President Obama Inspires Young Deaf Ambassador of Change

Written by Zam Naqvi

Paul Ntulila dreams came true on April 23rd 2016 when the US Embassy and the White House asked Lingoing to provide British Sign Language interpreters to attend an event where President Obama was speaking.

“When I found out that I would have an opportunity to attend President Obama’s speech and Q&A with young leaders and ambassadors of the future, I felt very excited. Barack Obama has been a huge inspiration and a very influential role model for me. He exemplifies the breaking down of social barriers in that he is a Black man and was elected to be President of the United States. This has encouraged President Obama Town Hallme to pursue my own political ambitions. Who knows, maybe one day I will become the first Deaf Black Prime Minister of England!” – Paul.

When Lingoing’s offices received the call to make such an important event accessible for d/Deaf people it was an honour and top priority for the company. “It is opportunities like these that create change and inspiration for our young deaf people, who carry the baton forward for the future of our community” – Sadaqat Ali, CEO Lingoing Ltd.

Lingoing has a network of interpreters, and we found two very trusted members of the Interpreting community to represent us. Brett Best, who is qualified as a BSL and ASL Interpreter and Sharan Thind.

Brett and Sharan recalled meeting Paul and his desire to pursue a career in Politics, and so arranged for him to attend the event. It is this type of initiative that we are so proud of, as Sharan explained “the Town Hall event with POTUS is unique. The impact that the event had for the Deaf BSL user was monumental.”

FullSizeRenderBrett, rightly states that “participation in the political process is fundamental for democracy. Members of the British Deaf Community have struggled with getting linguistic access to political information, and I hope that the British government will take note of this.”

Brett continues that if events like “these are made accessible to all members of society this ensures a diversity of perspectives and participation” which we are all passionate about.

This opportunity did draw an insightful contrast between a government that provides access as a matter Obama greetingof course at public political events and the lack of interpreters present at such broadcasted opportunities in the UK. This sheds further light on a question Paul wanted to ask, but didn’t get to do so “Do you think that the U.S. could serve as a role model for facilitating employment opportunities and access to society for Deaf people?”

A memorable experience for all of us involved and one that has opened more questions in our pursuit of equality.

What do you think? Please comment, share and discuss.

Deaf Theatre: The Birthday of the Infanta by Solar Bear

Last weekend, the International Youth Arts Festival in Kingston featured the Solar Bear, the Deaf Youth Theatre from Scotland and we thought it was great! The Birthday of The Infanta is a story of one sad princess, one pompous party and one broken heart. This creative performance by young and talented deaf and hearing actors is based on a short story by Oscar Wilde. It was princess Infanta’s birthday and everybody gathered in the palace to give her presents and amuse her with tricks and shows. Nevertheless, she could not find entertainment neither in bullfighters nor dancers’s performances. Her uncle devoted himself to keep the bored princess entertained, so he travelled the world to find something to surprise her. On his way he met a wild boy, who could do an impressive choreography of jumps. He invited him to the palace and Infanta was finally happy! The boy had fallen in love with her but when he saw a reflection of his face in the mirror for the first time, he was in great sorrow as he thought princess could never love him and his heart broke.

The Birthday of the Infanta

The performance was a mixture of pantomime, spoken word and sign language with live music – romantic singing and Spanish-influenced rhythms and vibrations that were accessible to a deaf audience. The authenticity of young actors and stirring sounds created a truly charming, magical and beautiful atmosphere, full of invisible butterflies and hand-shaped birds. The audience was drifting with the actors from the princess’ s palace to the wild forests and deep waters to finally confront the reality.

The Birthday of the Infanta

The lack of the happy ending is like an alert that reminds us how important it is for every young person to be accepted just as they are and that rejection essentially damages a persons perception of their identity. We think that sign language is not only a great language but it is art in motion as it takes meaning and visual form.  This is a great way to support both deaf and hearing teenagers to explore and learn from each other and continue to raise awareness on the #deafexperience.