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The Deaf World
22. January 2019 at 09:02
Have you ever seen a deaf person dance? I have. I watched this person with delight and pride… Yes, with pride (or admiration), that they hadn’t given up, but had learned to enjoy the music of silence, not considering themselves deprived and regardless of the absence of their hearing- they amazed people!
Honestly, I have no problem recognizing or seeing deaf people on city transport, or throughout the community. All one must do is see the sweeping movements of their hands with sign language.
Yes, it is an amazing language…We are not always able to convey our feelings with words. But in sign language, it is so much easier. For it is the language of the heart.

It is the love language of incredible kindness and sincerity. A deaf person will rarely deceive or flatter you- they are honest, trustworthy and naive like children. This touches the soul… I share this with confidence (or assurance). These people: are among my relatives, they are altogether close (or dear) to me.

My name is Anna. I am from Ukraine and would like to share with you some thoughts regarding problems of the deaf world within my country. When a hearing person enters this unique world, they are either surprised or afraid. Some find it humorous while others are interested.

The first thing I want to address is the eye. The simplicity of the eye. We are well aware that most information is received through sight (90%), the remaining through sound, smell and other tactile sensations. For the deaf, the eye is the main means of perception of the world around them. It is necessary to say that they do not see as we do. No… though everyone’s eyes are the same, the very perception of reality differs greatly from the ordinary one. To some extent, every deaf person is a genius. For they understand and see the world not as others. They think in pictures, images and signs.

It would be a mistake to think that they do not hear… So, listen here… Do you hear? When we are silent, we hear silence. It is in this silence where the deaf spend their entire lives. But believe me, silence is not a place of restrictions: here deaf people sing, dance, play sports, thrive in the arts, create families and raise children. This is the unique feature within the upbringing of hearing children with deaf parents. These children are attempting, in sign language, to explain to their parents the world of sounds…

Also, within this world there are wizards. These are the workers of miracles, connecting the world of the deaf to the hearing world. They are like a bridge across the “world of deafness”- they are sign language interpreters. Within Ukraine… we have certified interpreters, to which many deaf turn to. These interpreters attempt to successfully assist quickly, as many deaf as they can. Believe me, this is not an easy task, as the needs and the issues are diverse covering all spheres of life. And due to the lack of professional interpreters, the deaf are forced to wait their turn. As a result they do not receive immediate assistance.

Once I saw a little boy who was genuinely smiling. He had such bright eyes that illuminated everything and everyone who was nearby. I was sad that in our country this child does not have a place and perhaps his dreams would remain dreams.

In Ukraine, the deaf have difficulty learning and finding decent jobs. They depend greatly on their interpreters and suffer greatly, when he or she cannot explain their problem, say, to a doctor or a judge.

Most of the deaf in my country are doomed to live according to the one standard: Upon a 12th grade education, they enter a trade school and then begin working in a factory. Very few are lucky to even find a job within their vocation, or through sports. It’s painful, when smart and capable children cannot live as they wish. This is a result from educators (who either do NOT know sufficient sign language to teach their subject at a decent level, so that each deaf child could understand the learning process, or these educators do not advise their students to take entrance exams because they are afraid of losing their prestige). These children are therefore afraid to fail and remain with nothing.

It’s funny to observe the reactions of people when I’m sitting amongst a group of deaf people. I can listen to what the surrounding people are saying as we sit in a park or a cafe. Many are loudly indignant, others laugh and point their fingers. People do not appreciate the opportunities they have, their words. They do not place value on the words that follow and what affect or consequences they may carry with them. People do not appreciate the fact that they were born healthy, they do not value their lives.

Regardless of the fact that within the deaf world there is comfort, convenience and familiarity, they live in a hearing society, which cares very little for their problems and neither knows sign language nor can it communicate with them.

I know that concerning the questions of accessibility for the deaf in Europe- this is generally accepted, as each deaf person considers themselves equal within society and doesn’t feel restricted or discriminated against. Unfortunately, the situation in Ukraine is in strong contrast to that of Europe or America. The deaf lack communication, understanding and basic respect. Our mentality makes it difficult to accept people who are not like ourselves. During the Soviet Union, people who had disabilities were hid away, concealed and shamed as society was idolized. Those with disabilities or “vices” interfered with this political ideal.
The current generation has learned to think differently: be tolerant and understanding. But for a complete change, time must pass and many changes must take place in the realization of our people.

There are elementary things that hearing people pay no attention to- these very things to a deaf person could cost them their life. I want to share a story, which for a long time I couldn’t forget:
One night the phone rang for my mom… a deaf man had called, who we knew lived alone. This was alarming, as deaf do not use the telephone ringer. Instead they will send a text message. In the receiver could be heard 4 words: “I don’t feel well”. This situation seems like a common one that a deaf person would face throughout their lifetime. But, there are several issues:
1. In our country you cannot make an emergency call of an ambulance from a text message, only through a direct phone call.
2. We do not have a twenty-four hour service of interpreters, where you can call and request help.
In addition, we didn’t know the address where this deaf man lived.

It was a deaf night and a deaf person, who was in great need. Much time passed for my mom to discover the address, call the paramedics to come and for her to travel there and translate. It turned out that he had suffered several hours in excruciating kidney pain before any medical help arrived. When it was morning my mom arrived home and I found out that it all ended well: he was given pain killers and taken to the hospital. But, I was frightened to imagine, what would have happened had he not gotten through to us… In our country we have many people that have similar circumstances happen to them, and they don’t have time to wait when simple accessibility issues could be solved by politicians and officials making it a priority. This would allow the deaf to not be restricted.

Unfortunately, there are many of these problems in our country for the deaf. But I would want everything to change, and that deaf people would began to hear. “To hear” in our society.
This is the cry of the soul… It is a cry that can be heard both by the deaf and the hearing. And I will not cease to cry out, until every deaf person will feel equal.

Cite This Article As: Anna Baklytska. "The Deaf World." International Youth Journal, 22. January 2019.

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