29 October, 2013

Libra by Anna Lickley

Welcome to Part Eight of my 12-part Zodiac Blog Series. On Tuesdays in autumn I'm posting a story or poem each written especially for this blog by a different author. Each piece of writing has taken one of the signs of the zodiac as its inspiration. For the full list of participants - from established authors to first-time writers - plus the posting schedule and links to previous stories and poems, please visit the Zodiac Blog Series Page.

This week's story is by Anna Lickley and is inspired by Libra.

 Anna is new to writing. Until last week she hadn't had anything published, then Simon published one of her stories on his blog, thus pipping me to the post (more on this on Friday!) Anna has just sent her self-published semi-autobiographical novel, Catch It Any Time You Can, to print. After being deafened at the age of 20 through illness, she developed an interest in deaf education and thought Libra would give her a chance to balance the scales in exploring whether deaf people will ever get an equal chance at learning. You can find Anna on her blog.

(I also promised her I'd point out that she gets a gold star for being the first person to get her story to me!)

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Balancing the Scales



April 2079



I was sitting between Frankie and Jaime in the semi circle, facing our teacher, Jim who was teaching us biology. It was the last class of the day and I was bored. My eyes wondered along the semi-circular loop. We had an academy uniform with a number of items we could choose freely from. Most of the boys opted for a knee length, pleated skirt which was much less constricting to their anatomies than trousers. The girls generally seemed to wear whatever their friends were wearing that day.



Tomorrow was a national holiday as, at the age of only 66, George vii would be crowned as king. His father, William had stepped down from the throne at 96 to spend more time with his wife. Mum said that before I was even born, everyone thought he’d stop when he reached the national retirement age of 76 but he’s carried on for ages!



George is giving his speech afterwards in British Sign Language  as he has always been an excellent signer so switches between English and BSL quite fluently.



I will probably come in to school to watch it on the ‘big slab’ in the auditorium although we are able to see the ceremony anywhere at anytime and in any language, watching our personal slabs.



Most of the class had their slabs set on VR so that the interpreter’s voice was automatically recorded in print and provided live captions for any deaf people who preferred English. Some were using the video setting to record Jim’s signing and their slabs could later transcribe this in written English too if they wanted.



Jim wasn’t deaf but he preferred teaching in BSL, he said it was easier to explain things visually.



We had all been learning BSL from an early age and I found it astonishing that just over 100 years ago, deaf children had been taught orally where so much time was  taken on forming the correct sounds to make speech that they learnt very little else. These children were called ‘the deaf and dumb’ and used to have their wrists tied to the desk or knuckles rapped if they used sign or gesture to communicate. I think it’s criminal to have inflicted that!



I think there was also a time later when people thought you had to choose between English and the ‘hearing world’ or BSL (‘Deaf world’). That seems crazy too but we haven’t really studied it yet.



At 14, I would be taking some of my B- levels next year and then majoring in BSL and Deaf studies, disability theory and drama.



Signing really is my favourite subject and then I will probably train as a BSL interpreter because everyone learns English or BSL to different levels and so nearly all academy classes (apart from sign only zones like Deaf studies), conferences, theatre shows, all slab broadcasts etc are interpreted both ways. There’s not really any situation that disables a deaf person.



Welcome to Part Five of my 12-part Zodiac Blog Series. On Tuesdays in autumn I'm posting a story or poem each written especially for this blog by a different author. Each piece of writing has taken one of the signs of the zodiac as its inspiration. For the full list of participants - from established authors to first-time writers - plus the posting schedule and links to previous stories and poems, please visit the Zodiac Blog Series Page. - See more at: http://madebythepotter.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/cancer-by-simon-p-clark.html#sthash.HamLZCrx.dpuf

5 comments:

  1. A well imagined future for a time when Prince George will be king. I hope we do get there - to a place where both language and technology are geared up to making life as inclusive as possible for deaf people.

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  2. Hi Anna, you've created an intriguing future. All it took was a few subtle changes and the world appears much more open. Maybe you could also write longer pieces about it?

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  3. ha thanks, I just might! You're right, it's not all that unfeasible

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  4. Interesting ideas, Anna. It will be interesting to see how technology and people's attitudes change in the coming years. Certainly with the way automatic language translators are being developed it's not hard to imagine a phone app that would mean that although I don't know how to sign, I could communicate easily with a deaf person - with my spoken words converted to an animation (or text), and their signing interpreted by the software and 'translated' onscreen.

    Good luck with your book!

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  5. Really interesting - thank you. As Derek said, I'd love to read more. All the best with your book.

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