Today, I spoke at the CI conference in London "Advancing technologies" and spoke to hearing and audiology professionals about the BSL user perspectives of their experience of having a CI. As I am a proud BSL user from a Deaf background, I decided to use BSL to present my presentation and used the interpreters to voice over for me. It was brilliant despite my nerves when I was sat there on the Northern Line tube train (which deliberately decided to have delays) especially when I wanted my presentation over and done with. I kept thinking "Oh I'm gonna forget to mention this and that etc"! But despite the delays on the Northern Line, I still got there on time as I made sure I allowed for delays!!
However, as soon I had got up to speak in front of 150+ people, introduced myself, my nerves vanished, I became more relaxed, I remembered my words without looking at the script and just used my powerpoint bullet points as triggers and away I went and I had fun.
It went down extremely well with people. It was a real eye opener for people to be aware of the cultural issues that arise (grown up with Deaf Culture in Deaf World and trying now to understand "hearing culture"). Also that CIs for us are no "quick fix" and that we still rely on BSL for access although one to one is easier PROVIDING the speaker is deaf aware!
However I got challenged at the end.... there was an older man who was obviously born hearing, grown up hearing culture who was deafened later in life. He was asking me "Why did you use BSL when presenting and not use your voice?" I explained that BSL is my natural language and I have a Deaf identity and belong to Deaf World and so I should portray this as that is part of me and where I am from. My voice is not exactly that clear, kinda monotoned and whilst speaking across a hall of 150+ people, I'm not sure if all will understand me nor hear me? How do I know if I am projecting my voice loud and clear enough?
I am pleased to be able to get out there and raise awareness of the experiences of CI with born Deaf, Culturally Deaf BSL users.