Deaf identity, pride and diversity

24th October 2014

This year’s National Week of Deaf People theme is Strengthening Human Diversity.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been proud to be Deaf.

I have been exposed to sign language and Deaf people since I was an infant, and because of that I learnt not to see my deafness as a stigma. Instead, I was taught to see it as an identity.

I identify as Deaf.

What’s the difference between deaf and Deaf, you ask?

Deaf – culturally deaf; uses sign language; active in the Deaf community.

deaf – audiological ability to hear, or rather from a medical perspective.

The Deaf community is extremely diverse; not everyone are the same. It not only consists of Deaf people, but it consists of people from every walk of life.

“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.”
Ani DiFranco

There are Deaf people who are juggling other identities. I am one of those people.

There are Deaf people who are:

– Deaf and Aboriginal

– Deaf and gay

– Deaf and Muslim

– Deafblind

– Deaf and Indian

…and so much more. Diversity is clearly evident in the Deaf community.

Everyone within the community are constantly unpacking their identity as a whole. Identity is like a jigsaw puzzle; there are pieces that makes you unique when put together.

Deaf Australia (NSW), The Deaf Society of NSW and Parents of Deaf Children along with Helen Westwood (Member of Legislative Council NSW) hosted yet another successful NWDP launch and panel at the NSW Parliament House last night.

Alex Jones (co-founder of AI-Media, actor and advocate) facilitated the panel, and there was a special guest, Nareen Young – one of Australia’s leading diversity thinkers.

The panel was very diverse and definitely gave us food for thought, and we learnt more about diversity within the Deaf community.

It made me think about my own life experience, especially growing up in a diverse background.

To give you a snippet of my diversity:

– my mother comes from a Middle-Eastern ancestry, although she was born in Malaysia. She also comes from a Muslim background.

– both paternal and maternal sides on my father’s side can be traced back to Germany and Ireland. Apparently one of my grandmother’s cousins was Hitler’s secretary…!

– I was a child of a LGBT parent from the age of 10.

– I don’t like labels. Instead, I’m me and I like women, but I can identify as a LGBT person.

I was thinking recently about how it would have been fantastic to have access to Deaf LGBT people when I was younger, especially in my age group. Whilst going through a confusing time in regards with defining my sexuality, I wished I had someone to talk to, especially throughout my teen years. I wish I had someone tell me at the age of 16 that it was perfectly okay to love women.

From my memory, there wasn’t many – if any – Deaf LGBT people close to my age, so it was one of the main reasons why I repressed my feelings towards women until approximately 4 years ago when I realised I did actually like women A LOT more than I did men.

It’s now coming up 1 year anniversary of my coming out on a public scale – see my post here: Coming out as Deaf and Gay. To date, it has received nearly 400 views, which makes it the top read post on ISIW.

My family and friends accept and love me for who I am. My coming out experience has been a positive one, and I am incredibly grateful for that.

As I mentioned that I did not have a Deaf LGBT person as a role model in my younger years, I would love to be someone that young Deaf people can come and talk to, especially so I can tell them that it’s perfect okay to love someone regardless of their gender.

Role models with diverse backgrounds should be prominent for the Deaf community, especially for Deaf teenagers when they’re starting to figure out themselves and their identities.

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
Maya Angelou

Not just parents, but the Deaf community should also teach one another about the importance of diversity – after all, we live in a diverse world. Schools should also teach children about diversity.

Diversity is what strengthens us. We learn from each other. We love and accept each other.

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”
Stephen R. Covey

I am Deaf, gay and multicultural…and I am goddamned proud!

Happy National Week of Deaf People!

S xo

Melbourne Zoo

29th September 2014

On a sunny Sunday, I decided to visit Melbourne Zoo with my new camera.

It’s one of the most impressive zoos I have ever visited, and I know for certain that I will be back – especially when it’s a lot warmer.

Here’s some photos from my visit – enjoy!

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To Melbourne, with love.

22nd September 2014

I’m writing here at one of the huts on Brighton Beach. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Today has been the epitome of a beautiful spring day. Sunshine, no clouds, blue skies and temperatures in mid twenties.

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It’s been 3 months since I moved here. Time has flown by so fast, and I feel like I have been here only 4 weeks.

Before moving here, I never thought it was possible to fall completely in love with a city.

Melbourne proved me wrong.

I am SO in love with this city.

Every cranny and nook of this city has captured my heart. Alleyways, beaches, houses, people, food, drinks, shops – you name it, a piece of my heart has been left there.

One of my favourite things about living here is that it has taught me to fall in love with life itself. It’s such an amazing feeling to have – and something everyone should experience at some stage in their lives, no matter where they are in the world.

I’ve stopped in the middle of a footpath to smell flowers. Heck, I’ve relished the aroma of spring and it’s bloody amazing. My nose has never felt so alive.

I’ve woken up and decided to go to a place I haven’t been before and enjoyed it immensely.

I’ve enjoyed that $2 pizza from a kiosk on Elizabeth Street whilst making my way to a friend’s farewell. And you know what? It tasted 100 times better than Dominos – although, homemade pizzas are better.

All in all, my life has changed for the better.

I’m now eating better.

I could pretty much give Jamie Oliver a run for his money… no actually, there’s still a lot to be learnt about cooking, but I’ve whipped up some impressive meals. I’m pretty sure my current housemates and my mother can vouch for that.

I have cut down on sugar, preservatives, and other junk – massively, and my body is thanking me for it. It has been letting me know that it cannot tolerate junk anymore.

A couple of weeks ago, I caught up with an aunty for dinner and we had dessert. I ordered a lemon meringue tart. It looked so damn good. However, I was unable to finish all of it and I didn’t feel so good afterwards. I woke up at around 4am the next morning with back pain, and I knew I had to chuck my guts out. That was my body telling me not to eat anything with so much sugar ever again.

McDonalds and other fast-food outlets are no more. The last time I had McDonalds, I woke up the next morning feeling like I was hit by a truck. I also felt like I had an awful hangover, and I spent the day dying quietly. The other day, I had fish and chips and a small amount of junk. Bad idea. Woke up yesterday morning feeling gross, but I pushed myself to get out of bed and hit up the zoo.

I’ve also started drinking heaps of peppermint tea and it’s helped with my digestive system, and I don’t feel bloated so much nowadays.

Dairy also has been eliminated – mainly due to my lactose intolerance, and it’s helped massively. Soy is no more as well, as I drink almond, coconut and rice milk now.

I have found my creativity.

I recently purchased a mirrorless digital camera, which I LOVE. It’s an Olympus OM-D EM10 – one of the cheapest and best mirrorless cameras on the market.

Olympus released it earlier this year, and it’s received heaps of raving reviews from photographers and people who are starting to dive into photography.

Apparently it’s a popular camera with the blogging community, and I can see why! It’s so portable and not so heavy like a DSLR camera. It’s quite easy to travel with as well.

I went to Melbourne Zoo yesterday and came up with some fantastic photos – now, that’s another blog post to come yet!

Melbourne is a photographers’ dream. So many places to take photos of, and also gives you an opportunity to explore what this city.

I feel much more confident than before.

I feel like I can do anything without anyone and anything stopping me.

I’ve found my path, and because of that, I changed courses at university. I have transferred to Master of International and Community Development with PhD pathway. This past semester, I have discovered that communications isn’t what I want to do, and I haven’t been happy with my studies and because of that, my results have suffered.

The new course starts in Semester 1 2015 – or rather, Trimester 1 for Deakin – and I look forward to a long summer break starting at the end of October. Although, I’ll be actively looking for a job – I do need to save up extra money for Turkey next year.

But the most important thing is that I now know what I want in my life.

Ohh, look at that…the sun is now setting!

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Melbourne, I love you.

S xo

Gallaudet Dreams

1st September 2014

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Whilst procrastinating on my analytical essay about the study of positive media portrayal of Deaf President Now! movement at Gallaudet University, I decided to check out Gallaudet’s graduate course.

There it was in its finest glory…

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ISIW Interview #3 – Willos Callaghan

29th August 2014

Willos Callaghan is a Deaf man who has discovered his talent for ocean and landscape photography. I am a HUGE fan of his work, hence my choosing him to be the third lucky interviewee in ISIW’s interview series.

His tools are: GoPro Hero3+ (Black) and Canon 5D MKIII. He’s new to photography, only having started late last year but his skills and talent have developed so much in short time, and he devotes his spare time to capturing the beauty of bodyboarding, the waves and the tranquility of the beach and the ocean. His photos beautifully captures his passion for the ocean.

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I’m Deaf, not stupid.

26th August 2014

“Being deaf doesn’t mean you’re stupid: One woman’s experience with workplace discrimination in Australia” 

My Facebook newsfeed was flooded with this article, and many Deaf people can relate to it. I can relate to it as well.

As a Deaf person, I have experienced workplace discrimination. It’s not a pretty experience, to be honest. It’s extremely frustrating.

Like Ms Carlton, I use Auslan to communicate with others, however I do not speak. I’ve never been able to speak a whole sentence. I’ve found myself more comfortable signing rather than speaking.

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Why NDIS will be beneficial

25th August 2014

I’ve been reading about how fellow bloggers across Australia are excited about the upcoming #PBEVENT this weekend. It’s hosted by ProBlogger and will be providing workshops for blogging in all aspects, and will be held in Gold Coast.

I really wish I was able to attend, but alas, I cannot.

I found out too late about it, of course….and well, funds.

However, there is a much bigger issue that would have stopped me from attending…their ability to provide Auslan interpreters. Most blogging conferences/workshops/seminars usually do not have a small budget put aside for accessibility such as the costs of sign language interpreters.

Without interpreters available, I would not go. I deserve access to all information in my preferred language, and that is Auslan.

Sign language interpreters are expensive, and for a whole weekend like the #PBEVENT, it would have cost them well over $2,000. The hourly rate for an Auslan interpreter is approximately $110 at the moment, although it varies in each State/Territory.

I don’t have spare $2,000+…and most organisers do not either.

This is where NDIS comes in.

If I could access to NDIS right now, I would have been going to conferences/workshops/seminars and whatnot, and I could have organised interpreters myself and paid for it.

But alas, NDIS is not available nationally until 2019 at the latest. That’s a while away yet…and in the meantime, if I do learn of more blogging conferences/seminars/workshops/whatnot then I would have to contact the organisers to see if Auslan interpreters would be provided.

NDIS should have started AGES ago.

Carly Findlay, a fellow blogger with a disability, has kindly offered to live tweet throughout the weekend, and she will also be posting a summary of the said event, so I am incredibly grateful for her. Thank you Carly, and I look forward to your tweets!

All in all, someday I hope to be able to attend a ProBlogger event, and other blogger conferences and what not! For now, I’m learning more and more about blogging, especially on how to grow I Sign. I Wander. through this wonderful Facebook group – Aussie Bloggers. It’s a smorgasbord of information, and so many bloggers help each other out which is just incredible. I’ve never felt so welcome :)

Yours in blogging,

S x