Συνέντευξη στην Kathy Tzilivakis
MEET Sofia Kolotourou (photo). She is a cytologist in Athens. She is also a published writer and poet as well as a blogger.
Kolotourou, 38, is also totally deaf.
“I lost my hearing after having already started talking and communicating orally,” she said. “Most postlingual deaf people like me do not know sign language. We communicate by talking and lip reading. In my spare time I write, mostly poetry. I also blog on poetry and deafness.”
Athens News: How has your daily life been affected by the economic crisis?
Sophia Kolotourou: Every person, disabled or not, is being affected by the economic crisis in Greece. Unfortunately, pension cuts and unemployment are affecting the elderly and the disabled more than others.
For a deaf person to live a normal life, it’s necessary to possess special equipment like a special alarm clock, special doorbells, an internet connection, a fax machine and a mobile phone to send messages and hearing aids.
But many deaf persons have to cope with salaries or funds of less than 400 per month. Depriving them of access to this expensive rehabilitation-related technology actually pushes them out of a normal life.
Education is also important. I am so lucky I was born 38 years ago. I doubt that my parents could have afforded to pay for speech therapy or any other kind of special education today.
What has your experience been when dealing with the public sector?
Dealing with the public sector was always my worst nightmare. People are mostly aware of prelingual deaf persons who use sign language. Most people don’t believe I’m deaf, because I can talk.
So, if a person feels uneasy or frustrated when having to deal with the public sector while waiting in a long queue, just imagine how a deaf person must feel. If they announce my name over the PA system, I cannot hear it. Sometimes the reflection of the glass prevents me from lip reading.
Sometimes the employee isn’t paying attention to what I’m saying even though it takes only a few seconds for me to tell them: “I am deaf, but I don’t have any problem of communicating with you as long as I can see your lips.”
I feel safer when a hearing person comes along with me.
Special schools for the disabled are among the hardest hit as regards spending cuts. What has your experience been with the education system in Greece?
Ι cannot comment on schools for the deaf because I went to school with hearing children. Many deaf children today are being educated in schools with their hearing peers. In fact, only 250 of the 2,000 deaf children study in specialised schools for the deaf.
Personally, I believe that deaf children should learn how to coexist and interact with their hearing classmates.