It’s hard enough to make the world around us more deaf aware during a normal day-to-day life. It’s a bigger challenge when it’s during a global pandemic.
Even though there have been calls for interpreters and captions when important information are shared, it seems that these are somewhat neglected when attempting to relay the message to as many people as possible.
Only, for those who are deaf, they are ignored.
You can listen to the podcast…
…or read the transcript below.
You’re probably aware of this already. But the fact that I’m creating this content and writing blog posts and doing videos, I talk a lot about deaf awareness and it seems to be most of the time I talk about it in society at the workplace, university.
All of these situations are generally normal day to day things that we go through. what’s not normal right now, though, obviously, that we’re kind of in the middle of a global pandemic, where a lot of people are staying at home or have a restricted lifestyle, and we’re trying to work out what to do next and how to do things and we’re relying on information from various sources.
So it’s a bit of a weird situation to be in right now.
Of course, we have to give some slack in terms of getting information, on whether it’s right or not in terms of, is it correct? Is it from a scientist? Is it something that we should do or not? And we are dependent on them. We can’t make assumptions on our own.
But the thing is, we need to get that information as well. So of course, there are certain things that we have to learn as we go along, about living and going through this pandemic, that we are all going through right now on the planet.
What it’s still so obvious, though, that deaf awareness is massively neglected in a situation, so much, so that it’s frustrating a lot of people. And it’s making people really fear for their live people who are deaf, people who are sign language speakers, people who are living that day to day life where they already face barriers, in let just say, a normal situation.
And what I mean by that, is in a non-pandemic situation That’s hard enough.
It seems very now though it seems like it’s even more difficult. And what I mean by that is, if I’m going to talk about it in the UK, especially, they’ve been an on-going thing, an on-going campaign, which I talked about in the past when I’ve interviewed Lynn Stewart-Taylor about the hashtag, #WhereIsTheInterpreter, that’s still going on.
People are still fighting for that to the point where a legal case would be put together to challenge the government, because people desperately need the information in their own first language, which is sign language.
And by the way, it’s very different to the verbal language very, very different. You can’t just say, read the caption because that’s not their first language. And situation like this. They need it in the first language because it’s essential information. It’s a matter of life and death.
For some reason, the government is still not getting it. It’s mainly in Downing Street in England. In Scotland and Wales and Northern Highland and then a lot of countries around the world, they are doing that, they are providing interpreters for those briefing from the government, the daily briefing about what you should do or should not do, guidelines.
The thing is still going that battle for inclusiveness, it’s still gone. And it just seems so obvious that deaf awareness is just not important, along with many other things. I’m not going to to say the biggest problem of course, there are many, many other problems.
But when it comes to about favouring, many people of live as possible, we kind of make you think whether, are they really concerned about people who are not getting information or not? That’s the one side of it.
Now the other thing I had noticed is that, what’s becoming at the moment anyway, the new normal if people are wearing face mask.
In one episode I’ve talked about the difficulty when you go to a dentist, and obviously they have, a face mask on. And for me, I will not be able to liberate on a either struggle on a day to day.
But obviously, it’s impossible to lip read when a person is wearing a face mask. And the situation that we’re in right now. It’s obvious that more and more people are going to wear it, and either seems like, it’s going to be a new normal thing now.
Whereas in public, people will be wearing that more often. And now we’ll see more and more people online making their own creation and selling that to other people. The reusable machine, washable one, you’ll see more and more stock available to provide people with the face mask they can buy in DIY store, or anything like that.
They’re becoming more and more popular now, which is great and in a way it’s nice that you can get those customizable face mask which has a bit of pattern and design. Make it more trendy and fashionable, that’s great.
But here the problem, is that , that means more and more people can be using face mask, which means people like myself, and thousands, ten of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people, millions possibly around the world, will be struggling to liberate anybody.
Unfortunately, nobody’s going to be aware of that.
There’s still a struggle in itself in terms of explaining to people, what is the purpose of lip reading, and why it helps us is not something that is like 100% perfect, but it provide another clue for us on what you are saying. But that’s an ongoing thing. This is something that I’ve been sharing, I’m trying to teach people (which you can check out below).
And that’s without the current situation right now, where more people are wearing face masks.
So it’s a bit difficult right now to keep up with the demand to teach people because it seems like it has increased massively because of the pandemic. From the government, to the general public. From having interpreter at the daily briefings to the general day-to-day thing when you go shopping, in a supermarket…and when you’re wearing face mask.
And even on social media and online, you hope to see those videos are captioned. Though the important videos, that we need to watch, and then a cartridge.
And again, it seems like a simple thing to do. I think it’s actually quite a simple thing to do it benefits a lot of people, benefit more than just deaf people when it comes to providing captions for videos.
What are the benefit of captions/subtitles and transcripts?
It can benefit people in more ways than you think.
Yet, it’s not done.
And these are crucial, crucial information as well. And again, it’s about creating that awareness, make people aware that, FYI, “your videos are not captioned and…
…if you want us to learn about what we should do if you want us to listen to advice about what to do in a pandemic…
…if you want us to actually take action, of what you are telling us to do…
…well then, a lot of people will require caption, on those videos that you publish online.”
And of course, I’m talking about, even everything non-pandemic related.
But in the situation, I’m talking about the life and death situation about the pandemic. What do we do about that?
Well, in this time in the entire time, I’ve been doing these content. I’m trying to do my best to be in-depth when it talks about it, share my experience, share stories, share tips and advice, and also share other people’s own experiences as well.
But the thing is, that already a big battle as it’s, so already a big task, and an uphill task as well. Now I feel like he’s going to be an even bigger challenge as well.
And I’m wondering whether it’s a lost cause or not? I don’t want to think like that. I don’t want to assume that’s going to be a lost cause. I don’t want to even stop, even talking about this topic or talking about deaf awareness. It’s not my thing, it’s not my place.
I have to keep going because it’s a challenge, that I go through every day and just sitting down and do nothing about it, would not help this direction at all.
So I am going to keep going, and keep talking about it, keep sharing information. And that’s the best I can do. And I just have to communicate that message across, and make sure that not only I said it right, I put my message across articulate as possible.
But just make sure that the message is heard to the right people at the right place at the right time.
And then I just have to hope that they get the message, they take on board and then we can make some changes for example, in face mask situation, be aware that you may have to lift up your face mask or be aware that the odd face mask out there. Which had a clear visible visor over your lips. Those are available.
The very thing that you know you can do walk around stuff like that, but I can appreciate that it’s a new experience for everyone in terms of pandemic, but also it’s an experience for anybody who’s not deaf aware and they’re trying to learn. But they’re also trying to deal with the situation that we’re in right now.
But why ask for anybody, is to take on board any message that you have heard, be aware of people who are having their own struggles on top of what we’re all going through, for example, we’re not getting information that the government is providing us because we don’t know that language. I’m speaking about those who are sign language users.
That’s a big struggle for many many people, it just something that you need to be aware of, and make sure that, when we’re asking you for something, we’re not being petty, we’re not being annoying. It’s just a request from me, to you, from us to you.
At the same time, for everyone else, it would be great also to share that message, to communicate, to share your stories, to share your concerns, anything that I’ve talked about here You can share the podcast, share anything that go on my website at hearmeoutcc.com.
All these are available to help us today, tomorrow, and the future. I feel like we’re always going to be talking about deaf awareness. But I feel like right now ,it’s a bit more of a challenge. I think it’s going to be an increasing challenge.
And it doesn’t look like it’s going to go away soon in time.
But I can’t do this on my own. Hopefully, with your help, you can also help to make everyone more aware, more deaf aware, so that we can all try our best to get through to the situation together.
Because at the end of the day, we can’t do alone, you can’t do alone. We all need each other and we’re going to cooperate with each other.
I hope that makes sense. Let me know what you think. Visit the links in thist page. I have provided all the links there, about lip reading, about my experience with the face mask, and all the things and of course the transcript is there if you need it.
And you can also comment in the show notes, about your own experience as well as on social media. I’d love to know what you think.
In the meantime, I hope to speak to you again soon.
- What is ‘audism’? Plus my personal experiences of facing audism - October 27, 2021
- ‘CODA’ movie review: my thoughts on the latest deaf movie to be released - October 13, 2021
- Deafness as a ‘hidden/invisible disability’ - October 6, 2021
Georgina Horrocks says
Totally agree with you about the current use of face masks, working in a supermarket it has made my job so much harder when confronted time and time again by customers wearing masks, which on top of the normal everyday communicate challenges, communicate fatigue the uncertainty of these challenging times is quite an exhausting time often leading to anxiety which I’m now convinced its Deaf Anxiety which you spoke about in a previous post
Of course I cant make every customer take off their masks when they need to speak to me. If they choose not to after I’ve explained why I lip read to communicate then we either have to find another way or I just have to accept that this is not my fault and right now I wont be able to help every one of my customers like I used to before this pandemic. I can only do my best, otherwise I think I’m going to burn out
Ahmed Khalifa says
Face mask is a tricky one. I’ve mentioned it in other posts about the use of clear face masks so that people can lip read, and these are available. But I’m not sure whether they are medically-graded and appropriate to use in this climate.
That said, you are definitely not on your own when it comes to dealing with Deaf Anxiety. And it’s not your fault. It’s a totally valid feeling. I’m sure you’ve seen already the countless comments above on other people who are experiencing the same thing as you and I hope that also helps.
I do appreciate you sharing your story so that other people can relate to it too. In the meantime, yes, you can only do your best and learn as you go along without burning yourself out.
Thank you for all the work that you do to raise deaf awareness. My daughter is 4 years old and has bilateral cochlear implants. In the podcast you mentioned that there are face masks with clear lip shields… Can you link to one?
I love the podcast!
Ahmed Khalifa says
I’m so pleased to hear that Melissa, thank you 😊
Within the post about my dentist experience, I’ve mentioned one particular company that has those masks, which you can find here >> https://www.theclearmask.com/
The thing is, I’m not sure if it’s suitable in this current climate but perhaps one day, I should have a look at all the clear face masks available and see which one is suitable.