A dear friend once described me as an angry man. “You!” he said ” Are angry at the world!” I am not really. I do get angry at aspects of it, but I am not angry at it. You see to be angry at the world is to over generalise. The world, by and large, is a great place. The unfortunate thing is that a few people, ignorant people, make simple solutions complicated. Most people get it, it is an irony that the people that need to get it, unfortunately don’t!
As an example, just this morning, I was looking up quotes from Bill Shorten, Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Disability and Children’s Services. Several times this year I have been fortunate to hear Bill Speak. He is very passionate and has been brave enough to go on record and say Australia, being rich as it is, can provide far better for people with a disability than it currently does. I wanted to find a quote of him saying this. Googling the Internet I found a series of videos of Bill speaking on disability. These were placed on on a website for a group known as Disability Confidence, an organisations dedicated to creating employment opportunities for people with a disability. http://www.disabilityconfidence.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=34&Itemid=1
Of course the videos were not captioned. There is Bill, recently re married, glowing and happy with shiny teeth. He is obviously spouting his wisdom, and he is a very clever man, but what he had to say I would not know. The website itself is actually quite good, but the people that created it, who should get it, have not thought to make the videos accessible. This is my point and it is this that makes me angry – not the world but the lack of foresight of a few people that should know better. Perhaps it is wrong of me to single out this little website but it is a glaring example of what I am trying to say.
All weekend I have been receiving emails about the current moves to make sure emergency services are accessible to people who have disabilities. The gist of these emails is awareness material that is being circulated. You know those videos about preparing for fires and so on. This is part of the review into emergency services that followed the tragic bush-fires in Australia last year.
Now this is a frustrating situation because the awareness ads that are going to be circulated will be captioned. The difficulty is that they are making the captions inaccessible to many. You see they want to use closed captions on the ads. Closed captions requires people to have the technology to access them. To overcome this possible glitch all it requires is to use open captions which can be seen by everyone. This means people such as the elderly who have acquired their hearing loss and are unaware of the needed technology or people who lack financial means to be able to afford the technology and have a hearing loss can access the information. It would also mean that information videos placed on the Internet could be accessed by deaf and hearing impaired people as well.
The powers that be have decided to primarily use closed captions which will mean the ads are not fully accessible. They have been advised to the contrary, that for this sort of information EVERYONE needs immediate access and not just the ones fortunate to have the technology but they will not change their mind. It’s a simple solution but the people that SHOULD KNOW BETTER wont budge. Angry yet?
In our last edition of The Rebuttal Marnie Kerridge wrote of the situation with cinema captioning in Australia. A potential market of probably 5 million Australians only get .3% access to the cinema through captioning in Australia (Yes note the decimal point that is POINT THREE percent). The Cinema Industry have offered a paltry, pathetic and insulting minimal increase to this and have asked to be exempt from any legal action for discrimination for the next two and half years.
Deaf people and their associates are up in arms about this. They are angry and, by and large, have rejected the application for the exemption. They understand that if they do the minimal offer of an increase on the table and access through audio description for the blind might be lost. But they don’t care and they are sending a message – respect us and offer us something we are worth! But will they be supported by their peak organisations? Or will peak organisations go against the very people they are supposed to represent and support the exemption?
It is worth noting, if you read submissions on the Australian Human Rights Commission website, where you can lodge your support or objection to the exemption, that there are even blind consumers that have rejected the exemption and they currently get nothing! If the consumers are not supported I wont be the only person angry. I can guarantee that!
In the midst of all this though there is some hope. Click on or cut and paste the following link to your website browser. – http://media.causes.com/635548?p_id=31998171 … It is a blatant advertisement for a fast food-chain in America. Its is of a deaf woman who tried to access a drive through facility at a rival fast food chain (note the name of the offending fast food chain was not mentioned ) The deaf woman explains to an interviewer that she was threatened with the cops when she tried to access a drive through facility because she was unable to use the drive through speaker. The worker at the offending fast food chain refused to be flexible and accept her order at the window, slammed the window and threatened her with the cops.
And here is where the blatant advertising happens and the rival chain, Culvers, show what they have done to make their drive through facility accessible. (Ignore my cynicism because it is actually a very good solution.) It’s a simple solution, they have placed a button on their speaker system that you can press if you are deaf. This button then informs the worker that you can’t access the speaker system. You drive to the window and are offered a pen and paper to write your order. Simple solution. An investment of a few thousand dollars and suddenly you have made your business accessible to millions of potential customers. THERE IS HOPE!!
Now if only the Cinema Industry, emergency services, our peak bodies and the powers that be will take note. The answers are right there before your eyes and they are not complicated!