Diary of a Coda by Aden Kerridge Aged 12 .. pretending to be 8!

Dear diary,

Today we went to the doctors for my general check up, we waited for the interpreter to come in to the waiting room.

When she arrived her and daddy started to have a chat with the interpreter, apparently it was funny cause they both started laughing quite loudly in the waiting room, how embarrassing that everyone had to hear my daddys snort.

I like it when the interpreters come because they are usually friendly and they often make good conversation.

When the doctor called us in daddy and the interpreter walked in with me, they comforted me and said everthings gonna be all right.

When I came in the doctor said hello to me and my daddy, he then greeted the interpreter as my mummy. The interpreter explained that she was not my mummy but an interpreter.

The doctor said sorry and soon focused his attention to me. When he checked me he said that I had a minor chest infection and that he would prescribe me to some medicine. When he talked about my check up he was always talking to the interpreter, not to my dad.

When he finished he printed a  prescription and gave it to my dad while explaining the instructions too the interpreter.

When we got out of the practice we went to get the medicine and then we went to buy some lollies for the meeting tommorow night at the deaf social club, which mummys looking forward to.

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Diary of a CODA – By Aden Kerridge, aged 12

19/1/10

Dear diary,

Today we went to the park, we went with mummy and daddy, I was really excited about going there, the slide and the swings are really really good fun.

When we got there dad accidently hit his door on a BMW leaving a small dent in the door. The rich man who owned the BMW came and started yelling at daddy using bad language and rude gestures. Daddy had to explain that he was deaf and that he couldn’t hear, but the bad man didn’t care and he said that daddy had to pay for the dent.

Daddy said “what? – I can’t hear you.”

So the man repeated his statement, but dad said the same thing as before. So he repeated the question but dad stated “look i cant understand you,  I’ll go to the shops and buy a pen and paper, okay?”

So we got in the car but didn’t go to the shops but to a different parking spot. Daddy called the man a jerk and that the man needs to get a life. Then we went to the play ground and I went on the swing and slide. I also met a girl who kept on asking if I liked cats and I said yes, but she kept on asking me, so I called her an idiot in sign language, mum unfortunatly saw me.

On our way home we stopped for ice-cream and the man who owned the BMW drove by and called my dad a scumbag, I thought it would be best not to tell him.

Fossils!

In terms of disability legislation and attitudes Australia television and film media is a fossil. In fact should a fossil come to life it most likely would provide better access than our media institutions. Deaf and vision impaired Australians number a sizable proportion of Australia’s population. Readers of The Rebuttal will know that we believe deaf and vison impaired Australians are a huge and profitable market, ripe for making profit. Yet our media industries, be they DVD distributors, Cinemas, Free to air TV or Pay TV still will not provide access that respects our needs as humans or as a market.

They continue to cry poor. They continue to offer the absolute minimum and our Government, for all its hyperbole about creating  an inclusive society, will not legislate to make them comply. The much awaited Media Access Report, that deaf and vision impaired Australians had such high hopes for, turned out to be nothing more than another discussion paper that outlined the issues and needs – HELLLLOOOOOOO – we already know – Talk is cheap, do something about it.

Over in America, the land that was once fond of bombing people it did not like, but now has a more humanitarian President, they continue to show us the way in terms of disability access, particularly media access .  A cinema chain in America has been sued because it did  not provide access for deaf and vision impaired customers. In America, of course, you get instructions on the back of your Rice Bubbles Box about how you can sue and become an instant millionaire. Cynicism aside we can only dream that our legislators will develop similar attitudes to the judges that are trying the case. One of them had this to say,

” …You are going to lose eventually. I don’t know if you are going to lose this case or not, but you are going to lose this battle in the end. You can get out in front of it and be the good guys, or you can be dragged kicking and screaming and look like jerks. I don’t understand why you are choosing to fight this battle.”

That came from the judge himself.  Can you imagine our toothless Human Rights Commission coming out and saying something like that? For crying out loud they had over 400 submissions in response to the recent application for exemption to disability complaints lodged by the cinema industry here in Australia. Probably in excess of 95% of the submissions told the Australian Human Rights Commission to throw out the application. This came from individuals and organisations alike. What did the Australian Human Rights Commission do in light of this overwhelming voice ? A voice that gave them the power to simply say to the Cinema industry “Go jump” – they asked the Cinema industry to respond to some of the comments .. hence delaying any type of decision even further.  To the AHRC I say .. get a BACKBONE!

I love the American judge on this case. Not only did he tell the cinema chain in question that they were behaving STUPIDLY he actually told them they were STUPID.  He didn’t need to use the word stupid it was blindingly clear. He had more to say,

“Theatres cost huge amounts of money. A movie theatre is no longer a barn with a sheet at one end and a bunch of chairs. You have all sorts of sophisticated technology, 3D viewing and so on. This seems like a drop in the bucket.”

God, don’t you just love the bloke. He really gets it and says it as it is and whats more he doesn’t care about the sensibilities of the cinema people. He just points out the reality. It’s a far cry from some of our advocacy organisations that chose to support the Cinema Industries application for exemption. Most of them started of their letters of support for the exemption with a statement that went something like this – ” We think its wrong that the cinema industry are  offering so little. BUT because they are offering a little more we have decided to support them in the hope that they will keep the faith …”  Maybe not those same words but that’s what they meant.

Indeed our peak media advocacy group Media Access Australia even went as far as to congratulate the cinema industry. Slap your head and say very loudly with me …. WTF .. which of course means Wheres The Fairy-floss – which is exactly what Media Access Australia offered up in response .. FAIRY-FLOSS!!

All I can say is – get that judge to Australia and PRONTO!

Source: http://ow.ly/XE2O  (Iroically this will lead you to a page from Media Access Australia … Jekly and Hyde had nothing on them!)

Just Who is The Boss

idiotsI am very fortunate to work where I do. I work at the University of  Ballarat who are an organisation that not only believe in access but who actually provide it too. Whatever I need they will consider and if I say that it is necessary they will provide. Interpreters, captioning, technology – you name it they will ensure that all my access needs are met. It is interesting because they are not an organisation that is involved with disability as their core business BUT operate as if it actually is. They practice what they preach and I am the lucky beneficiary of their willingness to invest in my needs.

This is a far cry from some of our Deafness Sector organisations. I was horrified on the weekend to hear from a colleague that the Deafness sector organisation that he worked for would not provide for all his needs.  As the story goes the organisation that he works for was willing to purchase a special Smart Phone so that he was able to carry out his business at the same level as his hearing peers. Purchasing the technology was done through the Federal Governments Workplace Modifications Scheme so in a sense it cost the organisation NOTHING!

Now a Smart Phone is a gadget that is more than a phone. It includes iphones and Blackberry phones in its family. These phones are a godsend for the deaf as they enable the deaf who rely on text based conversation to be mobile. Emails can be accessed virtually anywhere and  the National Relay Service can be used to make phone calls. Instant messenger such as MSN and Yahoo can also be accessed to keep in contact with colleagues and clients alike. And of course they have the trusty old SMS.  No longer do the deaf have to rely on others. Smart Phone technology allows them to operate equally with their hearing peers. Communication by the phone is no longer an issue.

Now I got my Smart Phone at work from the WorkPlace Modifications Scheme too. The proviso to get it was that my work had to agree to cover the cost of the plan that I needed to provide reasonable access to enable various functions such as the  Internet, instant messenger and email. Good Internet mobile phone plans can be obtained if one shops around. For my work it was not an issue. I was told to find the plan I needed and all else would be covered.  Of course my work has nothing to do with deafness but they show an awareness that would  make any so called Deafness sector organisation proud.

Now my friend, who works for a Deafness sector organisation, was encouraged to get the Smart Phone through WorkPlace Modifications Scheme. The Smart Phone was dutifully acquired. Great stuff! Except the Deafness sector organisation refused to connect the Internet package to the phone. The reasoning being that if they did so for him, they would have to do it for all their staff and they could not afford too. Now readers will you please join me  in banging your head against the wall in frustration.

I find myself at this point of this article rubbing my eyes and holding my head in frustration. Again one of our Deafness sector organisation bosses, one who has spent a proverbial lifetime in the field, can not or will not embrace or understand the concept of equity. Equity is that wonderful policy that aims to make the playing field fair so that all can compete. Sometimes to make things fair you have to invest in the required support. It is not about providing everyone with the same sort of support but it is about ensuring that everyone can do the tasks that they need to do. This means, particularly for the deaf professional, that a phone with the Internet is  needed simply to enable independence and to utilise the skills  of the deaf professional to the maximum.

Unfortunately, still, after decades in the field, people in the Deafness sector, the bosses, usually hearing, who should know better – DONT GET IT! Yet my boss who has nothing to do with deafness DOES!!  I would like to blame ignorance but this particular Deafness sector boss has no such excuse. In fact he makes the ignorant seem enlightened. So incensed was I when I heard my friends story that I encouraged my friend to make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission because, in my view, my mate being denied full access to communication is clear cut discrimination. Just picture it – a deaf person taking a Deafness sector organisation to  the Australian Human Rights Commission for discrimination. The embarrassment to the organisation would be immense!

 My friend declined this avenue. He said that if he did so the backlash from his boss would not be worth it. He said it would just make his job really difficult. I pointed out that the Disability Discrimination Act also protected people with disabilities from such victimisation. My friend said that he was just fed up with having to complain all the time. The stress and the worry, he said, would just not be worth it. And so everything ends there.

I don’t blame my friend. Why should he have to complain. Why cant the law just offer him protection! It doesn’t so his boss, once again, gets away with it. And he will continue to get away with it until someone holds him accountable! But who will be brave enough to put it all on the line and take on the undoubted stress and hardship that will occur from taking the issue further. It is a national disgrace that society continues to walk all over deaf and disatvantaged Australians in this way

And so begins 2010. With another tale of woe. What will we do? Sit on it or fight it? We at The Rebuttal hope the energy that was shown at the end of 2009 for the Cinema captioning campaign spills over to other areas … The late Don Chipp of the defunct Australian Democrats once famously said .. “Keep the Bastards Honest” Well we  don’t want just honesty we want accountability … We say KEEP THE BASTARDS ACCOUNTABLE in 2010!!