Imagine if we live in a world without Audism?


The past few months, my mind was blank. My hands could not express. My heart was laden with sadness…. because of what I see.

Audism is everywhere.

Oh, how I loathe that word, that emotion, that concept, that perspective and that definition.

Most of my childhood was fully emerged in that Audism bubble, a bubble that my hearing parents created, a bubble that those hearing ‘experts’ established, a bubble that being ‘hearing’ was the prize…

A bubble that was all about them, for them, to avoid shame, to avoid the signing plague, to avoid that deaf accent, to avoid a visual world, to avoid natural deaf gain…..

I wasn’t allowed to be deaf.

I popped that bubble when I was a teenager. It was either to be ‘me’ or lie in a wooden box.

Now imagine…. imagine if audism did NOT exist…. I can. Many deaf people can.

My children doesn’t have to imagine because audism does not exist for them… yet.

Imagine waking up every morning knowing that it is ok to be deaf.

Imagine sitting at your favourite café smiling, nodding and signing your order … no need to ask for a paper and pen, no need to worry if the barista is going to shout or sympathise by saying “pardon” over and over, no need to cringe and feel embarrassed when you didn’t hear your name called…

Imagine going to work and everyone greets you, reading your emails and getting the same information as everyone else, sitting in a meeting with your needs met, communicating with consumers without needing to prove yourself, applying for a promotion without the ‘hope my boss will look past my deafness and see my skills’ concern, feeling 100% inclusive…..

Imagine holding your deaf baby and the world is at her feet, no choices to choose, no consuming fear of failure , no ‘what ifs’ nagging within your mind, no patronising or criticism to analyse, no lying in bed sobbing day after day, no constant advocacy over and over, no barriers to climb, no endless appointments, no time wasting therapies, no ‘I cannot just be a mum’ moments…..

Imagine being among your family and you’re an equal, no deprivation, no “where is your hearing aids!”, no need to explain why you’re tired, no need to sit in a speech therapy session getting the ‘K.K.’ sound right, no asking for the captions to be on, no ‘I am sorry I don’t want to go because I will miss out’ comments, no ‘I will tell you later’, no ‘It is not important’, no ‘It doesn’t matter’, no sitting in a corner alone, no lonely Christmas Days, no boring weddings, no ‘rolling your eyes’ moments….. no need to dread anymore….

Imagine every deaf soul on earth standing tall and proud… to be deaf, to be a person, to be of worth.

Imagine if isolation, deprivation, surdophobia, audism, disabled, incapable, dumb and stereotyping doesn’t exist?

Oh imagine that? I can and I imagine that every single day because I believe it will happen… someday.

Someday I will kick that Audism out of our lives once and forever. Because I believe in anything is possible.

With deaf pride,

DB xoxoxoxo



Is Auslan a choice?


Today the New Zealand Deaf Community celebrated ten years since NZ Sign Language was announced as an official language of NZ. Such a massive achievement for NZ and the future of deaf children.

Media is becoming hotter each day with video, media and report releases about Sign Language by the American Deaf Community due to lies by the AG Bell Association.   

More countries around the world are now advocating for their country sign language to be confirmed as official… while here in Australia, Auslan was seen as a recognised community language of the Australian Deaf Community way back in 1987.   

Yet did we get far with that terminology ‘Auslan is recognised as a community language of the Australian Deaf Community’…. no we didn’t.

Today in 2016, almost 30 years later. We are still fighting for our rights as a deaf person especially when it comes to Auslan. Many people still see Auslan as a ‘choice’.

Is oralism a choice too?

We have broken down barriers and opened doors yet nowhere near as accessible we would like to be. Sadly, many people including professionals still sees Auslan as a ‘last resort’…. ‘an option’…. ‘a backup’…. ‘a supplementary’…. even my own husband said ‘as a safety net’


That, it’s possible that I may never be able to understand why people sees Auslan that way. Maybe it’s because I am not hearing? Maybe because I am deaf and I use Auslan as my first and most preference language? Maybe because I have worked in deaf education for past 23 years? Maybe because I have taught Auslan for past 18 years? Maybe because I am a Deaf Interpreter? Maybe because I am a mother of 3 deaf children? ….

I grew up trying to be ‘hearing’. Sign language was forbidden…  I wasn’t allowed to sign. My mother was told by many professionals and people not to let her deaf daughter use any signing as it will hinder her speech and auditory development.

I did have signing in my early years till I was 7. That all changed overnight because of what people told my mother. None of them were deaf.

I grew up frustrated, angry and resentful. I grew up bitter. I was isolated in a school without any support except for an advisory visiting teacher once a week for an hour. I tried to lip-read, I tried to ‘listen’, I tried to ‘talk’… I tried to be ‘hearing’.

Every single day I would walk home resenting the fact that I was deaf. My siblings went to a different school. I knew and felt I was different. People were ashamed to be seen around me. People were afraid to touch me.

A sport teacher once told me “I rather be blind than be deaf…” in front of a large class. “I cannot imagine being you.”…. she looked at me with such pity and horror…

I felt I was a disease and everyone was afraid of catching it.

I experienced many traumatic episodes. I thought I was going to die. I thought I wasn’t worthy.

And that was because I didn’t have communication. Yes, I did ‘talk’ and my hearing family did ‘talk’ to me but they did not communicate. When I say ‘talk’… my definition was that I was ‘talked’ into how to say this or that word accurately… how to ‘listen’ carefully… how to ‘watch’ with focus.

I was ‘talked’ to when it suited them. “Don’t worry”… “It’s not important” became a common statement several times every single day.

I didn’t have communication about me as a person, life in general, puberty and sex, facts and fictions… anything. I never really knew God or Jesus while attending to Sunday school and House Church every week… I knew how to say the words but never knew who they were.

I never really knew what ‘sweet’ meant but I knew how to say that word perfectly.

I never knew what ‘Mind your own business’ meant but I knew how to say that sentence clearly.

I spent hours every day learning to speak… to listen… to watch lips. I became so good at it. In fact, I am brilliant at speech even today at 46. Yet I resented it all and I resented being deaf. I resented my own siblings and hearing people around me. I resented my parents.

Even as a teenager I tried to be happy. I was seen ‘happy’. I didn’t know there was another way, I didn’t know how to be me. It was hidden from me and it wasn’t given to me because it was seen as an ‘option’ as a ‘choice’.

I was tired all the time and I used to imagine what it would be like to be hearing. I used to visualise myself playing with my dolls without having to ‘speak’ and to ‘listen’. I used to wish I was ‘normal’

Speech and auditory really consumed me whole. I wasn’t a person. I was a robot trying to be ‘hearing’.

Not that I am not grateful to be able to speak. I am privileged to have that skill… speech. Honestly I am and it does have its wonderful advantages BUT I wished I was communicated instead of ‘talked’…. this is where I wished I had signing growing up.

Actually I wished I had a bilingual approach growing up.

I was sexually molested by a family member for two years and I tried to ‘talk’ about it but no one took noticed. When I was raped by 3 boys from school… I tried to ‘talk’ about it but no one knew how to communicate with me. I was left to deal with it on my own.

I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was fighting demons within me because I didn’t know why or what was happening to me. No one sat with me and communicated with me about what happened. It was too hard because all I knew was words and sounds. I didn’t have any sufficient language to really communicate.

Death was my way out. I tried for the first time when I was 14. Again, no one sat with me and communicated with me.

I withdrew further and further. I rebelled and struggled hard to find me as a person.

Eventually I was placed in a school with a deaf unit. I discovered the Deaf Community and my language. My world opened up in a second. My eyes lit up and I was feeling free. I was communicating and people sat with me and communicated with me.

I learnt the meaning to words I knew. I learnt about life, sex, puberty, relationships, facts, fictions…. I learnt so much, to a point my mind exploded.

I had language and I had the ability to be a ‘normal regular person’. I was surrounded by people who did not forced audism or demonstrated surdophobia. Whether they signed or not…. the understanding of my right to my language was enough.

I grew then. Onwards and upwards.

When I held my babies and was told they are deaf. A part of me died. I had a choice and that was either to be selfish or not to be selfish. I chose not to be selfish.

I gave my children everything and most of all I gave them communication. I allowed my children to grow up with both speech/auditory and signing. I worked so hard to build a rapport with early intervention and showed them it IS possible to have both.

Even many people looked at me and said “you are better off raising your babies signing” … I didn’t want my children to be standing on that ‘bridge’ and wondered which way to go. I didn’t want to limit my children with one way or the other.

My husband and I did everything we possibly could to give them everything including speech and auditory. Signing was not considered as an option. Signing was seen as their rights to language…. their rights to communication.

It is possible my children will have deaf children since they are carriers of deaf recessive genes which I inherited.

I do not want to be a grandmother and watch my children continuing to battle for their children’s rights to Auslan. Nor to be in that situation where I stood many years before as a young child. As a mother of a deaf newborn.

I want my children to grow up in a society where Auslan is as a right. Auslan given as an accessibility. Auslan as a language.

I want them to embrace life and love life as a deaf person without having to advocate tirelessly day after day. I want Auslan as a right to be given simply and easy.

I have seen many say “Auslan is a beautiful language.” Yes, it is a beautiful language but it is not just there to ‘look’ at and to be in love with it…. It is a language that is the right of a deaf person.

I have seen many say “Auslan can be learnt anytime.” Yes, that is true but learning Auslan later in life does impact language development, emotional wellbeing, self-identity and communication.

I have seen many say “Auslan isn’t important for everyone.” Yes, that is true, it may not have any benefit for some people but exposing Auslan from birth will increase to why it can be important such as accessing education as other children, being able to enjoy a theatre performance without straining to ‘listen’ and much more.

I have seen many say “If she can sign basically then she can be an ‘interpreter’ for a deaf child.” Yes, being able to sign basically is wonderful but not as an interpreter especially for a deaf child in an educational setting because to be able to learn, the deaf child needs to access Auslan fully and with the right qualifications/skills.

I have seen so many deaf children become beautiful amazing adults yet with many issues such as communication in families, employment and life because of not having access to Auslan….

My hands are tied because I am not a ‘professional’ I am not a ‘hearing person’ I am not a ‘business’ trying to make money from using the oralism approach and because I am a deaf person and my language as my right does not matters to some people.

But I have the right to express what I see, think and feel as I am.

After all, Auslan is not a choice. Never have been and never will be.

DB xoxoxo



What is Auslan?….

th.jpeg Stickers made by Vivid Expressions – 

In a few days time I will be 46 years old and I have been signing for almost 40 years.

Does that make me a native signer? Here are some example of what ‘native’ means.

Definition of Native: (Found via online dictionary) Being the place or environment in which a person was born or a thing came into being. Belonging to a person by birth or to a thing by nature. Belonging by birth to a people regarded as indigenous to a certain place, especially a preliterate people. Relating to a language acquired by a person before or to the exclusion of any other language.

My first type of communication was sign language, I do not remember what type of signing it was but I do recall that I did used some some BSL (Britain Sign Language). I was exposed to signing when I was first diagnosed deaf and at my first Deaf school from the time I was 3 years old till I was about 7 years old…. then I was deprived of that language for 7 years.

I was placed into a foreign world of spoken language… and it was not natural to me. I had no connection to that, nor it was my language and it left me with no purpose.

When I was 14 I took back my original and most preferred language… that was and still is signing.

For 7 years I was using speech/auditory and for 39 years I was using sign language…

So what am I? a native signer? or just a person who actually knows how to sign very well? or just an oral deaf with a good knowledge of signing?

In fact I do not see myself as an oral deaf and never have, never will. Even I do have exceptional speech yet I have absolutely no hearing and my whatever speech I have now is a tool… not a language.

I remember when I was a very young adult, I have been told many times “Sorry you are not a native signer” … and to be told that statement actually hurts. Like a knife stabbing me in the heart. Just stabbed and stabbed.

Confused me.

Made me feel lesser than a human being.

Left me wondering why I wasn’t ‘good enough’.

Today, sometimes I still asked myself “What am I?… Do they still see me as a non-native signer?”… Despite how many years I have been signing. 

Why am I writing about this? what does being a native signer got to do with anything?

Well, I am writing this because I have 4 children, 3 of my children are deaf and 1 is hearing. I see my children as my children. I haven’t really consider that terminology ‘native’ about my children.

I don’t want to because I will always remembered what it felt like to be told that I am not a ‘native’ by experienced, well known people who came from a long line of Deaf generations AND people who grew up signing only whether they have deaf relatives or not.

I do not want any ‘labelling’ or ‘stereotyping’ among my children, I do not want them to feel that there is a ‘need’ to be something to get recognition or gain a ‘celebrity entry’ to be a somebody in the Deaf Community.

There are many ‘wannabes’ who thinks they know more than us especially about sign language. I do not want my children to grow up and have that attitude.

Auslan, Australian Sign Language is my pride and joy, my language, my most preferred mode of communication … and I do get very pissed off when people spell it wrong e.g. AUSLAN instead of Auslan…

Auslan should never be spelt with full capital letters. Auslan is the name of the Australian Deaf Community’s language. Actually, it is common sense because no one really writes or spell French as FRENCH or Japanese as JAPANESE.

The definition of Auslan as found on Deaf Australia’s old website: 

Auslan is the sign language of the Australian Deaf community. The name Auslan (from Australian sign language) was coined by Trevor Johnston, author of the first Auslan dictionary, in the early 1980s but the language itself is much older.

The name is written as Auslan, not AUSLAN.

Auslan has evolved from the sign languages brought to Australia during the nineteenth century from Britain and Ireland. Its grammar and vocabulary is different from English. It is not the creation of any one person. It is a natural language that has developed over time.

Auslan is the primary or preferred language of the majority of Deaf people who have been severely or profoundly deaf since early childhood.

It is the native language (i.e., the language acquired from birth) of only a minority of Deaf signers. Deaf children who are born to Deaf parents who use Auslan appear to acquire Auslan in the same way as hearing children acquire spoken language from their parents and other family members.

However, for most adults in the Deaf community, Auslan is acquired either as a (possibly delayed) first language at some time during their school years, or as a second language in later life.

Thus an important difference between Deaf communities and other linguistic minorities is that, in most cases, the language is not passed on from parent to child, but often from child to child, or is learned by children from adults outside the family. Some Deaf people also learn Auslan as a late-acquired language in early adulthood.

Auslan was recognised by the Australian government as a “community language other than English” and the preferred language of the Deaf community in policy statements in 1987 and 1991.

Auslan exists in a complex linguistic environment and there are different forms of signing which are used in different social situations. However, not all of the signing behaviour that one may observe individuals engaging in is properly characterised as “Auslan”. Rather, several distinct varieties of signed languages exist within the community.

Auslan is the Australian Sign Language. It is NOT QLDslan, Vicslan, NSWslan, WAslan, NTslan, Tasslan, ACTslan nor SAslan.

There are no such thing as QLDslan… nor Vicslan or any other ‘slan’ as mentioned above. There isn’t!. Unless you can prove it that there are such a thing.

Auslan does have dialects – Northern and Southern dialects, they are no longer common these days. Auslan does have restricted signs, state signs, church signs, school signs…. Yet they all fall under one name and that is Auslan.

I take my hat off to Trevor Johnson and Adam Schembri for their hard work and doing all the research our language. Without Trevor and Nola Colefax, we would never gotten the name Auslan nor the recognition of our language today.

And of course, I take my hat off to many people who have followed their footsteps to continue the work, to spread awareness and to encourage Auslan to be seen and used as the Deaf Community’s language.


I do not like it when people, any person to say “That sign is WRONG” “We must use this sign” “This is the QLD sign” “That is the SA sign” “Because we live in NSW we must use this sign” “No one uses that sign” “That sign is stupid”

Seriously! It drives me nuts… makes me feel like screaming F%#$.

AND I do NOT like it when a person tells a deaf child…. especially a deaf child who uses Auslan from birth at home… to tell that child not to use THAT sign or forces the child to change from his/her preferred sign to the sign THEY prefer.

Because it is in their ‘books’… their sign is right and that child’s sign is wrong.

Because it is in their ‘books’ … they think they know better than the parents or the child.

Because it is in their ‘books’…  that child must use their state’s signs like ‘QLDslan’ or ‘Vicslan’ .

Because it is in their ‘books’…  they believe it is in their role to be the better role model to demonstrated the ‘appropriate sign’.

I have seen this happened with my own eyes. Not just today, nor yesterday but for more than 30 years.

AND it is still happening TODAY! why?

Let me ask you this question.

Who owns the language, Auslan?

Who makes the decisions to say this or that sign can only be used here or there?

Who does have the authority to tell a deaf person or a deaf child that their sign is wrong?

Who decides what is appropriated to use which signs in a specific setting? e.g. education.

Oh hold on, this is the fun part…  let me answer the questions for you, easily. The answer is simple.

NO ONE does!.

No one owns the language, Auslan. Because it does belongs to the Australian Deaf Community.

No one makes any decisions to say we must use this or that sign. No one… honestly NO ONE. Because there are no Auslaner God.

No one got ANY authority to tell another deaf person or deaf child that their sign is WRONG. Because no one knows 100% Auslan.

No one got any rights to say we must use this or that sign. Because it is seen as appropriated.

So if I want to use the one of the old signs that was used in Victoria and NSW for many years – PARTY (both ‘spread handshape’ side by side at the hip to demonstrate a full flowing dress) here in QLD.. I will because no one can tell me or my children that the sign we use is wrong.

Because it is NOT wrong… in fact it is one of the oldest signs. And that sign has been handed down by many generations of Deaf.

Of course, many people have never seen that sign and yes, they will look at us baffled… yet the appropriate way to ask is “what does that sign mean?” instead of “That sign is wrong, no one uses that sign. You must not use that sign”.

One of my children often uses fingerspelling and he has been asked by people outside the family many times to stop fingerspelling and use more signing.

No one got the rights to tell him that. If he want to finger spell then he will and if that somebody doesn’t like it then that somebody can piss off. After all it is HIS language too.

Because my son has been signing since birth and my son is autistic… he does not see the world the way we do. He does not see things visually. Even he is deaf… he still struggles with using visual cues of Auslan.

It does not mean he is a crappy signer and no one can tell him that he is NOT a native signer. In fact many people still use fingerspelling and it is one of the truest form of sign language.

One of my other children uses a lot of old and new signs (a mixture of her father’s signs from his birth town, Victoria and my signing from ACT and NSW) her signs are beautiful and makes her as she is.

No one can tell her she cannot use this or that sign because no one else has seen it or uses it elsewhere.

Thankfully my children are old enough to know the difference and they can make their own decision on what signs they want to use. Of course, they will not stupidly make up some ransom idiotic signs just for the fun of it….

They do have their heads screwed on right and with ample of common senses. So does many other deaf children.

The only time to interfere and to analyse the appropriate uses of signs is when somebody is using signs that does not have any concepts or meaning to a word. Yet again, we have to be careful because NO ONE knows 100% Auslan. Research first, ask first, check first!… not to one person but many.

Not one soul in the world knows 100% Auslan. Zilch.

We have evolved so much over time and today Auslan had transformed vastly compared to what it was 30 years ago.

More Auslaners have moved from one state to another, from one school to another, from one family to another, from one religion to another, from one country to another…..

A mixture of Auslan is being used everywhere and people are borrowing signs from each other and another country.

BUT what people are forgetting here today is that we are starting to lose the true meaning of the Auslan concept. One time I was told ‘Did you know that turtles lay eggs’ (‘spoon handshape’ with ‘fist handshape’)

First of all the sign EGG as described above means ‘Boiled egg, ready to break the shell to eat the egg’ … Turtles does not lay ‘boiled eggs’ Turtles actually lay E G G S. EGG is actually fingerspelt.

Another example – ‘You must check (‘four handshape’ downwards and sideways) your bag for the car keys’. Again the sign CHECK described means ‘something that is striped’ I don’t actually CHECK (something striped) my bag for the car keys… I actually CHECK (‘I love you handshape’ downward from the eye) to see if I have the car keys.

One more example – ‘I have 4 sons (‘Okay handshape’ touching top of hand going downwards). Reality… the sign SON using the ‘Okay handshape’ actually is the sign for Jesus.

And there is only one.. ONE Jesus. I am talking about God’s son… not anyone else’s sons named Jesus.

The sign for son should be either using ‘S’ letter of the alphabet, or finger spell S O N or using the sign BOY.

This is happening today because we all are arguing about who is right and wrong. We all assumed we know everything about Auslan when we really don’t. And we all are scared of saying something.

And that is sad because Auslan wasn’t something created from a cartoon show. Auslan is the true and purest language of the Australian Deaf Community.

Yet many of us are misusing Auslan inappropriately.

Many community and accredited Auslan courses are teaching Auslan in a way that must be followed as according to written programs, policies, instructions and what’s nots under their organisations.

It is sad to watch the people teaching signs with grimaces splattered across their faces because deep down they knew some of the signs they are teaching are used inappropriately.

Deep down they know they have no say nor the strength to stand up for the rights of Auslan, The Deaf Community… all because of…

Fear of losing their job. A chance to gain more work. A chance to be that ‘somebody’ in the Deaf Community.

Teamwork is now a word that are often seen as a mockery. ‘One man show’ is happening everywhere.

Less people have grown the balls to say ‘Sorry but can we discuss why this sign must be used? please explain to me why I must use this sign?’

More people are now saying ‘Sorry you must use this sign because it is instructed as according to the policy/teaching material/upper department/the team’ 

STOP! what happened to respecting each other values and knowledge?

I didn’t just study Diploma of Auslan, Certificate IV in Auslan Teaching, Deaf Studies, Deaf Information workshops, some university blocks and participated in many Auslan/Deaf related activities just for the fun of it.

No I studied to understand Auslan to a deeper depth, to be aware of what/how Auslan is used and to respect my most purest and truest language.

Today I still make mistakes, yep… today I still, sometimes flipped to ‘Signed English’… today I still, sometimes sign in English structure…

AND I am not the only one.

Yes many of us are using signs that are ‘unheard of’, made up, Signed English, signs without the right meaning, inappropriate signs…. AND there is a better way to deal with that.

A better way to overcome this massive mess.

We need to stop putting each other down, we need to stop acting like we ‘know better’, we need to stop telling deaf children what signs to use and what they cannot use… especially little 5 year olds from a deaf family or a family who uses Auslan to the fullest.

We need to stop belittling each other.

We need to stand up and shout ‘STOP’ lets do this properly and with respect.

Lets reteach each other that there are NO QLDslan, Vicslan, NSWslan, SAslan, WAslan, NTslan, ACTslan, Tasslan.

And that there are no rules to why a deaf person or a deaf child cannot use that specific sign. Unless proven otherwise.

After all Auslan is in fact a rich…. a very rich visual, creative, arty, sexy and beautiful language.

With more passion and understanding… Auslan will consumes you in a way you never could imagine…. in a good way.

Please, if you work with a deaf child or a deaf adult or teaching Auslan even if you know “so much about Auslan” … remember you do not know 100% Auslan.

Nobody does.

Remember that a deaf child using Auslan at home needs to have that ‘ownership’ of their language. Need to feel safe and free to use their preferred signs without harsh judgement. Need to be able to grow and learn with encouragement and love. Need to feel that pride and joy of having the most beautiful language of them all.

You were that child once too.

DB xoxoxo

p.s. Yes I know there are so many idiotic signs out there… yet I am writing about real deaf people, real deaf children who are using real Auslan.
























I tried to be ‘hearing’…


I love Christmas but Christmas is also something I dread. I fret when Christmas nears..

I love seeing families gathering together and celebrating Christmas as a family, acknowledging and loving each other…. but not mine. When it comes to my hearing family, I hate it. Not because of the people in my hearing family…. because there is no communication.

Every year I avoid Christmas gatherings unless they are ‘Deaf friendly’ and with people who really valued communication whether it is signing or not.

My husband and I got married on Christmas Eve. I wanted my Christmas to be special, I wanted Christmas to be a joyful time and getting married on Christmas Eve was the best thing I ever did.

That changed my feelings about Christmas. And that made my Christmases more special.

I grew up in a very ‘hearing cultural world’… I tried so hard to be ‘hearing’ and it doesn’t matter how hard I tried, I never succeed.

Trying to be ‘hearing’ was expected in my hearing family but it is also something that they will never understand because they cannot see it from my perspective nor have been in my shoes. They just cannot see the ‘deafness’ in me…..

Especially as a deaf person. It doesn’t matter how many times I tried to share, demonstrated and explain… “It’s always about you..” I am told.. often.

The older I became, the more I avoid being around my hearing family is because I don’t have the strength anymore and I dont like ‘wasting time’… my energy, my time and my life on something that had no value to me nor return anything in exchange.

My mother is a beautiful kind person and she is well liked by many people, she does have a good heart however my relationship with my mother is toxic. Dysfunctional.

My father is a very brilliant eccentric man and talks loudly, drones on about many things, likes to share his own strong views yet my relationship with my father is better than anyone else in the hearing family.

My father is my closest friend in my hearing family. I am a lot like my father.

I have two siblings and they are lovely people but I do not ‘see’ them as siblings… just people I know, friends. Even though I do love them… yet I resent their relationship with my parents, other hearing family members and one of my children.

Why? because I don’t have that kind of relationship and I crave that. I wanted that for as long as I can remember.

I have many nieces and nephews, I love all of them and because they are children, it is easier… who knows what will happen when they grow older?. I know deep inside we will fade apart as usual…. because of communication.

Communication was never taught to be valued, my parents never taught us to appreciated and value communication. Therefore we have no mode of communication… not even text, email, Skype or any other.

They see me as a deaf person who should use her ‘hearing’, use her ‘speech’ and be grateful that I have at least a family.

They do not see me as a family member who never have and never will be like any of them…. ‘hearing’. They just can’t.

My grandmother and one of my siblings asked me to come home to my birth town for Christmas because my grandmother was turning 99 and she wanted to have the whole family together. It was her birthday wish.

I couldn’t say no to my grandmother even deep in the pit of my stomach… I wanted the world to crumble. My heart was racing and I had that horrible dreading feeling…

My mind was screaming “No no no no, no way, f$&@ no”…

I had all those visions from the past pouring out in my mind… seeing me among them feeling isolated and hating life.

My mother and I haven’t communicated in two years. What would it be like? How will we react to each other?

I went. Yep I went. I took my family home to my birth town for Christmas. I survived and I hated it. I cried for days. I became angry and frustrated. But I did it and I am not, NOT doing it again. I just can’t.

We went for 3 days and it was torture. Canberra is a beautiful town and does have many amazing things that represent Canberra. But I hate Canberra because of the memories and it’s a reminder of what my life used to be like.

The first day we all went to a picnic… supposed to be with all the cousins. We sat there on a bench trying to look useful. My husband and I prayed fiercely for rain to come… our prayers were answered but the picnic was moved to a house. We were stuck in a house, a beautiful house with one of those yoga rooms out the backyard and such a gorgeous dog.

I felt like an elephant in the house with many mice swarming around me. I felt like I was a dog being patted on the head “Good girl”. I felt really uncomfortable and unacknowledged.

The hours dragged on so slowly and it was becoming harder to bear another minute.

I hated those ‘small talks’. “Hello how are you? what are you doing now? it’s been so long”… I struggled to lipread with my one hearing aid as I needed to ‘hear’ the voice to lipread. I cannot lipread without sounds. There were too many noises in the house, too many people and too distracting…

Then there is that awkward silence… a smile and the conversation is finished. Or someone interrupting by calling out. Or I am told “Excuse me, sorry”. I am relieved yet I feel so stupid standing there not knowing what to do next.

I looked at my large hearing family with all these cousins and felt sad because I don’t know them. I don’t have a relationship with them. I am not considered important enough to them. A tear rolled down my face but I quickly wiped it away and made myself look amused.

The next day was our 13th wedding anniversary… my hearing family forgot as usual. We visited my grandmother who was in rehab, I was so relieved to see no other family members were there. Just us. Because it meant I could communicate with my grandmother without interrupting, loud chatter…

I sat with my grandmother and felt loved in her presence. She writes to me every month without fail. Her letters were always full of news about what is happening. Her letters always were written in cursive writing, oh I loved getting her letters. Her letters were my connection to my hearing family.

For a while we chatted about her family tree and my family. I sat there trying to lipread and listening to understand what she was saying. After 10 minutes I became tired but kept on watching her lips… my eyes started to burn and my mind started to become mushy.

I start to lose focus on what she was saying… picking up one word every few words. My voice started to wobble and my signing became flappy.

I always sign when I use my voice, I couldn’t speak without signing… I can’t speak on it’s own.

We had to stop and I hugged her tight, told her how much she means to me and how much I valued her letters. I looked at my grandmother, admiring her. She still dyed her hair and still dressed beautifully. Her mind is still intact and strong. Her body is frail yet she is determined to keep on living.

I left wondering if I would ever see her again after Christmas.

After that we visited my parents. Since I was there in Canberra I felt I should try and make an effort. An effort that wasn’t appreciated. As usual, me being there for 3 days wasn’t good enough. An argument occurred and the screaming started.

I stood outside waiting to leave and my youngest son, he is the only hearing child in my family, start to ‘interpreted’ the screaming. My heart sank… my youngest son ‘interpreting’… he is only 8. Yet he saw me standing there not knowing and didn’t like that I was not knowing…. he felt the need to inform me.

My children should never have to carry that burden… that responsibility to interpret anything. To keep me communicated. It is not their duty. I didn’t have children to be my ‘interpreters’ I had children because I wanted a family and I love my children for who they are.

I left in tears and feeling that heavy dread. Feeling guilty and responsible for me being ‘deaf’ and not wanting to be there. I hated that guilt feeling… it just eats you up inside, I could feel it gnawing in me… slowly gnawing and gnawing till there was nothing left to gnaw.

The third day was Christmas Day. We opened our gifts and one cousin came to join us for the day. I had gifts for everyone including the cousin. I sat there on the couch smiling, looking around.. trying to look happy. Everyone is talking, voices across the room… no one was signing except me and my husband.

My heart was shattered seeing my siblings and my parents get a gift each from my cousin but not me.

Is it because I am deaf?

Is it because I don’t ring him on the phone?

Is it because I don’t have long meaningful conversations with him?

Is it because we drifted apart as we get older?

That hurts… like a knife stabbing over and over. Not that I wanted a gift. I wanted to be included. I wanted to be communicated like my hearing family communicate with each other. I wanted to be mattered. I wanted to be seen as one of them.

As the day dragged on… laughter and endless chatter was everywhere and I wondered, wondered and wondered what it was all about.

I tried to watch their lips… too many distractions, too many noises… too fast, too hard and my eyes just burns. Whenever I look at someone, I get a smile yet they continue their conversation knowing I am standing there watching.

No one in my hearing family can sign. My father can finger spell but he’s clumsy. My mother can sign a few words but not clearly. Not enough to have a brief conversation.

At lunch I sat with the children eating my lunch, watching the children talk among themselves. I wished so much that moment, that I could hear… I wished so much I could be a part of their conversation.

I looked over to the other tables and watched the adults talk among themselves. I saw emotions on their faces and I wondered what it was about. But I knew, as usual I will never know because every time I asked… I am told “Oh it’s nothing”… “Oh we are talking about the prime minster” ….. “Oh it’s about my job”…

I wondered so often… ‘Do they ever look at me and wonder. what I am thinking? what do they know about me? why don’t they try and communicate with me?’…

I watch my mother trying to teach my children how to say a word clearly and I think to myself ‘I didn’t bring my children for you to teach them how to speak, they are deaf and signing is their language’.

Then I wondered if my mother really wanted to see me or was it my children is all she wanted to see? That I don’t know.

While sitting on the couch with my mother, my youngest daughter said to me “I find it frustrating when I ask people to repeat what they said, they say it doesn’t matter”… I tell her “If they don’t repeat what they said then they are not worth your time, find someone else who will. Communication is important for everyone.”

I told my husband we need to go. My heart was racing too much and I couldn’t bear another minute. My eldest son was becoming angry and suffocated. As we drove off, everyone waved goodbye except my mother. She resented the fact that I was there for 3 days, she felt she wasn’t important enough for us to stay longer.

I left with one new piece of information about my hearing family and that was I have a cousin who is deaf in one ear. She had been deaf in that ear for more than 40 years and I just found out when everyone else knew back then.

As a deaf person, communication is my key to survival. Communication is the most important thing to me. Without communication I am nothing.

It does hurt knowing that I will never be a real family member in my hearing family, I will always be an outsider because I am different. It doesn’t matter how hard I try to educate them about communication…. changes never occur.

Whether it is signing or not…. it is so important to include everyone even the deaf person. Yet signing makes life easier and more accessible. It doesn’t matter how well a deaf child can speak and ‘hear’… it will happen… that feeling of isolation in a hearing family…. that feeling of being unvalued.

I teach my children to communicate and to be considerate of everyone.

One day… when enough is enough, I will consider taking further action to those who told my mother not to sign with me. I will somehow change that. Because the organisation who told my mother not to sign with me also took my life away that day.

It is discrimination and a deprivation of a deaf person’s right to pure language.

Mental health increase vastly among deaf people today because of isolation and lack of communication in families.

If you have a deaf baby…. please always sign and start now. Don’t wait till later. Do include your other children and partner. Make communication the most important thing in the deaf child’s life. Whether the child is implanted, hearing aid, speech and auditory…. always sign. Do not rely on speech and auditory itself…. it is not enough and never will be enough.

Signing does NOT… and I am telling you it is a load of crap when those so called ‘hearing experts’ say “signing will impact their speech and auditory”…because signing DOES improve their speech and auditory far better than a child without signing.

My youngest daughter is proof of that. And many other deaf children who are have access to equal communication which include signing.

Don’t allow deprivation, autism and surdophobia become a thing in your deaf child’s life like it does in mine.

Don’t let your deaf child grow up isolated and hating family gatherings like I do.

Don’t let your deaf child drift away from the family like I did.

Don’t let your deaf child become an outsider to a family like me.

Embrace signing and see it as a right for your deaf child. After all your deaf child cannot and never will be ‘hearing’. I tried… and it didn’t work.

It is never too late.

Video from a Deaf person on isolation in families

DB xoxoxo



Goodbye 2015….

Love life

I welcomed the new year with glee.

Last year was a great year and of course, as expected with several ‘storms’ along the way. I cannot imagine having a perfect year with smooth sailing because ‘perfect’ does not exist.

I bring into the new year with me – my 365 days of gratitudes, my continuing journey to stay clean, my gorgeous family and my coming out as a drug addict.

I must say the best changes in my life and embracing happiness started in 2014. At the age 44, I realised that I was allowing bitterness, anger, resentment, sorrow and grief control me.

I didn’t like who I was. I didn’t like that ‘black dog’ who stayed side by side for more than 30 years. It didn’t matter how hard I tried to eliminate the ‘black dog’… he was still there.

That sunny day in February when I sat in the little room in Burleigh Heads… I realised that ‘black dog’ was within my soul, my tormentor. It didn’t matter how I tried to shoo the ‘black dog’ away.. it’s still came back to haunt me over and over.

Until that sunny day I realise it has to be me to change it.

I had a choice… I didn’t see that choice hanging in front of me like a dangling carrot. I was too blinded in such dark emotions…. and I had a drug problem. I allowed the drugs clouded my mind day after day.

Ever since that sunny day when I took the choice to change my life for the better, I saw less of the ‘black dog’ over time then eventually he started to fade away. Sometimes he would come back once in a while staying for a bit even he knows he is never welcome.

It was up to me to control that ‘black dog’ and to altered my thoughts.

I learnt to love life, be grateful and most importantly I learnt to love myself. Loving myself made my journey so much easier and I am a stronger person than I ever was.

I have been clean for 20 months, this year in May I will celebrate my two years milestone. I know now that I would never go back to drugs nor fall down into that whirling dark tunnel again.

How do I know that? because I control my own happiness and I chose not to dwell on the past. I chose not to be a victim of neglect and abuse. I chose not to seek pity.

I chose to live for today, to laugh, to hug, to love, to see goodness in everybody and most of all to have compassion. I chose to share my story and not live in a lie. I chose to be who I am, as I am.

Being honest with me and seeing that I have a life is enough. I do not need more than that. I do not need wealth nor success. I do not need fake friends nor be second rated. I do not need to be a picture perfect woman nor be wanting.

All I need is to wake up each day and be grateful that I get to live another day. To remind myself that it is my life, my choice and my identity as who I am.

I do not owe anyone anything nor they own me.

This year 2016 will continue to be another amazing year with the expected ‘storms’ of course… and I know I will be ok because I am ok.

Happy New Year and love life like there’s no tomorrow.

DB xoxoxo

That annoying black cloud…


Past 10 weeks I have been feeling flat. Down. Sad. Frustrated.

And I don’t even wanted to feel like that. I wake up heavy… I feel my shoulders laden with rocks.

I feel fat, ugly and useless.

Every time I turn around, I see that annoying black cloud shadowing me like it’s got a soul… a haunting taunting soul.

Tears flow freely… unexpected and unwanted.

My face becomes a soggy mess. Tissues filled in my bag.

My heart ache.. that pain that ‘stabbed’ sharply. Enough for me to clench and hold myself till I can let me go.

My body shut down, wanting to sleep and not wake up tomorrow.

Yet my mind is strong… I see my children.

The desire is there and I am calling out to God “Take me, take me” … God telling me “No it’s not your time yet”…

What happened? … where did my smile go? … why that annoying black cloud still stalking me?…

That.. I still don’t know.

DB xo