Dame Evelyn Elisabeth Ann Glennie CH DBE is a Scottish virtuoso percussionist. She has been profoundly deaf since the age of 12 and taught herself to hear with parts of the body.
“As a profoundly deaf person I prefer to determine my own level of disability rather than others determining or categorising me. Where I can I have made changes to help me live and work as fluently as possible. I would class myself as a serious person and I actively seek out solutions. I tend to shy away from technology but I have been grateful for Fax machines which allowed a great sense of independence, skype and text. My early education and interest in music has enabled me to find ways around traditional hearing and I have benefited in ways I could not have imagined. Although I cannot hear I have learned to listen and to pick up on communication cues I might not otherwise have learned, you might think of this as a type of ‘reading between the lines’.
As part of my work I am patron to many organisations who work tirelessly towards improving the lives of thousands who are disabled in varying degrees – I am truly astounded by their amazing achievements. I see the benefits of empowering disability through understanding limits and enhancing abilities.”
Q) What we at Disability Talk are really trying to determine is whether people in the UK are currently more aware, more compassionate and more understanding about the disabled in our society .. or not!
“I witness many things as I travel around the world and the UK. I often feel disability lies not with the disabled but more with the persons, authorities and wider community who are NOT listening to those who need to be heard. That said I also witness and receive a great deal of compassion, kindness, help and understanding. I feel therefore the balance is improving but still has some considerable way to go. Integration and inclusion is key from a young age. Education as regard to the mechanics of how the body functions is also important but ultimately it is everyday listening which is a form of compassion that requires constant nurturing.”
Q) We read regularly about hate crime, austerity, selfishness and a general lack of sympathy .. but what we don’t hear about so much are the thousands and thousands of acts of kindness that happen everyday.
I am deeply concerned about the level of crime in general and whilst I understand news is a primary focus of the media world it does feel as if our news channels are fixated on reporting negatives rather than positives. It could simply be that acts of kindness don’t often warrant reward in the same way acts of crime requires punishment. A kindness can be fleeting or regular or monumental and whilst we do not seem to witness recognition on a daily basis I know from personal experience there is a tangible acknowledgement when we gift our time, a helping hand etc. which is far more meaningful than seeing a report in the newspapers or in the media. Perhaps the large social media companies such as Facebook or Google could look into developing acts of kindness channels for us all to contribute to and witness just how much life is really good!”
Q) Which of the above (selfish or kindhearted) do you think most accurately reflect modern-day Britain?
“Modern day Britain may seem as though we are transfixed on our departure from Europe but everyday Britain can be full of fun and helpful people so I would say in general we are kinder, happier and more helpful than we think.”