Deaf Australia is always a hive of activity, busy with all sorts of tasks; working hard to make life better for Deaf people. Read more here about what we’ve been up to lately.
- Key Priority 1: Early intervention and education
National Summit on Early Intervention & Education for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Children, Canberra, 29 & 30 November 2012
The report from the summit has been received from strategic planning company Grant Thornton and we have sent it to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA). Once FaHCSIA has approved it, we will make it available publicly, including sending it directly to everyone who registered for the summit. The next step will be to work out our action plan for putting the identified strategies into action.
On Monday 4 March, Bill Shorten, Minister for Workplace Relations, was on Q&A on ABC TV and was asked a question about the $6,000 per year cap on support that people can get from the Employment Assistance Fund. The question was asked by a Deaf person and was specifically about interpreting. She made the point that $6,000 per year does not go far. Mr Shorten said he would take it on board. On Tuesday 5 March I sent additional information about this issue to Mr Shorten, and further encouraged him to investigate possible improvements.
- Key Priority 3: Access to information and media
DisabilityCare Australia (NDIS)
On 18 March I had a discussion with a member of the NDIS Taskforce about the NDIS Rules and provided some feedback from a Deaf community perspective.
Late in February the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) offered us $8,000 to help us to consult with the Deaf community about the NDIS Rules and to conduct community engagement activities to raise awareness about the NDIS between now and 30 June 2013.
We started this work by developing a series of short videos about the NDIS Rules. In three days we managed to summarise many pages of information on seven sets of rules into one – two pages of key information about each set of rules, and film them in Auslan. The videos are on Youtube and on our blog deafaustralia.org.au
We also worked with our state branches and some of our board members to quickly organise and hold workshops about the rules and provide feedback to government by 22 March. We managed to hold workshops in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth and we sent a lot of excellent feedback to government. Our thanks to board members and state branches who worked quickly with us to make these workshops happen, to all the people who came along to the workshops at such short notice, and to those people who viewed the videos online and sent us feedback. Your input was very valuable and was sent to government.
We are now planning a series of general awareness raising workshops about the NDIS in as many locations, including regional locations, as we can fit into the time available up to 30 June 2013. Please keep an eye out for the flyers announcing locations and dates and check our blog at deafaustralia.org.au
Captioning Working Group
Captioning on various media has long been a major issue of concern for Deaf and hard of hearing people. Over the years, Deaf Australia has had a sub-committee of members interested in captioning issues, which achieved some progress on these issues, and captioning is currently included in our strategic plan’s Key Priorities.
Deaf Australia’s board has recognised that the issues require more collaboration with other relevant organisations and community groups in order to achieve further desired outcomes. So during March we worked on the preparations for setting up a Captioning Working Group and invited six other organisations and community groups to send a representative to this Working Group. Organisations/community groups invited are:
- Deaf Victoria
- Deafness Forum
- Action on Cinema Access (AOCA)
- Media Access Australia
- Arts Access Victoria
We also sent out a call for expressions of interest in two independent individual community representatives.
The purpose of this Working Group is to bring together like-minded organisations and community groups to work co-operatively to:
- Work as a unified front to address captioning issues across various media formats;
- Undertake campaigns to promote increased access to captioned content suitable for Deaf and hard of hearing people in various media formats; and
- Keep abreast of research and identify best practice for delivery of captioning.
Kyle Miers will convene the Working Group on Deaf Australia’s behalf and Deaf Australia will provide secretariat support as outlined in the Terms of Reference, which are available on our website www.deafau.org.au The Working Group will be based in Melbourne, for practical reasons, but will work in the interests of caption users Australia-wide. The first meeting of the Working Group will be held on Thursday 2 May 2013.
Accessible Cinema Advisory Group (ACAG)
Cathy Clark represented Deaf Australia at the ACAG meeting on 15 March. Information from this meeting will be available on our blog soon.
AHRC ‘20 years, 20 stories’
Following on from the launch of the ‘20 years, 20 stories’ DVD celebrating 20 years of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in February, state Anti-Discrimination Commissions have been holding state based celebrations. The Queensland celebration was held in Brisbane on 18th March and I was invited to join a panel discussing the impact the DDA has had in the past 20 years and what further changes are needed. You can see the videos on the AHRC website by clicking here
- Key Priority 4: Organisational stability and growth
During March 2013 we worked with several other organisations – Macquarie University, Northern Melbourne Institute of Technology (NMIT), Heriot Watt University (Edinburgh), Deaf Society of NSW, Vicdeaf and ASLIA – to prepare a funding application for a project to develop standards for Auslan translations, which was sent to ACCAN. This is an update of a funding application we submitted to ACCAN last year. We hope that it will be successful this year. Special thanks to Della Goswell at Macquarie University and Cathy Clark at NMIT for their commitment to making sure this was done on time, including working on it over the Easter break.
World Federation of the Deaf
One of our board members, Ida Rogers has been working hard on the call for applications from youths and youth leaders to attend the WFD Junior Youth Camp in Rome in July this year. The lucky youths who will be going are Max Eyking and Anabelle Beasley, and the youth leader accompanying them is Shirley Liu.
In March we were contacted by the community group Action on Cinema Access (AOCA) and were asked to clarify our current approach to cinema accessibility, in particular in relation to some specific issues. We were also advised that AOCA planned to withdraw from the ACAG at the meeting on 15 March.
In response I sent the following information to AOCA and I include it here in the interest of open and transparent information sharing:
- Deaf Australia’s position has always been that open captioning is the preferred format. We have said this from the very start when cinema captioning was first investigated back in 1999/2000 when the first trial was held. (What we mean by ‘open captions’ is what some people in AOCA are now referring to as ‘on-screen captions’.)
- We negotiated for years with the cinemas to try to increase/improve the number of venues, the number and variety of films available, session times, and resolve a number of other issues including lack of advertising and inaccurate advertising. All of this was in relation to open captioned films. Closed captioning was never discussed except once that I recall when a hearing person said that Rear Window would be better and we disagreed. The big 4 cinemas have always been extremely difficult to work with from the very start.
- Since the roll out of Captiview (which was a deal made between government and the big 4, Deaf Australia was not involved in negotiating this deal) our position has always been based on the information available to us at the time we made public statements in our newsletters etc.
- From the beginning, we said that we support the roll out, the increase in the number of venues was great, but that the captiview technology would not be suitable for everyone (and just so you know where I personally stand on this, I personally dislike Captiview and have done from the first time I saw it when it was launched; I believe this may also be true of both our current and previous representatives on ACAG; however in my job, and in their role as representatives, we must speak for the community as a whole, not just our own personal views). From the beginning we have also said that the cinemas must investigate new technology as it becomes available.
- We have in the past been asked for our position on Captiview and we have published articles in our newsletters saying that based on the information available to us at that time we believed that Captiview was the best available technology currently or at that time. The “currently” and “at that time” caveat seems to be overlooked by those who misunderstand or misinterpret our position. We have also consistently said publicly that the cinemas must investigate new technology when it becomes available.
- We have also pointed out problems with the current technology, staff training etc in cinemas. We have done this consistently on ACAG, and at an ACAG meeting last year your representative Cathy Clark offered to work with Veronica Pardo from AAV to identify a suitable training program that can be adapted for cinema staff. She showed me a program they had identified, one day last year when I was Melbourne, but I’m not sure where they are currently up to on this.
- We agree that issues of technology not working, staff training, advertising etc are ongoing problems. They have always been problems even before Captiview and were issues that we were trying for years to get the cinemas to improve – see point 2 above. We agree that these problems seem to be getting worse.
- We understand that many people don’t like Captiview / it doesn’t suit them because of height, eye focus issues etc. We also understand that there are people who do like it. And we also understand that there are people who are prepared to put up with it in the absence of something better. It remains our view that open captions are the preferred option.
- We have previously, in emails and face to face, told AOCA that we basically agree on what the problems are and that open captions are preferred. What we have not been able to agree on is the strategies for advocating for a better deal. AOCA seems to believe that a quick fix is possible and that if we complain enough and loudly enough it will get fixed. We understand that everyone wants this fixed ASAP – and so do we. I’d love to be able to tick this off my very long to-do list and move on to other issues that also need attention.However, based on all of our experience, a quick fix is unlikely to happen with the big 4 cinemas. Making a lot of noise publicly and constantly complaining isn’t necessarily going to bring a quick fix, in fact sometimes it does the opposite and causes the ‘enemy’ to dig in and stop listening. With advocacy some things do unfortunately take a long time and in advocacy we need to be able to cope with the constant frustration and disappointment. Just as comparisons, it took us 10 years to convince government to fund the National Relay Service (NRS) and 8 years to convince them to include SMS emergency call service and Video Relay Service in the NRS. Funding to establish the National Auslan Booking and Payment Service (NABS) only took us 2 years. So you never can tell how long something is going to take but most things don’t happen quickly. We need the community to understand this better.
- Deaf Australia has been in there advocating for cinema captioning and improvements since the late 1990s. We have always been and we remain committed for the long haul. The issues are a lot more complex than many people seem to understand. The advocacy we do is not always seen or understood by everyone, and we do need to do better at publicising what we do, but we have been there working on cinema access and we will remain there working on it.
- The current problem is not ACAG itself. The problem is the big 4 cinemas. They are not, and never have been as committed as we want them to be, we have always had to drag them kicking and screaming to the next step. If AOCA withdraws from ACAG, that is, of course, their decision. However, we do not believe that it will lead the cinemas to improve their ways. Cathy Clark will be attending the meeting as Deaf Australia’s representative with the message that the cinemas need to lift their game, but we won’t be withdrawing from ACAG, we don’t believe this will result in any improvements, it will simply put us on the outside of the negotiation process.
- For your information, we are also about to set up a working group of interested people to work with us on strategies for getting open captioning into independent cinemas. I need to do a few things first but I will be in contact with you and also Deafness Forum and others about this in due course. It would be great if we could harness some of the community enthusiasm and channel it into some fresh approaches to the issue, so we hope that AOCA will join us on this.
Following this, AOCA is still a member of the ACAG and will send a representative to the Captioning Working Group. We look forward to continuing to work with them in constructive ways on captioning issues.