Actress and Writer.
A full-time professional-training student at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's BA Performance.
Currently Freelancer.
Founder/Artist Director of Turtléar.

Deaf Culture/British Sign Language

British Sign Language is deaf's culture of beautiful language. People who can't hear and struggling to speak clean, sign language help them to communicate with other deaf people and also interpreters who translate into speaking English for hearing people who unable to read people's sign language. Some deaf who grow up only to use their voice/strong lip-reading - some of them found that use BSL to help them to get more access and also relax than read people's lips all the times. Overall, deaf people's hands are their voices.

British... Both England and Scotland have similar of sign language like as fingerspelling. But not numbers and weekdays - they are all the different! Trust me on that one. But it's enjoyable to know the different! Some of them still to use old-fashion, and some of them to use new almost at every day. Are there more new signs, you might ask? Well, it's like as the dictionary, it never stop to update the new words - new signs almost at every day if something's new in our lives like as new tech to take over, etc. For example, when I was young - there was no subtitles/captions on the telly... We don't have a sign for "subtitles" at back time, didn't we? Same as iPhone, iPad, DVD, Blu Ray. But now you can sign those words, like as "subtitles"! So, you gotta be prepare as there will be more new signs ahead of you! I did sign some very old signs when I was young, but now it's changed... In the future I might to change new sign again, who know?

I am use British Sign Language since I was baby, I was born profoundly deaf in both of my ears. I grew up in Girvan, Ayrshire - my sign language and other people's sign language are not always same. That's similar as all the hearing with different of their own accents in every each of town/city/village in Scotland. BSL have "accents" in their sign language, accept it. Don't error their sign language/accents. Because it's their OWN sign language, not your.

If people want to learn sign language, it's better come from deaf people who have been sign all of their lives. If they said hearing/interpreters are best persons to go and learning from - NO, NO, NO! Deaf people from birth and use BSL all of their lives are highly recommend. Because deaf people have their own culture in themselves that hearing don't. For example, my hearing daughter do have "deaf culture" because she's grow up with me and my 2 brothers. However, she's not THAT a strong deaf culture because she can't image what's it like to being a deaf. She expect everything have to be some sounds or noises all of her life. But I didn't. I always hear nothing. (I did wearing hearing aid but it's nothing sound to received, just feel the vibrate, that's all! Hearing aids was throw out now.) Deaf are best models for you. I am enjoying to teach people the basic sign language because I want them to get confident with their BSL skills outside of their classes. CSW/Interpreters' roles are to translate and voice-over, sometimes we deaf prefer them to get involve in whatever events it is. (Because that's important for deaf people comfortable with interpreters/CSW's doing. It's THEIR rights, not hearing to decide.)

When I meet deaf people in Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, London, and many more - they all are very different sign language. If you don't understand what their one sign's mean, there's no harm to ask. They will be proud to share you their "accent" signs' mean. And I won't expect them to change into my own sign language just for my sake's - they should to keep their own language and I'll learning their own as they learning mine. I understand the international sign language - their face expression and emotions are very useful, that's always so important to us. I'm still learning international sign language but I not very good sign translate in their language but they're understand my BSL because I use the visual language, that's other important part in our BSL languages. I learning ASL fingerspelling but I'm not very good to pick up opposite person's fingerspelling because it's so hard, but, I'm still learning. It is never too late to learning.

If any people come to you and said that your sign language (if you use them all of your life) was wrong sign... Let me ask you... How do they know that?! Don't let them to change your sign language! You keep your own beautiful language and I respect you for this. If you like to copy their sign because you find it so comfortable, who's going to stop you? Not me, that's for once. If you learning BSL, suddenly hearing people error you... Never listen to these hearing people. Because they are NOT deaf.

I have two sign languages: One, my own natural, strong BSL that I use the most. And second one, that I use sometimes: made-up signs. Made-up signs - its only joke, not real. Like as "Off-Ice (office); Man-O-Pause (menopause); In-Stag-Ram (Instagram) - they are made-up signs that I use to wind up the interpreters/communicate support workers, and friends too, to make them smiles/laughs. I am not sorry because that's who I am, to cheers people up. If you don't like it, don't work with me then. That's my way but if I'm serious, or even in serious conversation/meeting, I will use the natural strong BSL.

SSE is short for Sign Support English - it's not for me but people point it out that I did use few of it, not strong but I have a bit of it. However, SSE is very long sign than BSL. If you talk about, say, 1 mins, BSL could translate around 30-40 seconds. Image that, if one person talk for about an hour, SSE will take so age to reach that point where this person finish his/her speech? I respect of people's choice, SSE help them with good English. Like as many of years ago, people are strong fingerspelling without use any of sign language. I can't pick it up if one person fingerspelling toward me. Because they use fingerspelling going so fast without any space each of the words.

I was shit at English when I was in school. Communicate Sign Workers (at over 25 years ago) taught me in the pitied way. They think I can't do that and this. Lucky, I'd taught myself to read, to improve my English later in my life. Not the best but let me tell you the truth... My English, when I was young, was soooo badly than I did today!! (And self-published one of my book in the kindle.)

If there's any events for deaf, they must have deaf leader(s)/person(s) in any of deaf events. For example, Deafpool (Deaf event in Blackpool at every 1st week of September), they usually to service deaf leaders who are organise the event in the pubs; Deaf Youth Theatre & Deaf Theatre Club (Solar Bear Theatre Company's) have a deaf workshop leader/volunteers, Deafinitely Theatre Company have deaf artist director. That's perfect models/roles for deaf people to feel so fit in. Hearing people can have a chance to meet deaf leader/volunteer/worker to explain to them about deaf culture because these deaf people do have deaf culture/experience. So I recommend deaf models/roles.

I'm going to tell you the truth. I'm so happy if people come to me and say: "I've learning a little of sign language" then show me their skills. I encourage them. But what don't impressive most when people come to me, "I know signs!" Or "I know all of sign language" and show me their rubbish skills - there's no need to be ego. No matter which's level/qualification to become interpreters/CSW - it's depend on deaf persons. I'm lucky to have a couple of CSWs - they're brilliant, very clear for me to understand. They also to ensure that I understand what the person's speech/talking about before move on. They know me that well. Same as interpreters (SLIs - professional interpreters) but one interpreter, which I won't say the name - this person is so rubbish, I've missed out a lot of information from this person's translate which affect my thought, options, review/view which lead me to full of misunderstood. That's depend on the taste on each of deaf people. If one deaf to studying the maths - theatre interpreter isn't suit that, studying English - maths interpreter isn't suit that. If visit GP, while deaf person didn't talk of medicinal language, science interpreter won't to understand this deaf person! That's just depend on deaf's taste. That's funny - 2 boys from London came over in Edinburgh Fringe, told me that they didn't understand interpreter but I told them I understand interpreter very clear. Maybe that's because they didn't interest in that show that much? Still, everyone are different.

I hate that when hearing people trying to take over deaf people's roles. If you are one of them, ask yourself these of the questions... Do you want to get deaf community more suffer? Get their jobs and ensure there's less jobs for deaf? To make mock of them? Think you're better than these deaf? If your answers are yes, then you are not very friendly. You should give deaf people the opportunities to get involve more. Their lives were so amazing in back between 1700-1800 - they accepted in jobs like as teachers for deaf children, builders, sewing work and many more. However, in later than 1800, suddenly all the deaf got sack by one of the MP - he forced deaf children to learn lip-reading because they think it will becoming much better for deaf in the future. But it didn't, they were so suffer. That's exact what I feel about you guys who want to take over of deaf community.

If you ask me about cochlear implant, no comment. I have friends who have them, I respect them. But if they disagreed with me over deaf models/roles, then they're not very strong deaf culture person (or yet). I'm talking about strong deaf culture, BSL, teach BSL, deaf models/roles etc.

Anyway, you might interest to know that... When people saying their jokes, let me tell you that: hearing people going to saying their hearing's jokes that most of deaf don't understand. It's same way as Deaf going to saying deaf's jokes in BSL that hearing don't understand except interpreters/CSW. Because we use our own deaf cultures/experience, so, get over with it!

And finally... The Best Quote for both deaf and hearing people:

"Deaf people can do anything that hearing people can do... Except hear." - Frederick  C. Schrether. 

1 comment:

  1. Great read, very interesting but a very honest / entertaining way to describe it
    Great :-)