A Sorry Affair …

Image is of Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, eyes tightly shut and in obvious distress.

ScoMo is saying sorry a lot lately. He is saying sorry to the women of Australia. Sorry that they are being abused, raped, ignored and under-paid. He is even saying sorry for being sorry. He commented that women were lucky that they can protest cos if they lived somewhere else then they might be shot. He is sorry for having to consult with his wife to understand that abusing women is wrong. He is sorry that he had to think how he would have reacted if it were his daughter in Brittney Higgins shoes.

You see he lacks empathy of any sort. Empathy would have told him that abusing women in any form is wrong.” Im trying” he says – And he is sorry that if by trying to be sorry he offends anyone for the drivel that comes out of his mouth … Unsurprisingly, the women, and good proportion of men, have seen his apologies for what they are – Just a trite strategy of political survival.

You see “SORRY” has to be met with appropriate action. This is something that hearing people that serve Deaf people and people who are hard of hearing don’t seem to grasp. They do awful things to Deaf people and people who are hard of hearing, usually in the name of making money.

This group of motley hearing people drive forward in the name of the almighty dollar. Trampling on the very people that they are paid to serve. The very people that put food on their tables, pay for their expensive cars and their beachfront house. These people lack empathy and make horrendous decisions. When the people that they serve speak out, they apologise. Apologies that, as with ScoMo, are purely strategies for damage control and survival.

Let’s have a look at some of these sorry’s that have come from these organisations. Who remembers the Prawns??? My wife does,  believe me.

Image is of an attractive woman wearing prawns behind her ear. the prawns are supposed to represent hearing aids.

I wrote about the Raw Prawns in 2015. At the time Victorian Hearing had released an advertisement that depicited hearing aids as prawns.  In the advertisement an attractive female model is seen wearing prawns behind her ears. The advertisement  proclaimed that hearing aids can be ugly – OURS ARE INVISIBLE …. As a result Deaf people  and people who are hard of hearing protested at this gross negativity and insensitivity. This is what I said about the advertisement at the time –

” …The image is always one of deficit.  It is one of suffering. it is one of the victim. For whatever reason marketing people promote this idea of normalisation of disability as one where disability must never be acknowledged or seen … We have to be like them you see..”

To the credit of Victorian Hearing they saw the error of their ways. The owner publicly apologised. They were mortified that they had offended so many Deaf people and people who are hard of hearing. They immediately withdrew the advertisement. We all expected more empathy from an organisation that supposedly understands our needs. Alas!!

Many years ago there was an advertisement for the Cora Barclay Centre. The Centre is now under the Can Do Group – Formerly Townsend House. The advertisement went like this. Picture this 12 year old boy. He is staring sadly into the camera. He signs haltingly and terribly. He is clearly struggling. He can’t communicate easily and his pain and anguish is there for all to see.  The dialogue reminds us that for many years Deaf people communicated, just like this!

Suddenly, the camera cuts back to the boy. He is smiling and happy, he proclaims in what I was told was almost a sing song voice – “Now there is a better way …. ” The presumption is clear – Sign language bad – Speech good …. naturally the Deaf community were appalled and let the Cora Barclay Centre know. The Centre refused to remove the advertisement or apologise … This was absolutely the worst I have ever seen. One would hope that the Can Do Group have helped them to clean up their Act.

Then there was that bear. That bloody eyeless and earless bear that The old Royal Institute of Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) tried to use to raise funds and seemingly create awareness. I wrote about that awful bear in the last Rebuttal. Suffice to say shortly after printing that 2013 article the CEO of RIDBC apologised for the organisation being insensitive and having upset so many people. The campaign was apparently designed and implemented by an advertising group, basically free of charge. Nonetheless, the CEO said sorry and made sure all of the offending advertisements that featured the bear were removed.

More recently Deaf Can Do apologised for having sold the Deaf communities cultural home without the consent of the Deaf community. They did so despite strong protests from the Deaf community. In doing so they fragmented the South Australian Deaf community in such a way that it has never really recovered. The building at 262 South Terrace had been purchased and built on the back of Deaf community members. I am told the carpentry and fittings within the building, including the church, were lovingly completed by Deaf trades people.

But no matter, the building was sold anyway. It appears in recent times Deaf Can Do has seen the error of its ways. Their Executive Director has released a series of apologies for having sold the building. They have apologised for the hurt and damage that they have caused. They are now frantically trying to rebuild relationships with the Deaf community and are trying to involve the Deaf community in decisions moving forward.

Unsurprisingly, the Deaf community are very suspicious of this apology. Many see it as nothing more than a cynical ploy to attract Deaf people back to the organisation so that Deaf Can Do can make money from these individuals NDIS packages. Personally I think they are sincere.

I am told that the money that they made from the sale of 262 is being held in a trust and that Deaf Can Do want to fully involve the Deaf community in all decisions concerning the use of these funds moving forward. However, the damage has been done it will take some time to rebuild the trust that Deaf Can Do destroyed through its actions.

Today I saw yet another apology from the Royal Institute for Deaf Blind Children, now known as NextSense. Last week NextSense was launched. It took the Deaf community and other associated stakeholders by surprise. Seemingly, just like that, they wiped over 100 years of Deaf history. They launched the new brand and there were no Auslan versions explaining the brand change. We all know it happened because they are diversifying and want to tap into the enormous NDIS market for both children and adults.

The Deaf community and associated stakeholders were shocked and have been protesting loudly ever since at the shoddy treatment that they have received. So what happened? Having realised that they had largely ignored the Deaf community, who are largely responsible for the existence of the organisation anyway, having realised that they had aligned themselves with services that have traditionally rejected all use of Auslan and, I suspect, having realised that as a public relations tool the whole thing was a monumental cock up – NextSense apologised. You can see their apology at their Facebook page, because as far as I can see it is not on their website –

https://www.facebook.com/nextsenseau/videos/10158865950256893

So it is strike two for NextSense. I have little sympathy for them, given their form with that awful bear when they were then known as RIDBC. There is no way that they can excuse themselves for having left so many people in the dark when they launched the new brand. There is no way at all that they should have even thought to release the new brand without acknowledgement of the Deaf community or by producing alternate Auslan formats for their announcements.

But they did, and they are now apologising and frantically trying to add Auslan to all their announcements. Shoddy does not even begin to describe how disgracefully that they have treated the Deaf community. I, for one, am very skeptical of their apology. We all know the rebrand was about money and making as much of it as possible. Sure they need it to survive but treating the Deaf community as they have done is unforgivable.

So there you have it. A whole catalogue of Sorry’s .. Including a not sorry. Make of them what you will. For myself, I am increasingly cynical. These people should know better!!

One thought on “A Sorry Affair …

  1. I was not happy that SCIC lost kts individual identity. For many of us who have been with SCIC for a long time, it is where we met with people who understood our needs. For me, the new name, NextSrnse does not tell me what this behemoth organisation is about. The individual organisations within this group are now one faceless mass.

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