Deaconess Adedoyin Beyioku-Alase, fondly called Mama Deaf is a native of Ogun State. However she was born in Lagos state and had her primary and secondary education in Lagos state. Deaconness Beyioku-Alase was the distinguished lecturer of the year 2017 at Gallaudet University, Washington D.C., New York, USA. She is a veteran leader and has several awards to her credit.

JOURNEY INTO DEAFNESS
At about 19 years of age in the year 1974, I took ill. I had high fever and went to a private hospital for treatment. As part of the treatment, I was given injection. I immediately felt dizzy and began experiencing noise in my ears – a condition called tinnitus. I gradually lost my hearing ability therefrom. I reported the development at a General hospital and I was placed on an injection daily for twenty days. However, I couldn’t regain my hearing ability. I underwent an audiological test to assess the deafness.

Following the development, we visited different places from native doctors to churches to Alfas searching for cure. However, all efforts proved abortive. I persisted searching for a miracle because I found it very difficult to accept the deafness. The deafness made me shy and withdraw from people for the fear of being found out. In my lone world, I discovered the pleasure of reading and I built on it. I began lip-reading for communication purpose. Gradually, I adjusted into my silent world and continued with my life.
I ventured into different trades and achieved success at it. I got married and gave birth to four children. However, my first born who is a male child became deaf at about three years of age through measles infection. Till that time, I still did not know anything about deaf education or sign language. I thought it was only myself and my son that are deaf in Nigeria. So, I enrolled my Deaf son at a regular school for his primary and secondary education and he did well regardless of his deafness. It was much later that I met Mrs Bose Dahunsi, who introduced me to sign language and first taught me sign language. She later introduced me to Apostolic Faith Church, a church that has sign language unit for Deaf members. There, I improved on my sign language skill. My Deaf son was to later attend Federal College of Education (Special), Oyo, and came across sign language too. I, together with my son, taught our family members sign language and this eased off communication burden between hearing members of the family and we the Deaf members. And even between I and my Deaf son.

Later in life, I committed myself to promoting the rights of people with disability. I was trained as a social worker by the Lagos State Ministry of Sport and Social Services. I am the founder and National President of Deaf Women Association of Nigeria (DWAN). I hold several other leadership positions, some of which are; immediate Past Chairperson of Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD Lagos), Vice Chairperson, Disability Policy and Advocacy lnitiative. Access ability Model of Sweden and National Human Rights Commission, Abuja. I am an immediate past member, board of trustees of Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs (LASODA). National Women Leader of APC Disabled Support Group.

1 COMMENT

  1. Bernice, you’re doing an outstanding job. It’s a fine story. I appreciate the
    chance to read it. You know, I have been following this Deaf Profile issues with keen interest for long, and I’m so grateful for all the beautiful stories of Deaf folks on this site. I’m glad that the Deaf community in Nigeria has found someone who has earned the right to hear our story, We all need to tell it.

    As a storyteller and researcher, I know a good bit about the transformative
    power of story. Story is about worthiness and embracing the imperfections that bring us courage, compassion, and connection. I understand the relief it brings to people who worked up the courage to open up their heart and share their experience—rather than keep it locked up while it festers and grows—consuming us in the process. But why should we be afraid that people won’t like us if they know the truth about who we are, where we come from, what we believe, or how much we’re struggling?

    However, like a lot of us, the events and circumstances that bordered the adventof our deafness are extraordinary—sort of like life and death situation. That is hard. It’s so hard to relive these stories of our struggles. I’m glad we have somebody to share it with. because our stories are not meant for everyone.

    Thank you for being a friend who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging,
    Dr. Brene Brown, in her book The Gift of Imperfection, writes, “Shame loses
    power when it is spoken. In this way, we need to cultivate our story to let go of shame, and we need to develop shame resilience in order to cultivate our story.”

    We are gonna keep telling it.

    Please, keep the ball rolling, Bernice.

    Cheers!

    Raji Ade Oba

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