The couple’s daughter who is named Hazel had her sign name, which reads “UbOtDDstarL” finally added to her birth certificate. Their campaign to have this done started four years ago when Hazel was still an infant. Her parents underwent nine months of legal campaigning to achieve success. They have overturned the Register Office’s decision denying the inclusion of BSL on her birth certificate, which is an official document.
Hazel’s parents, theatre director Paula Garfield and Tomato Lichy are from Wembley in North London. They have wanted to record her name in BSL but the local Brent Register Office told them that it was not possible. They argued that there was no way for them to translate her sentiment into a written form. Hazel’s sign name in BSL was like that because the first expression she made was a smile.
According to Garfield they consulted first with a linguist before working with a solicitor who told them that the Register Office allows people to have their name registered in their own language legally. BSL is a recognized language in the United Kingdom, and as such the Register Office had no recourse but have their original decision reversed.
This is not the first time that the couple tried to include a sign name for their child. Their first-born, Molly, is also deaf but when they were turned down the first time, they did not pursue it. Likewise, Lichy had his name legally changed from Tom to Tomato because for him the latter was stronger and more visual.
Hazel’s unusual name
According to a British Deaf Association spokesperson, a sign name is usually based on a characteristic. With the symbols that were used to create Hazel’s sign name, it might be because the little girl smiles a lot. Garfield and Lichy are part of the Deaf Community in the UK.
Names are not spelled with a sequence of letter in sign language but through a series of symbols. In Hazel’s name, the symbol is an O shaped by the thumb and finger, which opens into an L-shape.
To fully understand Hazel’s sign name, UbOtDDstarL, it goes like this:
• U is meant to represent the chin.
• bO is equivalent to “baby O” signed with the thumb and the forefinger.
• tD translates to “hands facing the signer.”
• Dstar meant “the hand shape opens.”
• L demonstrates the shape of the hand.
When this is done in a continuous series of movements, the signer makes the shape of a small O near the chin, then the hand opens to form into the shape on an L.
The deaf couple whose two children are deaf could not be happier with the Register Office’s decision. Although they had to fight and wait for a long time, their efforts were not put to waste. Garfield was also grateful to Lichy who came up with the idea.