continued to evolve and the vocabulary has expanded to include new words like Internet and video blog.
10. Like any spoken language, ASL has a unique sentence structure and symbols for different words and ideas.
11. ASL is not like Charades, a simple pantomime of meaning.
12. Many signs are impossible  for a non-ASL user to understand, just as a spoken language sounds meaningless to someone who does not speak it.
13. The central features of ASL are hand shape, palm orientation, hand movement, and hand location, in addition to gestural  features like facial expression and body posture.
14. Raising your eyebrows or pursing your lips can create emphasis.
15. In the 1960s, linguist William Stokoe, a professor at Gallaudet University, proved that ASL was its own independent language because it had its own syntax, grammar and morphology like other spoken languages!

Adapted from the website

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Acting supposedly what everybody does everyday; whether in an amateur capacity or professionally. But one professional deaf actress with THREE awards to her name stands out..... Marlee Matlin.

Marlee, who first came to my notice when I watched 'Children of the Lesser God' many years ago, became deaf at the age of 18months. And has the distinction of being the only deaf actress to win the Academy aard for her FILM DEBUT.

The following information was gotten from the imdb website:
That didn't stop her, though, from acting in a children's theatre company at age 7; she was Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz." Her deafness never held her back. As an adult she said it so eloquently: "I have always resisted putting limitations on myself, both professionally and personally." Marlee studied Criminal Justice at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois, and maintained her passion for acting after graduating. While performing on stage throughout Chicago and the Midwest, Marlee attracted notice for her performance in a production of the Tony award-winning play "Children of a Lesser God" and was cast in the movie version, "Children of a Lesser God". Although this was her film debut, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. While shooting her next movie. "Walker" in Nicaragua, big-hearted Marlee took time to visit both hearing and hearing-impaired children. She continued this tradition of visiting local children throughout her travels to Germany, England, Italy, Australia, Mexico, Canada, etc. Her interest in the criminal justice field played a part in her on screen career; she portrayed an Assistant D.A. in the TV series "Reasonable Doubts", while off screen she married police officer Kevin Grandalski on August 29, 1993. Marlee was nominated for an Emmy award in 1994 for her performance as Laurie Bey in the "Picket Fences" episode "Dancing Bandit." Marlee is also a spokeswoman for the National Captioning Institute. In 1995 she testified at a Congressional hearing, and helped get a law passed that requires all TV sets 13 inches or larger to be manufactured with built-in chips to provide "Closed Captioning" on their screens; this was a godsend for deaf viewers.
Marlee is currently serving as the national spokeswoman for the largest provider of TV Closed Captioning, and has spoken on behalf of "CC" in countries such as Australia, England, France and Italy. She also serves on the boards of a number of charitable organizations, including Very Special Arts, the Starlight Foundation, and other charities that primarily benefit children. As someone who loves children so much, it is only fitting that she has four of her own. Professionally, Marlee has even tried producing, being the Executive Producer for "Where the Truth Lies".

Seeing that I love dance, I am delighted to note that she participated in 'Dancing with the Stars'. Yay!!

Photo credit: Columbiamissourian website