‘I see you, and you matter’

2017-02-07 06:01
 Photo: supplied Doctor Bianca Birdsey, with her daughters Faith, Joy and Grace  encouraging the community to support Talk Sign Campaign.

Photo: supplied Doctor Bianca Birdsey, with her daughters Faith, Joy and Grace  encouraging the community to support Talk Sign Campaign.

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DR Bianca Birdsey, mother to three deaf daughters, founder of Thrive Parent Support Group and parent leader on the Global Coalition of Parents with Children who are deaf and hard of hearing, has had first-hand experience of the communication challenges faced by families with deaf children.

"I'm a firm believer that what works for a child is what makes a communication choice appropriate," explained Birdsey.

"Which is why we founded the unbiased parent support programme, Thrive. Through my journey of learning what best fits my unique girls and through meeting deaf adults who communicate using sign language, a campaign like Talk Sign is appreciated, and as being able to communicate your thoughts and feelings, and being accepted just the way that you are is key to having a sense of well-being and belonging,” she said.

Talk Sign has been a friend to Thrive as this campaign has supported parents who wish to learn sign language. The general awareness created around hearing loss, is so powerful, as deaf people deserve to be seen and heard, as important members of society with so much to offer.

“I look at my three girls and think, 'Phew, this world is a better place because they exist. they are exceptional and have so much to give, just the way that they are.'

“For families with children who have a hearing loss learning sign language can be very challenging. I believe that part of this challenge, is the initial grief experienced by parents as they start their unfamiliar and often overwhelming journey of parenting a deaf child.
“Again, campaigns that bring awareness, facilitate the learning of this complete language, and foster an overall sense of acceptance of this minority group, are hugely beneficial to families who often feel very alone.”

She said not everyone needs to learn South African sign language fluently, however, encouraged the community to start somewhere.

“A simple 'Hi, how are you?' is a great start, and be brave enough to put yourself out there when you see a deaf person in your community. The first time you approach them will likely feel quite scary as you weigh up your own limitations and insecurities.

“Warm up those fingers, take that step forward, and do it afraid if you must. You'll be making a difference to someone else's world, saying, 'I see you, and you matter.' Be the start of a ripple effect that changes the way deaf people are included and accepted,” Birdsey said.

Talk Sign Sticker Day is on Friday 10 March. Buy and wear your sticker to show your support for deaf awareness and the promotion of South African sign language.
Visit www.talksign.co.za to find out where you can buy your stickers or email alice@thealist.co.za to order stickers in bulk for your school or business. - Supplied.

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