Deaf Awareness Week 2012 Monday 7th – Sunday 13th May

So Deaf Awareness Week has been and gone for another year. NDCS launched their Look, Smile, Chat campaign, The Odeon scheduled more subtitled films at their cinemas and local companies had joined together to give advice and support on the streets of Reading. deafawarenessweek2012

Oh DAW2012, I had big plans in store, (well not so big) but plans for the week to immerse myself in the activities and goings on, then report back to Stage and Sign readers. Unfortunately I was struck by what only can be described as the plague.

Well, I may be exaggerating slightly but last week involved mostly boosting Lemsip and Kleenex sales (I would definitely recommend balsam tissues, much kinder on a pink nose).

In some respects, I feel I have failed you, and for that I can only apologise and  cheekily reblog DAW2011. Last year I compiled some important tips and links to educate my readers. Much of it is still very relevant this year and there is a very funny video about the role of a CSW, check it out here.

However, I do try to keep things as relevant as possible, so after an unnecessarily long intro, here is my belated blog on Deaf Awareness Week 2012. I think that it is allowed, after all Clinton’s sell belated birthday cards for a reason… OK so maybe not the best analogy to use.

Prior to the 7th May I tried researching events in my local area (and a bit further afield too) but activities look quite sparse. Quite frankly I am disappointed, how can people who need educating in Deaf Awareness be reached? Unless they randomly find themselves stumbling into an audiology department (Deaf Awareness debate tba) or Deaf club. Although, if I’m honest I’m not quite sure what I was expecting. I suffered the same false expectations for BSL Day, in my head I imagine parades and street parties but this is probably only because I consider myself to be a member of the metaphorical choir to whom Deaf Awareness is preached. But in reality is it any more celebrated and appreciated than other awareness weeks happening in May such as British Sandwich Week and International Donkey Week. I do believe that this week is National Doughnut Week so feel free to treat yourselves!

As I understand it, from looking at responses to blogs, forums and my favourite social media site Twitter, there are a mixed views regarding the purpose and aims of Deaf Awareness Week. Some people seem to think it’s just about charities and organisations trying to cash in, and if it is I don’t see where the harm is. Others appear to be arguing about what Deaf Awareness should be, deafness covers a vast number of people, their communication methods and needs. For me, this diversity is why we have Deaf Awareness Week, it should not favour big D Deaf or little d deaf but embrace, support and educate on all communication methods and cultural identities.

In my experience, the average Joe has one example of a deaf person fixed in their mind and therefore make assumptions of any other deaf people they may encounter. Working as a CSW I often get told things like “Oh my Grandad has a hearing aid” as they then begin to shout and use exaggerated lip pattern to a baffled client. Whilst intentions are good they are assuming absolutely no difference between their Grandad with a hearing loss and a BSL using college student. I think at some point and to some degree we’ve all been there. I remember the first time I met a deaf person, I was frustrated by the communication barrier and pretty much ran away from the situation to enrol myself on to a BSL course. I do not regret this decision at all but if I had a better understanding of Deaf Awareness I may have written notes on paper or used my phone and asked about the best way to communicate. Almost 10 years on my knowledge of Deaf Awareness has broadened and I want to put some words down that all have equal weighting under the Deaf Awareness umbrella, please feel free to add your own, so in alphabetical order:

BSL, cochlear implant, Deaf, deaf, deafened, hard of hearing, hearing aid, interpreter, lip-reader, lipspeaker, partially deaf, profoundly deaf, SSE.

Lets celebrate diversity and all eat doughnuts!

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