Listen up you hearing people. I am deaf. I know what I as a deaf person need. I know fully my needs. In fact, I can properly advise what other people who are deaf might need. BUT, I would always advise you to ask them. My needs and theirs can be totally opposites. But either way I am telling you – YOU HEARING PEOPLE – I know best, we know best, they know best – the deaf of the world know what they need.– SO LISTEN UP
No! Voice recognition technology won’t be enough. So don’t ask me if it will. What you can ask me is – “What will help us to communicate? ” Note the use of the word “US” – because it is about you and me. It is not just my responsibility but yours as well. It’s a two way thing.
In fact the communication support, it’s mostly for you. You see I can communicate with you. I speak, you hear me and you receive my message. The difficulty is you communicating with me. You are so FRUSTRATING. You cannot make yourself understood. You, the hearing person, need the interpreter. You are so expensive, such a bloody burden.
Yeah, and you there. The guy with the BMW SUV. You there who is head of the organisation that supports me. I am your boss. Other people who are deaf are your boss. You see the organisation you work for exists only because of and for people who are like me. That car, that house and the fine SavPlonk you are drinking tonight, it is because of us! Remember that.
You know if you are working for an organisation that supports deaf people, or if you are part of an admin team at an organisation that supports people who are deaf – Then yes, I expect you to have at least the right attitude and skills to work with people who are deaf.
This means you include them. You don’t form this pool of hearos in the lunch room and leave the person who is deaf alone at the end of the table. You don’t ask Bertha to ask Debbie to ask me if I would like some more work. You find a way to ask me directly. If you are working with an organisation that has been set up for people who use Auslan – Adults or children – I expect you to learn to use Auslan – Yes you – The office person, the principal, the CEO who has been there for 20 years – YES I expect every single one of you to learn.
No, it isn’t a choice for you. It’s a must. No, I don’t choose not to hear. No, I can’t learn to hear better. No, I can’t learn to speak more clearly. No, I can’t learn to lip read better – BUT you, the hearing person, can certainly learn Auslan. Sure some of you will learn better than others, but all I ask is that you try to learn and then use what you know. If you don’t want to or believe you should not have to – Well find a new job – Yeah, fuck off basically.
You see I have a simple philosophy. I expect people that work in deafness to at least know something about the job they are doing. I don’t expect the accountant to know everything, but I expect the accountant to want to learn about the reasons a deaf organisation exists and know what the money is meant to acheive. I expect a person that works with people who are deaf to know how to work with them. I expect them to be fully savvy of the issues, the barriers the needs, the programs and so on. I expect them to be able to hit the ground running.
Would you employ someone in a bank that could not count? Or someone as a physiotherapist who did not know anatomy. Or a hairdresser with no experience or training in cutting hair? I don’t think so. Yet in the deaf sector it seems the norm that we can pluck someone out of nowhere, someone who might have been an accountant, fireman or farmer and let them work in this highly specialised area.
It is not uncommon to employ someone simply because they have a university degree and overlook a deaf person for a job in the sector. Hell, Josie completed her Bachelor of Arts and finished top of her class. She will do. Deaf Dave? Nah! 35 years living the life doesn’t count.
Don’t get me started on all the people who are deaf who have been cleaners for 20 years, who work at the very bottom of the pecking order, who are constantly overlooked for promotions. These people do the same baseline, bottom feeding jobs for many years – Because that’s called providing opportunities isn’t it? Hear me roar – And it is not with laughter.
Yes it is 2019 and this is still happening. If you are one of those responsible for maintaining this status quo – Heed the modified words of The Angels –
You gotta get out of this place
If it’s the last thing you ever do
You gotta get out of this place, you’re destroying our life
Don’t you know, don’t you know
Man, don’t you know, don’t you know, don’t you know (Expletives deleted.)