Judge and Jury – The Reality!

keaton-behind-bars-varietyAfter the frivolities of sex last week it is back to more serious topics. Yesterday I met with the Juries Commissioner in Melbourne to discuss the issue of juries and access for deaf people. It was an interesting conversation and we touched upon many topics. In Australia, as suggested by Paul in response to the earlier article Judge and Jury, the sticking point is the issue of the 13th person in the jury.

It is not only interpreters that are a 13th person.  A person who is a carer for someone who is a quadriplegic is also considered to be a 13th person. Legally any person in a jury room, participating 0r otherwise, is seen to have influence on the jury. A decision of a jury, under the law, must involve only 12 people. There must not be any influence from outside people. The Juries Commission are working on the issue and trying to find a way around it. As it stands at present the Judges of the courts are standing firm.

It may seem unfair, minor even silly but it got me thinking about the impartiality of an interpreter in any situation. By chance yesterday I bumped into an interpreter and we had a brief discussion of my meeting with the Juries Commissioner . The interpreter, a very experienced NAATI level III interpreter, admitted that in any situation there was potential to misinterpret not only what is being said but also the mood of the speaker. She mentioned that it is possible to interpret a speakers emotion as angry when, in fact, they are only being firm and assertive. In a court situation this could influence the feelings and deliberations of the deaf juror or in the case where the deaf person is on trial, the jury as a whole.

I had a bit of a google on interpreters and juries.  I came across a transcript of an interview by Damain Carrick on the Law Report, ABC Radio. The interview touched on being a person in a foreign country. Perhaps an English speaking  person has been caught with drugs or alcohol in an Arabic country. They will be tried in the court of the country they are in. Interpreting the language of the country is fraught with danger.  In the interview it was explained that Arabic does not have a word for toes. A rough translation of toes into Arabic would be fingers of my feet.  A bizarre example, I am aware, but it made me think of similar situations of translating English to Auslan and visa-versa.

What follows is an example of a translation gone wrong that was also provided in the same ABC interview “‘I only saw the little blade that, I mean like, like, it was shiny, that’s all and that’. That’s a translation of the original, and the interpreter says ‘I just saw the shiny blade of the knife’ Think about this. What was said originally was something along the lines of,   – “I saw something shiny, and very small that MIGHT have been a knife.” Yet the interpreter has said that the blade of  knife was CLEARLY seen. This is very different from what the speaker actually meant and would give the impression that a knife was definitely seen when in fact it was not. To make things more complicated I have given my own interpretation of the original. I would hazard a guess that ten people would provide 10 different interpretations.

BUT whatever interpretation is provided it can clearly influence the individuals thought process. In the situation above the interpreter was an indigenous language interpreter. The indigenous language interpreter has provided an inaccurate interpretation. Imagine that there is a deaf juror and they receive this inaccurate interpretation in sign language. When the time comes to decide guilty or not guilty whose thoughts are being provided by the deaf juror. Are their thoughts their own or have they been influenced by a poor interpretation from the interpreter. Clearly 13 people are at work and not 12.

Perhaps that is just the way the cookie crumbles BUT when a decision has to be made as to whether a person is guilty that could lead to life in prison who has the greater right. The deaf person that wants to take part in the jury or the person on trial? Clearly the sensibilities of the deaf juror that may be offended by their exclusion are insignificant in comparison to the person facing life in prison.

The other side of the coin is the deaf person who is on trial. What happens if the interpreter gets what they are saying wrong? What if they portray the wrong emotion or provide an inaccurate English translation. Do we abort the trial? Or do we continue.? We can argue that if deaf people must run the gauntlet of being misinterpreted when on trial then equally they should be able to stand on a jury if they so decide.

It is not an easy dilemma to deal with. It is very complicated with a million shades of grey. The interpreter may also not be familiar with legal strategies, styles of questioning, types of responses required and so on.  It is really a legal and ethical quagmire. To the credit of the Juries Commissioner in Melbourne he is trying to find a way forward. For us the deaf and the disabled we need to step down from our high horse a little and consider all the ramifications involved.

Being Turned On – Sex and the Deaf! (with hearing people)

light-bulb-424I have been doing The Rebuttal now for two and a half years. I have written about many different topics. Families, human development, a particular money wasting CEO, language, children, sport, ranting – somehow I find something to write about. I was chatting with a friend a few nights back and I told him that one day I was bound to run out of things to write about. He said, “Nah, there is always something.”

He was right in a way. But to date I have taken basically the same themes and written about them in different ways. Some of these have been interesting and have generated a great deal of discussion. Others that I thought were really relevant generated no discussion. Possibly because everyone agreed with them or possibly because the writing put the reader to sleep,  probably the latter. But the question remains what else can I write about?

Well there is SEX. I have not touched on SEX.  I am British and sex does funny things to British people. More so than any other nation I think. I was brought up on a diet of Benny Hill, Dick Emery, The Two Ronnies and the Carry On movies. There was actually a stage play called No Sex Please We Are British. No one pokes fun at sex more than the British because no-one is more uncomfortable with sex than the British and it is how they cope.  And no one copes with sex worse than the British. My favourite British scene from a comedy is Monty Pythons the Meaning of Life. Who can forget the Catholics across the road dropping babies at will because the Pope wont let them use contraception and the Protestants neighbours complaining about the number of children that the Catholics had. The dialogue goes something like this:

Protestant husband: Those Catholics they breed like rabbits. Thirty years we have been married and we only have two children.

Protestant Wife: Yes dear but we only had sex twice.

And that pretty much sums up the British and sex.

But what about the deaf and sex. Is it worth writing about?

Before sex there is pre-sex. Not foreplay but finding someone to have sex with. As a young whipper snipper I liked chasing skirt, so to speak. It was the highlight of my week to get into the bar and chase the skirt. Of course being deaf chasing the skirt is essentially different.  I could  have limited my self solely to the Deaf community but, hey, there are lots of fish in the sea.

Pubs and nightclubs are loud and not conductive to hearing well with hearing aids. They also make it difficult to talk because they are so loud it is hard to monitor ones voice and be understood. The answer for me was to be DEAF and as DEAF as possible. I never went without paper and pen. I loved going to bars with deaf mates because we could sign and signing in the middle of the bar is a great way to get attention.

There were nights where the hunt was unsuccessful and there were nights when it was successful. More nights not successful than successful but I guess that’s essential otherwise it would tend to become boring. That was my reasoning anyway. You have to boost your self-esteem somehow. When I was successful it was often awkward. Why? Because hearing people, most of them, indeed most people generally, like having sex in the dark. Maybe it is because humans in general are embarrassed about their bodies. The media promotes the perfect body, rippling muscles and silicon pumped breast. Very few of us can compete. The answer is – do it in the dark!

Usually the scene is at some woman’s flat or house. I still lived with mum and dad so that was a no go zone. There would be more wine had, perhaps pizza, coffee a bit of sofa fun and inevitably you would end up in the bed. If you are deaf and about to have sex with someone for the first time you can, if you want, leave your hearing aids on. Many deaf will chose to leave their aids on rather than suffering with the embarrassment of fumbling to take them off.  Hearing aids are a bit like underwear, the last part to go and usually taken of hesitantly and self consciously.

BUT they can sometimes ruin the ambiance.  Sex is exercise and inevitably you sweat. At the crucial moment WEEEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOEEEEEEOOOOO and I guarantee any hearing person who knows nothing about hearing aids and their tendency to whistle at the wrong moment will quickly flick on the bedside lamp and want to know, “What the hell is that?” Cue the heavy breathing. “pant ppant .. just my hhhhearing aaiid.”

Then of course you have partners who like the ears. They like to nibble the ear or slosh their tongues about in the ear. A rubber ear mould and electronic device is not really conductive for this sort of sport. On goes the light and the red faced partner will apologise,  “What ever was I thinking, I am so so sorry”  One particularly keen partner  after tasting rubber (in my ear) did this and then asked if I would, “Like some music to set the mood again.”  More apologies ensued and I think we gave up about that time and decided that sleep was the best option.

And of course you have to communicate during sex. “Not there“, “That hurts“, “Oh yes” – all of these little communication tricks tell us whether we are doing the right things. You can hardly switch on the light every time you want to say something so that your partner can lipread you.  A purely fictional, comical with an element of truth scene might go something like this:

Light on:  I like that

Action resume for five minutes:

Light on: Can you do what you were doing again

Action resumes for five minutes:

Light on: Do we have any condoms

It pays to work out the communication strategies beforehand, but hey its spontaneous. What do you do?:

Now before we start if you like something tug my left ear. If you don’t pat me twice on the head. If your ready two tugs ..

It doesn’t work like that! But hell we work it out somehow. I know I did, lots of times.

So there you have it.  The Rebuttal’s first ever soft porn article. Well really I think its a valid social comment. Being British it was quite hard to write but I hope the reader does not take offence and can, like me, see the funny side.

Why Big Ears are Important.

earsAs a young man, yes I am becoming old, I met a man at the NSW Deaf Society. He was a counsellor and a small d deaf man. Whether he could sign at the time I can not remember but he probably had a smattering of signing. My signing was nothing to write home about at the time and many would say it still isn’t. Anyway the man, Graham was his name, was giving me some advice about employment and study options. This was 1983 just after I had finished high school. I had just spent three weeks chasing the skirt successfully in Queensland as a reward for completing my schooling.

In 1983 Graham still wore the old wire and box hearing aids. I, at the time, was still reluctant to wear any hearing aids. It was not cool, I was 18 and had a lot of growing up to do. We talked about this and that, being a Social Worker, being a teacher, how he had coped at university all the usual career stuff. I cant remember why, but he decided to call someone in Queensland about me. This was before the days of the NRS. He picked up the phone, dialed and put the ear-set part of the phone to his belt. What he was doing was putting the ear-set to the microphone of his box hearing aid that was attached to his belt. I was puzzled and amused at the time but he carried out a fluent conversation on the phone in this way.

This is not really what this article is about. But looking back Graham had great influence on me. Here was a guy that was using every means possible to him to communicate. He didn’t care how odd it looked or what was required, he just wanted to communicate. In later years when I became a deaf professional I was fortunate to come across Graham again.

At the time I was doing a research project. The project focused on identifying factors that impacted on the development of positive mental health in young deaf people. As I did the research I came across a brilliant concept that had been developed by Graham called  The Communication Cycle.  I have looked this up on the Internet to no avail so I will describe it from memory. Attribute this to Graham Weir.

One needs to imagine communication in the environment. Communication is happening all the time. People communicate to us directly, they ask questions, they tell us what happened to them through the day, they express happiness, sadness, teach us, praise us and the list goes on. All of this we take in and it contributes to what we learn, helps with our language development and overall understanding of the world.

Now sometimes we are involved in communication passively. We are just listening. ( Assume we are all hearing for the purpose of this.) In the back ground mum and dad are chatting or arguing. Brother and sister are gossiping and television is blaring the news out.  Next door the neighbours are yelling at each other. At school we are listening to different people talk about a multitude of things. Driving places the radio is on talking about sex, drugs, sport or whatever. Perhaps at child care  a child is playing in the sand and talking to him or herself in imaginary play and we hear this. At the dinner table the family chats away covering a multitude of topics. All day long we partake in this passive communication and it fills our brain with knowledge and language.

There are thousands of avenues of communication that we “overhear”. We then discuss what we have “overheard” with family and friends. The child will ask mum or dad what the man was talking about on the radio, what certain words mean, why, what for and so on. Things will be heard at school and shared, other people learn from these things. Concepts and ideas that are “overheard” are discussed and expanded on. In this way our knowledge and our language is constantly being developed in a cyclic way. It’s influenced by family, friends and the media. We are involved, listening and sharing and our brain is being filled.  It’s a constant cycle of communication. It never stays still. It is always revolving and being shared. This, wholly from my memory, was the Communication Cycle that Graham described. He had charts for it that made it very clear. I can only hope that I have done it justice.

Now back to the deaf. If you are a young child who can not hear and has little access to communication, what does this mean in terms of the Communication Cycle? Given that the Communication Cycle is what constantly feeds our development  what happens if you get a flat tyre, so to speak. How does this impact on the child’s development? Well clearly missing out on “overhearing” the myriad of things that go on around you means a lot of important learning and developmental opportunities are being missed.

The most obvious impact is that the child does not learn as much. Because the child does not learn as much the child does not mature at the same rate. How often do you hear that deaf children, and even adults are immature compared to their peers. This happens for a reason, it happens because the child simply does not have the same access to information and language as do hearing people, simply because they miss out on “overhearing.”

The deaf child at 15, not having been privy to conversations of their hearing peers about developing relationships with the opposite sex, about sex, about adult concepts and so on is often not yet ready to deal with these adult issues. They certainly feel them through their hormones but as for making sense of these issues, well that’s a different kettle of fish.

There is an old joke about a boy from a rural area who attended school in the city. His peers were talking about Jane having a f**k with Joe. the boy is reminiscing about the experience. “Hell” he says,  “.. at 13 I thought a f**k was something my dad did when he hit his thumb with a hammer.”  Mildly funny but a truism for many young deaf people who enter adolescence with often delayed language and concept development.

As part of my study into mental health and young deaf kids I observed some deaf kids in the school playground. These kids were mainstreamed into hearing schools. I noticed that there were five distinct types of students.

  • The quiet withdrawn deaf kids. – They generally sat on their own in the playground. When asked why they would either shrug, cite being bullied, say their deafness embarrassed them or say that communication was too hard so they sit alone.
  • The dominating deaf kids. – These deaf kids are the clowns. They do all the talking. They jump on people and make a lot of noise. They do this to control the situation. If they are the centre of attention and doing all the talking, presumably they feel in control. They don’t have or don’t want to hear or listen to others as this will highlight their deafness. The consequence is that they are seen as a pest or as having behavioural issues.
  • The pretenders – These kids hang around the groups. They watch conversations. Laugh on cue. Nod their heads when everyone seems to be agreeing. Occasionally they add to the conversation and often their contribution is something way off topic. The group sees these people as annoying, sometimes bully them or simply tolerate them.
  • The smotherers – These deaf kids find a VICTIM. The VICTIM is usually someone who they can lipread well or understand well. They follow this person everywhere. Badger this person for information about what is happening in the group. They rarely talk to anyone else except the VICTIM. What happens is the VICTIM often will get fed up and begin to avoid the deaf kid. When this happens the deaf kid will often seek another VICTIM.
  • The well adapted – Fortunately there are some deaf kids who are very well adapted. They are confident communicators, clarify when necessary. Often they seek a smaller group of friends but have well adapted skills to ensure they get good access to information.

My observations were not happy viewing. Not surprisingly many deaf kids had huge issues with confidence and self esteem. Part of the problem is that many of these kids get very limited access to the Communication Cycle as described by Graham Weir. The conversations they have are often stilted and dependent on people meeting their specific communication needs. They do not have the same access to “overhearing” or access to the media. Many have literacy issues so that even access to print media is limited. The lack of access impacts on their knowledge, their social maturity, their academic achievement and ultimately their confidence. Long term it can lead to severe mental health issues such as depression.

It is depressing stuff and not for the light hearted. It is not rocket science what is happening yet still we, as a society, are obsessed with teaching kids to hear and speak. Now hearing and speaking are much needed skills, I wont deny that. Yet to me it is clear that for solid development a child needs access to the complex and never ending communication that is going on around them.  Parents and professionals need to know what the Communication Cycle is and realise how important it is that deaf kids get access to it. Deaf kids are never going to hear everything so it is important that simple things like dinner conversations are structured to include the deaf kid and let them know what is going on. It is important that they realise that the media is a wealth of information. Captioned TV is a must. Taking time to explain whats been said on the radio, if it is on, can help immensely. These are all simple and effective strategies but really only touch on the surface as to what needs to be done.

Yes it is hard and complicated work, but so important for a deaf kids development. Hearing and speaking is just a small part of the equation. Access to information, ability to express and understand abstract concepts are another. Hearing and speaking are not enough. Families need help to establish dynamics that will facilitate their kids involvement. Sign language is not just a tool to help kids that don’t learn speech well but a language base for receiving and expressing information, often in a way that speech  and hearing can not.

I guarantee that if you discuss the Communication Cycle with parents of deaf kids that most will not know what you are talking about. They will never have heard of it. They will not realise its importance. The mistake our society makes is to work with deaf kids in isolation, hoping that improved hearing and technology will miraculously facilitate everything. Hours spent learning to speak are hours spent outside of the Communication Cycle.

Support for deaf kids and their families needs to change radically and accessing the Communication Cycle is what it should be based on. How, doesnt matter, it is the access which is crucial.

Judge and Jury

judgeI was summoned to Jury duty. Being deaf I had the right to withdraw. But being Gary I decided that I wanted the experience (I have a big grin as I write that) Anyway I rang the courts through the relay service. Even before I had said anything through the relay service the court register said, “You can withdraw and anyway it is not possible for a deaf person to do jury duty”, or words to that effect. I asked why not and the register said, “Because we don’t have the facilities to meet your needs.”

Anyway I said that they could book captions or sign language interpreters and that doing so was easy. I said something along the lines that it was my right as a civilian to be able to participate in Jury duty if I so chose. This was enough for the register, obviously a junior, to handball me to the senior. He asked how the senior  could call me back and I said for him to give me the number so I could call him. Too often you give numbers and they never call back and this is what I do to ensure that they do not fob me off. (Imagine me with another big grin) The junior then said that he would transfer me to the senior – quite why he could not do that in the first place I do not know. Of course I was having immense fun and wish I could have seen the juniors face at the other end as we communicated. At the same time I had some friends open on MSN and was copying and pasting the convo for their amusement.  (Imagine me with an enormous grin)

Anyway the senior came on the line and the change was instant. He said it was no problem and asked what he needed to do. I gave him the interpreter booking contacts etc and within minutes he had actually contacted the service to try and secure a booking. As it turned out, because the notice was short (I received the jury  letter while away for work) the shortage of interpreters meant that it was unlikely that the required number of level 3 interpreters could be secured for all the days required.

I have since emailed the register and withdrawn and thanked him for his prompt action and willingness to give it a go. I have requested that he allow me to meet him so that we can discuss the issue in more detail and so that I can inform him of the options and the processs etc.

It got me thinking that this is an area that many people who are deaaf who are disabled are probably being denied opportunities. It is certainly true that some will not want to do jury duty and it is equally true that some more adventerous souls like me will be more than interested in participating as is my right.

In the scheme of things this does not seem a big deal but if I were to be the accused or a defendent you can bet your bottom dollar that interpreters would be organised or captions would be organised  IF requested. If not requested I shudder to think what would happen.

There are, of course, other issues for the courts beyond dury duty. Like what happens if interpreters are provided or captions for a deaf defendant and the deaf person has poor literacy and language development. I am sure there are similar situations for the disabled. I was at a talk about learning disabilities recently where the speaker pointed out that you can almost pick which people with learning disabilities will end up in jail by grade three and commented on the huge number of people with some form of disability or other who are in jail.

So apart from jury duty we would appear to have an enormous issue on our hands. While we are concentrating on what I call the BLUE RIBBON issues like interpreters, captioning, building access etc etc this is an area that does not get a lot of attention.

I wonder if this is something we need to pick up and discuss and see what can be done.  Certainly while we concentrate on the Blue Ribbon issues we allow a lot to slip under the radar.

A Question of Priorities – By Marnie Kerridge

pamphletThis is a story that is all too common among families of deaf children, especially if they live in the country. It is the story of a deaf child denied access to language until the age of 5. It is a story of parents ignored by the system. Thankfully in this story the child, now 8 years old, learns to sign competently, develops good speech with the help of her cochlear implant and is now becoming immersed into school and family life. Mum is thrilled but still angry at the suffering she and her daughter had to go through. She is angry at the 5 years that were lost and can never be recovered. All because of an early intervention teacher who felt that a hearing and speaking existence was the only life worth living and for whom signing was primitive and an acceptance of defeat.

Last night I was talking to the mother. It was her birthday. Her new man asked for her hand in marriage. He is a wonderful man, totally accepting of the child’s deafness and is learning to sign. It was one of her happiest nights. She was emotional and in a very reflective mood.

Mum spoke of her difficulty in learning Auslan. Being in the country, there are no Auslan courses available apart from local community classes. To access an in-depth course where one could learn every day, she would have to travel to the city. She is increasingly frustrated that her rate of learning is slow and that her daughter has surpassed her. She knows this is wrong. She should be able to communicate effectively and fluently with her daughter. She has some home support but it is not enough. She is grateful for this support but she needs more for her daughter and for her family.

I work with her daughter and have been privileged to be able to assist and watch the growth in the daughter’s language, both signing and speech.. Mum will move heaven and earth to help her daughter. She even considered giving up work for two years to study Auslan. As a single mother she would have thrown herself and her two children into poverty so it was not an option. Emails sent by myself and the mother to TAFEs and deaf organisations to explore support options went largely unanswered. The mother is still fighting hard and this inspires me to try even harder.

In Sweden, apparently, parents of deaf children are paid by the government to leave work and to learn sign language. In fact, I believe, it is mandatory. How fortunate and blessed are those children having parents who are encouraged to and can communicate with them. We operate on a different social services system here but there must be a better way to support families of deaf children to attain fluency in Auslan! The needs of these families is far greater than people from the community who attended a community course and think Auslan is a cool thing to learn. Yes, few of these people do go on to become interpreters but surely the priority should be the families.

Perhaps we need a deaf organisation that looks after families to develop a scholarship that covers the cost of TAFE fees and materials. It is not quite on the level of Sweden but would help immensely. Perhaps TAFEs and universities should provide their courses for free for families of deaf children or the government meet the cost. Wishful thinking says you, but the University of Ballarat offered free learning for those who enrol in a Childcare Diploma course. Surely the needs of the families of deaf children are of equal importance if not greater. It is a question of priorities.

We need to explore and use technology better. Video conferencing would enable country parents to learn Auslan. Enough of the excuses that Video Conferencing is not three dimensional and that a two dimensional picture can not be used to teach Auslan. I am a qualified teacher with qualifications to teach Auslan and think this argument is utter rubbish. Video-conferencing is here – USE IT.

Make it financially possible for the parent to travel and meet their basic right to communicate fluently with their deaf children. Enough talk. Let’s do it now. Long term this is a win. The deaf child MUST have fluent and effective communication in the home. The parent is the major language role model for the child. Without fluent and successful communication in the home the deaf child is majorly disadvantaged. Open and fluent communication with the family is the major factor to developing a child, deaf or otherwise, who is confident and assured.

Are you listening? This child is fortunately improving daily. She could so easily have been without language and without a future. How many deaf kids do we have to lose before the message hits home?!

John Maynard Keynes – Friend of the Deaf!

imageJohn Maynard Keynes was a British economist. So good was he that most of the world’s capitalist economies operate on the principles that he developed. He was not deaf. As far as I know had no deaf kids. He was not involved with deaf people. He probably never donated a cent of his wealth to the deaf either, most likely because he, like us, abhorred the bosses using fundraising for everything except what it was supposed to be used for. He may have had a quaint old deaf auntie some where in outer Scotland but apart from that had no involvement with the deaf whatsoever. Why then, is he a friend of the deaf. (And probably every other disadvantaged group that ever existed. )

Now because I am in the mood to be very clever and bore people I will explain Keynesian economic theory. It is a simple theory that like most theories is made complicated by the use of un-needed jargon. In a nutshell the theory advises people to spend and to spend big. The gist of this advice is that if you spend others benefit. The shop keepers, the car sellers, the electronic goods people and so on. These people, in turn, spend the money they earn and others benefit. If people stop spending business goes broke, unemployment happens and poverty can follow.

Keynes, if my memory of economics at school serves me right, advocated that in times of economic downturn governments should spend big on infrastructure. Build roads, hospitals schools and so on. By doing so this gets people into work and they then spend their money and the money starts going around the economy. Business revives and the economy goes into up turn.

Now Keynes also advocated the paying of unemployment benefits to the unemployed. Keynes was at his best during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. His theory was that paying unemployment benefits meant that the unemployed could then buy food, clothes and other essentials. This again put money in the system and helped to get the economy on even keel. Keynes never saw the unemployed as a COST. To him they were something to be invested in. By investing in the unemployed they basically became an asset rather than a burden that relied on charity. Not unlike many in the esteemed deaf charity sector promote us – A burden that NEED help.

Of course this is a very simplified version of Keynesian economic theory. There are a multitude of factors that come into play. But the gist of it is – spend and thou shall reap and others too. But why does this make Keynes a friend of the deaf and other disadvantaged people?

It is simple really. Society always calls the deaf, the disabled and the disadvantaged a COST. I did a google on the cost of disability the results were predictable and sad. There are 25 500 000 articles on the web that focus on the cost of disability. Some of these are about how much a persons disability can cost them but most focus on the cost of disability to society. Governments will proudly boast of their generosity. “NEW PROGRAM TO PROVIDE HEARING AIDS WILL COST $X BILLION AND DEMOSTRATES THE GOVERMENTS COMMITTMENT TO PROVIDE FOR DISABILITY”  This is not a real headline but is typical of how the government promote help for the disabled and the idea that they are a cost.

Now when the governments talk about supporting big business they use entirely different language. Let’s use Nigeria as an example. A heading on the web screams “Nigeria needs $30 Billion investment in gas and infrastructure.” In Australia it is “Government invests in Kiwi Rail“, “Government Invests in Solar” and so on. Nowhere will you find “Government invests in disability”   Why? because society sees disability as a COST and a burden that they are required to support. Helping the disabled is WELFARE – it is not business.

And here is why Keynes is a friend of the deaf and other disadvantaged groups. Deaf organisations and deaf people need to stop begging. They need to stop promoting themselves as charities and promote themselves as BUSINESS and a business that can put big money into the Australian economy. Not a business that asks for money for those poor little kiddies that cant hear and then spends the money donated on a car park out the back. But as a business that puts serious money into the economy.

Deafness Forum Australia is fond of saying One in Six Australians have a hearing loss. Do the sums. That’s something like four million people. That’s four million people that need technology, a large number of kids that need education programs that employs teachers,  a large number of people that want to learn Auslan, that buy Auslan dictionaries, fill the pockets of TAFE and employs Auslan teachers. DO THE SUMS. It’s huge. But how is deafness, and indeed all disability promoted? Well we tug the emotions, “Oh woe is me – please give.” Pictures of sad little children and isolated adults that smile at our warm hearted gratitude. The gullible public donates and their money is then spent on worthless conferences and jet-setting executives.

Listen to Keynes I say. Get cold hearted and ruthless. Point out the cold hard fact that DISABILITY makes money, creates jobs and puts billions of dollars into the economy. Denounce the charities and learn about Keynes. He is the new friend of the deaf and our key to taking control.