MTVH celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities

03 December 2020

Summary: At MTVH we value inclusivity and equality and to celebrate this special day, we are sharing an inspirational story from our resident Jason Roberts who has overcome adversity and is breaking barriers by providing others the opportunity to communicate through sign language.

Today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD), a United Nations sanctioned day dedicated to promoting the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development. It also exists to increase awareness of people with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

A life turned upside down

In 1982, aged 12, Jason fell victim to a traumatic brain haemorrhage leaving him in a hospital bed for 10 weeks. As a result, the injury caused Jason lifelong disabilities including hearing loss. With only so much assistance available to him and his family, it fell to Jason’s willpower and determination to provide the means to recovery.

A new direction

As Jason progressed through his teenage years, his battle with the disabilities that he had been left with, even after extensive rehabilitation, led him to take his recovery into his own hands.

At the age of 20, still unsure which direction his life was going to take, Jason decided that he should follow his passion in helping others gain (or regain) control of their bodies and strengthen their abilities. After ten years of education in this regard he eventually became a fitness specialist but was determined to do more to support others with hearing complications.
Last year, Jason contacted MTVH enquiring about possible funding for a sign language course and was assisted by Terry Tottman from the Empowering Futures team who admired Jason’s determination and enthusiasm. After some research on resources available, Jason was able to undertake a BSL course with Sign for Thoughts, an organisation who specialise in spreading deaf and deafblind awareness and information within the community and offer Levels 1-3 deafblind courses. On Supporting Jason with his journey, Terry explained:

“At Empowering Futures, we know our residents are not all the same. We are committed to listening to the individual needs of our residents, so we are then able to correctly identify the problems they are facing, and together, come up with the best solutions. This makes our approach holistic and personalised, and therefore something that’s more likely to be successful.

Mr Roberts is a great example of that. We listened to his unique story and built a plan with him, so that he could fulfil his dream of learning to sign language before he loses his sense of hearing. This has obvious advantages in his everyday life but will also help him to progress his business in the way that he wants. Empowering Futures can’t save Mr Roberts’ hearing, but we can save his dignity and improve his quality of life going forward.”

Signs are GO for Fitness business!

Since completing his course, Jason has offered to be of assistance with regards to interpreting as a thank you to MTVH. He has also been very busy using his skills to set up a business to teach the deaf and hard of hearing and is currently working on relaunching his ‘Steps to Wellness’ website, where he will be raising awareness and running sign language sessions. Jason is very proud of his achievements, which have not only given him the opportunity to contribute back to society but to inspire and motivate others to follow their dreams and never give up. On his contribution to society Jason explained:

Helping others get well and fit is my way of giving back to society what society has given me. Society helped me, it gave me an operation to save my life, it gave me a certain amount of rehabilitation to get me back on my feet and now knowing the extensive therapies available, I am finding other forms to aid in my rehabilitation and want to share this knowledge with those that want, even need it. Whilst on my journey to fitness, I have found communication to be a barrier for the deaf and HoH (Hard of Hearing). In getting fit, I am breaking that barrier.”