Falconer, William. Unheard Voices: interviews with deafened people
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The Brunsfield Hotel, Edinburgh
Falconer, William McGilvary,1947- (speaker, male)
Pennell, Stephanie, 1948- (speaker, female)
McLean, Hilary (Speech-To-Text Reporter - Palantypist, female)
Part 1: William (Billy) McGilvary Falconer (WF), born Edinburgh 12th November 1947. Family lived in Armadale, grandparents in Barville. Paternal grandfather well-known wrestler; maternal grandparents from mining community. WF’s father miner after army service until early retirement, training officer in mine training centre; now 82 and hospitalized. WF’s mother died 1963 leaving 15 year old WF and 2 younger sisters. Recalled family hardships, his accident; mother’s discovery of his deafness and father buying him hearing aid. Described relationship with sisters, June in Armadale and other a teacher in Lancaster. [08:04] Worked in Broxborough 1974 and met Margaret; married 1981. MF had hysterectomy when young so no children. WF reflected on this and her ability to cope with his deafness; good steady relationship. [11:03] Recalled school, passing 11 plus exams to attend Lyndsey High School, Bargate. Recounted events after his accident, effects on class work, loss of confidence and changing personality. Described accident and immediate results. [16:38] Detailed employment history, leaving school at 15 (1962) to work at cooperative grocery; communications with customers difficult because of deafness. Worked at brickworks until 1974; very hard manually. Finally storeman at Halls meat processing factory, Broxborough for 22 years; very noisy place, but left for knee replacement surgery. Many friends but none understood his deafness. [20:21] Football player until 3 cartilage operations. Keen darts player. Started bowling 1994/5, winning medals and representing Scotland in disabled bowling 2001. Holiday with MF to Germany celebrating 25th wedding anniversary. Childhood holidays at school camp, Aberfoyle and family seaside daytrips to Portobello, Burntisland and Ayr. Protestant, member of St John’s Church, Bargate, West Lothian. Expressed doubts about politics though votes. [25:52] Described isolation and loneliness of being deafened and life since having hearing dog (HD) and Hearing Concern LINK (HCL). Detailed health concerns including diabetes and operations for varicose veins and blood clots; side effects of deafness: ear discharge, dizzy spells and severe tinnitus. [31:50] Attitudes of medical staff mixed; doctors lacking deaf awareness but excellent audiologists at St John’s Hospital. Referred to own voluntary audiology work for WRVS (Women’s Royal Voluntary Service). Commented on problem of lengthy waiting lists for treatment referral. [36:05] Described his NHS and private hearing aids and profound hearing loss. Doubtful about cochlear implants because of other medical problems including Warfarin medication. [40:11] Spoke of (HD) Dougal from 1999 and how life changed: Joined Deaf Connections, Glasgow; enrolled on computer course achieving Word Processing Certificates I and II; joined Hearing Concern LINK (HCL); gives talks on HDs with Dougal locally, West Lothian and through central Scotland. Intensive programme with HCL 2005. [45:50] Attends lip reading since 1994; Hard of Hearing Club; beginners course Sign Language; finger spelling. Mentioned mobile phones, BT speed phone (Typetalk) and emails, enthusing about subtitling and Kings Theatre captioned performances. [52:22] Recalled hard early years being deafened, little help and not being included; of ‘bluffing’. Now more confident in communicating disability. [58:17] Spoke of relationship with MF; despite opposite personalities, they get on well and she accepts him as he is. Discussed earnings and pension; also DLA (Disability Living Allowance) and car via Motability. [01:03:02] Described attending adult basic education classes, winning award 2005, involvement in DVD and 2 group awards; also deaf support group Friends of Adult Basic Education (FABE) participation. Concerned at cost of Sign Language classes though had a grant. Enrolled for Level 1 Sign Language, with further grant; course cancelled but found alternative class, Deans High School. [01:07:00] Detailed volunteer work at St Johns Hospital and talks for HDs. Recalled interview with Lorna McNae for HCL; accepted for 3 day intensive programme; successfully applied to be HCL volunteer, gaining confidence, information and ability. Sponsored diet (2006) with MF for HCL raised £200. [01:10:59] Expressed views on access in theatres and restaurants and misconceptions about HDs and assistance dogs. Stressed need for deafened awareness and knowledge of Disability Discrimination Act. [01:14:38] Cited transport problem with aggressive bus driver and Dougal; sent formal letter of complaint to Bus Manager, resulting in successful change of rules. Also cited problems with station tannoys being unheard by deafened people and confusing physically disabled. [01:19:33] Spoke again of work with deaf support group and mentioned visit to Donaldsons School for the Deaf; Council backed forum for disabled people meeting at Ability Centre in Livingston; also FABE and Bargate Committee. Expressed enthusiasm for 'Unheard Voices' and HCL; keen to help improve life for disabled people though content with his own.
Interviewed for the project 'Unhead Voices: Interviews With Deafened People', conducted by Hearing Link in 2008 and 2009 in partnership with the British Library, and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.