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Deaf Awareness

Due to the wonderful response we have received towards our recent duet with the amazing Niamdh Braid, we thought it would be a great idea to delve further into the plight of this magnificent wee human to find out what all of the fuss is about being that this girl has been making headlines! You can see her pictured above at our recent event with us and her lovely brother Billy. Q: You hung out with Lewis Capaldi during the Summer holidays. What did your friends and teachers have to say about that when you went back to school?

"My friends said that I was really lucky and they were jealous. My teacher said I was really good and she was impressed with my signing."

Q: We hear you have been teaching yourself sign-language all by yourself; that's rather amazing! Why are you doing this and is it something that is difficult to learn?

"I need BSL to communicate with my deaf friends. I love learning it although, some parts are difficult to learn. It's harder because nobody is teaching me."

Q: The way you sign alongside a song is so emotive and very mature. Why is making music accessible to deaf people so important to you?

"I want deaf children to enjoy music just as much as hearing children. I love music and the different vibrations; deaf people feel music but don't always know the words and BSL helps with this."

Q: It's great to see you meeting members of parliament to talk to them about British Sign Language. What are your hopes for the future of BSL and young deaf people in Scotland?

"I want to BSL to be taught in school. I want all children to be able to learn it from Primary One. If everyone knows BSL then deaf children can communicate with hearing children too and nobody will be left out."

The Braid family have long been a fixture in our musical history; they are supporters of our music and, even more so, are dear friends. We definitely thought we should also ask a few more questions on the subject and Sam Braid, who is Niamdh's super duper mum, has provided some fantastic answers! Q: Between all who were involved we managed to pull this together pretty quickly. What do you think of the video?

"Niamdh was invited to join you both to sign 'Hands' only seven days before your performance. She was so excited and quickly got out her BSL dictionary to begin learning the song right away; I was astounded at how quickly she learned it! She really understood the lyrics and meaning behind them and I think that this showed in her delivery of the song and the video captured the emotion so well. Thank you so much to Scott Burrell for filming this on the night! As you know, Niamdh practiced the song once through with you, however, the video showed the amount of chemistry between you all; it looked like you had been performing together for years." Q: It is safe to say the past few weeks have been a tad crazy for you all! What has been the most exciting part of the whirlwind for you?

"Aside from the kids obviously meeting Lewis Capaldi (whom they both love) and watching Niamdh's dream come true to sign with him, the fact that she has raised so much deaf awareness and now has peoples' attention; people are now interested in the bigger issues around the attainment gap and lack of supports for deaf children. We are hoping for change and a better future for deaf children and this is looking more hopeful with all of the hype around Niamdh's very viral performance." Q: What a talented performer Niamdh is! What do you think about her learning sign language by herself and the amazing way in which she performs?

"She is an absolute inspiration and we have to remember she is a ten year old child. She is having to teach herself BSL; this is not about an additional language . . . this is a life skill and she should have the right to learn this. Had Niamdh been born to a deaf family (whether she was deaf or hearing) her first language would have been BSL and it would be someone's responsibility to teach her English as a second language because she is born to a hearing family. Her first language is English yet nobody will take responsibility to teach her BSL and she is forced to adapt to a hearing world. As a hearing parent of a deaf child I am having to pay to attend evening classes to learn a language that my daughter needs. Although she has speech and can hear with the use of aids, she needs BSL to communicate with her deaf peers. We don't know what the future holds for Niamdh's hearing; will it deteriorate? We do not have a definitive answer so she needs a back up plan; she needs BSL. She also had the right to choose; she may decide in the future that she does not want to use hearing aids and she should have that option and right to choose. Right now . . . she doesn't. Considering Niamdh is self taught I think her signing is incredible. I am bias obviously but the emotion and feeling she expresses through sign is incredible. When I watch her sign through a song . . . I feel the song. It is beautiful!" Q: Through the power of media your communication about deaf awareness is making huge waves. What do you hope comes out of the exposure you have all had?

"I hope that the government will take note and implement change. Deaf children are eight times more likely to leave education without an official qualification compared with their hearing peers; that statistic is horrendous and our children are being robbed of their futures. It is 2019 . . . why is this still a fight? Deafness is not a learning disability and with the correct support deaf children can achieve the same as hearing peers so why is this not happening? When you look at the statistics in the CRIDE Report it is very clear that this is a national crisis and there is not enough support. We want BSL in all schools across the country. Look at our ageing population . . . how many people will acquire some level of hearing loss in later life? If BSL was taught across the board this would not be as much of an issue and large numbers of people would not be as isolated as they currently are.

It's the lack of support and understanding that makes deafness a disability."

Q: Educating other people is something we feel very passionate about. What would you like our audience to consider about deaf people in their community?

"There is no need for deafness to be a disability and we need to look at support; why do deaf people have to adapt to a hearing world? If we all had basic BSL the deaf community would not be so isolated. Deafness does not have to be a disability; we are all responsible for removing the barriers!"

We are proud to work in partnership with Niamdh Braid and support her in making music more accessible to the deaf community and in raising awareness about deaf education.

LISTEN to the studio recording of 'Hands'. DOWNLOAD our debut album 'This Old House'.

Lynzy & Vivienne The Coaltown Daisies

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