Teresa Garratty: Deaf-friendly hobbies for 2018!

Posted on January 2, 2018

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A new year is a bit of a strange time for some people. Although the only thing that changes is the date, a lot of people feel the need to start afresh and do something to improve the quality of the year ahead.

Goals and achievements vary from person to person. Though they’re usually something along the lines of lose weight, quit smoking/drinking, relax more and spend time with loved ones etc.

The trouble is, it can be hard to follow through on those ideals and even harder to stick to them. For some deaf people it’s made worse due to isolation and exclusion.

Sure, deaf people are capable of doing almost anything but it’s not always made easy for us. For example, I would love to catch more films on the big screen but that depends on when/where the cinemas decide to screen subtitled screenings. (FYI, the answer is rarely ever/pretty much just London.)

So, if you are looking for a new years resolution but stuck for ideas, I’ve jotted down a few deaf friendly hobbies that might give you the inspiration you need to get through the year….or at least January!

Treat Yo’ Self

Let’s start with an easy one! Make an effort to look after yourself and do things that are good for you more often. It can be as simple as taking a long soak in the tub with a bath bomb or a quick tea break in front of the TV now and then. Be nice to yourself, what’s not to like?!

Rock Climbing

I dip into rock climbing every now & then and I LOVE it. It is crazy good exercise, you use muscles you didn’t even know you had! It’s not all about the body though, climbing is great for the mind too.

It takes focus to navigate up the wall safely and there’s a real sense of achievement when you push yourself to reach holds you’re unsure of. There’s also a social element to it as well.

If you’re looking to top rope or lead climb then you need a buddy to belay for you. It gets you out of the house and around other like minded people. There’s even a Facebook group especially for deaf climbers!

International films

As I’ve said many, many times before, not all films are subtitled. It is better than it used to be across the board (DVD’s, online streaming etc…) but there are still a few that slip through the net.

To combat this AND broaden your horizons, try to check out more international cinema! As long as there is no voice dubbing (it’s rare these days, no one likes it…not deafies, not hearies. NOT. NO ONE!), you’re in for guaranteed English subtitles.

It’s a totally different viewing experience to British and American cinema and will give you lots to talk about and recommend to friends. So invite them over, get the popcorn out and start to feel VERY hip and cultured!

BSL Class

If you’re deaf/HoH but have yet to embrace any sign language, it might be a good idea to sign up for some BSL lessons. I was apprehensive before I started to learn, I wasn’t sure if signing was the right fit for me (deafened, oral etc) but it’s more than just learning a new language.

You get to meet new people in your class and you’re all learning to communicate together, so you’ll feel very much included. Eventually, you’ll benefit from using sign language in the real world too when you’re with deaf friends!

Deaf Club

Following on from the BSL lessons, it could be a good idea to find a local deaf club. Now, some have closed but there are still many out there. Check Facebook and online for any kind of meet ups (deaf pub meets, afternoon tea etc).

It is always worth asking any deaf friends if they attend anything similar. It’s a great way to stay integrated within the deaf community.

Photography

Taking photos is a good one for us deafies. We don’t use our ears in photography, so it’s safe to say we can all have a go. If you get into it, you can read books on how to improve or join a class or club.

With social media everywhere these days it’s also nice to share your photos in groups or forums for feedback and general discussion. Not to mention all the nice memories you’re capturing to reflect on at next new years! If you’re feeling very adventurous you can try a photo challenge. Something like a photo a day for the whole year?! (or break it down to one a week or even a month…no pressure!)

Travel, UK style!

When most people think of travelling, they think of back packing through far away lands but it doesn’t have to be that difficult (or expensive!). There are probably a huge number of places you have yet to visit in your own country.

Not to mention all the things there are to see and do in London alone! So why not spend some time being a tourist in your own country? See what attractions are near you and take a day trip somewhere to unleash your inner explorer!

Don’t forget to check information before you go anywhere, you’ll probably find that deafies get a discount for any ticketed venues and there might even be some accessibility in place.

Pets

I absolutely LURVE having a pet. I cannot be without one, it’s just not possible. You might be aware that I have a pug…since I take about 485 photos of him…on a daily basis. It’s true what they say, dogs are worse than children but that’s what I like about him.

He’s a lot of responsibility but he’s MY responsibility. It feels good to care for another living creature and of course, they always return that love…eventually.

I wasn’t really a dog person before but since having my puggy I’m always out at least once a day walking him and that means sometimes interacting with other human beings too. Usually hearing ones but that’s good lip reading and conversational practice for me!

IMPORTANT STUFF AHEAD!

If you are taking on a pet, be sure that you can dedicate the time and love needed to care for them. Do NOT be the “puppy is for Christmas, not for life” guy, nobody likes that guy. However, If you are ready, why not check out your local shelter and look into rescuing a pup or kitty? Again it’s a lot to think about, but what a wonderful way to start the year!

There’s also the option of applying for a hearing dog for us deafies and they have even more benefits than your average house pet (don’t tell puggy I said that!). A hearing dog can apparently be life changing for some deaf people, so it might be worth checking out your eligibility.

Gaming

Now, before you turn you roll your eyes and render it childish, anti social nonsense, let me give you a few facts.

Studies have shown that casual gaming is good for reducing stress levels. That personally doesn’t surprise me, after all, its a form of escapism (like films, television etc) and is perhaps somewhat more engaging.

I can see why some might find it anti social but it depends on how you play and interact within the gaming community, which by the way is MASSIVE. Read this story to see how gaming builds bridges and not walls.

On a side not, the subtitles in games always seem to be on point. I am very rarely disappointed to find a game that isn’t subtitled. Games have always been ahead in the subtitles race against films, I’ve no idea why, but there it is. Accessible entertainment!

Blog/Vlog

And finally, perhaps you might like to start interacting more with the world in general. Maybe you have ideas, opinions or a skill you’d like to share. So why not start blogging (writing) or vlogging (video)?!

Lots of people are at it, so feel free to jump in and have your say too! You can start by just sharing things via Facebook or a YouTube channel.

It might be a great way for you to get things off your chest throughout the year and you’ll be interacting with a global audience. Who knows what opportunities it might lead to?

You might even want to blog/vlog for The Limping Chicken…home of the best blogger/vloggers around!

Read more of Teresa’s posts (with cartoons!) by clicking here.

Teresa is a freelance film maker, photographer and full time cynic. At school, she was voted “Most likely to end up in a lunatic asylum”, a fate which has thus far been avoided. Her pet hates are telephones, intercoms and all living things. Follow her on Twitter as @TGarratty

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