I am Hamza Shaikh from Birmingham; I was brought up by my hearing parents and I have three siblings. I am a British Sign Language student in the West Midlands. I am very passionate about BSL and love meeting and socializing with Deaf people. I also like to attend Deaf theatres, watching Deaf shows and comedy shows.
I attended Longwill School for the Deaf for five years from Nursery to year 6, and then attended Braidwood School from Years 7 to 11 studying for my GCSE exams. I was chosen to be Sports Ambassador, and attended different special needs schools to teach kids about leadership. Then I attended a project which was held in Birmingham and organised by RADAR and Deaf Unity to learn more about leadership.
Later that year I attended a protest with a school in London to campaign about sport services being cut. I also attended a youth disabled leader event which was held in London a few years ago and I delivered a speech to David Blunkett; I felt it worked well. In October 2011 I was invited by our MP’s wife in London to attend an event to celebrate different people’s leadership work, I enjoyed the visit and met different famous people include the MP’s wife.
My education journey
The support from both school and college was amazing, in school they provided me with a classroom assistant who sat next to me and helped me get through my work – the classroom assistant was deaf and used fluent BSL! My support from the college through the three years I’ve been at college is improving a lot, I’m getting used to interpreters and recently I’ve had a note taker writing down everything my tutor says just in case I miss something important.
Without them I won’t be able to fulfil my wish of becoming a teacher of the deaf. At secondary school, through five years, I struggled with education and coping with my behaviour; later on in years 9-10 I realised how important education was to me, so I got a classroom assistant. When I left high school I looked back over the years and felt how lucky I was that I had support from the teachers and TA. I’m grateful for their support!
I attend Walsall College studying a BTEC National Diploma in ICT level 2. I chose to study ICT because I wanted to gain knowledge about Computing and Computer systems. Now I am in my third year. It has an outstanding Ofsted mark and the college provides me with BSL interpreters and notetakers! I’m the only deaf student on the course compared to 10-15 hearing students.
The first month I joined the course, I obviously felt uncomfortable with hearing peers due to having deaf people in the previous two years at school. Later on, my hearing friends encouraged me and my confidence was boosted. In my view, the best support for me is a BSL interpreter and notetaker because they are helpful with me and my coursework and they do more than help with the course; they inform the teacher, have chats with me, and help me with my personal life such as family, money, friendship and so on.
Deaf Issues and the Deaf Community
The communication between deaf BSL users and hearing people in society is difficult. One way that they can improve this is to introduce free BSL classes and make them available to everyone; also to give more support to parents of deaf children, especially when they are born.
The government need to do more to raise deaf awareness in society. One way that the government can help is to raise more awareness of deaf people, their culture and deaf issues. I feel that the majority of people are unaware of the deaf community and its culture; and that’s why I think that the government need to do more to raise awareness of this.
Education for deaf people and children faces many problems. One way that I feel we could make this better is to introduce funding for hearing teachers to learn fluent BSL – this solution might solve the problems within education for deaf children who use BSL and their parents. I want to see children get better education than me and older generations.
In the UK it seems we have few Deaf teachers; but in the future I would like to see more deaf tutors so they can teach children in hearing schools – as long the school accepts the deaf tutor’s ability and it is not because of their disability. Once the BSL Act is legal around the UK and then the world, hopefully I would like to see deaf children having a better education due to BSL communication. The main problem in the world, including the UK, for deaf people, is the communication barrier.
I have been included in the deaf world since I was little. The Deaf community faces barriers to services in their daily life. BSL was recognised ten years ago by the government in London; this year marks our 10th year anniversary of British Sign Language. The government thinks we are all fine but the government doesn’t see our problems. I feel that the government do not care about people; they are just thinking about money. I feel angry toward the government because when I meet deaf people, they keep repeating the same problems that we all face together. In 2013, we’ve had enough of that – time to show the evidence, as we can show how we’ve been struggling for many years since before BSL was recognised.
I’m concerned for everyone in the deaf community: they don’t deserve this treatment because we are human beings – we have the right to access services such as hospitals, police and education. The main problem is access to BSL interpreters and deaf awareness! It would make a huge difference to deaf people’s wellbeing if we could access these important services. The equality act has failed because the services have not given access to or enforced that access for deaf people. We need to ask questions of the government, to find out what is going to happen with services for deaf people, funding and what they are going to do for older generations and future generations. We need to save our pride as the deaf community.
Hamza Shaikh, from Birmingham, is studying for a BTEC National Diploma in ICT Level 2. He has been making a splash with his positive videos on the BSL Act Facebook page. He has taken part in Deaf Unity’s Leadership training, and he likes to get involved in campaigning for what he believes in.