THE young deaf Cork boy whose father spoke on national radio in recent days about feeling like he has failed his son has spoken about the challenges facing him in his future.
12-year-old Calum Geary from Ballyhooly joined his dad, Sergeant Andrew Geary, and his twin brother Donncha on the Late Late Show last night with Ryan Tubridy.
During the show, he said: “Sign language isn't everywhere, people say things in English very quickly, but in sign language they're signing and speaking and pieces are missing. When hearing people you can read a book as your teacher is speaking. In sign language you've to really stare at your teacher to try get what they're saying and it can be exhausting.” And he said he feels that he will always face challenges, adding that because he has to fight for an interpreter in his classroom, he will be a slight bit behind.
Andrew said he really believes in this country but said: “Everytime you come to a door, it’s locked. You have to force that door open. AS soon as you open that door, it seems to be locked behind you. It’s hard.” He continued: “It’s a very simple process to put an interpreter in Calum’s classroom. That is all he needs to have access to the school curriculum at the moment. The teachers are first class people, very deep professionals and they have learned sign in their own time.” But he said Calum needs a fully qualified interpreter to stand beside his teacher every day in the classroom.
“We have been fighting six years for this and we are hitting a brick wall.” Calum continued that he always feels lonely, except when he is at home with his family. He said: “There are not a lot of people who know sign. That is very difficult out in the world.” And he said: “I really want everyone to be aware of deaf people, much more so than they are now.”
During the show, there was a message from Oscar winner Marlee Beth Matlin, who starred in Children of a Lesser God.
Following the show, a thread was started on social media listing examples of deaf people who have succeeded in different strands of employment across the world.
In 2012, Andrew and wife Helen had hoped that surgery in the UK would grant him the power of hearing but it failed. He was born without hearing nerves, meaning he has never heard anything.
He and his family now use sign language to communicate and he attends St Columba’s School in Cork city.
During last night’s show, Donncha said: “I have a keen interest in sign language. I think it is a beautiful language.”
And he said: “I think I will be a little bit ahead of Calum in school and that’s just due to a language barrier. I think it is much harder for a deaf person in school than it is for someone with hearing.”
Andrew said that Irish Sign Language is this country’s recognised third language but it is not on the school curriculum, adding that he could “do my Leaving Cert in Japanese and Russian but I can't in this".