Izolda Machavariani, 59, Telavi

“After finishing school, I wanted to enroll in a dental college, but the college was not adapted for the deaf and hard of hearing people in Georgia. There was one in Russia, but I was already married and I could not travel there. Later, I learned how to sew and I could teach sewing in the school for the deaf, however the teachers in that school were all with hearing and, for this and other reasons, I couldn’t secure a job there.

There is a Club of the Union of the Deaf in Telavi. I asked for a separate room there so that I could teach the sign language. Even the deaf need to learn the sign language. I mean, they do not know the words and they do need some work. It is necessary to have the right resources to help these people but I lack such resources. I took my own TV to the club so that the deaf and hard of hearing people could watch it with the help of an interpreter. Without TV, people do not receive any kind of information. We had already asked the social service and they had promised to visit us, but there was no sign of them for one whole year…

I also want to say a few words about the attitude we find in medical institutions. When I have an appointment with a doctor I receive quite a rude and indifferent treatment. They’re like: “What?! What did you say?! I don’t understand you!..” There is total lack of manners, basic ethics to treat us like human at least. Sometimes doctors even lie that were are not their patients and forward us to someone else so that they can get rid of us.

My bitter recollection is a meeting with majoritarian MP candidates. I asked questions but I was ignored, then they told me outright to be quiet and let the Kists talk. I was furious and demanded that they hear me out and only then move to other problems. I want to make a statement myself, not to have others make it for me. They did look sheepish then…. The overall situation has somewhat changed since then. However, we went to the City Hall a few times and they did not even listen to us. I am ready to speak with everyone but I don’t see equal readiness on anyone’s part. There is a misconception in the society that if a person is deaf, this person is also stupid and unable to do anything.

Women who are hard of hearing face even bigger threats when they go out. If they become victims of violence, they won’t be able to shout, so the risk is high. For this reason, we would usually go out two or three together to protect each other. I have experienced not physical but verbal abuse, but as they saw that I could protect myself, they left me alone. Then again, I’ve heard about many hard of hearing women being physically abused in the streets. Good thing that 112 was recently adapted and we can call it ourselves now. I still think that our efforts make a difference and that we must keep fighting.”