I thought it was about time to start blogging about my general life experiences. I don’t know the direction that this blog will be going. However, I’m going to label this as a ‘lifestyle blog’ for the meantime. Let’s just see what happens.
For my first post, I thought I’d talk about a topic that I am quite clearly passionate about. I have grown up as a CODA (Children of Deaf Adults), and have lived in two separate cultures. If you’re new to the deaf community, yes, there is a completely separate culture to the hearing community.
Growing up was quite interesting, as when I was a child, there wasn’t as much awareness for D/deaf people and British Sign Language (BSL) as there is now. As a result of this, if I was ever in a public space with my parents, and I would be having a conversation with them, a lot of people would stare. This really makes you very self-conscious as you are at a very vulnerable age.
I really struggled to handle all the stares and looks, which in hindsight, was probably just people being very interested in what we are doing. But it did make me embarrassed to use BSL with my parents, as I wanted to avoid the attention as much as possible. So whenever we would go out, I would try and be really discreet with my BSL.
Looking back, I do think this affected my relationship with my parents, as I wouldn’t communicate with them as much as I should have, and it does make me regret having any of the feelings towards BSL. Thankfully, as I have become an adult, this has completely switched around, and I have never been more proud of the language! I go out with my parents and I will use BSL so visually and expressively that people stare, and I thrive on it!
One of the biggest things I struggle with now, is that I see the exact same thing happening to my best friend’s daughter. Her grandparents are both profoundly deaf, her Mum (my friend) has recently lost her hearing, and she is the only one in her school with hearing aids and that signs. I see her get very embarrassed and shy when it comes to using BSL, and it literally breaks my heart. There have been times she has visited my Academy, and seen other young people signing to songs, and from the back of this, she has had shorts bursts of pride in her signing. However, when she goes back to school, it feels like it’s knocked back out of her.
I really do feel that if BSL was taught in schools, it would become so mainstream and ‘normal’ to everyone. As a result of this, children who have to use BSL to communicate with their family, wouldn’t feel ashamed to use such a beautiful language.
Being a CODA has really allowed me to enter two different worlds, both as unique and wonderful as each other. Both with their own pros and cons, their own cultures and more obviously, their own languages. For anyone wanting to learn BSL, I would highly recommend it, and really try to immerse yourself in the culture, and you’ll see how wonderful it is!