The Pitch

A HUGE APPLAUSE to this great collaboration among the three big-time theatre companies! 👏🏻👏👏🏿👏🏽👏🏼
https://www.thepitch.sg/

Great story! I saw many efforts put in this short film! However, I wish there could be captions for the background song at the end credits!

After Adrian sang in his full emotions, I could feel my love going out all to this collaboration. Then, the end credits arrived with the song that I couldn’t “hear” fully. No captions…!If only this part got captions, I could possibly cry out my heart to everyone who makes art in a variety of forms.

The Covid-19 situation has affected many of us – artists, musicians, theatre creators, so on… BUT what about d/Deaf and Disabled artists in Singapore? We’re also affected – we’re considered as the “non-essential” artists. Even lower than those mainstreamed artists; perhaps at the bottom line.

Pardon me for my poor or lacking writing skills; I wish I could express myself in Singapore Sign Language (SgSL). Not many hearing people know SgSL. I’m accommodating myself to this mainstreamed society in Singapore, just for a little “pitch” for faith.

I wonder why Singapore couldn’t create grants specially designed for d/Deaf and Disabled artists who might be much affected by the Covid-19 situation. Possible to make the application process sweet, short and simple for us?

Many asked us to go try Very Special Arts Singapore. Why? We are often seen as a symbol of charity, just because of our disability. Sign Language is definitely not part of charity. You can’t treat it as your part of your “circus act” – song-signing!

I repeat, what is song-signing? Clearly, this is in support for ableism. Many hearing signers often transliterate words that are sung, into sign vocabulary. More of representing the English structure, without understanding the Deaf culture. Many people see this act by hearing signers, and they applaud their “lousy” signing unknowingly and blindly. Often associated with their “entertaining efforts in helping Deaf”. Are they sincere in “helping Deaf” just with their stupid song-signing?

“No, no! I just practice my signing skills with songs!”

“You should not create and publish those videos, just for your practice! You are entertaining in a WRONG way! You’re murdering the Deaf culture! Also, making the Deaf people divide! That’s not inclusivity that you promote for!”

Another example of culture appropriation in music is demonstrated in this link. Andy Dexterity adopted sign language in his performance for the Voice Australia 2020. What he did on television had angered the Deaf community in Australia. His intention was misled, with the words, “accessible” and “hear your favourite song” as he had failed to understand the heart of Deaf culture. Obviously, it is merely for his own gain – to become popular among his society!

I advocate for Deaf music, that has its continuum in interpreting music and songs in Deaf way. This form of art is led by the Deaf musicians (or music practitioners) around the world. They know their language, community and culture the best. Music has silence, music has noise, music has off-beat notes, music has sign language – self-expression in Deaf way… Deaf music is all about the art of making music in Deaf way. It is not necessarily beautiful, but also it could be ugly! Silent, but noisy. Rhythmatic, but off-beat…

900-Strong Singapore Virtual Choir sings Home (Dick Lee)

Last April, at a short notice, I was asked to participate in this project by Voices of Singapore. You can see me standing out with a green background, and I wear the black top. Anyway, I was delighted to be part of this initiative, and I could represent the Deaf community in Singapore. Also, this could be another platform to show the Deaf music to the public.

Stay At Home, Singapore (Kids’ Edition) | The Straits Times

Impressed by this video. My Deaf music is seen between 0.34 sec and 0.39 sec. Only for 5 seconds. With captions in English, you could feel it better, and it is including more hearing people to appreciate it that way.

Please do not compare me with other big-time musicians, such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Dame Evelyn Glennie. We have experienced deafness at a different time. Dame Evelyn became deaf at her age of 12, and Beethoven started having his hearing problems at around his age of 28. My deafness is discovered when I was two. Our musicality is different; we have acquired music at a different time, too. We have our different music journey.

Ken Kwek has come up with his story, “The Pitch” for three “giant” theatre companies, SRT, Pangdemonium, and WILD RICE. This evoked many thoughts and feelings from me, so I wrote them here as the Deaf art and music practitioner. I have neglected this art & passion of mine for some time, and due to the Covid-19 situation, I resorted to earning enough money from teaching sign language online – my only income source.

Covid-19 has impacted many of us in positive and negative ways. It has taught us many things about life. With making art, will we emerge to succeed better or go down like a good-for-nothing? Do we need collaborations for better support? What kind of collaborations? What will you see yourself in the next 3-5 years, including the toxic Covid-19 period?

We just need a little “pitch” for faith from you all. With this, we will become more resilient and adaptable.

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN YOU ASK ME ABOUT MY DEAFNESS (2/2)

Continued from my blog entry dated on 23 November 2018.

With permission from the students who wish to do their school project related to Deafness in Singapore, I decided to publish my answers to the list of common questions, which I needed to tweak here.

*Can you share your story with us? What is a day in your life like?
It is just a typical day of a part-time student, and a freelancer; achieving work tasks in the daytime, while attending classes in the evening. Occasionally, I teach sign language 2-3 times a week. I also perform upon the requests.

*Discussing employment issues that the Deaf community faces, what difficulties do you face when communicating with a hearing person?
I think deaf people should not face such difficulties in communicating with a hearing person. It is all because the mainstreamed society still lacks an awareness about deaf people. Partly, attitudinal barriers and communication systems could be another possible reason. It is not our fault as being Deaf (in the first place) to have such problems with them.

There are various ways of communicating; namely pen & paper, communication technology, sign language interpreting services, note-taking services, video relay services, etc. We keep on finding ways to communicate with people, but we all need patience and understanding from them.

Whether socialising, networking or working, I mostly communicate with hearing persons by writing on paper. If the hearing person knows Sign Language, I will be more than glad to communicate with this person.
If the hearing person meets me for the first time, and does not know how to approach me, I will guide him/her. In the meantime, I self-advocate.

I really admit here; I am much fortunate to be very proficient in English Language and Singapore Sign Language. So far, I face less difficulties in communicating. When I attend lectures, I need to have the sign language interpreter and/or note-taker with me. When they are not available, I will use the Otter.ai app, and this might be the last resort that I gotta turn to.

*The (research) studies have found that only one in 10 employers surveyed have positive attitudes towards hiring deaf people, and one in two admit they have no intention to do so. Have you personally experienced such prejudices, or have you heard of others being a victim of these prejudices?
I understand that prejudice is defined as perceived, biased opinions. Due to my deafness that could be a blessing in disguise, I couldn’t hear anyone who might say bad things behind my back. Unless someone is willing to interpret what’s going on, I will never have any knowledge. However, discriminatory behaviours could be seen, such as not using sign language or pen/paper (other communication modes) on purpose, setting a low wage (as an act of unfair treatment, merely for ‘compensation’), and shouting for a few times (even after having a better clarification at the first approach), or refusing to accommodate to our needs.

*What would you like to say to hearing people about such prejudices?
Hearing people often see us as “people who live in silence”, “people who are often lonely or depressed”, “people who are unable to hear” or “people who cannot speak”. The medical and charity models of deafness are adopted by these people to perceive us in a such way to compensate for hearing loss or deficiency.

This time, we need to reframe ‘hearing loss’ to ‘Deaf Gain’ as in the social model of deafness. The term, “Deaf Gain” was coined in 2005 to challenge those derogatory perceptions by the hearing people, as well as. Proposed by Dr. H-Dirksen Bauman and Dr. Joseph Murray, this notion “presents a response to contemporary waves of normalization that threaten the signing deaf community” (Legg & Sok, 2012), so it calls for an exploration of what it means to be human for equality and diversity. In other words, it reframes the idea of deafness into something positive, offering a diversity of experiences and perspectives that can benefit everyone (whether hearing or d/Deaf). Its examples are demonstrated in the provision of captions/subtitles, and baby signs for hearing mothers and their babies. Knowing Sign Language can be useful when communicating in a quiet place, like a library. Or signers can communicate with one another in far distances without having to raise their voices and disturb other people.

We are not here to be fixed by hearing people. It’s now a time for the hearing people to listen to us with their eyes and hearts, to embrace what we are in their lives, and to figure out ways to accommodate to one another in every environment. In a such way, prejudices could be possibly removed while making judgements about us.

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

Introduction to Participatory Arts & Inclusive Classroom Pedagogies (Nov-Dec 2019)

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: “My back is aching!” Lily Goh and Alicia acted out that thought. Alicia’s left hand is on the back-hip, while Lily Goh’s right hand crosses over her shoulder-back.
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: 14 adults stand in a circle.
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Two rows of people pose for the group photo. The standing row holds a string of blue and yellow flags.
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Lily Goh poses beside Jodi-Alissa Bickerton who is the Creative Learning Director from Graeae Theatre Company.

Grateful to the Access Path Productions for giving me opportunities to learn more about participatory arts, as well as different perspectives from teachers, social-service workers, museum professionals and other leaders. Also learnt about creative access.

The inaugural Theatre for Development (TfD) programme is a participatory arts practice that allows communities to tell their stories, using drama & storytelling techniques. It lasted for 6 weeks.

I’m pleased to have shared some of the Visual-Gestural Communication activities with the teachers and social-service workers, so that they could improvise their pedagogies for future, inclusive classroom. Not only me, but there are other artists, like Kaite O’Reilly and Wheelsmith who offered their insights into their craft.

Led by Jodi-Alissa, she got us to come up with our final product this week. I have tried to invite a few of my deaf friends to watch it yesterday, but all of them couldn’t make it. Alright.

One of my few biggest wishes is to see our local Deaf theatrical scene becoming alive once again, just like the Hi! Theatre so happening in the 1990s. This could be my vision as I have been exploring different crafts of storytelling (since late-2016), and almost all of them are led by Hearing. However, it is really hard for me to apply to what I have learnt from them. At this moment, I have been figuring out how to continue applying my learning, and take a lead for Deaf Singapore Theatre once again.

Looking back to my past memories when I spent together with my former voluntary group, XTOMIC that was under SADeaf, I had been a volunteer for many years (since I started in 1999). I had performed with Deaf & Hearing volunteers. We promoted deaf awareness through our performances, mostly literal song-signing and musicals. Moulin Rouge, KFC Christmas. With ExtraOrdinary Horizons, I continued to present our debut gigs, such as Amazing Deaf Production @Esplanade (2011), Chai Tao Kway

I have shared the above links here with you here to understand better about Deaf and Disabled Arts.

Someone told me, “You’re already out there knocking on doors. It’s Singapore that is failing you, not recognising your talent and putting you on bigger platforms”. Yeah, I have many bad days in my life. Quite tiring to keep on telling the public that Deaf people are capable of doing everything, except hear. But I never give up. Persist all the way. I really hope the world can wake up to us at last, and give us boundless opportunities.

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

TRUE/FALSE #QUIZ: Deaf people, as a whole, are good lipreaders.

Found at this link.

The answer is FALSE.

Lipreading is not an effective skill. It is not suitable for the faster mode of communication. Some words look the same on the lips/mouth, for example, MAN, BAN, PAN… Another example is I-LOVE-YOU, that might be possibly misread as COLOURFUL.

Let’s SUBSCRIBE to the Telegram Channel!

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

TRUE/FALSE #QUIZ: If a deaf person is having difficulty understanding you, talking louder helps.

Found at this link.

The answer is FALSE.
Shouting at anyone is considered rude; talking louder to a deaf person is no different. Find other ways to communicate with the deaf; writing helps. Hmm, learning sign language could be fun, and it will bring you unique experiences when interacting with Deaf.

Let’s SUBSCRIBE to the Telegram Channel!

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

TRUE/FALSE #QUIZ: Is Sign Language universal (the same in every country)?

Found at this link.

The answer is FALSE.
Yeah, Singapore has its own Sign Language. It’s called Singapore Sign Language. In short form, it is SgSL, not SSL (Shanghainese Sign Language). There is no official definition, unlike ASL’s. We still wait for our national body to make an announcement about its official definition. We had our community discussion in early 2019.

American Sign Language has its over 200 years of history. Our SgSL is established and developed since the early 1950s. It had its influences from SSL, ASL and SEE2 (Signing Exact English 2) because of national education policies and language policies. Now we develop our locally generated sign vocabulary for our local culture and food.

Let’s SUBSCRIBE to the Telegram Channel!

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

My First-time Experiences with the SSO National Day Concert (2019)

[THIS ABOVE IMAGE IS DOWNLOADED FROM SSO FACEBOOK PAGE]

Grateful to the SSO for giving this opportunity to d/Deaf to enjoy the National Day celebrations at Esplanade Concert Hall, especially when the interpretation in Singapore Sign Language was provided for us last Saturday.

I decided to write this blog about my experiences attending this concert for the first time this year. My opinions are different from those of my Deaf peers who attended it.

The first half of the concert was complex for me to listen, partly because of my profound deafness. I know that Jeremy Monterio is renowned for his jazz piano music. It’s really hard for me to follow this kind of tempo and rhythm. Even if I play this kind of song, it is really very challenging for me. Well, many see me as the Deaf musician in Singapore. Sometimes, they mention that I remind them of Evelyn Glennie, who is a famous world-class percussionist. I actually do not like to be the subject of comparison, based on musicality. Yes, I am different from other deaf musicians, like Dr. Azariah Tan, and Ron Tan. Although I had obtained the certificates in ABRSM Percussion (Grade 6 & 8 with Merit), I may not play great as you think.

When I watched Jeremy Monteiro Jazz Trio (namely, Jeremy Monteiro (piano), Tamagoh (drums) & Christy Smith (bass)) perform with the orchestra, it was really intriguing or fascinating to look at them. However, it was tough to listen (even if the sign language interpreter tried her best interpreting their music).

During their music playing, I then remembered about my ReSound multi-mic. I quickly connected it to my hearing aids, and the sounds became clearer (with less noise, which is cut off from the (open) environment). But still, there was no difference.

The second half was more enjoyable for my peers and me. We shared their feedback with one another. The interpretation quality of this year was better than the previous one as she tried her best to allow us to resonate our deaf, visual minds (based on musicality) to the music & songs, such as Kampong Overture, the Awakening, March On, Our Singapore Dream and Home, with her interpretation. It would be better and more powerful to have conceptual interpretation and representation by Deaf.

Not only having the interpretation for Deaf, but also feeling music (through air-filled balloons) is another alternative for music appreciation. There are many other ways for us to enjoy arts and music, and it could be the efforts of promoting inclusion.

Now, I remember why I started learning percussion music. Again, thanks to the SYNC SINGAPORE programme (that was conducted by Jo & Sarah, and organised by VSA Singapore), I am able to make my ideas happen, and I am working very hard on them. My ultimate goal is to let Deaf know more about music, and let them be more included in music. Lastly, I hope to see more of their Deaf music where they can express themselves, whether playing, or telling stories in the form of song-signing or writing.

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

Commentary: Power In Our Hands

One of the video trailers published online.

‘In Our Hands’ traces the changes and growth of the Deaf Community in the UK from the early 1900s to the present day. The documentary looks less at what it means to be deaf and instead looks more at how social groups and movements have supported the community over the decades. The documentary is comprised of a collection of interviews interspersed  with footage uncovered from the British Deaf Association (BDA) archives.

The documentary traces the development of the BDA and the Deaf community in the UK from a close but disperse set of individuals who meet occasionally for sporting events through the them becoming a very structured and politicized group in the early 2000s. It looks at how the community has flourished and their pride and sense of identity has grown of the years, as well as their struggle their journey away from reliance on hearing individuals into becoming a self-governing association.

A key change in the community is their sense of self-pride, spurred by a boost in confidence and belief in their own identity and abilities. The documentary suggests that in the early part of the century deaf individuals were often poorly educated and were often reliant on hearing ‘missionaries’ for jobs and for instructions in their day to day lives. They were reluctant to sign in public for feel of ridicule and instead their social lives revolved around local Deaf clubs and associations.  These clubs arranged sporting events around the country and it’s clear that the competitors and their communities prided themselves on achieving high levels of competence in their chosen sport. These events served as a meeting place for people to socialise, broaden their networks and provided a platform for political ideas to spread and grow.

The documentary then goes on to show how various key individuals within the BDA started to help shift the mindset of the community by helping to showcase the achievements of individuals in the workplace, providing more educational support and by encouraging people to start believing that they are worthy of such rights and opportunities. These changes started a shift away away from the community relying-upon and accepting the instructions and beliefs of the hearing community and instead a focus on inspiring deaf individuals to move into leadership positions. This happened gradually with the first step being the existing ‘missionaries’ being replaced by leaders who were Children of Deaf Adults (CoFA) into BDA leadership positions (they were considered to understand the community better than external missionaries). This then led the way for deaf leadership.

Along the way the BDA encouraged film as a key medium by which groups and individuals could document their culture and language – something not possible in written form or via photographs. The BDA also championed and supported researching into signing and were part of the discovery that it is in fact a language which they then christened British Sign Language (BSL) and have been campaigning ever since for it to be recognized as an official language. The documentary challenged the audience to think about the importance of community support and the importance of having an understanding of the communities culture and history, and that this support and teaching come from within the Deaf community rather than an external reliance on the hearing.

Something that wasn’t touched upon within the documentary was the evolution of BSL itself, however the fact that it has evolved quite significantly within the last century was very apparent from the footage itself. The earliest footage suggested a very heavy reliance on finger spelling. Perhaps this may be because other signs weren’t as established, or perhaps because individuals had signs that they used among their own friends/family but which weren’t standardized across the whole community and hence spelling was the back-up. I do not know. As the footage rolled forward in years it was notable to see the proportion of spelling vs. gesturing changes significantly suggesting both a more standardized and comprehensive language system.

The documentary is educational, inspirational and stands with integrity: there is no spoken language during the show except for some of the old footage which had an original spoken translation accompanying it. I’d certainly recommend this documentary for anyone interested in Sign Language, Deaf Culture and also to anyone who’s interested in seeing social-change in action. 

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is a volunteer with ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

9th International Deaf Academics & Researchers Conference (11-13 May 2019)

THEME: “Deaf academics across disciplines and generations”

This event took place in Iceland. It is supported by Supported by Málvísindastofnun Center for Sign Language Research, University of Iceland. You can check it out at www.dac2019.com.

Since I was unable to attend it this year (because of my school exams), I would like to keep the list of presentations that I wish to look out in the future. I obtained it from my subscription:

  • Pre-conference workshop: International Sign (Ramon Wolfe)
  • Session theme: Deaf academics – who we are and how do we contribute?
    • Opening Lecture: Waves of interdisciplinary science can make global change (Barbara Spiecker, Camille Ollier, Caroline Solomon, Linda M. Campbell)
    • Workshop 1: Can critical disability studies benefit research into deaf people’s everyday experience? (Mette Sommer, Octavian Robinson, Hilde Haualand)
    • Workshop 2: Researchers as mixologists: Selecting suitable ethnographic research methods (Erin Moriarty Harrelson, Steve Emery, Annelies Kusters)
  • Session theme: Reading & writing skilla
    • Presentation: Deaf academic knowledge production: The role of reading groups (Annelies Kusters, Erin Moriarty Harrelson, Steve Emery, Sanchayeeta Iyer)
    • Workshop 3: Writing tactics, tips and hacks – smart strategies for academic writing (Maartje De Meulder, Annelies Kuster, Joseph Murray)
  • Session theme: Careers and strategies
    • Presentation: Deaf academics across disciplines and generations (Cathy Chovaz, Kristin Snoddon, Linda Campbell, Veronique Leduc, Kathryn Woodcock)
    • Workshop 6: Reaching the top of the mountain: navigating the tenure track process as a deaf faculty member (Christopher Kurz and Jordan T. Eickman)
    • Workshop 7: Mapping deaf academics’ places and spaces in academia (Dai O’Brien)

This earlier format is more of reporting here. Anyway, I understand that there are a very few deaf researchers in Asia. This road to become the researchers is really tough because of lack of financial support, accessibility and other unforeseen circumstances. In my personal opinion, it is very challenging for me this time because of my present/current situation. Maybe, I try opening doors for the future generations. No guarantee here…

Alright, I have been following DAC2019’s tweets. Also, I could see the efforts from deaf researchers to stay connected with one another around the world to improve empowerment and representation in deaf academia. Some websites, such as www.deafacademics.org are not updated, perhaps because of lack of support or resources. 

Now, I understand that these conferences are held every two years since 2002:

11th International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Vienna, Austria ● 2023

10th International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Montreal, Canada ● 2021

9th International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Reykjavík, Iceland ● 2019

8th International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Copenhagen, Denmark ● 2017

7th International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Leuven, Belgium ● 2015

6th International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Lisbon, Portugal ● 2013

5th International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Florianópolis, Brazil ● 2010

4th International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Dublin, Ireland ● 2008

3rd International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Stockholm, Sweden ● 2006

2nd International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference
Washington, DC, USA ● 2004

Deaf in Academia Workshop
Austin, Texas, USA ● 2002

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

Volunteering with Deaf (2019)

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A wefie; around me are Donny, Grace, Jiahui, Janika and Xueting (from left to right) posing together on the school stage.

We’re grateful to Raffles Community Advocates for putting in efforts to create awareness about Deafness in different ways, and to experience working with Deaf. Some students were assigned to learn basic Sign Language (obviously SEE2) from TOUCH Silent Club, in order to communicate, especially with Donny and me. There was another group of students who learnt to song-sign for the SPARK Concert that happened last two weeks. I was to play the duet with Janika for the first time; this gave her another experience.

You might be wondering how you could volunteer with Deaf. It may be slightly different from volunteering FOR Deaf. This time, it looks more at interacting with Deaf.

After contacting the network of volunteers on my side, most of them couldn’t help us because of their studies, work and family commitments. However, I managed to get Grace and Jiahui to help us out, especially Donny. He needs visual cues to support his solo dance, and his part in our duet performance.

Grace had no knowledge about deafness and Sign Language. But sign language videos were sent to her two weeks before the concert. She had to learn numbers in Sign Language, that were needed for his dance solo. It was actually easy to learn numbers on the spot. On his last dance practice, Grace, Donny and I met for the first time. Donny and Grace worked together with each other for some time. This was to help them become familiar with the dance routine, as well as his challenges.

Jiahui is currently learning Sign Language from Deaf and interacting with deaf people for some time. Her signing skills are at the beginner’s level, and she is learning basic sign linguistics from ExtraOrdinary Horizons. Donny chose the True Colours song, based on how much he hears at his comfortable level. I’m very familiar with the song arrangement in Deaf way. I recorded videos for Donny and Jiahui to practice at their own pace.

I have asked Grace and Jiahui to share their experiences here. Grace sent me in her artistic style via WhatsApp and this said,
“You with the sad eyes, don’t be discouraged
Oh I realize, it’s hard to take courage, in a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all, the darkness inside you can make you feel so small.
To the deaf community: I pray you will one day hear clearly the music all around you – till then, I will listen to your stories;
When you speak with your inner strength and dance to a different beat from the world. You guys are so beautiful. You music flows from your heart. Thank you for that <3″

Next, Jiahui sent me the WhatsApp message, and it said, “Lily and Donny’s performances were beautiful and heartfelt, and it was a pleasure to work with them and witness their dedication and passion. Off stage, they were also fun partners to hang out with, and patient teachers – refining the cues with us and explaining signs we did not understand. Would love join them again!”

Based on my experiences when working with volunteers, I still feel that you should get to know and understand Deafness, its Community, Culture and Language better. You will realise that it is different from what you usually think about it. It will be better for you to learn at least Sign Language to communicate with Deaf.

We have our workshops and courses that are conducted by Deaf. Let’s check us out at http://www.eohorizons.com! Thank you for reading my entry.

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

SG Professionals With Disabilities LAUNCH

Congratulations to Adrian & Marcus for launching this initiative, SINGAPORE PROFESSIONALS WITH DISABILITIES (SGPWD, in a short form) yesterday at the LinkedIn office.

These two photos are obtained from the group whatsapp for you to get better impressions about this network.

Let me share my experiences about the networking events that I had attended before, as a Deaf person. I attended these events because of my business, ExtraOrdinary Horizons. From there, I learnt many things, such as event collaborations.

If you are aspiring for a new career, or a change of jobs, this SGPWD platform is good for you to learn and share with one another. With the LinkedIn platform, you can demonstrate your skillset, as well as your previous working experiences. Also, you can get advices from experienced professionals who are willing to consult you as in #plusonepledge to make the world a better place for everyone to work more healthy and happier. In the other round, you can share your challenges and resolutions with recruiters and allies.

Two Sign Language interpreters and one notetaker were engaged for d/Deaf to be part of the launch. However, I feel that the launch was not inclusive enough as there were different types of d/Deaf people. The d/Deaf people have their different capabilities. Now, I look at Deaf signers and I am one of them who rely on interpreters heavily. I am different from them, and I could speak well. But I could not catch any conversation.

UPDATED: Just now, I was asked by Marcus on LinkedIn to share my networking experience at the launch yesterday. With the interpreter in present, I managed to achieve my goals, which were to obtain the complimentary corporate photo for my current job search, to give support to Marcus & Adrian, and to learn new things from people. I was somehow satisfied.

I met four new people at the two different times, with the help of the interpreter, after the panel discussion. I happened to pop by when two persons from the T-Systems approached the deaf lady, and the interpreter was there. They shared their company profile with us, and they hoped to obtain information on how they could help d/Deaf in communication issues. Then, we had our chit-chat, and we exchanged our contact details. Next, I asked the interpreter to follow me, and to “eavesdrop” any group conversation. But she had to abide by the professional code of ethics, and I respected her. I caught the eyes of a lady, and she was one of the LinkedIn Enabled volunteer-facilitator. Both of us discussed on improving networking for the group of d/Deaf participants. Another volunteer-facilitator joined us. Then, we added one another on LinkedIn, thanks to the mobile technology. When I walked around, I was unable to join any group conversation (without having the interpreter around with me). I merely said hello to my friends whom I am familiar with.

Today, I had my online chat with Jade, who was the moderator of the panel discussion. This happened, all thanks to the SGPWD network launch event. I made efforts to find out from my peers. True enough about us that we are deaf, and we are different from other people with disabilities, we fall behind a lot as there seems to be no other way for us to communicate with recruiters and allies who are not deaf. Again, we do not know what they are actually looking for. If we are on our own (when the interpreters are not available, or there might be limited number of interpreters), how shall we network with them?

I had made several suggestions to Jade about improving networking among Deaf signers. It will be good to have recruiters and allies to make their brief introduction so that we will be able to know them and make our better approaches. Speed-networking can be another good alternative, however we still need to consider other factors how to include Deaf signers in group conversations.

How to network effectively as being the Deaf person when you have no interpreter with you?

  • Leverage social media, such as LinkedIn (QR Code).
  • Exchange name cards (if you have).
  • Use mobile applications, such as Microsoft Translator, Google Live Transcribe, to listen; do not let yourself do all the talking. Google Live Transcribe is the best recommendation.
  • Meet new people through other people (and social media channels).
  • Present your story, mostly success stories that have your workable solutions that you have thought of.
  • Find a reason to follow up, by messaging on social media, and looking for possible collaborations.
  • Always remember to say Thank You.

If you wish to meet a Deaf signer, you should have papers so that you can communicate with him/her through writing. Otherwise, mobile applications could be good alternatives. You need to have more patience when communicating with them. Speak your intentions clearly to them after you have made your introduction. Please bear in your mind that the Deaf signers are proficient in their first language, which is Singapore Sign Language. We do our best to express ourselves in English Language that is internationally spoken by the mainstreamed people. So, use simple English. If you do not understand them clearly, you can ask them to repeat. In any worst case, adjust your communication skills with your creativity. Or get the interpreter when they are available (in sight).

Ok, I now look forward to the next networking session by SGPWD.

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

Selling Percussion Instruments

Managing this account @bizhearthotz on Carousell

After we have decided that YDGEN is officially disbanded, we couldn’t find a place where we could store these percussion instruments. So we made up our mind to sell them to help sustain ExtraOrdinary Horizons financially in a longer run.

I could say based on my subjective opinions; Singapore is different from other countries. It is not easy for Deaf to run a business. Not easy to manage or lead the band, especially when arts and music scene is small. Hmmm, it is strange to see that more emerging or accomplished (mainstreamed) artistes work closely with artistes with disabilities. This aligns well with the vision of inclusion in the arts. However, are the artistes with disabilities empowered enough to develop their practice on their own?

Looking back to the point when I joined the Singapore Idol Season 1 (2004), I still remember why I joined there. I had three intentions namely; to fulfil my childhood dream (to be the singer), to show the public about Deaf capabilities (meanwhile, dispelling misconceptions about Deaf people in Singapore), and to see where I was actually embarking on my music journey. From there, I continued with grit to obtain ABRSM Grades 6 & 8 in Percussion with Merit (within 10 months). With my earnings from four part-time jobs. Now, I am the member of the Purple Symphony. I really thank MP Denise Phua with my sincere heart for giving me this opportunity to experience playing with different musicians with or without disabilities.

Now, I worked with different people – Peter, Zihao, many… I have learnt many things from them. Good for my exploration though… This time, I do not think I can become one of the international Deaf performing artistes, like Ramesh Meyyappan. I do not mean to make such comparisons… Many years ago (before Singapore Idol Season 1), I tried applying for financial aid for the undergraduate program in music studies that I managed to get a place in UK, but to no avail. I had to give it up.

After watching the CNA’s special series entitled, “This is What I Hear”, I realised that every deaf individual has different backgrounds and privileges. Same but different… I know I have failed to understand the quality of sound when playing mallet percussion. But I continue to develop my own niche – #deaftalent arts. Since I am set on becoming one of Deaf social media influencers in Singapore, I continue sharing my works-in-progress (music, percussion, poetry & storytelling) that might include the Singapore culture.

Back to the topic, I hope you can support me, as well as ExtraOrdinary Horizons, please check my website out at http://www.eohorizons.com.

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

Alternatives to meet Deaf needs in Singapore

Microsoft Translator
Google Live Transcribe

Attached here are two YouTube videos embedded here in this blog entry as I have explored these two mobile applications in some situations where the sign language interpreters were not available to interpret for groups of 3 deaf consumers (including myself). They could be possible alternatives to meeting the deaf needs in Singapore.

You need to understand why we encourage you to consider these alternatives to enable d/Deaf people to know what’s going on every day. Look, we have only 6 full-time sign language interpreters in Singapore; they work for the Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf). They could not meet every request from approximately 5,600 deaf clients who are registered with the SADeaf. They are human; they need break for themselves. They have their lives to lead. We cannot expect them to make sacrifices for the d/Deaf people. If you wish to join the team of sign language interpreters or other access support, you need to understand and immerse in our Deaf world.

Alright, let’s explore these two mobile applications that I have tried so far. As I have my iPhone with me, I have the Microsoft Translator application downloaded in my phone. This supports Android, iOS and Windows. With this application, my two deaf acquaintances were able to participate in discussions with people with other disabilities. However, transcription is not very accurate; I could say 80%.

Next, the Google Live Transcribe application is better alternative. It supports Android only. It does not have the presenter mode that the Microsoft Translator application has. It acts as the microphone that captures group discussion into the written form. But I hope this application can support more platforms.

When you need a sign language interpreter or notetaker for your event (let it be educational, institutional or social), please plan ahead at least 3-4 weeks’ time, in order to avoid any disappointment. If the interpreter and/or other access support is not available, you have to consider other technology accessibility. We have to keep on exploring new things as nothing is perfect for everyone. If you have any suggestions for helping d/Deaf with accessibility, you are welcome to drop us an email at contact@eohorizons.com. Or you can leave your comment below.

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

#IDPD2018 Close-Up Interview with Dawn-Joy Leong & James Chan

SOURCE: http://www.youtube.com/c/eohdeafsingapore
SOURCE: http://www.youtube.com/c/eohdeafsingapore

#throwback
Finally, these videos are out for your pleasant viewing.

For the first time, we interviewed our Autistic friends, Dawn-Joy and James for IDPD2018. That was last November 2018. It was not published on time because of challenges that we faced while editing the videos. After having the auto-captions on the videos, we assumed that we could edit the captions. But we couldn’t caption the videos because partly of deafness, so we decided to engage Caption Cube for their services.

Anyway, we are pleased to inform you that we added more links to our Resources & Network page. This shall be anchored at deafness and disability in Singapore. If you have any other information, you can drop an email at contact@eohorizons.com.

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.

YDGEN Officially Disbanded

We made this announcement here that the YMCA Deaf Generation (YDGEN) is officially disbanded of today.

We no longer enjoy the free studio usage provided by YMCA this year because of their budget cuts. For the past years since 2007, we had performed at various YMCA events for this exchange.

However, this does not stop me from practising the #deafmusic in mallet percussion & song-signing, and #deaftalent in theatrical arts, poetry & storytelling.

We will find ways out to continue the practice. If you have any suggestion, you can contact us by email.

DISCLAIMER: The author of the above article is the director and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons. All opinions expressed herein are thus the personal views of contributing individual authors. They are not indicative of any endorsement, political or otherwise, or lack thereof, either on the part of the organisation.