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Some challenges of being a deaf parent

Memnos Costi is a presenter on BBC’s See Hear and is married with 2 daughters, 9 and 7 years old and his wife who is also Deaf but has good speech.  Memnos has shared his experiences as a Deaf parent, whose first language is BSL (British Sign Language), and the challenges and barriers he faces in everyday family life.

Difficulties in communication with hearing parents can affect the children as they can miss out on social activities with their everyday friends that they are growing up with.  In general, the greatest difficulty I face is being a parent!! It is never easy. You want the best for your children and strive for that but life, attitudes and growing pains all get in the way!

We often get involved with Deaf Parents UK who seek to support Deaf parents by arranging events and activities supported by sign language interpreters to ensure equal access for all. Caroline Montgomery is our local co-ordinator.  It is a chance for us parents to get together and discuss similar parenting issues that we have and share solutions. The children support each other too because they all grow up going through the same thing.  Support groups like these are invaluable for many.  My worry is that there are many disabled parents out there who need this support and do not realise it’s there or perhaps do not know how to access it.

Click here to read his story

Parenting Differently

Written by Louise Milicevic
My husband and I have Cerebral Palsy and my first pregnancy came as a bit of a surprise, though we were both ecstatic and the news was greeted enthusiastically by family and friends. Sadly, the fact that a disabled couple were having a baby was met with incredulity and shock by the Disability and Maternity Services here in Ireland. We were made to feel that we were the only disabled people in the country about to become parents.

A disabled parent helped me put things into perspective and gave me some renewed belief in my ability. She taught me techniques to lift, change, carry and feed the baby. A physiotherapist in the Maternity Hospital also helped us find suitable ways to handle the baby.

Since my daughters birth I have been contacted by other expectant disabled parents facing the same negative attitudes by healthcare professionals. Based on my experience there appears to be an automatic assumption that a disabled couple will not be capable of looking after and adequately parenting a child.

Being a parent is not an easy task and dealing with physical and attitudinal barriers can make it even harder. However, it’s a decision I don’t regret and believe that the right to have a family should be enjoyed by everyone including disabled people, with access to appropriate support and services. In my view the provision of a PA and the whole philosophy of independent living is about giving people with disabilities the power to make choices in their own lives and should they need support to fulfil their role as parents this should be permissible under the remit of the service.

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