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:  (Iroically this will lead you to a page from Media Access Australia … Jekly and Hyde had nothing on them!)

2 thoughts on “Fossils!

  1. That judge sounds just great and it is very heartening to read his comments with so many of us waiting to hear what the Human Rights Commission decide.

    My opinion of the AHRC is a bit different from yours. I think they are great. They aren’t a court, they are more like a marriage guidance counsellor, just there to make sure each party gets a fair go and, if it can be done, bringing the warring parties together. If that doesnt happen it is off to the courts for a fight in front of a judge and hopefully a fair outcome for each. The AHRC giving the cinemas a chance to provide more information was fair as the cinemas wouldn’t have been expecting more than a dozen replies and as far as they were concerned it was a done deal. I thought that the summary of what was raised was really useful as, if this all ends up in court, they have pretty much identified key issues raised by all of us.

    Also,Iwouldnt have even known about this whole thing if Media Access hadnt reminded people, including me, that this was happening.

    Also, although I think there have been communication problems between the deaf representative groups and deaf people in the past, I admire anyone who can front up to a meeting and explain their thinking to a pretty sceptical crowd – I know I wouldn’t have the guts to do it, so yeah at the moment the only black thoughts I am having about any of this are firmly centred on the cinemas. Even that dismissive response to the request for clarification about some of the points raised – it felt like a one finger salute to me after all of us making the efforts we did to communicate our concerns.

    I reckon there is going to be a fight no matter what is decided. It will be interesting to see what is decided and what those of us interested in this are prepared to do from here.

    • Karen, the point is the AHRC is a toothless tiger. The people within it are great but it simply doesn’t do what it should be doing and that is protect people. Its very simple and what we need is a legislative frame work that can COMPEL people like the Cinemas to stop beating about the bush and PROVIDE! All this pussy footing around and stroking sensibilities wastes time and delays the inevitable. Its not about the individuals and the organisations, who are all very committed people with good intents, its about the structure and the attitudes.

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