That AD Again!

Like a dog to a bone I can not leave this one alone.  A couple of deaf friends have contacted me asking for a transcript of the THAT AD – I have pasted a transcript below this paragraph. The first part is the Voice Over of the signing version provided by the young lad .. The second part is a transcript of what he speaks.

Female voice over: (Boy Signing) Not so long ago the only way a deaf person like myself could really communicate was to sign – like this. Now there is a better way, a way everyone can easily understand …

Boy: (Now speaking) We talk! Cora Barclay Centre taught me to listen and then to talk, just like they have with 100’s of other deaf people. Now mum says I talk too much,  isn’t that great.

End of voice – cut to Cora Barclay graphic.

Picture this in your mind. Nice friendly looking lad with a mop of curly hair. Starts signing and then speaks. He apparently does not have any trace of a deaf accent – His speech is good and normal. I am told he has an appealing little lisp. This, apparently, adds to the lads charm.

But here is the rub – the spoken translation of the signed version only has a passing resemblance to what the lad actually signs. So things have been reversed. If I can be so bold and perhaps a little cruel, the lad signs with a “hearing accent”  Given he speaks so well we should not expect perfection should we? After all sign language is a lesser and ineffectual means of communicating isn’t it?

To give the reader an understanding of what the boy actually signs I have typed a literal translation below:

Literal English translation of boys signing.

A long time ago/ Historically/  In the Past (Tick which you prefer) only way deaf person like me can communicate date sign language. Today/Now better way. Way/Give (sign not clear) we can cheek one more.

Roughly, without the choices, we can translate what the boy signs to:

Historically only way deaf person like me can communicate date sign language. Today better way, we can cheek one more.

Sadly I am not trying to be funny. This is what the lad signed to my eye. Auslan is my second language so I welcome other interpretations that contradict my own. Either way the signing is terrible and the person that trained the poor lad to sign it needs to go back and do an Auslan or even Signed English beginners class.

Apologies to the lad who unfortunately finds himself, through no fault of his own, the centre of all this. If there is one positive, it is that he is obviously intelligent, has excellent language development and is happy for it. We can not ask for more except that the Cora Barclay Centre not use children to mislead the public.

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21 thoughts on “That AD Again!

  1. That is appalling…if that were attempted in the United States the outcry would expose the advertiser to a degree they could never be credible again.

    Using a hearing child to get across the fallacy that a deaf child could be taught to speak in a hearing child’s voice and therefore “not need sign language” as if it was a crutch! This will be difficult to get out of the heads of unknowing hearing people.

  2. I am on my iPhone, so this will be short. I used to be a student at Cora barclay, and I speak much like the boy in the advert despite being profoundly deaf from birth. it is annoying to see American style capital D deaf politics make its way to Adelaide. The advert is correct, you are wrong.

  3. Stephen. I dont know whether to laugh or cry at your comment. How many deaf people have you met who have not succeeded as u have wth total oral instruction. Have you seen them struggle with literacy, unable to fill out basic forms.

    Have you seen them remain on Govt benefits all their life. Never owning a home. Only ever existing on the basics and being denied opportunities simply through poor language development.

    Have you met the ones so isolated abd lonely because they are ubable to communicate with either hearing or deaf peers. Have you attended funerals for those so called successful oral people who speak well but can not bear the lonliness associated with SPEAKING well but understanding little of what goes on around them – socially, at work or home.

    Nothing, my friend, is as it seems. The simplicity and sensationalism that the Ad conveys is as damaging as it is misleading. You seem an intelligent guy – look deeper.

  4. I know how that line of argument works. Even though you’re making emotive arguments that also have counter-examples, the gambit is to make me respond on those points.

    I have a more interesting consideration.

    I find that there are people who prefer to be big fish in smaller ponds, and many of the advocate positions are filled by people who are hearing, ex-hearing, or not so profoundly deaf. It becomes part of their mantra to affirm and re-affirm membership in a community, rather than analysing situations with the viewpoint of what is best for individuals.

    Like all adverts, the simplified version of the message is broadcast to convey a message within a few seconds. Or do you think that buying a bottle of Coke will result in you jumping out of planes and windsurfing down to a bubbly finish?

    Regardless, a lot of people really enoy Coke, and a lot of people have really benefited from some level of integration into a wider society. Over-application of any ideology results in damage rather than benefit. Even drinking water.

  5. I am sorry Stephen but that makes no sense at all. People use emotive arguments because it is emotive. Oliver Sacks described deafness and a preventable form of intellectual disability. This is what happens when a child is not given access to language. Some like yourself are lucky to develop good spoken language and cope very well but many do not. This is why these short and misleading Ads are so damaging and insulting.

    A Deaf child is not a bottle of Coke .. the comparison is insulting and a little disturbing. A human and their future is not a marketing toy to make money with, especially when the consequences are so severe. Emotive – YES – but thats the way it is.

  6. The advert is conveying the message that some significant numbers of children will benefit from the approach used at the Cora Barclay.

    Try ringing up the school and ask them some questions. If you find that they quickly and willingly explain that not all students will do as well, and how they handle those situations. Do they have a quick referral to other schools? Do they have other forms of education?

    If the result is that all students are assessed and matched to their educational needs, the situations you describe would not be so prevalent. There are many schools who teach whatever children they get with whatever methods they’re using.

    From what I’ve seen at the Cora Barclay, as it has changed since I was there, is that the teachers use sign language to support some of the students. So is the school advert really the problem, or just a springboard for Deaf politics?

  7. Sigh. No editing on here.

    Try ringing up the school and ask them some questions. If you find that they quickly and willingly explain that not all students will do as well, then how do they handle those situations? Do they have a quick referral to other schools? Do they have other forms of education?

  8. Yes Stephen but the image stays with the viewer. No matter what the school says the damage has beeb done. The implication that sign language is primitive and not equal to speech is particularly offensive and for the watcher who knows little it’s not a fair or accurate portrayal.

    But debate is good so keep your views coming.

  9. The point Stephen, is that Cora Barclay Centre is deliberately using a negative image of deafness to fundraise [being emotive, appealing to parents sense of horror that their child is not normal, or won’t be normal….unless they do this… whatever it is that oral deaf orgs suggest they do].

    It basically panders to those who are ignorant of Deaf identity and Deaf culture and sign language. It appeals to the medical/ disability model of deafness, because that is the one that gets them the money. It is also the one that is most familiar.

    More than this, it is playing exclusion politics, if you like. Encouraging the idea that to be normal is to be hearing and vice versa, and anything else is not.

    Seriously Cora Barclay Centre should be ashamed of themselves for pandering to such ignorance and prejudice! The masses are not gonna ring to ask questions that the ad poses. They are gonna take it on face value, and that’s how advertising works [well part of it]….

    Gary is right, this image will be the one that lingers long after the dust has settled. And once Cora Barclay get the money, are they gonna then use it to promote a positive image of deafness?

  10. All it is, is very successful advertising. In a few short seconds, an indelible impression is created in the viewer’s mind. Any parent of a newly identified deaf child, or someone who knows one, is likely to grab at this information and follow through. Good, bad, right, wrong, accurate, inaccurate is beside the point. Effective ads are precisely designed to grab one’s emotions and induce physiological reactions in whatever way possible. Ads of scantily clad, jiggly women sell beer and many other things. Rugged outdoorsmen and horses sell nicotine products. Sophisticated, urbane young people sell alcohol. Why be upset at the advertisement? The people who created it did their jobs well. It’s the viewer’s job to be responsible consumers and not take advertisements as gospel truth.

  11. Furthermore, any Deaf or deaf person that fails to acquire good speech or oral skills, is deemed a failure, and thereby discarded to the sidelines. Any Deaf or deaf person who is not mainstreamed, is discarded to the sidelines..as objects to be pitied.

    That’s frigging murder!

    And advertising is not all it is anonymous. The point of advertising is not just to sell a good, thing or object. Advertising is also employed to sell ideas of ways of thinking.

    Ideally, people would question the ad, but the reality is, a lot of poeople don’t, and that is what an ad like cora, cora orallies inc. depends on.. the mass stupor of the audience!

  12. If you want to hold this up as an example of slick advertising one could actually hold it up as false advertising. Technically it is breaking the law.

    Imagine what would happen if one out of every five bottles of Coke tasted crap but Coke claimed they were all the same or implied they were. Hell would break lose.

    Doesnt cut it – sorry. Especially the portrayal of Auslan. (Which incidently wasnt accurate either.)

  13. whoa, Tony — carrying a little bit of emotional baggage, aren’t we? I think it’s a safe bet that few people in the general populace will perceive that ad through your particular world-view filter. And I would venture to guess that a great many more people think teaching the deaf to talk and listen is a grand idea. The creators of the ad have absolutely no obligation to be ethical, to educate, or tell all sides of the story. You’d never see a Coke ad saying “by the way, Pepsi is pretty good too!” They didn’t get paid to say Auslan saves the lives of deaf children. They got paid to say Cora Oralies will teach deaf kids to talk and listen. If you paid them to, they’d probably do just as beautiful a job for Auslan as they would for Cora Oralies. That’s the whole point. Ads and ad agencies are whores. They’d say anything you want them to say for money.

  14. Anonymous – Its not the Ad agency at fault it’s the people that let the Ad run in the first place. The Ad agency does what it is told the organisation that let the Ads run is the one that needs the ethical obligation.

    Cora Barclay and Hear and Say have been around a long time. They must have known the uproar it would cause. Possibly they wanted that to happen anyway to bring more attention to themselves. In a sense we may just be pawns for them to play with.

    I agree with a lot of what you say but it doesnt make the Ads and the conduct of the organisations anymore acceptable.

  15. Yet you guys advertise your own position by “killing” genocidally.

    Sure, it’s understood that it’s a metaphorical allusion. Just like adverts only showing the best students. If you had an Auslan deaf school, I’m sure you’d be picking a good looking one with very eloquent gestures rather than the ugly one who is inarticulate.

    I don’t think this is about the Cora Barclay. If you wanted to maximise the relevance of your arguments, you’d be targeting the worst schools rather than just the local oral one. You’re picking your targets for ideological reasons, specifically that they have a method of education that you disagree with.

    I know there are other schools, public ones, that pay lip service to signing and yet have far worse outcomes with poor results. You should be directing your outrage towards those places to achieve the most effective improvements.

    But hey, attacking your own isn’t the best way to affirm your Deaf membership.

  16. The genocide argument is relevant Stephen if you consider that doctors are trying to wipe out deafness and all disabilities through gene mapping.

    Genocide is probably overly emotive but the fact is that once you start saying another form of existence.. be it deaf, blind or whatever is of less value than so called Non Disabled people then you are on rocky ground. Having said that there are a fair number of people with very severe and painful disabilities who would rather their condition did not exist. It is not a black and white argument so should not be dismissed offhand like you just did.

    You have missed point of the articles entirely. The Cora Barclay Ad is particularely offensive because it clearly says speech is better than sign language. This is like saying English is better than French. It goes back to the missionary days of Cecil Rhodes who tried to convert all the primitives to speak English and accept Christianity because it’s BETTER. (His ulterior motive was to get very rich, gain control and own all of Africa. It has parralels with the people that put out these Ads)

    The argument is not about Cora Barclay but the message the Ads portrays .. a false message .. and the false hope that the Ad will give many parents and people related to deaf children. It is dangerous, damaging and misleading.

    Deaf education as a whole in Australia leaves a lot to be desired – you should not confuse the standard of education with the arguments being put forward against these Ads. I am not anti-oral education but I am anti Oral education be the end all of it. It is far more complicated than that.

    My dream Ad would be two ugly deaf kids, one speaking well and one signing well. Together showing the benefits and equality of sign language and spoken language. I would be equally pissed if some Auslan school put out an Ad of someone speaking terribly and then showing them signing and communicating fluently – thus implying that oral learning will fail your child. This is just as misleading.

    Think deeper. I said this at the start because you are missing the whole point of the debate.

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