The evangelist was in full flight. “HALLLELUJAH”, he screamed, ” Praise the LORD!” The congregation were in raptures. They swayed as one as they praised the Lord. “Tonight”, said the evangelist, “…is a night for miracles.” The congregation screamed to the sky and weeped. “Come upon stage.” implored the evangelist, “… and I will heal you.” Bob in his wheelchair rolls up onto the stage, that thankfully had a ramp for him. Peter, who has a terrible stutter, comes up too. “What is wrong with YOU??” asks the evangelist of Bob, perhaps missing the obvious. “I cant walk”, answers Bob. “What is wrong with you???”, asks the evangelist of Peter. “I. I. I I. cccccaaannnt sppppeeeaakk. wwwwweellll.” stutters Peter.
The evangelists asks the congregation to pray. Through prayer Bob and Peter will be healed. The evangelist beckons Bob and Peter over behind a screen so that they cannot be seen. The evangelists whips the congregation into a frenzy …. “Oh lord, help Bob and Peter. Let Bob walk, let Peter speak!!!”. The eyes of the evangelist roll back in his head and he begins to speak in tongues. The congregation gasp. They scream to the lord to heal Bob and Peter. And then silence …. The evangelist falls to his knees, breathing heavily.
Slowly the evangelist rises to his feet. He raises his arms to the heavens. “WALK”, implores the evangelist to Bob. Behind the screen there is a loud thud. The congregation gasp in anticipation. “SPEAK!!!” screams the evangelist to Peter – and he speaks …. “Bbbbbboooobbbbbs. fffffaaalllllleeeen oooovvvvvver.”
It’s a bad joke, I know. Some may even be offended by it. But I’m sorry, this joke came to mind after seeing a ridiculous advertisement for hearing aids yesterday. Allow me to explain.
The NDIS has been a godsend for many people with a disability. For others it is less so. However, it is undeniable that many people with a disability have received immense benefits from the NDIS.
Deaf people have received interpreting money, for example. They use this money to purchase Auslan interpreters or even live captioning. They attend parties, weddings, funerals and even do short courses in things like gardening. Pre-NDIS Deaf people were often just isolated at events where members were mostly hearing. Those community courses, they could not attend because there was no access. Many doors have opened as a result of the NDIS. This is true of many other disabilities too.
One of the big things about the NDIS is that it has created a market. The market is made up of service providers who are all scrambling to convince people with disabilities to us their services over others. Some of the marketing tools are, to be frank, misleading and even comical.
The marketing ranges from the supremely negative to the sickly twee and revoltingly positive. The worst thing about the marketing is that it is often disgustingly misleading.
The below is an example of more subdued advertising,
“With XXXX, you can get so much more flexibility from your NDIS package. You get to choose support workers that are right for you, to pursue your passions, achieve your goals ….”
I don’t have a problem with this really. I use it only as an example of the language that is used to try and convince people with a disability to use particular services. It is a market after all, profit is the name of the game.
Then we have less ethical advertising. Advertising that misleads. Advertising that raises false expectations. Indeed advertising that is outright lies. Click on the blue text below. Click the back button to return to the article.
Cochlear are often most guilty of this when they promote the Implant as a cure all for everything. They fail to highlight the enormous amount of work that one must do to receive benefit or, indeed, the fact that the Implant does not work for everyone. Don’t get me wrong, I know literally hundreds of people that have received enormous benefit from the implant. All I ask is a little bit of honesty. I see Cochlear like the evangelist, they almost raise false hopes and expectations. It is not healthy.
Then you have the out right negative, like the Prawn campaign:
This one paints deafness as a life sentence. It tells people that hiding your deafness is the way to go. That deafness is a thing of shame. It is ugly and must not be spoken of. The company misleads leads people into thinking that by having tiny wee hearing aids that no-one can see, that they will almost be hearing. Not accurate, not helpful and potentially extremely damaging to the psyche of people already struggling with their hearing loss.
And now to the subject of my ire and my cynicism,
The ad is disgustingly twee. I saw it and burst out laughing. After laughter came anger. Why??? Why must these providers lower themselves to such levels. WHY??? WHY do they underestimate the intelligence and ability of the paying public to see through this bullshit? Why??? Why must they lie? Why can they not just say “ We have a range of hearing aids that might help you, come in for a free consultation.” Why??? Why can’t they just have a serious photo of someone consulting with an audiologist and looking at a range of devices. Why cant they have a disclaimer that says honestly “The benefits of hearing aids can very for individuals and may take some time adjust to.” Why must they sensationalise things and insult all of our intelligence?
The answer is probably money and the desire to make more of it. I find it really sad and insulting. But sadly, for all its benefits, the NDIS has created a world where people with a disability have lost their dignity and are just seen as the source of enormous profits.
There are many other providers that advertise in a similar way. For fairness I have provided further samples below. None come close to being as bad as the one above. All are misleading or negative, even ageist.
The evangelist joke that I began this article with is closer to the truth than we all want to admit. Hysteria and sensationalist rubbish abounds.
That, my friends, is the uncomfortable truth!!!