Desma Hunts Diaries #8

housewife_weilding_frying_panOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH .. I am just so pent up. I just received an email from my friend Michael. Oh he is such a lovely man. I could have had piece of him in another life .. Alas it is too late.  My hormones aside, his email just made me soooooo angry!

Michael is deaf of course. Like many of us he enjoys the captioned cinema experience. Every week here in Melbourne thousands scan the newspaper for the solitary captioned movie for the week. It is at the Jam Factory and we have just one time, usually on a Sunday. We trek in, drive in, tram  in, train in – whatever takes our fancy. Often we don’t even like the movie but go because its the only one captioned and afterwards we get to have coffee with friends anyway. The movie is often just the excuse for a good old finger wag. But anyway Melbourne is our only choice because none of the suburban cinemas offer captioned movies.

Unlike our hearing peers we do not have hundred’s of movies to chose from. We are limited to just one a week. So imagine how it was for my poor friend Michael who made the trek in to Melbourne to see a movie only to be told that the time advertised in the newspaper was wrong and that the movie with captions had been shown two hours earlier.  I know people who make the trek in from as far as Bendigo which is 150 kms away. I shudder to think of any of these people travelling in for the movie only to be told the movie with captions had been shown two hours earlier because someone messed up the advertising time in the newspaper. Quite rightly Michael was furious and I am furious for him.

To add insult to injury he was told that he could come the next Sunday as there would be another captioned movie. When he pointed out that he was particularly keen to enjoy the movie he had just missed he was told not to worry because it would soon be out on DVD and with captions. When he pointed out that the DVD experience was not quite the same as the cinema they looked at him as if he was a trouble maker. He was offered free tickets which he politely refused. I would have told them where to put their tickets and I tell you it would not have been in the bin and it would have caused great pain!

Michael is not one to take things lying down. He wrote a strongly worded letter to the cinema who laid the blame squarely at the feet of the newspapers for advertising the wrong time and promised to check more diligently in the future that the captioned movies were advertised correctly. AND then AND then, the patronising so and so’s said they had placed his letter on the staff notice board so that staff could better understand his needs. Like the tickets I can think of a better place for it!

I’m Desma Hunt, I’m deaf and I hate IT! (sometimes)

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Deaf Phobias

fearAs a kid just turning 13 you are very self conscious. If you have lost your hearing only in the last few years even more so. Throw in the need to wear hearing aids that make you stand out like a sore thumb and you have a recipe for a very mixed up adolescence. Call it  paranoia or phobia but as a 13 year old I had a very real fear that everyone was talking about me. Not being able to hear them I just assumed that they must be talking about me. I would board the school bus and head straight to the back of the bus. In this way I could see everybody and at least gauge if I was the centre of their interest. If by some reason I was made to stand in the middle of the bus because all seats were taken I would break into a cold sweat. I would fidget and look anxiously over my shoulder every few seconds. I would turn around constantly just to make sure no one was talking about me. Come my stop and I was off the bus in a shot and woe betide anyone in my way. This fear would be the same in any crowd. Even today I prefer small gatherings.

Is it any wonder that deafness is said to have a high incidence of mental health issues. An edition of the American Annals of the Deaf noted that a Dutch study found that 41% of deaf children had significant emotionaland  behavioral issues. This is 2.5 times the rate of the general populace. (Volume 148, Number 5, Spring 2004) There are a multitude off studies that suggest that anxiety and depression are higher among people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Luey, Glass, and Elliot (1995) found that 33% of women and 42% of men showed significant mental health issues .   (http://jdsde.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/12/1/1#SEC2) It is a serious issue. It is not surprising that much of the anxiety is caused from not being able to hear or know what is happening.

Stella (not her real name) spoke to me of her fear of police situations. She has a real fear that one day she will be walking down the street and the police will be calling her from behind. She fears that she will not hear them and will consequently be shot. Stella lost her hearing in her twenties and to her this anxiety is very real. In fact Stella’s fear is not unfounded. I encourage readers to google Deaf man shot by mistake – just enter that into google search and see how many recorded incidence there are. It is frightening.

Paul, (not his real name), told me of his fear of the dark. As a kid, because once the lights went off he couldn’t hear what was going on, he was petrified of the dark. He hated not being able to communicate and not knowing what was happening around him and the dark would trigger a real attack of anxiety in him. He has since grown out of his fear but as a young boy it caused him a great deal of anguish.  Paul is not alone,  Bonnie Tucker in her book, The Feel of Silence, describes this fear brilliantly: ” There must be a special hell for deaf people. A totally dark hell. No burning fires that would allow us to lipread in their dark glow. the most severe form of punishment for a deaf person is to be plunged into eerie darkness. I hate the darkness. I fear the darkness. At dusk I give an involuntary shudder …. “

Adam, one of The Rebuttals esteemed editors, has numerous fears. Phobias or paranoia, Adam had this to say. “Apart from the common held fear of not being able to respond appropriately in an emergency situation due to not being able to hear warnings issued by emergency services, I also have an intense fear of failure due to feeling inadequate as a result of my Deafness. This often results in me being a pedantic perfectionist and over-achiever.  I also have a bit of a social phobia in terms of meeting people for the first time and being anxious that I will not be able to communicate with them sufficiently. I’m also paranoid about losing my mobile phone and not having access to text messages.”

Many of these fears have similar themes – the fear of not being able to communicate or a fear of not knowing. Not knowing what is happening behind or around an individual will give cause to great anxiety.  Adam’s fear of missing alerts was a reality for many deaf Victorians during the recent devastating bush-fires. The not knowing is a catalyst for many fears.  The dark is one thing many deaf people hate. The dark cuts them off from the world. They can not hear who is approaching, they can not lip-read. The dark can totally isolate. Humans are social animals, cut them off in anyway from communication and anxiety will naturally rise. We as deaf people are all too aware of this.

Robert Louis Stevenson advised,  “Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others” well he was wrong because courage often comes with sharing one’s fears. Many deaf people suffer from phobias that are related to their deafness. Many fear sharing these phobias for fear of ridicule. They know it might be irrational but the fears cause a great deal of distress. Perhaps through this forum we can share these phobias and our feelings of paranoia. In doing so we can, perhaps, help others overcome fears that often seem silly but in reality have a great deal of foundation.

“Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.”
— Orison Swett Marden.


Deaf People and the Bushfires

australia_fire_180It has been a devastating week for Australia. First there were the floodsin far north Queensland and then there were the terrible Victorian Bushfires. The Victorian Bushfires are officially Australia’s worst ever natural disaster. Today, the 11th February, the death toll stands at 181 and there is talk that it will increase to over 300. At last count 1033 homes have been burnt down. Countless people have been either directly or indirectly impacted by these fires. Family and friends have died who lived in the path of the fires. People all over Australia have also been affected as they hear news of the loss of relatives and friends. All of us are affected in some way, some unfortunately more than others. Deaf and hard of hearing people have been impacted by these fires. There are confirmed stories of losses of homes. People associated with Deaf and hard of hearing people have lost family and friends. Parents of deaf children have lost their homes. The impact is far and wide. Our thoughts and condolences go to all people affected.

The response from the Deaf community and the Deaf and hearing impaired sector has been heartening. VicDeaf were swift in putting out information for emergency contact and support as were Deafness Forum Australia. Deaf Children Australia has pledged to match any donations raised by staff dollar for dollar. Small organisations such as the Melbourne Deaf Cricket Club are putting on a fundraising BBQ after their match this coming Saturday. Deaf Sports Recreation Victoria is exploring avenues to organise a fundraiser. The response has been outstanding and all should be congratulated.

There is still so much more that can be done. There will be meetings in communities. There may be Deaf people that attend and require interpreting support. VicDeaf are meeting this need free of charge. Perhaps there are hearing impaired people, elderly with a hearing loss who will require communication support. Perhaps Live Remote Captioning using wireless broadband and a laptop can be organised to cater for this need.  Perhaps Red Bee Captioning can offer this, also free of charge. There are many practical things that we can do.

As a community and a sector we could rally round and have a joint fundraising initiative. Perhaps a coordinated Deaf and hard of hearing day for fundraising could be organised and we could all be linked through video conferencing. All we need is to use our imagination. A sector that is so used to ASKING for support can show its strength and give back. In all of this there will be lessons to be learnt. Not only by us, the Deaf and hard of hearing community and sector but also the general community. These fires are without precedent. We have thus far REACTED and the response has been fantastic. We will learn lessons about what we needed to do before and during the event.

In all of this one wonders how people who are Deaf or hearing impaired and who resided in the fire areas coped. One wonders how they heard emergency warnings, if they heard fire alarms, if they heard the fire approaching and what strategies they had in place to deal with such an event. Already we are hearing stories of Deaf people who have been victims of the fires. Families have lost their homes and friends have died. Of course it is not only Deaf and hard of hearing people who faced extra challenges with the fires. The elderly and infirm or people who have physical disabilities would have faced extra challenges too.

Inevitably we will hear stories of these people Deaf, HOH or disabled who got caught in the paths of the fires and could not get out. We will hear of people who received warning too late to save homes or even themselves. It is horrific to think about and one wonders what extra things people who areDeaf or HOH can do to ensure their safety in such circumstances.

I did a brief internet research on fire safety for Deaf and HOH people. There is not a lot to go by. There is an article on the 106 Emergency Relay number and lots of stuff about flashing and vibrating smoke alarms. There isnothing, as far as I can see, about what to do in the case of such a fire as the recent Victorian Bushfires.

Already Premier of Victoria, John Brumby, has spoken of how the communications system broke down. The fires were without precedent. Phone links were destroyed and mobile networks became overloaded. Communications became very challenged and unfortunately many people received no warning. Brumby has discussed the establishment of an SMS type warning system to deal with such emergency situations in the future. This would be of enormous benefit to Deaf and HOH people. It was a lesson learnt, sadly and without blame, only after the event.

The event has made me think deeply about the needs of Deaf and HOH people in an emergency. A number of questions came to mind. Who do you contact for more information? Is there an SMS contact number or a direct TTY number? Is the National Relay Service fast enough or efficient enough to assist any Deaf or HOH person who needs more information about where to go and what is happening? Where is it safe to travel? What roads are blocked? Are Deaf and HOH relying on neighbours to alert them? Do their neighbours even know they need alerting? Do the fire services have a register of those that need alerting? I am no fire expert so I can only hope that these issues have been thought of and considered. I raise these issues not so much to cause alarm but more to explore the issues and strategies that may come into play. I must say that the thought of being a deaf person in the fire situation, not knowing the hell what is going on is scary indeed.

These are the lessons we will learn when the flames recede, the dust settles and the people caught up in the tragedy put their shattered lives back together. For now we can only do the best we can. We at The Rebuttal are proud of the swift response to the tragedy from the Deaf and HOH communities and of course the organisations that make up the Deaf and hard of hearing sector. Again our condolences go to all affected and we give thanks to all that have risen to the challenge this terrible tragedy has caused.

ANYONE WANTING TO DONATE TO THE BUSHFIRE APPEAL CAN DO SO BY CLICKING ON THE LINK IN THE SIDEBAR. THE MELBOURNE DEAF CRICKET CLUB FUNDRAISING INITIATIVE WILL GO DIRECT TO THE CRICKET AUSTRALIA BUSHFIRE APPEAL. DONATE TO THE CRICKET AUSTRALIA APPEAL AND EMAIL THE MELBOURNE DEAF CRICKET CLUB TO LET THEM KLOW YOU WERE INSPIRED BY THEM. THEY CAN ALSO ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR CONTRIBUTION AS PART OF THEIR INITIATIVE. THANKS FOR READING AND THANKS FOR YOUR DONATIONS TOO.

Desma Hunts Diaries #7

cleaningladyI am so proud to be Deaf today. All of us know of the terrible Bushfires in Victoria. It is shocking and many Deaf and hard of hearing people have been affected. Well the Deaf community have shown its strength and compassion. They got together today, four key organisations, small and not rich, all with limited resources to organise a fundraiser this coming Saturday.

It brought tears to my eyes as these little 0rganisations Melbourne Deaf Cricket Club (Who got the ball rolling.) Deaf Sports Recreation Victoria, Deaf Sports Australia and the Victorian Council of Deaf People all got together to arrange a huge bash on Saturday 14th February.  All day they emailed each other and worked their smelly socks off. Money was donated, food was donated lighting donated – They showed just how smart, committed and comapssionate Deaf and HOH people can be.

I cant wait. Im going to get my hair done and my nails done. Its a BBQ so perhaps the little tight black dress will stay in the wardrobe. I wont miss it, the BBQ that is, the dress is another thing. Ill be there with all my little toddlers and all my money and the hubby ( YOU HEAR THAT HUBBY, AND DONT TELL ME – NO I’M DEAF.) Life can be so cruel sometimes and it is great that  we can all help in some way.

If you are in Victoria you simply must must must go to the Bushfire fundraiser. Be proud to be Deaf show them all that we care!

Come and join us at 6.30pm this Saturday. If you dont live in Victoria FLY ON OVER. It’s at Hays Paddock, off Longstaff Street, East Kew around 6.30pm. Please bring your family and friends as all are welcome. There is a huge adventure playground for the kids!

If you cant go but want to help or donate email the Melbourne Deaf Cricket Club – melbdeafcc@hotmail.com

I am sure all donations and support will be appreciated. See you all there duckies!!

It Could be Australia! No Wait! It is!

brown460The recent posts from Paul Bartlett and the article and The Strange Deaf and HI Sector in Australia have generated some fascinating comments. The interesting thing has been the attitude towards the British RNID by many Deaf people. It really has so many similarities with Australia it is uncanny. You can imagine CEOs in respective Australian and British  organisations reading this and thinking that it is just Tall Poppy Syndrome. That because they are successful people want to knock them down. Indeed I once heard a CEO respond to critics by saying that the criticism was not valid and that it was just Tall Poppy Syndrome. And in doing so dismiss his critics as insubstantial.

In an effort to understand the situation in Britain I decided to do some research into their biggest organisation RNID – Which I presume stands for Royal Institute of the Deaf but have since been told by a wag that it stands for Really Not Interested In Deaf. It gives one an idea of the hostility that some Deaf people feel towards RNID. In my research I came accross a fascinating Blog, Fintan Ramblings that has revealing article about RNID, at least from a Deaf perspective.

It seems the RNID have set themselves up as the Say SO organisation for the Deaf. Apparently according to the Finnan Blog they have promoted themselves as the centre of expertise in British Sign Language (BSL). This is despite being led by hearing people that can’t sign. When the British government recognised BSL as an official language there was a certain amount of funding available to educate the public about BSL.  No doubt this included BSL tuition. Deaf groups, led by Deaf people – who naturally own the language- were keen to get this funding to raise awareness in the general public. They even asked the RNID that they (RNID) not apply for this funding as it would be better off controlled by Deaf people. RNID apparently ignored this request and competed for the funding against the Deaf led groups.

As much as one million pounds was up for grabs, approx Australian  $2, 247, 552.16 (Don’t you just love online currency converters.) Quite rightly the very people that owned the language wanted to be the people that controlled the funding that was targeted to promote that language. Typically and disrespectfully their request was ignored by a rich and arrogant organisation, in this case RNID.

Fintan is very vocal about this issue. Here is a selection of direct quotes from the Blog.

“We don’t want to see ‘Deaf Pounds’ going straight into the pockets of the RNID’s fat cats.”

“SLOW TO ADVOCATE FOR POSITIVE CHANGE BUT QUICK TO TAKE RESOURCES AWAY FROM THE PEOPLE.”

And my very favourite:

“Their Chief Executive is hearing which sends a clear message to Deaf People and the wider world that they (deaf people) are not capable of running their organisation. Deaf people say that they are ready and willing to take over the organisation and work with the disability movement for concrete change. If they seriously want to advise the government on employing deaf people they could start with themselves.”

The big beef that the Deaf community have with RNID is that they apparently showed no interest in the campaign to officially recognise BSL as a language. It is alleged that they offered little or no support to the Deaf community to lobby for the recognition of BSL. YET, when it became apparent that there was money in it RNID were all over the topic and promoted themselves as the experts in BSL. They showed no respect and no support for the views of the Deaf community. To my Australian readers I bet this all sounds very familiar.

Remember the Deaflympics in Melbourne in 2005. Lobbied for and achieved by Deaf people. Funding obtained from Federal and State level by Deaf people. In the end who headed the organising committees. Hearing people at both CEO and Chair level. What did this show? It showed that hearing people had no faith in Deaf people to organise the show themselves. Hmmmmm, perhaps RNID were advising them.

How many Deaf people do we have running Deaf organisations in Australia? … Just 1, not including Deaf Australia. They cant even give this guy the title of CEO, he is a “General Manager” Who won the recent position for Deputy CEO that allegedly offered $150 000 in salary? Not a Deaf person I can tell you. Do they have faith in Deaf people to run these organisations.? Well their actions clearly say no. Doesn’t this all sound so familiar? It could be RNID!

What about the recent tender in Queensland to provide Auslan teaching to Queensland schools. For those that don’t know the Queensland Government offered $30 million over the next 5 years to introduce Auslan to their schools. Deaf Australia won the tender and thankfully so. But who were they competing against? I will let you guess, suffice to say that in this case it was not RNID. That Deaf Australia  won the tender is good news for Deaf people because it shows faith in having Deaf run Deaf organisations control what they own, in this case Auslan. That they had to compete against organisations that already have enough money and for something that is rightfully theirs is mind boggling. Deaf Dollars for Deaf people not the fat cats – Sound familiar! It could be RNID.

“We call on the RNID to get our of out lives.”

Fintan is aggressive and angry. Judging by some  recent responses to articles on here there are many in Britain who feel the same. Yet RNID continues to ignore and disregard the views of Deaf people. In Australia we have a very similar situation but our Deaf community is passive. It does not speak out and challenge our organisations in the same way as the British Deaf community do RNID. Perhaps we need to be more vocal, perhaps we need to stand up and be counted.  If we don’t and end up with policy like the Auslan for Employment Scheme, a blatant attempt to get Interpreting dollars rather than support the needs of Deaf people, we only have ourselves to blame.

Stand up and be counted or suffer the consequences. And oh! By the way, there are certain people that are Deaf in Deaf advocacy that try to wear two hats .. I am all for partnerships but advocates need to be impartial, if you cant do that because your boss is on the other side, make a choice! It can only be one or the other!


The Strange Deaf and HI Sector in Australia

forehead-slapAustralia has a really bizarre Deaf and hearing impaired sector. Within it there are some fabulous, skilled and talented people. It is unfortunate that the sector has a whole seems to find ways of appointing the strangest people to lead it. These stories will make you cringe. I, for fear of legal action, have modified these stories somewhat. But make no mistake – these things happened.

A few years back  I was part of a selection panel. The panel had to choose the head of the organisation. We interviewed three possible candidates. We had agreed when interviewing these candidates that Auslan, while important, came second to the ability to manage the organisation. We argued that it would be a prerequisite that the new boss learn Auslan and be able to converse in it after a set amount of time. At the end of the interviews there was one clear winner. A woman that had led several disability organisations and who had been in charge of government department budgets of several million dollars. She was a clear cut, hands down winner. But what we did not factor into the process was the fickleness of certain people within the panel. The applicant made one mistake. She professed to not understanding the opposition of the Deaf community to the Cochlear Implant. She did however say she was looking forward to finding out.

This was like a Red Rag to a bull for two Deaf members. That was it, despite obvious skills they had decided that anyone that did not understand the issues about the Cochlear Implant was not suitable. They further decided that despite agreeing to interview candidates that could not sign that they would now no longer consider the applicants that couldn’t sign. Effectively they had decided who they wanted even before the interviews because there was only one candidate who could sign.  Suddenly one panel member withdrew his vote saying that as he was not an active member of the Deaf community he didn’t feel he could vote. This meant the vote went from 3 to 2 in the woman’s favour to 2 all. I argued vehemently in favour of the woman, pointing out that  we had agreed that we would consider people that couldn’t sign and that the woman was far and away the best candidate in terms of leadership and overall skills.  The Two Deaf panel members didn’t care. They wanted someone who could sign and that was it. But worse was to follow.

The chair of the panel, who was a Child of a Deaf Adult (CODA) suddenly wavered. From being fully in favour of the woman she suddenly changed tack. “I have a Deaf mother.”, she said, ” .. and if I chose someone that cant sign I will never be able to look her in the eye.” After much debate somehow the panel contrived too pick the candidate that had finished bottom of the initial vote, who had minimal experience AND who could not sign either. The one candidate that could sign and who had more experience than the eventual winner missed out too. Quite how the panel came to the decision I will never know. I refused to back down but was eventually out-voted. The successful candidate lasted little over 12 months in the job. BIZARRE!

I was part of another committee that advised the government on issues of importance. The committee was formed of different people from different backgrounds. A mother of a deaf child wanted to join the committee. Before appointing her the head of the organisation advised the committee that the woman was a bit of a hot head and to proceed with caution. We took his advice but decided to appoint the mother anyway.

A few weeks later we had to consider the nomination of another person. The Head of the organisation waxed lyrical about this candidate.  He told the committee that the candidate was professional, experienced, committed  etc etc. “A must for the committee”,  he said.  We, the committee, were pleased with this nomination too and dutifully appointed her. There was one objection. This being the mother that we had appointed earlier. “I wouldn’t appoint her.” she said, ” But its up to you.”

It became clear very early in this episode that there was a certain amount of animosity between these two new appointees. Quite why I did not know but it soon all became clear.  At the time there was a high profile court case going on. The head of the organisation had neglected to advise us that the two new nominees were part of the court case and one had had to give evidence against the other. The committee often discussed the case and it was often argued that we should make a statement on the case that advocated pro choice.

When I found out that we had nominated two new members in such circumstances I flipped, and that is putting it mildly. “How on earth”, I moaned, “.. were we to function when two members were involved in such a tension filled situation.”  I pointed out that the head of the organisation had also appeared to favour one candidate over another and in doing so demonstrated his bias when he needed to be neutral. We had often discussed the case and what possible action the committee might take to bring attention to some of the issues that the case was about. “How can we do this now”, I said,  “…with two people who are actively involved in the case.”  I was told not to worry, that if this occurred the two would be asked to leave the room. This solution totally missed the point concerning the legal ramifications for having two people on the same committee, on opposing sides of the court case and on a committee that by its very nature had to remain neutral. I pointed out that if I had known all the details from the start I would have nominated neither of the candidates as it made the committee almost unworkable.  I resigned soon after. BIZARRE! (I later found out that there were actually three people on the committee who were involved in the case – BIZARRE!)

There are multitude of stories like this. Take the cringingly embarrassing fundraising campaign where a poster was approved to promote it. The poster had drawings of finger spelling on it that said HOW TO SAY I LOVE YOU. Underneath this statement was the drawing of two hands removing money from a wallet thus implying that you could buy love. Or the president who received a complaint  of misbehavior of one of his staff and brushed it off by calling the staff harmless and just overly tactile which, he said, “.. is acceptable among Deaf people.” (No the staff person was not deaf.) Or the Annual General Meeting of one organisation that tried to fill its quorum by phoning people on the night to ask if they would be proxies and allegedly paying the membership of one that might have been unfinancial without the persons permission. Under the constitution proxies needed to be received two weeks prior. Bizarre and sometimes illegal behaviour goes on.

It happens, its out there. It reminds us all that we need to be diligent for unless we hold these people accountable they will continue to make a mockery of us and the system. Stand up and be counted!

DEAF SERVICES AND CEOs – A FEW WORDS FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE; By Paul Bartlett

plantThis article is in response to several pieces that have appeared in The Rebuttal regarding the leadership of deaf charities. I can empathise with those who think that CEOs of charities are paid too much but would like the opportunity to tell the story from the other side of the fence. I am a Deaf CEO of a medium sized charity in the UK providing support to deaf people. If my salary were converted to Aussie dollars it would not reach six figures, but to justify what I earn, however much it is, I need to show the Board that I can:

· Sustain and increase the value of contracts secured

· Sustain and increase the amount of unrestricted income (fundraising and non-project funds)

· Ensuring that all staff perform their jobs efficiently

· Ensuring that all policies, operating regulations and quality marks are complied with

· Ensuring that all insurance requirements are complied with

· Ensuring all funder requirements are complied with

· Ensuring the overall efficiency of the organisation

· Developing and managing the annual budget and ensuring spending is in line with annual requirements

· Develop business and strategic plans for the organisation

· Grab opportunities that come your way

· Lead the organisation forward – staff and the Board

· Develop and sustain excellent relationships with all stakeholders

· Solving problems on the fly however large or small

· Ensuring your knowledge of issues directly and indirectly affecting your organisation is thorough and up to date (i.e. charity and company law, deafness, HR, the economy, government strategies etc)

· Communicate with all stakeholders including government representatives

· Ability to recruit the right people

The list goes on. A successful CEO must have all these attributes and more – to be blunt it is a demanding job and the incumbent needs to be a highly skilled individual. A poor CEO or one who does not have most of these attributes will surely fail. It is no easy task keeping a charity going – what is stopping funders from pulling out and awarding contracts to someone else? The CEO needs to be on his/her toes at all times and must not allow the charity to stagnate.

The past 3 years have been very draining for me personally but I am proud of my achievements – at the end of the next financial year, if all goes well, my charity will have doubled its income in only 4 years plus paying off a £250,000 overall deficit. It is extremely satisfying to see the organisation where it is today and I have plans for the future. If the charity tripled its income I would expect my salary to triple – this is a no-brainer – after all it was me who made this happen. But as a good employer I would ensure that high performance staff received some sort of reward – perhaps a promotion or a pay rise. But there are limits to what I can do. Some staff may do well but may not have the attributes to climb the corporate ladder and this is a quality I can easily identify in my workers. But everyone needs to be treated fairly and some sort of appraisal framework must be in place to ensure fairness and to prevent a staff member raising a grievance or a complaint.

Every cause has an effect and whatever you do, someone else is bound to get hurt. So if my charity triples its income other organisations are going to miss out somewhere along the line. There is only a finite amount of funds in the collective kitty for deaf services and an infinite number of organisation clamouring for a piece of the action. Someone’s gain is someone else’s loss.

Now onto the issue of charities taking over other charities. All I can say that those that “lost” had themselves to blame and it hurts to say this. If the charities that were taken over had been stronger, these “takeovers” probably would never have happened. The number one concern with every charity is money and objectives/principles come second. You need money to run a business (charities are businesses, actually) and principles alone won’t run the business, unless you are prepared to rely wholly on volunteers. So some compromises need to be made. Some charities are very clever with these compromises and some are not.

If a charity allows these compromises to favour business operations then another question needs to be asked – could the charity survive if compromises were made with regard to business operations? If not then the charity as a whole must be flawed and it could possibly find itself in a greatly weakened position.