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.

What I talk about when you ask me about my deafness

Reblogged with the permission from Alvan. I think I should follow the suit as I have been asked/questioned about it many times. However, this may be slightly different from him as he is renowned for being the writer, as well as the deaf advocate. Like him, I am another deaf advocate. I am seen as the musician or deaf performing arts practitioner here in Singapore.

*When and how did you lose your hearing?
LG: My deafness was discovered when I was two. Its cause still remains unknown. Even, my family members did not know how I became deaf. At that time, my hearing loss level was moderate-severe. Now, it has worsened to profound-severe. This deteriotation in hearing loss does not affect me very much as this deafness is part of me.

*How did you feel about wearing hearing aids? Have you ever considered the cochlear implants?
LG: I am comfortable with my hearing aids (HAs) at this moment. They do not mean to restore hearing; only to amplify sounds. I am not advertising any HAs here. Choosing HAs is upon the audiologist’s recommendations and the user preferences. I know my own preferences very well; this does not mean I can hear speech well. I can speak well, but I have my deaf accent. I got to know it through my experiences with many taxi drivers, and GRAB/UBER drivers. The drivers often asked me which country I come from. I replied that I am born in Singapore, and they told me I do not sound like being the Singaporean here. They insisted that I might be from Philippines, Malaysia or Thailand. I told them that I am Deaf…. or “Death” – I might pronounce wrongly. They were surprised to know that I am Deaf! Some of them continued chatting with me to know more about deafness in Singapore.

Hmmm, I have not considered the cochlear implants. They are too expensive for me, especially when I am now the adult. I am not comfortable to have any metal installed in my head. I am okay with my HAs as I can take them off anytime as I wish. Instead of getting the cochlear implants for myself, I’d rather spend money on travelling and other useful things, in order to enjoy the rest of my life.

Technology that enable deaf and hard-of-hearing to hear most of the sounds is ever improving. I think we should welcome that technology as it is meant to enhance/improve our everyday life. Now I explore communication technology, such as speech-to-text, as it helps improve my communication or social skills when meeting people at work.

*Would you like to share your journey or experiences when you were learning in school in a mainstream environment? What were your challenges when you were in school in a hearing environment?
LG: Before I entered my mainstreamed secondary school, I was enrolled in Canossian School for the Hearing Impaired (CSHI; now renamed Canossian School). I was happier there; we felt no different from one another. I still keep in touch with my schoolmates & classmates because we shared many similar experiences when we were very young. At that time, it was the transition period when we had to switch from using Singapore Sign Language to Natural-Auditory Oral approach (that requires us to speak in a natural environment). This did not benefit all of us; some of us received speech therapy till the teachers trained us through our graduation, while the others did not. I still remember some punishements – if we were caught using sign language, we would be fined 50 cents or be stood outside the classroom. Some teachers slapped us or hit our palms hard.

My struggles started in my secondary school. I had a few deaf classmates, however we were often isolated. We relied on lipreading only; at that time, we were not aware of our needs – having a sign language interpreter or a note-taker. We did not interact much with the hearing classmates. (READ MORE)

Now, I study the BA in Sociology with Communication at SUSS. I engage sign language interpreters and notetakers to cope better with my lessons. I wish this could happen earlier when I was in the secondary school, and I believe with this access, I could excel better in my studies.

*When did you learn sign language?
LG: Singapore Sign Language (SgSL) was my first language; I acquired it at CSHI since my enrolment at my age of 6. I then learnt English Language. I learnt to speak with the assistance of speech therapy for almost 13 years. I do not speak SgSL with my family members; mostly I speak in broken English with them.

I learnt more about SEE2 when I was accepted to become the sign language instructor with the Singapore Association for the Deaf. I taught SEE2 there for 8 years. After that, I established ExtraOrdinary Horizons and I now teach Singapore Sign Language to the public. I also give private tuition in SgSL. Anyway, I have studied sign linguistics online, and attended a few workshops in Singapore and Malaysia.

*Do you think it is necessary/important/better that children with hearing loss learn to sign?
LG: I agree with Alvan; he has mentioned that “it is important for deaf children to acquire language at the same rate as hearing children, and have the same access to language”. As part of the ableism, the ability to speak (verbally) is additional plus-point for Deaf. However, it is not comfortable to make such judgements that might lead to comparisons.

As the World Federation of the Deaf advocates in its mission, every deaf child has its rights to Sign Language. Some people may think signing may be hindrance to the speech development; this is actually not true. Still, whatever it takes a deaf children to excel, I need to emphasise that language is essential in early acquisition, let it be signing, speaking or other approaches used. At this moment, I have been tutoring deaf children. They have different needs, and they are different learners. I can tell you based on my experiences, though I am not qualified enough…LANGUAGE FIRST; cognitive development is very essential, so it should start at a very early age.

*How did you appreciate music, especially with your hearing loss?
LG: I learnt music since very young. When I was ten, I was chosen to play in the deaf percussion band, and at that time, that band was being established by the first-timer band instructor who had no experience with Deaf. I then learnt more about mallet percussion. Actually, musicality comes from you. With my deafness, I still had some of my residual hearing. This vary among different deaf people; some hear better than other counterparts. Musicality means the sensitivity to, knowledge of music. I rely on seeing, feeling and interpreting music most of the times. I am different from others you might name; Azariah, Beethoven, and Evelyn Glennie. We have our different experiences with music. Unlike them, I did not acquire much of music since very young. Partly because of my deafness. It is really amazing for me to carry it on till now.

Being in the deaf percussion band was really fantastic. Really FUN! When I entered the mainstreamed secondary school, I was chosen to be in the concert band. Again, by the same teacher. I was assigned to perform the solo song, “Happy Mallets” at that time. I felt more competitive as I knew I was different from hearing musicians. So, I went to the National Library to read up more on music. My parents couldn’t afford to buy me the piano, so I drew many bars, just like xylophone. I imagined playing bars on these paper virtually. It was not easy for me.

After my poly diploma studies, I resumed my percussion studies. I obtained ABRSM Grade 6 and 8 in Percussion (with Merit) in 2017. Now I am the member of the Purple Symphony, which is the only inclusive orchestra of talented musicians with or without special needs. I am the only deaf musician there.

Apocalypse Later

Time and again, I’ve been asked variations of the following questions pertaining to my deafness. It could be in casual or academic settings (as the ones below are), but they’re at heart the same questions. And after the latest, why not make it public? Next time anyone asks.. here you go. (And there will be many next times.)

* When and how did you lose your hearing?
>> Was diagnosed at age 8, in primary 2, during an MOH checkup in school. Failed the hearing test. Was then sent to the children’s clinic at Outram for a more advanced test and proceeded to flunk that too.

* How did you feel when you had to wear hearing aids?
>> Memory is fuzzy now. It’s more than 30 years since I first started using hearing aids (HAs). I vaguely remember being self conscious about wearing them and also disliked the sounds…

View original post 1,363 more words

Eulogy from Mr. Lim Chin Heng

IMG_4851

With permission from Mr. Lim Chin Heng, I shared his eulogy here on this blog:

“I would like to put my eulogy in honour of the late Mr. Peng Tsu Ying, our Pioneer Deaf Educator, and my inspiring teacher & mentor. Mr Peng and I are both born in the year of Tiger.

At my age of 4 in 1955, Dad brought me to somewhere or a hospital that I always cried loudly. Upon arrival at Singapore Chinese Sign School for the Deaf that was established by a deaf couple, Mr & Mrs Peng Tsu Ying, at Charlton Lane, off Upper Serangoon Road in 1954. I was so shocked to see so many deaf children signing with their deaf teachers.

Mr Peng, the founding principal, was a well-built body and good-looking man with cheerful smile. He showed me a big book with pictures of animals and pointed at a picture of cow, using both “Y” signs to touch the sides of head. When my eyes were widened, this was my first one word I learned, comparing with hearing peers who already learned nearly 900 words.

From 1955 to 1967, I had been growing up with Mr Peng who helped teaching and guiding me before I left for USA. I had watched him struggling, fighting and running his school as he was shorthanded. He used his writing skills in Chinese and English language as powerful weapon to advocate our deaf education rights.

Before his Chinese Sign Section of Singapore School for the Deaf was phrased out, SADeaf sent him to represent Singapore to the 7th World Congress of the WFD in Washington D.C. USA in July-August 1975. I helped guiding him on the tour of Washington D.C. area and introduced him to a number of prominent deaf scholars, especially A/Prof. Frances M. Parsons who travelled globally promoting Total Communication Approach (TC).

Upon his return home, he made a lengthy report dated 3 September 1975 and recommended the SADeaf Executive Council to invite A/Prof. Parsons to give an inspiring lecture on TC Approach here. He and I saw the need for the implementation of TC Approach with American Sign Language and how together it has been a vital instrument in the successful education for deaf children in Singapore.

Mr Peng was a great mentor to me and other deafies. For that, our families are indebted to him and his family.

Let us take our hats off to the late Mr Peng Tsu Ying.”

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.