Deaf identity and BSL

A few years ago, I “came out” to my family as a BSL user, and informed my parents that I wished they’d brought me up bilingually from an early age, rather than forcing me to struggle with oralist methods.

While I just about managed to cope with oralism, and get a good education using oral methods, it was always a struggle. I guess I sort of became acclimatised to it, because I don’t remember school being exceptionally difficult even though I didn’t have any communication support. It must have been difficult, but as highlighted on Grumpy Old Deafies, there’s an useful analogy whereby “if you’re given or created a certain character at the start of the video game, you go with it. Deaf included”. Not knowing anything different, you just get on with it, don’t you?

It wasn’t until I joined RAD that I started to become accepting of my Deaf identity, as I was exposed to BSL on a daily basis, and learnt to love and use the language. While insistent on using Typetalk and lipspeakers, I was eventually weaned off these methods of communication and instead prefer to use BSL to English Interpreters. When you have a shit-hot interpreter either translating English into BSL or vice versa, it’s so effortless for the Deaf person to take in and comprehend the information. Believe me, I know, because I used lipspeakers during the PG Diploma in Law and Legal Practice, and it was hard work – you’d sit there lipreading (70% guesswork) and trying to understand what’s being said around you, which doesn’t leave you enough time to actually digest the information.

Also, it’s so much more fun hanging out with Deaf people than hearing people! You never that old issue cropping up: communication, hearing vs. Deaf etc.

I digress. My family were rather taken aback by my outburst, as they hadn’t realised just how strongly I felt about BSL, and when I asked them all, “why don’t you learn BSL?”, they were all, “Ohh, no time; what’s the point, would never get to practise enough etc.”

Nonetheless, my parents, sister and Sam have now all booked a place to do “Introduction to BSL” at St Julian’s Community College, Newport from September. Hopefully, they will then go on to do Level 1 and Level 2. I’ll be practising with them, don’t you worry!

You may also like...

4 Responses

  1. Alison says:

    Don’t I just remember 2003!

    Re having a go at your family, pretty sure many of us might go through the same process, rejecting xyz. So called professionals have a lot to answer for, and parents will just go with what they are told because they see them as the expert.

    Cool re family learning BSL though.

  2. Tina says:

    I wondered about that, switching over to BSL, very interesting you say that. I find training courses so hard even with a palantypist, and it makes me feel stupid. I remember having a Phonic Ear at school and I was always top of the class as it was effortless to learn by hearing. By the time I went to university my hearing had deteriorated so much that I couldn’t even use the Phonic Ear and since then have found learning much harder and more time consuming as I basically had to teach myself by reading everything – no communication support then! It’s so annoying isn’t it. I feel that a lot of hearing people don’t realise how lucky they are and when they can’t be bothered to obtain qualifications ….gaaaggh! Right, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

  3. JGJones says:

    Too true mate and this reflects what I went thru myself and finally accepting my Deaf identify. And on telling this to my family…

    Sigh…it’s still many arguments to this day – and they’ve said they will “learn” BSL – but that was over a year ago now and they’ve still yet to do it.

    It’s a uphill battle for me since my father is very much in the old school of thoughts – where he goes with what the doctors said and many of them said that it’s bad, will make me stupid etc and it’ve been extremely tough to get my father to stop believing that and I know I’ve not been 100% successful there yet, but hey, I haven’t given up.

  4. Rob says:

    JGJones, what you mean you’re not 100% successful there yet?! You’re the nutter from gwallgofi, who does a lot of IT support for some high profile companies. So shaddup you!

    Mind you, I sorta know what you mean. I may be a qualified solicitor now, but I’ve still got aways to go before I consider myself as 100% successful.

Leave a Reply