Sign Language is International

Learn 5 simple signs

Hello everyone. My name is Anna and I have been profoundly deaf since birth. I have been working at Sense for 12 years now and absolutely love it. Before Sense, I had a number of other roles, but Sense has been the most deaf aware organisation I have worked for. It could just be the changing of the times but I know that Sense takes its communication very seriously.

While I have a great manager and a great team, there is one thing I would change. I wish everyone would learn just a bit of sign language. Now this isn’t just the office but when I am out in public too. The funny thing is most people don’t realise that they use sign language every day. When they are waving hello or giving someone the ‘thumbs up’.

For me it is simply a matter of confidence. Buying a coffee or asking for directions becomes a lot harder. God forbid something serious happens and I need to ask for help right away. A lot of people are very helpful but make the same mistakes like trying to talk louder (I’m deaf) or exaggerating their lip patterns (I can lip read). People can be so nice that I feel bad about asking them to repeat themselves.

It can be really upsetting when people don’t understand deaf culture. My Mum, who is also deaf, was taken to A&E a while ago. Because there was no interpreter some of the hearing doctors and nurses didn’t want to interact with her and she was left waiting for hours. When she was finally seen, she was told that she had to stay overnight and my Dad had to go home.

The next day, we went to visit her and she was all alone in a room crying. This broke my heart. My Mum was left in a room overnight with the door closed. No one came to talk to her. No one came to see if she was alright. She was alone and she was scared. Being deaf in a hearing environment can be very isolating.

Another time, I had to go to the hospital because I had fainted at home. It was very scary and my family called for an ambulance. They arrived quickly and the paramedics helped me into the ambulance. One (very handsome) paramedic knew a little bit of sign language and kept me calm. Going to the hospital or being driven in an ambulance is stressful for anyone. Imagine not being able to talk to anyone either!

As with everyone, my days are filled with good and bad experiences. Being deaf in a hearing world has its challenges but also has its moments of joy. If everyone knew a few signs, the world would be more accessible to everyone. Next time you’re talking to your friends; think about what you’re hands are doing and you will be signing in no time!

Want to know more about different types of communication? We’ve got lots more to show you here.

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