Struggles in life with my deaf identity

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Personally in my perspective, all people have different struggles. This struggle is about my deafness with my deaf identity regarding of employment to seek. Being educated with good academic degrees and professional experiences, usually in life there is always going to have lots of competition when it is about to seek an employment with a salary. Competition in labor market plays a big role and it is sometimes to face unfairness among the society especially for persons with disabilities.

The deaf and deaf-blind community is to experience in a struggle of life when facing the issues of oppression and discrimination worldwide. How this issue applies to my own experience? Each time, I go to various interviews, it is normal to feel nervous in the beginning. I always tried to think positively in a way to overcome the worry about how to be able to understand when communicating with hearing people during the interview. Luckily enough, I am well aware of knowing in how to access in understanding better the communication with the employer. Of course, it is the common sense that I ask them to speak slowly and if I am unable to understand, I request them to show the written questions they already have wrote down. Sometimes, I experience misunderstanding. Regarding of my disability, I portray myself as a deaf woman and educated with degrees combined with international professional experiences, although some perceive me that I am not well enough suited for a job due to their view of seeing the resume I have less professional experiences. On the other side, it might be the disability to be the problem due to that they might not see me in how I can contribute myself to the respective organization according to their mission/vision. Disability is always an obstacle to face among the hearing people and that obstacle needs to be learned in how to prevent it, so deaf/deaf-blind with hearing people can altogether adapt easily regarding of the cultural aspects. Five years of being unemployed is due to a total struggle regarding of this issue. Unlike my case for the US, it is that the country looks to be advanced with better protection of American Disability Act (ADA) with Rehabilitation Act, however the NGOs/companies have interest only in hiring people matching with their profile to the respective needs suited to follow goals/missions of the NGOs/companies. Of course, in order to land a job, one needs to be very well sociable with communicative skills to build good professional networking with the employees of the various NGOs/UN agencies/companies/governmental agencies. Networking to produce is a powerful tool to have when seeking an employment. Without networking, it is a lot harder to make it in landing a job in a short time.

Regarding of discrimination/oppression happening in Bulgaria among the deaf/deaf-blind, the employers currently do not have the formal practice that is applicable to them. I am speaking in fact that when I did apply for a job in Sofia, Bulgaria and in all cases when I receive a notice about an interview via phone call, I encountered a huge struggle. In general, the employers normally use the phone call to make to the candidate, but never send in an email which to my opinion is very much to represent in total professionalism than it be via a phone call. Due to my deafness, of course I did inform that I was not able to hear very well and I respectively asked them to send me an email about the interview information. They did hang up by saying we cannot do that and it has to be done only via a phone call. With this kind of experience including the incident when my grandmother did her best to act as an interpreter informing the employ I am deaf in which it lead to the conclusion in quickly to hang up. This situation have made me to realize how much oppressed is my country with total discrimination toward deaf/deaf-blind people. Bulgaria has high rates of deaf/deaf-blind people being unable to find a job due to the oppression and discrimination issues. All deaf and deaf-blind people have all various kinds of qualifications with all degrees, except that they cannot hear. They can read and write including to do so many good things for the society. They can work for any profession without any problems. The US has everything including to have a deaf doctor/dentist plus deaf lawyer. Being the deaf woman in my life and with this pride regarding of the deaf identity, I believe I can do anything in contributing well to the society in the field of human rights/international law and disability rights. To this point, I am now Legal Coordinator following my dreams to contribute well on equal basis to the society.

Let’s talk about the deaf identity regarding of employment to seek. Yes, I am proud to be deaf because being deaf is awesome to represent its own culture with American Sign Language/International Sign Language. Truly in life, the deaf culture with the identity of deafness has never been to portray or represent the form of disability. It is to show as a minority community that is different than in any other minority community. Deaf community believes that rather than having a disability, its members are merely “different”. The same applies to deaf-blind. That said, the key characteristics of deaf identity and deaf culture are the positive self-identification with the conception to show as a natural and positive part of spectrum in the social sphere among the community in generality. The deaf identity is not about the power to possess within the deaf community. It is the cultural conception to be viewed and many deaf people from the community is fighting to emerge that with a true advocacy to teach the meaning of it with the significance of using the sign language. It is that the sign language gives the main significance as the distinguishing feature to define the deaf community with its own culture. The deaf including the deaf-blind people are part of  linguistic minority than to portray as part of disability community. It is the truth to be viewed. Many hearing people have the kind of mindset viewing the deafness as some kind of pity. This behavior should not view as a total pity toward the deaf/deaf-blind community. Hearing people need to learn in viewing this perception that deaf is not disease and most definitely not disabled to be viewed. Labeling disability for the deaf/deaf-blind is all about politics. Why it is all about the politics? The stigma associated with the word “disability” is medical viewed that deaf/deaf-blind people are not able to socialize and be fit well in the community to contribute like the rest in the society. It is related with the matter about social and cultural construct build by the outsiders. To rephrase the concept of disability – I am saying this term is very fluid. Then, what is the disability according to us? In generality, people tend to conjure the notion viewing it be something related with physical perception that is missing. In truth to be told, deaf/deaf-blind are able in many ways possible, and they are not to be disabled meaning not able to do whatever it is. The barrier accordingly to the attitude and social power of structure need to be changed and fixed.  The struggles they have in their destiny is to represent with the social stigma that face issues in which they are always trying with their efforts to promote deaf/deaf-blind identity in friendly manner within the labor marker to compete well on equal basis with hearing community.

On the other side, the notion of disability is about to provide with concept to have a total protection with legal rights and that’s the  ADA and Rehabilitation Act. Both represent to provide equal basis for equal opportunities for people with disability with a protection from all kinds of discrimination. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities(UN CRPD) also supports that including to provide a full spectrum of rights available for persons with disability altogether with the human rights framework. The US law on disability is more to involve with legal action and resistance while the UN CRPD is about to provide quotas without the legal actions being mentioned to enforce for people with disabilities. However the differences between these legal frameworks, I am drawing with an attention here that all deaf/deaf-blind people are able human beings and have the same rights as normal people. Deaf/deaf-blind people are in fact to “Enable the Disabled and be able to Translate Disability into Ability, so it means that everyone is capable in the reality on equal basis

Deaf/DeafBlind Rights in Bulgaria

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To address and to combat disability rights issues in Bulgaria, we must honestly reveal the truth of why it is still persisting to occur to have no improvements since the communism has collapsed in 1989. No activities were ever involved to represent about improving the disability rights till four years ago it has started. So far from the year of 2014, the activities to improve the disability rights for deaf/deafblind remain to be the same with no big change to happen. Being observer and witnessing the true facts going on in Bulgaria, I am saying it is time to bring with a big change involving the true activism. Passivity with no activism is not going to help to improve with a big change on the disability rights for deaf/deafblind community.

Disability rights issues for the deaf and deafblind communities for the whole country is most related with the legal matters regarding of recognizing officially the Bulgarian Sign Language, the educational access via sign language interpreters, employment access with security being provided with disability rights law and health care access to information/communication via sign language interpreters. Poverty and disability reinforce each other, contributing to increased vulnerability and exclusion. We have nothing including the necessary resources needed to provide. Bulgarian Sign Language is very poor with no linguistic analysis being provided, there are no good quality of sign language interpreters, oralisim continues to exist in all deaf high schools without sign language signing being provided and no bilingual education for all deaf/deafblind children. Sign language and bilingualism without oralism and good quality of sign language interpretation are all the main cores the community needs for every single life.

Deaf/deafblind people in Bulgaria experience discrimination and oppression every single day. The issue is not what the deaf/deafblind people see in the West as well as in the US. It is being said in this way because the discrimination and the oppression is unnecessary to have projected toward the deaf/deafblind community. The society in whole need to learn and accept the deaf/deafblind people including their identity with their culture. All those in that community have so many talents to share, to contribute within the society and be useful for the society except that they cannot hear plus cannot hear and see at the same time. Parents of the deaf/deafblind young adult need to learn and believe in them that they can do it in achieving to study whatever major field they are interested at the university. No parents should ever say NO to their own children that they cannot study for example in LAW. Being deaf and being deafblind don’t prevent them to study LAW. Studying Law or any other major is for everyone. Within the UN CRPD, all deaf/deafblind people including all other disabled people have the opportunity to participate in their societies and to enjoy their civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights on an equal basis with others.

Within this community, the fact is that we do not have a strong implementation from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) into local law when Bulgaria did ratify for it officially. This matter remained to stall for so many years without even anyone to give a care that it is important for that community to have an ideal protection with powerful law for disability rights. The Bulgarian government including the experts in the field of disability rights mainly those who are deaf/deafblind should be involved to participate in providing a guidance of how the law regarding of the UN CRPD need to be implemented. It is very good idea to have specific law established for disability rights that explains and provide the provisions about the right to accessibility services with total participation in the society that involves to have the equal bases with others. This is the idea applying for an example the US has and that’s the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Only the deaf/deafblind are the true experts for this matter and they can do it. Importantly, they know well the deaf culture and sign language in order to understand the needs the deaf/deafblind community shall meet accordingly to the UN CRPD. “Overlooking and ignoring the plight of disabled people is not an option that an acceptable theory of justice can have”, a notable thinker said. Deaf/deafblind people are part of the disability rights group and are human beings with full rights!