Road Kill

I am a South Australian. My career in Deafness started there at, the then, Royal South Australian Deaf Society. It was a fantastic place to work. The friendships I made there last til this day. Hell, I nearly married the receptionist there! I have nothing but fond memories of the place and often yearn for those care free days when I was an aspiring social worker out to make my mark.

People have been emailing me about the place lately. It seems there are a few unhappy people in South Australia who, like me, remember what the Royal South Australian Deaf Society once was. One wag has emailed me and said that the place has become an embodiment of ROAD KILL. He urged me to check out the website, so I did. And there, right before me, was a picture of Road Kill.

Not so much an animal, but an insect. On my screen was the new logo. The Royal South Australian Deaf Society is no more. Its name was changed some time ago to Deaf SA by an administration that brought the place to its knees. It is now known as Deaf Can Do and its logo is a butterfly. One that looks incredibly like it has been squashed on a car windscreen. Take a look yourself at this link.

I guess it is a matter of opinion, but the butterfly looks as if it has been squashed and is oozing yellow goo. The yellow goo is supposed to be the map of South Australia. My friend, the wag, believes it is Road Kill – And I am sorry to say I have to agree.

Road Kill aside there seems to be some disenchantment with the changes that have happened to the dear old Deaf Society. I am told, via email, that there is a core of people who find the logo childish. That it makes this once proud organisation seem like a page out of Winnie the Poo. They feel the identity of the organisations has been changed without consultation with the Deaf Community. They feel pushed aside and ignored. The affinity that they once felt for the organisation has been destroyed. I am sure that Deaf Can Do will dispute this strongly, but nevertheless these are the sentiments being expressed to me.

This is one view. The other view is that the logo and name change is fresh and professional. The name CAN DO has apparently been researched and is a viewed as a positive name likely to attract funds. Fundraising, of course, is incredibly competitive. The new fresh logo and name change will help the organisation be noticed and promote positive vibes. It is a release from the negative recent past, a new start.

There is another more sinister argument. This argument states that the Royal South Australian Deaf Society has been taken over. A few years ago Townsend House, also known as Can Do 4 Kids, rescued the Deaf Society from what seemed like certain closure. There was an uproar then. A fear that that the iconic home of the Deaf Community, building 262, would be sold and the Deaf Society swallowed up in Townsend House.

The community were told, at that time, not to worry. Townsend House only wanted to help. The relationship between the Deaf Society and Townsend House was a partnership, a sharing of resources and talent. Building 262, they said, would never be sold. The SA Deaf Community, on being told this, breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Yet now the Deaf Society has a new name Deaf Can Do, incredibly similar to the name Can Do 4 Kids. The butterfly that is now the logo for Deaf Can Do was apparently stolen from the top of the little girl that makes up the logo of CanDo4Kids. True, it’s a very different butterfly. It’s alive for a start.

Everything seems to be aligned to CanDo4Kids. Have we witnessed a bloodless coup? Have we witnessed a silent takeover despite assurances that the Deaf Society would remain independent? Only time will tell.

People have written into me and asked me to write something about this. I have encouraged them to write something themselves and promised to publish it in The Rebuttal. Some can’t because of who they are, some wont because they fear backlash, some wont because they are all talk and no action – Whispering in the background achieves nothing so I have chosen to publicise what people are saying, but not willing to own.

The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding. The new name and logo may turn out to be a resounding success. Butterflies are deaf after all, especially dead one.

It may well be the powers that be are positioning themselves to take over the Deaf Society. They will argue that it is not financially viable, they will argue that a streamlined administration and fundraising department will decrease competition and provide more much needed fundraising. Whatever they argue though, you can bet the Deaf community will be passive bystanders, not knowing what is going on or what is happening because no one is telling them and worse, no one is asking them what they want.

All I can say is be alert and ask plenty of questions.  You might not get any answers, but don’t be caught off guard as you were the last time Building 262 nearly hit the dust!