The Last Post

The Cinemas have screwed up. The promised Caption Cinema roll out that was to commence on December 14th now has not happened. Apparently the cinemas discovered that watching captions with 3D movies leads to the watcher becoming sick. Not everyone, mind you, just some. So they decided that the technology was flawed and they needed to reconsider the roll out. Of course it is not just caption watchers that get sick from watching 3D movies. There are warnings that go out to pregnant women, the elderly and people who have epilepsy that watching 3D movies can make them ill. But of course this didn’t prevent cinemas rolling out 3D did it? They just issued a warning – watch at own risk. Presumably a pregnant woman in agony in a cinema or people throwing fits is no business of theirs. WATCH AT OWN RISK AND BE DONE WITH. (http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/05/26/video-bill-nye-the-science-guy-explains-why-3d-movies-can-make-you-sick/)

But we deafies that need to watch movies with captions are a fragile lot. So instead of rolling out captioning they have decided to proceed with caution for our own good. “We didn’t know people would get sick!” they claim. “It’s not our fault that the technology has let us down!” they proclaim. That most movies released are 2D and that sickness watching 3D movies is nothing new is not something that the cinema bosses highlight. And let’s not forget our Blind and vision impaired friends! Presumably they get sick listening to 3D movies through audio description so we have to delay the roll out of that too. Bottom line is that the excuse the cinemas are spouting to delay and water down the rollout of captions to cinemas is POPPYCOCK. It’s an excuse! They are throwing their toys out of the pram because they had their hands forced when nearly 500 people let the Australian Human Rights Commission know that what the cinemas were offering was pathetic and that they wanted more. And for once the Australian Human Rights Commission showed some teeth and told the cinemas that what they were offering was an insult and that they needed to do MORE! Now all of this seems to have been to no avail.

And you the consumer who are reading this – Did you know about this? Have you been informed? Have the organisations that represent you asked you what you feel about all this? At the time of writing Deafness Forum have just issued an explanation of what is happening through their One in Six newsletter. This is all fine but were you, the paying member, asked what you want? The answer is no, because it has been decided for you.

We were promised 14 captioned cinemas as the first stage of the Captiview roll out. There will now be just three. Apart from the health excuse it is understood that there are legal and contractual issues hindering the roll out too. But Deaf, hearing impaired, Blind and vision impaired were promised that the technology was THE ANSWER. And now at the final minute, with no prior warning, the cinemas are claiming circumstances beyond their control. Why was all of this communicated at the last minute? It seems to us that the Cinema bosses are not taking Deaf, hearing impaired, Blind and vision impaired customers seriously. Can you imagine them treating the general paying customer in this way? They would be in damage control!

Letting the cinema bosses water down the roll out of captioning and audio description has been touted as compromise. It is not compromise it is backing down! The excuses spouted by the cinemas simply do not hold water. The cinemas are disrespecting Deaf, hard of hearing, Blind and vision impaired people. And our representative organisations have rolled over like a dog wanting its tummy tickled. All of us deserve more RESPECT than this!

The Rebuttal, being the equivalent of Wikileaks, are letting you know. We are the Deafileaks of Australia and are letting you know for the last time ever what is happening. Yes folks this is the last post, the last Rebuttal ever. What will happen when The Rebuttal closes?  Who is going hold our representatives – THE GANG OF FIVE OR SIX (or maybe seven, occasionally 8 ) – to account? Who will be the people asking the hard questions? Who will take up the mantle?

At the time of writing The Rebuttal has produced in excess of 160 articles. Many of these are on the Blog. The Blog was made possible by Tony Nicholas who provided us with space on his web hosting, free of charge. Articles generally were produced in the E-zine format and then placed on the Blog. Sometimes they were just produced on the Blog and likewise we sometimes just produced the E-zine. There were, in fact, other articles that did not get past the editorial team. Sometimes because they were just plain rubbish and other times because they were a wee bit too controversial. (Hard to believe, but true. 😀 )

The Rebuttal was and still is popular. Indeed over 1500 responses in various shapes and sizes have been received by email and at the Blog. Some praising, some criticising and some just wanting to make sure they didn’t miss an edition. We regularly receive responses from the UK, the USA, New Zealand and Canada. Our articles are often linked to other sites such as the hugely popular Deaf Read.

The Blog remains extremely popular. In the last 12 months the site was visited   179 869 times. We know that people visit the site from all over the world. There were 289 389 page views. 3114 of those were classified as spammers. I am no expert in web hits and I know some of these hits are us putting up new articles and checking comments, but it seems a lot. It is something all of us on The Rebuttal team are rightfully proud of.

There is a misconception that The Rebuttal was all about attacking Deaf sector organisations. This is far from the truth. Some articles were designed to hold our Deaf sector organisations to account, there is no doubt, but many were simply about living life deaf. Some articles were angry, some were funny and some reduced the reader to tears. Some were political, some were celebrations of achievements and some were just written for the hell of it. Many were written by other contributors. Debbie Kennewell wrote about the joys of Facebook and its impact on the Deaf community. Elizabeth McCleod wrote about her experience of becoming deaf in adulthood. Rodney Adam and Sandra Hoopman contributed articles about education. Michael Uniake wrote about the cochlear implant. Shirley Stott Despoja wrote about deafness and bullying. These are just some of the contributors. The Rebuttal was never just about the four editors. It was for the Deaf sector and the community at large. And they used it, and we are so glad that they did.

But now it is over. For the last four years we four at The Rebuttal have taken praise and bullets alike. In fact in a recent job interview one of us was even asked what we would do with The Rebuttal if we won the job. We have been called saviours, we have been called smug and elitist and we have been called just plain old sh*t stirrers. The truth is we were just four people that cared and tried to create discussion and debate. Now it is someone else’s turn. Be quick because if the example of the cinema captioning is anything to go by The Rebuttal will be missed indeed! As William Faulkner once said, “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.” Now it’s over to you. The Rebuttal is dead – long live The Rebuttal. Thank you all for your readership.

POSTSCRIPT

This last Rebuttal is very hard to write. The Rebuttal has been a joy to be involved in. It has been our pleasure to bring you a host of articles over the last 4 years.

Some of these articles were controversial and some were just about life. Some were written by others and not just the four editors. But always they were about deafness and demonstrated the frustration and often the richness of the deaf experience.

There is no doubt that The Rebuttal was sometimes a dog with a bone. We raised issues that others would not touch in public. The Deaf Services Australia concept was challenged as spreading resources too thin. The Townsend House and Deaf SA “partnership” was touted as really being a merger of the two organisations, much to their disdain. And now there is only one Board of Management. How right it seems we were.

In the Fragile State of Deaf Sport in Austraia we questioned the lack of funding for Deaf sport and whether Deaf Sport Australia were on the righ track. When the Auslan for Employment Scheme was released we were scathing of it. We called it bad policy, not the least because it ignored hearing impaired people who did not sign and who also had communication needs at work.

Did we have influence? We think we did. We were sometimes “summoned”. This is where an organisation would call us for a private chat. Usually to ask us to water down our views. We never did but what we did do was offer the Rebuttal for these “challenged” organisations to REBUT us and air their own views. Some did, while others chose to remain silent. More than one CEO contacted us to ask us to write about something they wanted to air but they felt that they could not because of their POSITION.

The Auslan for Employment Scheme was a constant thorn in our side. Originally it offered funding only for 12 months and it ignored the needs of hearing impaired people who could benefit from live remote captioning in the workplace.

We felt that our representatives had too quickly accepted what was on offer. We were loud and critical. We were asked to “hush” We were told it was a good start and to be thankful.

BUT bad policy is bad policy and if no one speaks out nothing gets heard. So speak out we did. Did we influence the issue? Who knows but it is interesting to note that the scheme now is ongoing and you can now claim the cost of live remote captioning through it as well. All we can say is that we said it first.

There were also attempts to censor us. We know of more than one occasion where a CEO contacted the CEO of another organisation to try and shut us up. We know one even approached their Board of Management with a view of giving us a legal warning but was reproached. We were lucky that we had “friends” and supporters and they warned us of many things. One of our favourite incidents was to be told to use a pseudonym so that our views could not be linked back to organisations we might be associated with. Yup! Openness and debate is often frowned upon.

All we ever tried to do was to create discussion and debate. We wanted The Rebuttal to be a tool where the status quo could be challenged. Most of all we wanted The Rebuttal to be for Deaf and hearing impaired people and to show deafness in all of its various forms – political, funny, sad and, most of all, just a way of life to be celebrated openly and with passion.

We hope that we have achieved this. This is the last Rebuttal. Farewell and thank you. The Rebuttal is dead –

Long live The Rebuttal!!

THE FINAL SAY

Marnie Kerridge – The Rebuttal has been both a bane and joy in my life. Difficult – in the time it takes to write, proofread and send out editions. Scary – in the fact that there were threats of litigation. Disturbing – to see how my family were treated by challenged organisations and individuals and how opportunities were quickly cut off for us.

Joyful – in seeing deaf issues finally getting a voice. Triumphant – that all organisations and individuals were put on notice and made to be accountable. Successful – that some issues educated the wider community.

The Rebuttal has been an important and integral part of the Deaf and hearing impaired sector. It is your turn to keep everyone on their toes and accountable. Don’t lie back and be subservient – you are worth the fight. Rebut!

Adam Brown – Wow! Has it really been 4 years already?!

It is with much sadness and regret that I reluctantly walk away from my editorial responsibilities at The “Butt, as it has become fondly known. The emptiness that I feel is akin to having buried one of my beloved children!

When I embarked on this venture with my fellow Editors we could not have possibly foreseen how successful and popular it would become. Whilst we have no doubt put some considerably stiff noses out of joint and smashed some to smithereens with our at times controversial and evocative style, I would like to earnestly thank our devoted readers for their continued encouragement and support as we have sought to bring pertinent Deaf and hearing impaired issues to the attention and conscience of the general public and powers-that-be.

It has been an enlightening and enriching experience, and I have been endlessly humbled by the many strangers that have approached me over the past 4 years to either encourage, rebut, debate or discuss the diverse points of view presented. Many of you have become dear friends, and I look forward to continuing these associations with you in the coming days as we reflect on the phenomenon that was “The Rebuttal.”

To Gary, Marnie, Dean I thank you sincerely for your warm friendship, advice and encouragement to “live a little”. I will miss the many laughs, stresses, debates and arguments that have ensued as we’ve raised against time to prepare articles for deadline.

At the end of the day when all is said and done, I hope that “The Rebuttal” has has demonstrated that there is a wealth of skill, knowledge and ability out there within the Deaf and hearing impaired community, and we truly do have the ability to evoke and provoke much needed change in deafness and hearing impairment services and supports, provided that we remain united and vocal in continuing to advocate passionately for our needs in these constantly changing and evolving times.

Stay strong!

Dean Barton-Smith – Dean was one of the major drivers of The Rebuttal. Recently Dean was elevated to President of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations.

What this meant was that Dean was no longer in a position where he could make independent political comment such as that which is printed in The Rebuttal. As a result he reluctantly withdrew from his involvement.

Without Dean there would have been no Rebuttal. Thanks Dean for everything. We know as President of AFDO you will make sure the consumer, the little person, is heard and represented fairly!

Gary Kerridge – I think I’ve said enough already! KEEP YOUR VOICE LOUD!


AND FINALLY  THE PRESTIGOUS THE REBUTTAL AWARDS FOR 2010 GO TO !!!!!!!!! (Drum roll!!!)


The World War III Award! – This Goes to Deaf Children Australia and the Victorian College for The Deaf – for their very public stoush about the sale of land at the historic Bluestone building on St Kilda Road. They both claimed to have support from the Deaf community for their views. This was a furphy as the Deaf community is very much divided and mis-informed. We thinks the Deaf community are in Switzerland on the issue!

The Who Are You Award! – This goes with much fanfare to the BIG 4 Cinemas for their shoddy treatment of Deaf, hearing impaired, Blind and vision impaired people. They promised us captions and audio description by December on a large scale and now they are rolling out excuses for delay like there is no tomorrow. As far as they are concerned they wish we did not exist, we are such a burden. They may as well ask WHO ARE YOU??


The Members Dont Matter Award – This goes to our many representative organisations. Take your pick – Deaf Australia, Deafness Forum, Media Access Australia etc etc … For their shoddy treatment of Deaf and hearing impaired people in the Cinema Captioning Campaign. Nearly five hundred people wrote into the Australian Human Rights Commission and nearly all of those 500 people protested loudly at the captioning deal that our representative organisations had brokered for us.  Not good enough and MORE was the clear messsage. What did our representative organisations do? Supported the cinemas thats what. Showing us yet again that our hard earned membership dollar means nothing! ( by the way the finger in the award refers to what they gave to us not what we are giving to them. )

The Eddie McGuire Award – Eddie everywhere they call him in Australia. So called for his ability to be seen virtually everywhere.  This prestigous award goes to AI MEDIA!  The Deafness Forum Summit!    The Australian Caption Awards! Every five minutes on Facebook! The Inventors! Foxtel! Austar! – U name it they are there! They give a new meaning to the word SLICK!

The Showing The Way Award – There can only be one winner of this award and that is AUSLAN SERVICES! Not only did they win Interpreter Agency of the Year but they constantly give to and support the Deaf community in a way that puts our large Deaf support service agencies to shame. THEY GIVE! Not like a certain organisations that makes its members BEG! Take note and learn we say. Congratulations Auslan Services!

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