From the Slums of Mumbaih (Bombay)

disabled

Auslan version, click here

I was visiting my folks on the weekend. I was in Adelaide playing golf and catching up with friends, attending a party and relaxing on the beach drinking good coffee. All was good in the world. My kids played in the sand, cracked jokes and generally charmed everyone in sight. It was just splendid really. Adelaide is my idea of urban Utopia. I took my mother to lunch and shopping at one of the major shopping centres of Adelaide. In one short moment this urban Utopia was shattered, I suddenly found myself in the slums of Mumbaih.

I understand that disability rights in India have improved immensely in recent years. However, I vividly recall seeing a documentary about disability in Asian countries. There was a scene of a young disabled child. The child walked only on his hands dragging his useless legs behind him. He walked on his hands through the slums of Mumbaih. He had a dirty tin cup. He would brandish this at passers by hoping for a hand out. He was dirty and unkempt. It was harrowing to watch.

So here I was in urban Utopia. I was walking through a modern shopping complex. Last week Australians received $900 each as part of the Australian Governments strategy to kick start the economy. The stimulus package they call it. People were out in force spending their $900. I marvelled at the happy faces. In the distance I saw an old friend. He is Deafblind. Years ago I taught him English. He is an intelligent man and he even studied overseas.

As I moved closer I saw that he was sitting down on a beach chair. His white cane was in front of him. In his hand he held a tin cup by the handle. Emblazoned on the cup was the name of one of the major sensory charities in South Australia. My friend cannot see a lot. Neither can he speak. Sign language is his preferred mode of communication, either very close up or tactile. He could sense people walking by him but not really see them.

He was not able to really explain why he was there. So he moved his head from side to side as he sensed people walking by. As he moved his head he waved the cup in a wide ark in front of him. His face was a picture of panic. Not knowing who was around him, just hoping that his movements would attract enough attention for a hand out.

I stopped in my tracks. No more than a few metres from him I knew that he could not see me. I just stared. I was totally transfixed and horrified. This proud and intelligent man had been reduced to a beggar for a charity. His dignity totally shattered. Visions of the disabled boy from Mumbaih and his tin cup flashed in my head. What had they done to this proud human being? In my eyes they had destroyed the last shreds of his dignity.

I beat a hasty retreat. I could not face him. I could not talk to him or say hello even though I had not seen him for several years. I found my mum and my kids enjoying lunch in the food hall. I excused myself on the pretext that I needed to get something for my friend’s birthday. I headed straight outside and sat down on a bench. I was not yet angry just shocked. The anger came much later. As I write this, the vision of my friend waving that cup and moving his head frantically from side to side is still vivid and shocking.

At first I tried to make excuses for the charity. Do not ask me why. Perhaps sub-consciously I did not want to believe that what I had just witnessed was actually happening here in a wealthy country like Australia. I said to myself, “The Government doesn’t fund them enough” – I reasoned that if the Government funded them enough the charity would not be reduced to this sort of begging. I reasoned that my friend, an intelligent man, knew exactly what he was doing, and therefore this made it ok. I reasoned that my friend was paid for the charity work that he did. Not much, but it was a supplement to his pension.

In the end I could only find anger. Anger – that people like my friend could be exploited in this fashion. Anger – that he, through lack of opportunities and through lack of support from successive Governments, had been reduced to a street beggar for a charity. Anger – that this proud and intelligent human being was being viewed as an object of pity by the passing public.Anger -that if I never saw my friend again this would be my last vision of him.

I really wish that I had gone over to say hello. Perhaps by saying hello I could have reassured him that all was ok. Perhaps he would have smiled and felt less isolated and alone. Perhaps by communicating with him the public would have seen that there was more to the man than just a beggar on the street. I did not and I will forever regret that.

This sort of fundraising strategy goes on all over the world. Not just in Australia. People with disabilities protest that they do not want to be promoted as objects of pity. They plead that they be promoted as human beings with hopes and aspirations. They want to be promoted as people who contribute to and enrich society. Very rarely are they listened to. The mighty dollar speaks loud. Human dignity is but a small price to pay.

Oh! – I know that charities need money. I know that they are underfunded by the Government. I know that many provide excellent services and have dedicated staff and require money to sustain this.BUT – Why must we tackle these problems by destroying human dignity? Why must we raise the spectre of suffering, wretched lives and pity just to get a dollar? There has to be a better way.

Years ago I and deaf staff where I worked protested about a poster that was used to raise money through a Radio-thon. All day the radio made announcements imploring the public to donate. The messages were overwhelmingly negative. Poor deaf people living wretched lives, suffering, isolated and lonely. A poster was produced showing finger spelling for HOW TO SAY I LOVE YOU – At the bottom of the poster was the picture of two hands opening a wallet. Say you love me by giving me money. We protested vehemently and were told by the boss that we needed to get over it. We were told that we had a “Holier Than Thou” attitude to fundraising. In short we were dismissed and ignored.

I am not angry now. I am just sad, that in a rich country like Australia, that my friend, an intelligent and dignified person, had been reduced to a beggar for a pittance. I feel shame for Australia and shame for the charity that allowed my friend to be reduced to this sorry state. Thank you for reading and listening – I know that at least some people care.

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38 thoughts on “From the Slums of Mumbaih (Bombay)

  1. Hmmm…how do you know that your friend wasn’t just volunteering his afternoon to collect money for a local charity like any kind-hearted person would do?

  2. Jessica

    He may well have been but the organisation in question have a history of paying deaf people to door knock on their behalf.

    Either way, paid or voluntary, the image portrayed of helplessnes .. Help me … was not good to see and harrowing.

  3. http://www.saltbar.co.uk/2007/05/shooting-from-the-hips/

    This is why I deplore the concept of charities. I am not dissing the charities in general as they are a necessitity in this day and age. However, the day when charities are no longer required is the day worth looking forward to and no one will be subjected to begging. Idealist, yes, feasible – I like to think so – maybe not in my lifetime.

    Gazza, I can understand the anger and, perhaps, disappointment for your fallen comrade? Maybe he chose to do this – who knows! But the fact remains, there are more dignified way of asserting your place in society. I wouldn’t want pity.

  4. Gary,

    Your recent opinion piece in your Rebuttal was one of the worst examples of sensationalism I have ever seen. Don’t ever let facts get in the way of a good story Gary, particularly when the story is a canonisation piece on the author, by the author.

    I have had reason to write to you recently and rebut incorrect facts in a recent article about Deaf CanDo and you haven’t seemed to take head of the need actually present facts that have been proven to be correct in your articles. I offered you the opportunity to publish my previous response to Rebuttal on the proviso that my response was printed ‘unedited’, I assume by the lack of response from you and that the article was not printed that you didn’t care to let your readers know that your article was not based in fact.

    I regard to this opinion piece, you could be referring to one of several organisations in South Australia, however in the interest of stating my known facts, the organisation that I am CEO of, Deaf CanDo has collectors at various locations throughout South Australia.

    Many of these collectors are wonderful volunteers who choose to do this in an effort to generate funds for the charitable purpose and some are self employed contractors who collect funds as part of their employment.

    Once again in the interest of stating facts, Deaf CanDo does not directly employ any paid collectors. However, we do contract another organisation who then engages self-employed collectors to collect on our behalf.

    The volunteers and the self-employed collectors collect money at various locations and at various times. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of these collectors do not have any form of disability, they come from all walks of life and the volunteers do this in the interest of a better outcome for people who need our assistance. however, some of these collectors do have a disability.

    What gives you the right to suggest that people with a disability do not deserve the right to choose what they do with their time?? Are you that arrogant to think that you know better than these people know themselves. Shame on you Gary for your elitist and smug commentary. It not only demeans you but it casts a shadow on the rights of people who have a disability to make their own life choices!

    I have already had several people approach me who think that they have identified that individual and are incensed that you have attempted to demean him and his choice of the way he spends his spare time with your sensationalist position. I am told that you may have also mis-stated the facts, if it is this individual then he doesn’t regard you as a friend at all any more.

    Recently I had a very good meeting with some members of Deaf Australia (SA)and discussed some general issues of mutual concern. In that meeting I discussed some of the issues that Deaf CanDo regards as urgent in the Community in South Australia that we are attempting to put more resources into. Issues such as Mental Health, Aged care support, mentoring, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Domestic Violence and crisis accommodation needs just to mention a few.

    These are the real issues Gary!!!

    These are the areas that you should be investigating and discussing to get the community motivated to action.

    Or you can just keep picking at the low hanging fruit whether it be factual or not. If you want to make a real and positive difference for Deaf and hard of hearing people how about stepping up to the plate and doing some thing meaningful about it rather than throwing rocks at windmills!!

  5. No doubt Paul, but if you cant see it, cant see how it impacts om peoples thinking then we have a problem.

    There is a need to raise funds and also promote and show people with a disability in a positive light.

    In the article i stated that I understood the reasons but using people disabled or otherwise to rattle cans in shopping centres and playing on emotions deliberately or otherwise is something that people with a disability find very very hard to take.

    And if you read the article all the arguments you put forward I considered. I have aright to express it because I work in the field and live it everyday.

    There are better ways to use your volunteers than walking around shops rattling cans. I am sure you could use the volunteers skills and abilities in a multitude of positive ways that could promote deafness and deafblindness in a positive light.

    Think of it Paul – rather than be defensive – think of the damage that such negative images portray .. they portray need, pity, begging – would you like to be protrayed and seen in that way. My own mother walked past the volunteer and said “Poor Thing” – and that is the image that was being portrayed. A POOR THING – and this fund raising activity allowed this to happen. UNACCEPTABLE!

    Well i am sorry the volunteer is not a poor thing, he is a talented and intelligent thing – he is doing what has been offered because little else is being offered to him. What can you offer him! I hope a hell of a lot more than a can to rattle.

    Its not sensational – it is a fact of life – it sucks. There is a better more intelligent way.

    Listen to the people you serve .. there is money, there is image and there is dignity. As much as you need the money it doesnt beat the value of the latter two. WHO ARE YOU THERE FOR? i stand by the article – You have to do better than that!

  6. Paul

    Also your response was not received. We did however receive one from Kevin Jolly the president of Deaf Can Do. This was printed in the latest E edition of The Rebuttal that was distributed on Monday. If you would like a copy let me know.Your rant about being censored is not warranted. We censor no one.

    If you would like ideas as to how to raise money without looking like beggars, without using pity let me know I am pretty sure I know hundreds of Deaf and Deafblind people that would come up with ideas that would be positive fun and inspiring.

    Again, I stand by the story. Emotive was it? Sensational, Dramatic, Tugging at heart strings? Well take a leaf out of your own book.

    Get out there and listen to the people you are supposed to serve. The very people who played such a significant part in establishing the organisation in the first place. They were people that understood the real issues.

    Read the article again. I think you only saw what you wanted. Your response does you and your organisation no credit at all.

    The challenge to you now is to consult with deaf and deafblind people and find positive ways to raise money and promote them in a way they deserve to be seen. Are you up to it? some how I doubt it but will be the first to applaud if you prove me wrong.

  7. “Once again in the interest of stating facts, Deaf CanDo does not directly employ any paid collectors. However, we do contract another organisation who then engages self-employed collectors to collect on our behalf.”

    Did u really say that Mr Flynn. So if contracted organisations employ deaf people, blind people, deafblind people and dump them in shopping centres with no support or back up to rattle cans pitifully it is nothing to do with you cos, well, u only pay for it.

    Good one. Inspires me with confidence no end.

  8. Mr Flynn

    I have known Gary for a number of years. He pulls no punches. I don’t always agree with him but in this case I do 100 percent.

    Gary has presented a case for all to consider. In the pursuit of money we present an image that keeps disabled people in the dark ages.

    Your half baked attempt to defend your organisation is disgusting. To attack this man who lives and breathes the issues is beyond contempt.

    Who are you. A hard working CEO who was what? A banker probably. Someone who has never ever been patrionised, pitied or had to fight the very image that your pathetic charity methods promote.

    Don’t attack a good man like Gary who gives his time to the community through The Rebuttal and I believe several other causes completely free of charge while you collect your six figure salary.

    Listen to him and others like him. Because your response to his article clearly shows you have NFI.

  9. Good Afternoon,
    I debated long and hard about commenting on this article. I debated because I was so incensed by some of the comments and the implications made in them I was unsure if I would be able to articulate my opinions in a manner befitting a public forum.

    It is with careful consideration that I have decided to comment on both Mr. Kerridges article and the comments that followed.

    Let me begin by telling you a bit about myself.
    My name is Colleen; I am a 38 year old married Mom and a Registered Massage Therapist. ….I also happen to have a condition called fibromyalgia. One of the biggest challenges I face in life has little if anything to do with my “disability” it is ….raising two children in a world designed to highlight our differences rather than celebrate our uniqueness.

    As a woman I am blessed to be able to say, for the most part, I have been treated as an equal…prior to my diagnosis,I had occasion to experience a taste of what it’s like to be infantilized and treated as a lesser person, it did little to prepare me for the onslaught of preconceived and damaging beliefs I have faced when people discover I am different from the norm.

    I do not want, need, require desire or request pity. I am tired of indulging individuals who believe my interests are served by their pity. Feeling sorry for me because I am in constant pain to one degree or another for example, does me absolutely no good. Asking me what I need to be able to cope with that pain is, on the other hand, helpful.

    Changing the way someone looks at me…considers me…defines me…. once they find out about my Fibro….is exhausting…I find it causes me to hide in more ways than one. People do that, define me by my condition….and that hurts, not enough to kill my spirit,usually just enough to make me wonder if it’s worth it….worth the struggle, worth expending more of my limited energy in a vain attempt to effect change, one individual at a time.

    Why in order to be seen as a person do I have to disconnect myself from my disability? Why have I allowed myself to contribute to the idea that I am less if I just be who I am regardless of who else values it?

    It is enough to bring tears to my eyes as I write this. And Heaven forbid I be allowed that……I wouldn’t want to be accused of being emotional about THAT part of my life…..casting stones, sensationalizing or doing something that does not quite measure up to another individuals definition of meaningful!

    I would not want an “advocate” who contributes to the myth that I am to be an object of pity….that I am somehow less because of who I am…..we have come a long way in the human rights movement …but we have a good long way to go yet! Oh you protest doesn’t the end justify the means? To answer in one word …NO

    Why? Again, one word….pity! That patronizing attitude that makes individuals feel better…more worthy because they “did something to help those poor disabled people”

    I applaud Mr Kerridge for questioning the motives of any organization that supports the premise that raising money for causes by any means necessary is not only right but applaudable and just. Sometimes fighting for something to change can feel like a never ending struggle with little progress….it is an exhausting journey he has undertaken adn whether we agree or disagree with his opinions, we should support his efforts to bring about positive change.

    I believe Mr Kerridge abhors the attitude and perception conveyed with the charitable fundraising efforts discussed in his article because they promote the view that “those people” are somehow less….these practices contribute to the myth that human differences are inherently tragic.
    Mr Kerridge is not the only one with this opinion…..many protest this often used fundraising approach because it perpetuates and entrenches negative, harmful stereotypes. It contributes to the false notion that we are people who are hopeless, pathetic creatures in need of help in order to become fully human

    Thank you, Mr. Kerridge for consistently and forcefully insisting on challenging the status quo of perception. Without the voices of self-advocating individuals like yourself, I fear that disability awareness and the accompanying changes brought about with that awareness would be very limited indeed. Your voice inspires self-advocating adults who will raise children who refuse to be pigeon holed for the convenience of society.

    In no way do I intend to imply that any group or individual is deliberately trying to cause damage when using these methods of fundraising. I do think they honestly believe they are helping. I do not believe there is any real malice intended on the part of organizations that choose these methods. This is simply a case of many well meaning individuals and groups with flawed ideas and antiquated practices.

    I can see why they still use these tactics…they work. However,it is long past time they acknowledged,that despite the fact that these fundraising techniques are enormously successful in achieving financial goals they are damaging the very people they purport to serve.

    By portraying disability as an “affliction” to be pitied and those who “suffer” from it “victims” and somehow less than “normal” people, it perpetuates harmful stereotypes. Through casual and thoughtless words the people who support these fundraising techniques implicitly endorse the negative.

    What I find utterly fascinating, is what I see as the enormous arrogance expressed by individuals who purport to be advocates of the disabled community. Under the guise of “helping” these people seem to believe that the end justifies ANY means. Regardless of the opinions, feelings and effects their efforts impose on the very people they have agreed to serve.

    Yes, pity sells but does that justify using it to raise funds? Does that justify ignoring the wishes those who are being targeted by the pity who clearly, repeatedly, state that pity undermines their human rights? The social bigotry and ignorance these very organizations are trying to overcome is only reinforced when these particular tactics are employed in fundraising.

    I don’t want to persuade people to give up on charities or fundraising, they are filling a need that our social and economic structure unfortunately does not. I do wish to emphasize that fund raisers in all areas should work to rid their causes of the ways they contribute to perpetuating the harmful myths regarding differences, still so prevalent in the world.

    For organizations that insist on perpetuating fear and pity messages despite the contrary views of the people they claim to serve, an important question to ask might be, what constituency are you really serving? The disabled individuals as you claim, or someone or something else?

    It is long pasttime to shift our focus as a community to the education of our leaders….. It is time those leaders listened, stood up and spoke out. This means leaders and organizations would have to stop relating to each other as people to compete against and instead relate to each other just as people.

    Perhaps, if more time was spent listening, sharing and promoting respect for differences in opinion and identity and less promoting personal opinions and agendas, amongst the leaders of charitable organizations there would be more energy to focus on the very individuals these organizations are supposed to be serving.

    When we as a world community stop labelling each other as “those people” and “that organization” and start believing in “US” change WILL happen. Whatever labels we choose to wear or reject ~ we’re all “us,” afloat in a sea of myths and misunderstanding.

    It is long past time the “they” was set aside for the “we” It is time to instil in ourselves and our children a legacy of pride in our world’s cultures and communities. It is time to celebrate all life and to be proud of our individual identities.

  10. I agree totally with this article and Petra your comments are spot on!

    Just because you ‘pay’ another organisation to do the ‘can shaking’ does not abdicate your organisation of all responsibility. As you can see .. your organisation is being judged on the practices of that contractor and if you continue to contract their services then by default you are condoning those practices as far as I am concerned.

    This takes me back to the fundraising efforts of similar organisations pre International Day of People with a Disability (yes I have been around that long!) and makes me sad indeed to see that things have not changed in all these years.

    I also must state that in my 20 years of working with deafblind people I have yet to come across one deafblind individual who would willingly be placed in a busy shopping centre on their own with no support to face the total sensory and communication confusion that abounds there. I would also seriously question that organisations ‘duty of care’ for this individual and would love to be a ‘fly on the wall’ of the conversations on the legal ramificationsthat may evolve should this deafblind person get hurt, mugged, assaulted or otherwise traumatised whilst rattling that tin!

  11. I certainly concur with Garys and the like views here. And was quite moved by Colleen McCrimmons post. I can hardly improve on the above writings, but just like to bring to attention that back in day 20-30 years ago there were telethons for the Spastic Society and the Deafness Foundation, using moving images (pun intended) to elicit public sympathy. There were protests I remember from our deaf community in Melbourne, re the negative portrayal of deaf people and patronising of deaf children on air. They were discontinued. Everyone recognised it (using negative images) was an inappropriate way for raising money. The only “on air” long term appeal for disabled people I see still going these days is the “Carols by Candlelight” for Vision Australia (previously RVIB), I’ve watched every year all my life and it has visibly and careful changed it negative images and patronising use of blind children, to that of a far more positive light. Recently liasing with a Paralympics official in my role in deaf sports I read a media guide on how to portray disabled people, I was amazed yet gratified at how comprehensive the guide was, basically guiding media reporters how to avoid negatively portraying disabled athletes how to allow them to maintain respect and dignity, all the very things that upset Gary. So I think Mr Flynn in his high position where the buck stops regardless of outsourcing, should be well aware of this sort of history, community sensitivity and bring himself a little up to date, or plainly he *might* be the wrong person for this job.

  12. Colleen

    I don’t know what to say except thank you.

    I also know I am one of those people through my comments that often put a wedge in the works. Create a them and us mentality.

    I wish for the day when the people like Mr Flynn and his like actually listen and engage so we can move forward constructively.

    My offer to Mr Flynn to help identify better, more intelligent and constructive ways to raise money remains. I hope he takes me up on it.

    One of the things I know Colleen is that by speaking out as I do it means I probably will never work in deafness in Australia again. This is sad as I have much to offer.

    But .. There are things that need to be said . Things which are muttered and talked of but never in public. I choose to do it in public to create debate .. To create change …I am well aware I sometimes only succeed in driving the wedge further .. Its not my intention.

    CEOs of these organisations that I write about often come in for much stick. Sometimes I make them objects of fun. I use dry wit and satire. Sometimes I can be down right nasty. What you showed, well really what u reinforced, was that this approach will not help the cause. So CEOs can breathe a little easier because I will now try to be more constructive.

    BUT this article was not designed to be an attack. It was a raw expression of what I was feeling at the time. I find it sad that Mr Flynn also missed many other salient points.

    This article was also distributed in Australia through an Ezine format. The Ezine mentioned many other issues. Economic impact for one was mentioned in the editorial ..Mr Flynns own president had a page to himself to put the case of Deaf Can Do which we printed as approved by Mr Jolly. Mr Flynn seems not to have read this.

    Mr Flynn also attacked me directly. I had a wry chuckle at that. I do a lot of work in the deafness sector voluntarily and perhaps deserve more respect but people in glass houses should not throw stones. I dish it I gotta cop it. But seriously I will aim in future to be more constructive … but no less hard hitting.

    Thank you again Colleen. Your post was both articulate, relevant and moving. It was a lesson for many of us.

    Mr Flynn I do a lot of work completely free for Deafness in various areas form sport to advocacy and of course The Rebuttal. I have a lot to offer you .. My offer to help using my skills and abilities is on the table … Revamp your fundraising practices please, you and others. I am just an email away.

  13. Colleen,

    Thank you for that thought-provoking, direct to the point, extremely accurate summary of how we feel – regardless of our disability – about the situation we are faced with on a daily basis. Not just the negative attitudes, the patronising attitudes but also the “hard work” it takes for them to make the “effort” to communicate the right way with us. It’s not really hard, but just too hard and out of the way for them to do.

    I have just returned from visiting my family(have not seen for 18 months)in the country(820Km away) and on the way home my wife and I were discussing that whole issue of whether it is worth jumping up and down to get everyone to stop talking over each other and include ME in the conversation. We were the “guests” there, yet I felt very much excluded. On the one hand I want the inclusion in the conversation, on the other hand is it worth putting people’s noses out of joint just for the stay of a few days? Rolling eyes, big breath, tight lips, all signs of “Oh god, do we have to do all this again?”

    Interesting, when I meet with the individual families in their own homes, the communication is fine, because they are focussed on us, but when we all get together in the extended family, we are in this big sea of noise and unable to make any significant contribution to the gathering.

    Is it any wonder I am glad I moved away when I was 17, that I never want to live in the town again, that I prefer to only visit for a few days, and leave before the attitudes really start.

    If these are the issues we face as deaf/hearing impaired, what about those with much more visible disabilities, what about those with unusual(different?) disabilities?

    As Colleen said, it is a hard fight and look at the price we pay. Not them, us! For me it is having to decide who I would like to put a big effort into being friends with. Ok, I guess the larger community pays a hidden price – not having their community enriched by the celebration of differences, but do they care?

    For Gazza, he and others like him deserve our support and we should all be encouraged by his perseverence in this fight. For Gazza, also, the price he pays is that Deaf organisations would rather not employ him, because he does “not march to the same drum as them.” Yet is his drum really different? Aren’t we all supposed to be on the same team? Where has this idea of “working together” become “different agendas”?

    Too often, I have seen organisations set up specifically for a particular disability, employ people with that particular disability, then ignore the very advice and potential of those people with disabilities, citing,”you need to look at the bigger picture and you don’t know what it is all about.” Hello, disability discrimination??? Ivory towers? Feeling threatened? Sad, very sad!

    And as Gazza has already covered, how many of these CEO’s are there just to ensure security of their own positions? How many other people who appear as a threat to them have suddenly been dismissed, or moved elsewhere, or suddenly had their position eliminated, or offered redundancy? All just to ensure the CEO is not exposed.

    There is a lot of work to do out there, in terms of acceptance, equality, fairness and support. A bloody lot of hard work! It takes all of us working together to overcome this. Not in an angry negative way – that just turns people off. But in an angry, calm (now that’s a good one – angry yet calm!!) and positive way.

    Thanks Gazza and Tony and Marnie and others for The Rebuttal!

  14. Thank you everyone, Peter you too. I am really touched by all the support. And Peter we deafies have all been there. Thank you for articulating it so well.

    G

  15. Paul,

    I am most shocked and appalled by your response to Gary’s original article. Your rather insulting and attacking post reeks of unprofessionalism of the highest order!!!

    Tell me, do you consult with the President of Deaf Can Do before making such a response? If you had bothered to check with him, you would have discovered that Gary had in fact published the President’s response with full permission and without any deletion or alteration. As Gary asserts, he would have gladly have published your own response if it wasn’t for the simple fact that he and other members of The Rebuttal’s Editorial Team never received it! When it comes to not letting the facts get in the way of a good story, talk about the pot calling the kettle black!!!

    As you have asserted in your own post, issues such as mental health, aged care, domestic violence, crisis accommodation and mentoring etc. are all contemporary and pertinent issues with which the Deaf and hearing impaired must contend. However, these are not the ONLY issues of relevance – indeed, Gary has been quite vocal in promoting awareness of mental health issues within the Deaf and hearing impaired community, particularly in relation to the low self-esteem which often results from having low community expectations, poor employment prospects and the continued negative portrayal of Deaf and hearing impaired individuals as objects of pity and burdens of welfare.

    The fact that you seem so ignorant of this last issue suggests to me that your constituents and clientele are probably fearful of raising these issues with you in fear that they are going to be subject to another of your ruthless insulting and personal attacks such as the one you have bestowed upon Gary.

    Tell me, does the Deaf Can Do Board condone your actions and your scathing, ill-informed post in such a public forum?

    Furthermore, are you willing to cast your ego aside and carefully analyse the issues raised in Gary’s article and humbly accept his offer of assistance to find other more positive ways of generating much-needed fundraising revenue for your organisation?

    If not, I call for your immediate resignation. Such bigotry and bias cannot be permitted to continue.

    Kate

  16. My heartfelt thanks for your kind comments.

    They have touched me more than you will probably ever know.
    I hope that between the article itself and the combined responses to Gary’s posts has, if not made an immediate difference, at least has given people pause for thought.

    I also pray that leaders in all communities take note of the true message and intent of such articles…to provoke independant thought, encourage discussion, plant the seeds of ideas and encourage people to express themselves freely without fear of shame or reprisal.

    It is my sincerest wish that the thoughts and ideas expressed by Gary and others on the Rebuttal will continue to build momentum in the wave of change that is needed in our ever shrinking global community.

    I for one had seldom found the courage to make a public expression of such personal and controvercial oppinion…..
    My thanks to My Family, Gary, Marnie and their family, Tony, Brendan and Crystal for helping me find my courage.

    Colleen

  17. I was told by a friend to read what is on the Rebuttal blog.

    Like everyone I was amazed as to the response from the CEO of DeafCanDo. It is a perfect example of deaf oppression whenever a deaf person raises issues that effects them despect taking alternative measures with no success.

    I would not be bother for Gary to go over to DeafCanDo (wh appears to not show leadership by having any Deaf people in senior managmenet positions – like other deaf organisations across Australia who like to keep deaf people at arms lengths away from ever touching a management position because we simply know better than them). I doubt that DeafCanDo will fly him over (at thier expense) and act on the suggestions that Gary is prepared to advise. Oh no! Their board, which consist predominantly of medical people would overrule this sort of action. Worst it will be a case of agree to disagree and basically waste Gary’s time.

    Sadly there are people who are qualified to offer professional advice on these sort of matters but we know that these organisations would rather spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on ‘hearing consultants’ who knows bugger (and they ended us consult with deaf people anyway!) to arrive with the same answers we have seen to date.

    Gary, it is not just because, despite your skills and knowledge, you will not be able to work in a deaf organisation because you are a spoken advocate (Les Twentyman is no different and the likes the CEO of Child Abuse), it is simply the fact that the Board/CEO of today are terrified of capable, qualified people like us and have this infantile mentality about what we can / cannot do. Even Deaf people on these boards know true well what I am talking about and rather proect their own ego/status and not feel threatened.

    But watch this. Deaf organisations establishing Mentorship Programs as an attempt to think they are establishiong leaders of the future but like all programs we have seen in the past they never become one because of our very own deaf organisation not employing deaf manager / senior managers / ceos. We already have Deaf leaders in the community, well qualified and capable to lead. So it can be said they are putting up smoke and mirrors to keep us distracted.

    Lastly, what John said is correct. We need to portray a positive image of people with a disability. Yes it will be difficult for organisation to tap into the public emotions and to dig deep towards a cause but there is a way. I too have been around for many many many years and mingled with many people with disabilities. One thing I can vouch for sure is that activities such as how funds are raised (using the ‘pity’ word) for the Paralympics are not supported by the Paralympians.

    I look forward to seeing what DeafCanDo will DO in response to the community concerns that has been aired. A no response could potentially be interpreted total snobbery to the deaf community of Australia.

  18. The whole premise of The Rebuttal is I guess, “to kick butt” and I understand the motive behind the article was to provoke debate but the only word I can use to describe this article is, disappointing. I live and work with Deaf people, Deafblind people and those who also have additional needs. I am not Deaf or Hard of Hearing. I have shaken my fists at injustice, cried in frustration and also stood shoulder to shoulder with colleagues and friends against that, which I thought was wrong but I just can’t support this article.
    I’m disappointed that the identity of an “old friend” has been so thinly veiled. The Rebuttal is distributed widely amongst readers who can and have readily identified this Deafblind man. I know him and am distressed that he has been referred to as a friend who has, ” been reduced to a beggar for a pittance”.
    I’m disappointed that “an old friend” did not say “Hello” and ask him how he was going, instead of using information about his life and their teacher/pupil relationship, “I taught him English”, to write an article / comment about his life.
    I’m disappointed because it was assumed that this intelligent, educated man, “was not able to really explain why he was there”. I believe in this man’s intelligence and that he is able to make independent, informed choices about what he wants to do with his time. I trust this man to make his own decisions and I believe he knew why he was there and that he is capable of making his wishes known to others.
    I’m disappointed that the ancient tradition of ‘giving’ has been discredited. I am a ‘giver’. I’m happy to do so. I see collectors as people who are making a contribution to a worthy cause, not as “street beggars”. I am happy to give money to people rattling cans for Victorian Bushfire victims, all manner of causes in fact. I give money to the homeless in the street, without getting visions of Mumbaih. I don’t think “poor thing”, I think, he needs the money, I have some, why not share?
    Most of all I’m disappointed that Not-For-Profit organizations are not adequately supported either by Governments or by donations etc. to provide for the needs of those with disabilities or who experience disadvantage. Martin Luther King was right, we should be vigilant about, “the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary”, but I hope our vigilance remains grounded in working towards positive change, rather than vitriol.

  19. Paul,

    Your statement:

    “What gives you the right to suggest that people with a disability do not deserve the right to choose what they do with their time??” raises issues for me.

    I agree that people with disabilities should have the right to choose what they do with their time – I support that value totally. HOWEVER, along with that right to choice is the need to make it clear to that person, as far as is possible, the pro’s and cons of that choice. In other words, to have access to all the information that would enable them to make a clear and, for them, right choice. They also need to be aware of how that decision or choice will impact on other people.

    I do not know the deafblind person in question, however, I have worked extensively WITH people who are deafblind and I damn well know how difficult it can be for them to have access to information that would assist them with their decision-making.

    You and I can see, we can hear(well some of us can!!), so we can read and hear and easily access the vast pool of information about public and private opinion. From which we can form our own decisions about where we stand on issues, be it right or wrong (and what is the right decision, in our own mind? Sometimes we also have to change our mind, which we also have a right to do! – when we have new additional information to hand)

    Without disrespecting the deafblind person in Gazza’s article, maybe they are NOT aware of the opinion and view of people out there? Has anyone explained to the deafblind person the political climate in this regard? Who knows?

    You stated:

    “Issues such as Mental Health, Aged care support, mentoring, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Domestic Violence and crisis accommodation needs just to mention a few.

    These are the real issues Gary!!!”

    Is the issue of teaching the public to see people with a disability in a positive light any less important? Would not tackling the above issues be a little easier if people with a disability were not devalued by the community? I work in the disability industry myself, as does my wife and we have both found others – family, friends and others – do not value such work. Indeed, the whole disability industry is devalued, when it is seen from a monetary point of view, given the low rate of pay prevalent in the industry (apart from the CEO’s that is!!)

    So, how is raising a positive image any less important that the other, more fundamental issues? What can people with disabilities do to be given the chance by the community to achieve to high standards and to be valued in the community? What can you do to enhance that as part of your involvement in the disability field?

  20. All your comments are very valid Alex. If you read the article I expressed profound regret that I did not approach the guy and say hello. It showed extreme weakness on my part. I had an opportunity to make a negative into a positive but did not take it. That was a real and unforgivable slur on the person concerned.

    But the fact remains that there was a perception being created in the publics eye. I have no doubt the subject is able to make the decisions he did. He is an intelligent man. BUT the fact remains the practice of tin rattling creates an extreme negative perception and one that most people with disability do not want and have protested against for a long time.

    Yes the person in question has unwittingly become the subject of this debate. That is the dilemma. Since writing it I have had people contact me and say .. yes i saw so and so in the market, it was awful to see. A perception is being created. Yes the guy can make a choice to do what he does BUT … The practice should not happen .. Again I will say there is a better way amore positive way to use people such as the subject of this article.

    It isn’t nice to think about especially if it is possible one could have prevented it. My challenge to people and organisations that allow this appalling tin rattling to occur is to find a better way. Do not hide behind .. HE CAN MAKE CHOICES FOR HIMSELF .. sure he can and if he can, provide him with better and more positive choices.

    I stand by this article and I say again give this guy better choices. The image that is created, the perception that is created, is not because I write about it BUT because the people in control let it happen.

    I do, however, apologise to the guy thats become, unwittingly, the centre of all this. I hope that he is the catalyst to some positive change.

  21. Mmmm, interesting set of double standards at play here folks.

    Anyone can voice their opinion in this “hard hitting” “Speak your @&%%#% mind format” as long as your not a CEO of an organisation and as long as you don’t disagree with the Author of the article.

    You may want to check the facts about who are the Board members of Deaf CanDo, you will see that the Deaf community are very well represented by a outstanding group of hard working people. There are no directors of Deaf CanDo from the ‘hearing services’ area as has been incorrectly stated above.

    How can any one reasonably argue that by insisting people should have the right to make choices for themselves is hiding behind something. Is this not the basic premise of ‘nothing about me without me” ?

    The individual in question is an intelligent and independent thinker who is well educated and well travelled. He makes his own choices in life as is his right and I will always speak my mind against the injustice of populist point scoring rhetoric.

    Peter Mulham has made some excellent points in his posting. As a service provider to Deaf and hearing impaired people we respond to the needs identified in order of a priority within our strategic plan. I agree that there are many activities at a primary health care level that, if properly funded would go a long way in the area of prevention of issues such as Mental Health, Aged care support, mentoring, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Domestic Violence and crisis accommodation needs.

    However, notwithstanding our wishful thinking about early intervention and preventative funding, we cannot escape the fact that there are critical human needs concerns in the Deaf and hearing impaired community that in the short term must take priority in the waiting line of available funding. And we cannot escape the fact that many of these critical human need issues remain a taboo subject of many bloggers to this site?

    I wonder why so many of you are happy to criticise me for standing up for an individuals rights of freedom of choice and for raising the bar of discussion to focus on the taboo subjects that you seem reluctant to tackle.

    Paul Flynn

  22. Not sure where the double standards are Paul. Everyone is getting a say uncensored as you are now. If you cant feel the tide of opinion then you really do have a problem.

    No one, Paul, has disputed the right for choice. People are disputing the methods for fundraising and the image that this portrays for people with a disability. LISTEN … something you clearly are not doing at the moment.

    You have disagreed with me and have had a fair say. People are disagreeing with you in a big way. Not just me .. about 95% of the posts disagree with you. I am finding it really hard to see where you are coming from.

    You talk about critical need. People have argued that by presenting people, as you do to raise funds, that this actually compounds and contributes to the continuation and attitudes that lead to the existence of these critical needs in the first place. No one has avoided these issues. They have raised them and argued them. You have chosen to not see the arguments. It’s not taboo to anyone. What is taboo for you, is that people are raising issues that may show the approach of your organisation in a negative light. God forbid!

    No one has disputed the need to raise money .. only the method. If the individual in question is informed and has chosen this method as ok then we can also argue that he is portraying people with a disability in the wrong light. I hope someone can produce The Rebuttal for him in a format he can understand and all the comments with it. If people want a hand in making it more accessible for him then we at The Rebuttal will do all we can. Voluntarily of course as we always do. Perhaps he already can access this information with his computer technology, I dont know. But he should be able to access what people feel and are saying so that he can continue to make an informed choice.

    Maybe he will choose to continue to go out and rattle cans. if so then people will continue to argue that it is wrong. I will, at least, continue to argue that the image this portrays is negative and damaging. If he continues to make the choice, knowing full well what a large number of people feel about the choice he made then all good and proper.

    The fact remains that charities continue to use this way of fundraising. A lot of people who have a disability feel this is wrong. They are voicing this view here. They are voicing it everywhere. But you simply are not listening. Dont want to listen, cant listen . I dont know which, but it is puzzling.

    What is populist, Paul, is your method of fundraising. Because its an easy way to make a buck maybe? The argument is that this method of fundraising has NEGATIVE implications. Something that seems to have escaped you.

    There are no double standards going on here mate .. only people expressing what they feel. If you have not been moved or swayed in anyway by posts like Colleens or Peters I really fear for the deaf and deafblind sector if this is the reaction of one of its CEOs.

    It’s not just me mate, it’s many. It’s really sad that you are missing the message. Please dont give me arguments about board representation .. they are but a small number of a huge population, not representative at ALL, no matter how skilled and hard working they are. The PUBLIC on the other hand are a different matter. You well know that David was referring to the Townsend House Board, rather than Deaf Can Do’s board – An innocent enough mistake given the complex PARTNERSHIP between Townsend House and Deaf Can Do. Why not just correct him instead of playing funny buggers with pointless drivel about boards and structures.

    All I ask is that you listen to these people. Clearly you are not .. and THAT is the double standard. Your attitude to these clear and articulate postings, put forward by well meaning and intelligent people is sad.. Its sad, that’s all I can say.

  23. I am going to add my two cents… I find it very hard to believe that the organization, Deaf Can Do, would actually have a Deaf Blind person sit with a cup in their hand out in the public. Canadian National Insitution for the Blind (CNIB) would NEVER EVER allow their valued members fundraise that way. Need I say more?

  24. Just spent the last 45 minutes on a train reading up on the Rebuttal.

    Gary, I am proud that you are uninhibited to say what you feel. This guy from SA must be having sleepless nights! If my friend was tin shaking as per the example on the rebuttal, I would definitely say it looks fu$@ed!

    Why, cos it is embarrasing and as any friend should do, I reckon I’m protecting their dignity. If my friend tells me to piss off- so be it, but I would be affected by what I see and I reckon I wouldn’t be alone.

    Even taking a corporate image stance which though trivial in comparison, there are huge risks with this exposure.

    Gaz. I love ya, and you are my role model.

  25. I don’t fully agree with the editorial decision to write a clever article, because The Rebuttal published an edited open letter from the Deaf CanDo organization in a latest E edition of The Rebuttal. There was an explosive unnessary article about the Deaf Blind person who rattling tin in public that saddens and anger to lot of people here. It may be good for boosting a growth of number of blog readers; therefore it’s an attractive for the Rebuttal’s future sponsors.

    So far, I have read 26 comments that were entered in response to that unnecessary written article. I am fully surprised to see the CEO of Deaf CanDo wrote two comments. He was actually reading your article and comments with his time and effort. I applauded for his involvement within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities. It is very rare to see that happened in the CEOs’ world. If I see a very serious problem arising within the South Australian Deaf community, then I’ll go and see Paul after I exhausted all avenues. He knows it.

    Former Deaf SA was always in red in the last 10 years. Since Townsend House took over the Deaf SA organization, I’m impressed with the Deaf CanDo that turns the balance sheet into BLACK. This is from the hard working people including the volunteers and the people who rattling tins. They are still working within the stakeholders objectives. The Deaf club is still open within the beautiful ‘262’ building every two weeks so the CEO knows this is virtually important to the Deaf community. So what is the actual problem?

    In regards to the Deaf blind person that Gazza mentioned in his written article, I know the Deaf blind person. I have met him twice in a shopping complex from Rundle Mall where he rattling his tin. I asked him how was he doing and he was happy chatting with me while he rattling his tin. He seems to be enjoying himself. If I see him again, I will explain to him of what the Rebuttal wrote. He has the right to know about this. What if, the CEO refused to let the DeafBlind person work in what he like? One of the Rebuttal team will write article differently. You can’t have both ways.

    For those blog readers who have replied in the comment’s section, sorry guys, there is no justifying, because the article was cleverly written.

    Cheers

  26. Timothy, the article is a personal reflection, not a cynical maneuver to increase The Rebuttal’s readership.

    You and Paul, in particular are quite over wrought over one person’s personal views, that I question both your objectivity towards this piece.

    Gary was writing about a SPECIFIC incident, and he openly admits his failings, whatever they are.

    It is you and Paul, in your rush to overwroughtness [tis a new word, if it doesn’t already exist], that fails to see his point.

    A point that everyone else can see.

  27. Timothy

    Thanks for your post. Its important that we see different view points. I am pretty sure the article has caused a few waves in SA and there will be a lot of discussion going on.

    Firstly I would like to point out that the letter we published from the President of Deaf Can Do was edited with his input and approval. It was edited because it was long and we would not have been able to fit it into The Rebuttal format. The final draft of the letter as published came from the President himself. (For Blog only readers there is an ezine edition of The Rebuttal that is distributed with an editorial and a Your say Page)

    If you do meet the guy concerned I would appreciate it if you could explain what has happened with this edition. If he so wishes I am more than happy to come back to Adelaide, meet him and explain why I wrote it. If there is anything I can do in regards to developing a more accessible format for him to read, even if it means using a Relay Interpreter I am more than happy to facilitate this happening in anyway I can.

    Now in regard to sponsorship and readership of The Rebuttal. There is no sponsorship. We advertise free of charge. We dont get paid, have never sought payment, will never seek payment. We do it simply because we feel strongly about things and like to see informed and open debate. Sure we like getting more readers but only because it contributes to debate and change .. No other reason and no other motive.

    Now your other point about clever writing – ok I will admit to this. As a writer you want people to stand up and take notice. You have to create a vision and story that will make people think. This is all I try to do. Sometimes this hurts people along the way. It is not intentional and we try to avoid it if we can. BUT sometimes issues are really controversial .. like this one .. and publishing such issues is done after careful consideration.

    In this article I could have used other examples. My own mother, for example, walked by and said “poor thing”, my kids who were with me said – “whats wrong with that man” there were many reactions and responses that I did not use.

    I identified my own weakness, which is not an easy thing to do. I will say it again, my not going up to the guy to say hello was pathetic. I am profoundly ashamed at that. BUT the fact remains if a hard and seasoned disability worker that Im am (20 years last month) can react this way how then were the public viewing the situation.

    Do you see the public, for example, walking past and whispering to each other. Or stopping, hand and mouth to look and pity. Or taking the long route to avoide any type of confrontation. What are they thinking? What is their lasting impression of people with a disability? Is it a positive one? Thousands of people walking by and forming an opinion, a view and an attitude? Is it a positive view and attitude?

    My view, and clearly the view of many, is that it promotes stereotypes of disability that are negative and needy. My view, and the view of many others, is that this does more harm than good. Mostly my view is that the guy is far better than that, regardless of whether he made the choice to be there. There is a more positive and constructive way to use his talents.

    The money earned from tin rattling is not worth the damage it does to the perception and attitude towards people with a disability. There are beter ways, more positive ways for these organisations to raise money.

    I hope Deaf Can Do, when the dust has settled and when Paul and I have stopped taking pot shots at each other, can take the message of these many postings on board and find better and more constructive ways to raise funds. I have offered to help, they can either carry on like a wounded dog or they can listen to what has been said by the many people on here and elsewhere who abhore negative stereotypes. Balls in their court.

    Please remember Tim, putting yourself in the frontline to voice issues that people talk about but not in public is no easy task. You cop a lot of abuse for it, it can be stressful and it takes a fair bit of courage. We have no ulterior motive other than to create change. Change that will hopefully see Deaf people and people with a disability take charge of their own lives without pity and sympathy but as valued for what they give to society not what they cost and take.

  28. What, people are still using collection tins in the hope of getting donations?

    Like Tony Nicolas says, this is 2009! There are very few charities now that take this approach, and look for alternative means. Those few charities that do it, I proactively avoid them as I view it as negative on every level.

    The examples I remember who take this old fashioned approach aren’t deaf charities but others such as protection of animals.

    I think its demeaning for animals, and here we are, doing the same thing for deaf people!

    It harks back to when I am in Cambodia, one of the top five poorest countries in the world; where a single dollar is the difference between life and death for the majority of its populace.

    Disabled people there are reduced to aggressive begging. Those who have not been able to get much are reduced to sleepy begging as they have no energy left; just barely enough to outstretch an arm holding a begging tin for money.

    Glad to know we have moved on. Not.

  29. A difficult one for me to comment on, because its something we’ve all seen before. Thus when you’ve seen a million times: what’s new? An excellent post though, and brings a point across. The word ‘handicapped’, in the UK has roots from ‘cap in hand’.

    What strikes me from the comments, is the name: Deaf Can Do.

    The name itself implies, deaf can do anything but hear. So if the organisation really believes that, or at least markets itself as such …. why isn’t a deaf person the CEO? Why isn’t SMT filled with deaf people? Instead, we have deaf(blind) people in the streets, effectively begging. That’s a very odd image of “Deaf Can Do”. Deaf can do begging.

    Why is the name of the organisation saying one thing, in reality its doing something totally different? Contradictory, no?

    Whilst Paul says that deaf people don’t have to do this (they have a choice), is it actually a free choice? I don’t think it is. Deaf people, don’t exactly have access to good employment opportunities, and begging dressed up as raising money are one of a last resort. They can’t find employment elsewhere, because too many negative images around. Charities fuelling this nicely.

    Organisations have somewhat a responsibility to understand this, a cycle that is never going to be broken as long as pitiful images are projected in the mainstream.

    Do you really expect hearing people to employ a deaf person, they can do exactly the same as me (with adjustments) if the last thing they remember: tin can, I need help, chuck money at me? This image serves charities very well, it ensures their long term survival; however, the ultimate aim of any deaf charity should be to make itself redundant. Except that won’t happen, because its too financially lucrative. The real people who benefit from deaf charities, are hearing people who work for them (both financially and some feel good factor, “they are doing something worthwhile”).

    All charities are public entites, and because of their status enjoy special privileges which really shouldn’t be abused. If you’re going to sell an ideal to the general public, then you really need to practice what you preach. In the meantime, we have a hearing CEO er, patronising deaf? Fabulous!

  30. Alison

    Of all posts here your post probably sums it up best.

    Charity is supposed to be motivated to help others. Often it is more how it makes the giver feel than the receiver. Now this may seem cynical BUT we give often more because at the end of the day it gives us an endorphin rush. Most of us get a buzz thinking something we have done benefits others. I am sure, and I have said this before, people like Mother Theresa, Ghandi and Martin Luther King lived in a state of constant euphoria.

    This is not a bad thing when you are feeding people who are starving or when like Ghandi or Luther King you are changing the world to make it more equal and more inclusive. But when what you do, potentially, contributes to the continuation of the very thing you are trying to alleviate it is a different matter.

    Now I have been critisised here for using this example of the deafblind man. In his home state he has been readily identified. I have used him perhaps as the scapegoat to highlight an appalling state of affairs. I may have been wrong in doing this, but like the givers to his tin can my motives were not cynical.

    Unfortunately Deaf Can Do, its CEO, staff, president, board members – all who have either posted or sent me private emails have taken offence to what has been written. They have, I think, missed all the points that you raised in your post. They can not see the big picture. Rather they have ghone in to protection mode.

    The worst is that the man I used as an example has been thrust by them in the frontline again. Its like they are dodging a bullet and using him as a human shield. In an effort to survive and avoid damage they have used platitudes – its his choice they say, he is happy doing what he wants or worst we dont employ him we just pay the company that does to do our tin rattling .. in this way the absolve themselves of all blame. They lay blame on to me and other posters for daring to suggest that what they do is wrong, for all the reasons you so articulately presented.

    As you say they are in a survival mode. They dont want to, at least at this point, enter into a constructive debate on the larger issues because admitting you are wrong, well it’s not a good image is it? Admitting that you are actually self serving, this can not be acknowledged can it?
    Yes, they are all loaded questions.

    But thank you Alison for your post. I, in the meantime, because I throw stones will continue to have the stones thrown at me by them. My stones are aimed to break down the bariiers thet these organisations unwittimngly put up for Deaf people and the stakeholders that they supposedly are helping. Their stones are aimed at bringing me down a peg – maybe I need that.

    But the tide of opionion on these pages has been clearly articulated – to the CEO, the president, the staff and the Board of Deaf Can Do I implore you, again, to drop your defensive guard and actively engage in this debate so that people like the deafBblind man in question do not have to be used as scapegoats and examples like this ever again.

    And the Final question to Mr Flynn – Are you prepared to step down and mentor a Deaf person for your position, create a climate for a Deaf person tobecome the CEO? Or do all the arguments presented by Alison apply to you?

  31. This post was written by you, *as a member of the public*. You clearly told us you were out shopping and havinf lunch. Lets leave that for a moment.

    Random hearing person goes shopping and has lunch with his mother. Sees deafblind person in the street collecting money for a charity, takes his own images of what he sees away. Somehow blogs it. It goes like:

    “Saw a deafblind person in the street today, he amazed me! Despite being impaired of both his their senses he could sit there and collect money. I am so thamkful I am not living in a silent, scary & intimidating world!!!!!!! I gave him some money to help him, I wonder how he got home? I thought he was very brave. We take so much for granted, and we should be helping him. I have never met anyone who is both deaf and blind before so can not begin to imagine how they feel. How they won’t be able to do so many things in life, like have a proper job, that’s why I gave him money.”

    Question: would the people at Deaf Can Do send e mails to that random hearing person blogging about what he observed in a public place? You wrote you saw a deafblind man in the street, you are not allowed to do that! You are not allowed to write about what you think of this, because its exploiting the deafbind person.

    Somehow I don’t think emails would be written to the general hearing public because you cannot control what a person thinks or sees in a public place (freedom of thought, conscience…).

    Yet an organisation appears to be doing precisely the opposite for deaf. Why the different treatment, is that not a form of discrimination? If not, why do you think not?

    My other thought, what’s with the Big Brother role? Where’s the permission to attempt to control other people’s thoughts on what they saw in *public*? If you need convincing on this one, go and watch ‘The Lives of Others’.

    Ultimately, the only thing you can control is portrayal. What people take away from your portrayal is out of your jurisdiction.

  32. Random hearing person goes shopping and has lunch with his mother. Sees deafblind person in the street collecting money for a charity, takes his own images of what he sees away. Somehow blogs it. It goes like:

    “Saw a deafblind person in the street today, he amazed me! Despite being impaired of both his their senses he could sit there and collect money. I am so thamkful I am not living in a silent, scary & intimidating world!!!!!!! I gave him some money to help him, I wonder how he got home? I thought he was very brave. We take so much for granted, and we should be helping him. I have never met anyone who is both deaf and blind before so can not begin to imagine how they feel. How they won’t be able to do so many things in life, like have a proper job, that’s why I gave him money.”

    (Copied from the previous post)

    A fictional letter from Paulo Flinch, Ceo of Can Do for Me

    Dear Blogger

    Thank you so much for your heart wrenching blog post. It is so good to see that there are compassionate and sympathetic members of the public willing to give up their hard earned dollar for those less fortunate.

    What you have written describes the plight of many people with a dual sensory loss. They live wretched lives. They need organisations like Can Do For Me to be able live indpendently and be happy like any normal person.

    Perhaps I can interest you in other initiatives of can Do For Me. For fifty dollars you can purchase three raffle tickets. The prize is a trip around the world, first class on an airline of your choice. Or perhapss I can interest you in CANDOOOIE Cookies. These wonderful cookies are only $10.00 a packet and well worth it at the price.

    Buy purchasing a raffle ticket or a box of cookies Can Do For Me can continue to support people such as the man you saw in the shopping centre. WE can continue to pay our staff and myself to come into work and save them. For with out us their lives would be very wretched indeed.

    Or you can become a member of Can Do For Me. For just $10 a year you will receive a Can Do For Me pen and key ring. Every month your will receive the very exciting and informative Can Do For Me Newsletter. You will read of other heart wrenching stories like what you have witnessed. And best of all you will learn first hand about every raffle and new product on offer from Can Do For Me which we know you will get involved in or want to buy.

    Thank you for your donation. I hope it is the first of many to come.

    Yours with Gratitude

    Paolo Flinch

    * Disclaimer .. if the contents of this letter should offend in anyway the CEO is absolved of all responsibility. The fundraiseing manager on a six figure salary is fully rersponsible for the content.

  33. Alison…. it is so refreshing to read your post. Thank you for sharing and encouraging me to think things from a different angle.

  34. Noticed still no reply or commitment from the CEO in question (or any CEOs related to this sector for this matter). I take it that the organisation doesnt agree with our concerns or that they won’t admit to defeat?

    Will they (or any CEO) commit to ensuring they will appoint, mentor/coach and have in place deaf senior managers in their organisation as part of its succession planning.

    Last but not least, it is interesting to see how the CEO in question clearly indicated that the deaf/blind person as being ‘intelligent’, ‘smart’ etc and if so why isnt this employed in this organisation maximising his skills and capabilities? The mystery continues.

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