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

Deaf Jam

The film 'Deaf Jam' is going to show on PBS tonight (for those in North America). For those who like poetry, it would be interesting. Even more interesting is that, it is sign language poetry- an art almost similar to dance.
It is produced by Judy Lieff who is a dancer, filmmaker and teacher. She also teaches video production workshops which she designed for deaf teens.
The film showcases the beauty of (American) sign language poetry to hearing audiences. Here is the link to the film:

If any of you have watched the film, kindly drop your comments. Thank you!

They say that most women love shoes. Some hoard shoes. Some collect shoes. And in the last category, some design really f.a.n.t.a.s.t.i.c shoes! (Btw I don't fall into any category except that I admire well-crafted shoes even if I am not the wearer/owner.) Move over Manolo Blahnik. Move over Jimmy Choo....and say hey to Camilla Skovgaard- the top shoe designer of the moment!

Anything that is worth doing is worth doing well and Camilla certainly does the job really well. An interesting person as she says that "Deafness made her tough". She was born with limited hearing due to a genetic defect. Unfortunately years laster, she fell ill with vertigo, dizziness and vomiting and later diagnosed with Meniere's disease which further deteriorated her already limited hearing irreversibly!

Her words: "I put my mental tenacity down to overcoming my deafness.  It's made me tough.  You hear other people tell their stories and moan and I'd never want to belittle anyone, but sometimes I think, 'Honey, you just have no idea - I face that hurdle every day'."

photo from kaybruce.wordpress
Fantastic-looking shoes made by Camille Skovgaard is all over cyberspace. I remember that she is a tall,blonde-haired lady but cannot find her own photo. However, once I get hold of it, I'll upload the picture. Apologies for not uploading at the time of publishing relevant posts!

ps...finally got a picture!!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The dark

It's a no brainer at all that deaf people dislike- nay HATE the dark/darkness. Cannot hear sounds. Cannot see sounds(yes...). Cannot signtalk. Cannot lipread. Every light touch gets horribly amplified. 'Fight and flee' hormone goes into overdrive.
In a country like NGR where frequent-nay persistent power-cuts are the 'norm', deaf people get the terribly bad end of the bargain. And pity those who have an overactive imagination (like me). And pity those who are forced to develop strange habits as a painful way of adaptation. For example, I never forget to keep my bedroom door closed and in the night, double-locked. Unfortunately if someone needs my attention before my body and brain wakes up together, it is usually a lost cause. Years ago shortly after I graduated, I was the victim of an armed robbery attack which happened when I was fast asleep in the dark. Thinking about it now still gives me the creeps.
I have heard numerous stories of how deaf people get into problems in the dark-all because they couldn't hear or see. Much more worryingly when the person concerned cannot/doesn't use speech to communicate. I won't go into details now....
At the moment, there is a huge furore in NGR over the proposed 'fuel subsidy removal'. If it goes ahead, the lives of the deaf people in particular (who have never had the support of the government at any point in time) will worsen dramatically. I feel incensed just thinking about the insensitivity of the present government. I think when push goes to shove, we'll have to create a massive 'VOICE'. Don't ask me how and don't ask me when either. If it is important, we'll find a way; not make an excuse.

Here's to light...more of it. More power (intepret it anyhow you choose)!