Category: Archives

Captioning Working Group – Communique, May 2013

The Captioning Working Group, an initiative of Deaf Australia, met for the first time on 2nd May 2013 with representatives from Deaf Australia, Deaf Victoria, Deafness Forum of Australia, Action on Cinema Access, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, Arts Access Victoria and Media Access Australia, to discuss captioning issues across all media formats.
The group agreed in principle the purposes of the Captioning Working Group which are:

  • To work as a unified front to address captioning issues across various media formats;
  • To undertake campaigns to promote increased access to caption content suitable for deaf and hard of hearing people in various formats; and
  • To keep abreast of research and identify best practice for delivery of captioning.

Ann Darwin, President of Deaf Australia welcomed the group and outlined the challenges going forward for the deaf sector. She expressed the hope that this Captioning Working Group will work together to achieve outcomes in the best interests of our consumers.
Two key priorities identified at this initial meetings, were:

  • The need to develop captioning principles, and
  • Undertake a cooperative campaign on television caption quality.

Captioning Principles:
The group identified that there is a need for captioning principles to be developed that will set the framework for the Working Group and the industry to work within; this will create harmony between consumers and industry.
Cooperative Campaign:
Captions shown on broadcast programs usually receive few complaints from consumers, which leads the industry to believe that problems are not systemic and usually believe the fault is with the region for poor reception or technical issues. This cooperative campaign will identify several programs and coordinate complaints from the community so that regulators and networks can see when problems are systemic and that they may need to reassess how they approach these issues systemically.
Digital Inclusion and Disability Forum
Kyle Miers, the convenor, informed the group that Deaf Australia received an invitation to present at the Digital Inclusion and Disability Forum held in Melbourne this month.
Membership of the Working Group
We are looking to include one more organisation representative so this group is inclusive and representative of all people who are deaf and hard of hearing. We received one Expression of Interest from an independent community member and wish to seek for one more independent community member. Interested people should send their expression of interest to Karen Lloyd at [email protected].
The group will meet once every 3 months and will meet again in August.

Welcome to the NDIS, Queensland!

DisabilityCare Australia, the national disability insurance scheme, will roll out – in full – across Queensland by July 2019.

The 9 May 2013 agreement between the Federal and Queensland Governments will see DisabilityCare Australia become a reality for around 97,000 Queenslanders with disability.
The Federal Government has now secured full agreements with most state and territory governments, meaning almost 90 per cent of Australians will be covered by DisabilityCare Australia.
DisabilityCare Australia is designed to give people with disability (and their families and carers) more choice and control over the supports they receive, and peace of mind that they’ll get the care and support they need in the event of significant and permanent disability, or if they have a child with disability that leaves them needing daily care and support.
To cover all people in Queensland, in 2019-20 the Queensland Government will provide $2.03 billion and the Australian Government will contribute around $2.14 billion to the scheme for Queenslanders.
This agreement builds on those with the governments of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory and the agreement to launch the scheme in the Barkly region of the Northern Territory.
The countdown to launch in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania is on – it’s just over seven weeks away. Stay tuned to progress towards the launch by checking in on the website – – and we’ll continue to keep you updated through the Deaf Australia blog too.

cap that! Back in 2013

Now in its third year, the annual cap that! campaign is focused on asking teachers all around Australia to turn on captions in schools to improve literacy and learning benefits for all students.

Captions are of great assistance for many Deaf and hearing impaired students.
Research has shown that captions can improve comprehension for students who use a language other than English as their first language, for struggling readers and for children with learning difficulties.
Captions are already available on many DVDs, online videos and TV programs, but many people are not aware that they are now being used in classrooms as a new way of teaching students with diverse learning needs.
cap that! are currently looking for teachers to become Captions Champions for 2013. Captions Champions receive a pack containing information to assist them start using captions in the classroom immediately and also to encourage their teaching colleagues to do the same. To complement the pack, the cap that! website provides lesson plan ideas and other resources. The lesson plans are designed around the Australian Curriculum subjects of maths, science, history and English and cater for Kindy through to Year 10. Each resource has a captioned element to it and most link directly to free captioned videos.
Captions Champions are kept up-to-date on the availability of new, captioned multimedia via a free newsletter and through the cap that! website content.
Captions Champion at St Clare of Assisi, ACT, Tiffany Reedy said, “Captions provide me with another teaching method I can use to improve learning outcomes around literacy. It’s something I hadn’t thought much about previously but since being a Captions Champion I’ve started to seek out educational videos with captions, and in doing so I’ve seen benefits for every student in the class.”
Visit for your free Captions Champion pack and to access a range of resources for teachers, schools and parents.
cap that! is sponsored by the Australian Communication Exchange and proudly supported by National Literacy and Numeracy Week.

What will be different under DisabilityCare? Come to a forum and find out …

DisabilityCare is starting in July 2013 for some people in some areas in Tasmania, South Australia, NSW and Victoria.

It will start in the ACT and NT in July 2014 and in Queensland in 2016. It will become available for everyone in all states and territories except WA from about 2018. The Australian Government is still negotiating with WA. DisabilityCare will have a big impact on Deaf people. How you get services will be different.

Do you know what will be different? Come to a forum and find out.

Deaf Australia is holding a number of forums around Australia about the new DisabilityCare Australia (the National Disability Insurance Scheme – NDIS).
Generally, forums are specially for Deaf people and will be in Auslan. No interpreting will be provided – however, please let us know if you need a Deafblind interpreter.
Interpreters will be provided for the Darwin forum.
Refreshments will be provided.

Workshops for Northern QLD will be held:

Mackay – Thursday, 16 May 6.30pm to 8.30pm
George Street Neighbourhood Centre
4 George Street, Mackay
Townsville – Friday, 17 May 2012 – 7pm to 9 pm
Deaf Services Qld
111 Charters Towers Road, Townsville
Cairns – Saturday 18 May 2013 –  2.30pm to 4.30pm
Direct Employment Services
225 Sheridan Street, Cairns

Workshops for Victoria will be held:

Melbourne – Thursday, 23 May 6.00pm to 8.00pm
FJ Rose Auditorium, Deaf Children Australia
597 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Bendigo – Tuesday, 11 June 2013 – 6pm to 8pm
Bendigo Health’s Havlin St East Complex
37 Havlin St East, Bendigo
Ballarat – Wednesday 12 June 2013 –  6pm to 8pm
The Boardroom, Ballarat Business Centre
Ballarat Business Centre
15 Dawson Street South, Ballarat

Workshops for South Australia will be held:

Adelaide – Saturday 22 June 2013 – 2.00pm to 5.00pm
Deaf Community Hall,
262 South Terrace, Adelaide

Workshops for Northern Territory will be held:

Darwin – Thursday 6 June 2013 – 6pm to 8pm
DeafNT office
Shop 14B Casuarina Plaza, 258 Trower Road, Casuarina

Workshops for NSW will be held:

Sydney – Monday 27 May 2013 – 6pm to 8pm
Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts – L1 Carmichael Room
280 Pitt Street, Sydney

Workshops for Qld will be held:

Brisbane – Wednesday 26 June 2013 – 6pm to 8pm
Deaf Services Qld
915 Ipswich Road, Moorooka
Brisbane Seniors – Thursday 27 June 2013 – 12.30pm for 1pm start
Mary Mac Hall
616 Ipswich Road, Annerley

Deaf Australia activities during March 2013

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.

[divider style=”hr-dotted”] [accordion_set] [accordion title=”Key Priority 1: Early intervention and education” active=”yes”]

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. [/accordion] [accordion title=”Key Priority 3: Access to information and media” active=”no”]

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
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

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:

  1. Work as a unified front to address captioning issues across various media formats;
  2. Undertake campaigns to promote increased access to captioned content suitable for Deaf and hard of hearing people in various media formats; and
  3. 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 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 [/accordion] [accordion title=”Key Priority 4: Organisational stability and growth” active=”no”]


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:

      1. 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’.)
      2. 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.
      3. 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.
      4. 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.
      5. 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.
      6. 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.
      7. 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.
      8. 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.
      9. 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. [/accordion] [/accordion_set] [content_box style=”green” title=”About the contributor”] Karen Lloyd AM is Executive Officer of Deaf Australia. [/content_box]

Are you aware of the recent changes to DES Employment Services?


Have you received a letter from DEEWR about your current Employment Service. Don’t know what to do about it?

With the new changes you can now choose a Deaf Specialist Provider in most states including: Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales and South Australia.

If you have received a letter and don’t do anything you will be automatically allocated to a provider that may not meet your personal needs.
If you have any questions about this from any state in Australia our staff at Sign For Work will be happy to help.

Who are we?

Sign For Work is part of Deaf Services Australia – Employment Group – Deaf and hard of hearing specialists.
We provide Deaf Specialist Employment Services in West Australia (partnership with WADS and we are called Deafinite Employment Services.
In Queensland and Victoria we operate as Sign For Work.
All our services provide:

  • Auslan fluent staff
  • Access to Auslan interpreters for interviews
  • Support with training
  • Access to professional vocational counselors or psychologists (Auslan Experienced)
  • Access to interview practice and developing job ready skills
  • Funding towards work related expenses eg. licences, work boots, uniforms and some course costs
  • Dedicated marketers that go out and approach employers for you to find suitable work

Our commitment is to help you find the job you want.

To find out more about our service or what services are available in your state please contact us at [email protected]
Locations of our state offices are:
Perth: Deafinite Employment, Suite 46/5 Aberdeen Street, East Perth.
Melbourne – St Kilda: Sign For Work, 597 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
Melbourne – Fitzroy: Sign For Work, 95 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Brisbane – Stafford: Sign For Work, 271A Stafford Road, Stafford
[content_box style=”green” title=”Sponsored Post Disclaimer”] This post has been prepared and sponsored by Sign For Work (part of Deaf Services Australia- Employment Group) and is a paid advertisement. [/content_box]

International Week of the Deaf: September 2013

Equality for Deaf People

It is again that time of the year when Deaf people around the world gather together with the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) to celebrate International Week of the Deaf.

International Week of the Deaf is celebrated annually by Deaf people worldwide during the last full week of September. 133 national associations of the Deaf worldwide organise events, marches, debates, campaigns and meetings to highlight specific human rights topics that merit attention by local and national governmental authorities, including decision makers, general public and media.
International Week of the Deaf is about gathering together, becoming united, and showing that unity to the rest of the world. The International Week of Deaf also increases solidarity among Deaf people and allies and is used as a way to stimulate greater efforts to promote the rights of Deaf people. The activities also welcome the involvement of parents and families of Deaf people, interpreters, professionals who work with Deaf people and government officials.
For last several years the WFD identified yearly themes for International Week of the Deaf celebrations:

  • 2009 Deaf people’s cultural achievements
  • 2010 Deaf education
  • 2011 Accessibility to information and communications
  • 2012 Sign Bilingualism is a Human Right!
  • 2013 Equality for Deaf People

This year’s theme focuses on equality for Deaf people, amongst Deaf people and promoted by Deaf people. Equality for Deaf People recognises contributions by Deaf people to global prosperity, human rights of all Deaf people, and preparation of Deaf communities worldwide for future challenges.
Equality for Deaf People celebrates the linguistic, artistic, social, political and cultural contributions and accomplishments of Deaf people. This theme also focuses on recognition of sign languages around the world. Focus on Equality for Deaf People also prepares us to look towards the future with a clear vision with renewed energies for creating positive change in local communities worldwide.
International Week of the Deaf provides an excellent opportunity to share and discuss ways to promote collaboration on equality for Deaf people based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The WFD has asked national members to choose one, two or more issues that are related to this year’s theme in observing International Week of the Deaf. This could involve issues related to language recognition, educational rights, attitudes towards a sign bilingual society or awareness raising within the Deaf community about their rights as bilingual citizens.
Also, the WFD is encouraging national associations of the Deaf to host fundraising activities or events to support the WFD and its human rights efforts across the globe.
The WFD Secretariat will update its Facebook page to include the activities undertaken by national associations of the Deaf.
Please share your International Week of the Deaf photos and stories with [mailto][email protected][/mailto] Interested persons can join WFD as an individual member and support WFD’s work.

Obituary: Emeritus Professor Desmond J. Power AM

Deafness is a part of the natural human condition …
Des Power, ‘Signs of Life’ (1989)

[divider style=”hr-dotted”] Photograph of Professor Demond J. Power AMEmeritus Professor Des Power AM, who was known to many Deaf people in Australia and around the world, died on the 3rd of April, 2013 after respiratory complications following heart surgery. He was born in Cobden, Victoria on 23 March 1936, and trained as a teacher at the Geelong Teacher’s College and the Training Centre for Teachers of the Deaf in Melbourne.  He later completed a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a Master of Education at the University of Melbourne. After winning a Harkness Fellowship he completed a PhD at the University of Illinois in the USA. He began work in Deaf education in the late 1950s at the Victorian School for Deaf Children and Glendonald School for Deaf Children, and he is remembered fondly by many Deaf adults who were students at these schools, such as Robert’s father. Des lectured at the Training Centre for Teachers of the Deaf in Victoria, until moving to the Mt Gravatt Teacher’s College (later part of Brisbane College of Advanced Education and then the Education Faculty of Griffith University) in Brisbane in 1979.
[notification style=”neutral” font_size=”12px” closeable=”false”] Des Power was not only an educator and academic in the field of Deaf Education, he was also a long-time supporter of Deaf people and their aspirations for more access and opportunity. The areas where this was most evident to the Deaf community were his support for the recognition of signed languages and his belief that Deaf people should be able to access higher education. He did much practical advocacy for this at a time when very few other people thought it was important. [/notification] Breda recalls that when she decided she wanted to be a teacher of the deaf in the mid-1970s, she visited teacher training programs and Deaf Societies in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. She met with people who told her it was not possible ‘at this time’, that there had never been any deaf teachers of the deaf before, that she should be satisfied with a job in the Public Service, that she was silly to aspire to something like teaching. One ‘expert’ laughed at the idea. Her final visit was to the State College of Victoria in Burwood, where she met Des Power. He said that he thought it was an excellent idea, that he had long wanted to see deaf teachers in Australia and hoped to make teacher training courses accessible to them. He gave her practical advice and wished her well.  In the mid-late 1970s, encouraging deaf people to become teachers was not a fashionable position to take, and most of Des’ colleagues would have been sceptical if not downright dismissive. But Des Power was always ahead of his time.
Des followed through on his wish to see deaf teachers in Australia. In 1985 the Mt Gravatt campus of Brisbane CAE began an innovative program to support five deaf students through its Bachelor of Teaching. Few people remember how precarious this program was – there was not yet a Disability Discrimination Act, and most schools for deaf students at that time only provided education up to Year 10. It was a challenge to recruit and retain the deaf students, a battle to persuade local schools to accept them for practice teaching, and for several years the money for interpreters, note-takers and tutors was scrabbled together from small one-off grants from Quota Clubs and other similar sources. But it was a success, and after the merger with Griffith University the program was able to expand into the Deaf Student Support Program, enabling deaf students to study across all faculties. Scores of today’s professional deaf people in Australia are alumni of Griffith University. The DSSP has since been regarded as a model for other Australian universities, especially after the Disability Discrimination Act came into force in 1992.
Through the Centre for Deafness Studies and Research which he established at Griffith, Des supported the production of educational video projects such as Signs of Life (1989), the development of teaching materials for Deaf Studies in schools, and many other innovative programs. He worked with Deaf researchers and supported many Deaf people in their studies. Breda is one such grateful colleague who was able to work with Des on a range of projects and to complete her PhD at Griffith with his support.
Des Power was a consistent ally of Deaf Australia (until 2007 the Australian Association of the Deaf – AAD) and always showed great interest in the lobbying activities of Deaf people. Robert recalls several examples from his time on the AAD Board. Des helped AAD with the writing of position papers and articles, and advised the project officers who worked on the first study design for Auslan in the Victorian Certificate of Education. He and Merv Hyde completed a demographic study of Auslan use, ‘The Use of Australian Sign Language by Deaf People’, in 1990, a study that has been very important to Deaf Australia’s work.  Des was also instrumental in the drive for official recognition of Auslan and its inclusion in the National Policy on Languages (1992).
For many Deaf people, he was a bastion of support for the use of signing in education; he was a very important counterbalance for the strong oralism that pervaded Deaf education in some quarters from the 1960s. This view can even be seen as recently as in his submission with Merv Hyde (2010) to the Australian Government’s Hearing Health Inquiry, where they write that signing has a role in early language and cognitive development.
Des Power was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 1993 and on retirement, was made an Emeritus Professor in Special Education by Griffith University. He continued to consult, research, publish and present around the world during his retirement. A quick glance at his list of publications shows how varied his interests were: from Deaf people and text communication, and Irish Deaf people in the newspapers, to how Deaf children learn English in the classroom. His last paper was on ‘Australian Aboriginal Deaf people and Aboriginal Sign Language’, published in Sign Language Studies in early 2013.
Des was active on many levels. Robert recalls sitting as an advisor to the Kosovar Association of the Deaf (for their sign language dictionary project) in a government office in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, high in the Balkan mountains talking with government officials, and the disability advisor to the Prime Minister of Kosovo leant over and asked him, ‘Do you know Des Power?’ This was characteristic of Des – he managed to be of assistance to a wide range of people although most of us were not aware of how wide his influence was. Deaf people and educators in Kosovo remember Des Power for helping them put their Deaf education system back together after the bombing of Kosovo and they talk of him and his colleagues with great respect.
Des was a mentor to many people. His advice tended to be brief and succinct rather than expansive. He was often blunt, even gruff. Breda recalls an occasion when she was working as a research associate for Des, enjoying the beginning of a stimulating academic career thanks to his support. She received an invitation from a small training college a couple of hours drive away, with a little group of deaf students who had just completed a short vocational qualification. Would she come and present their certificates, so they could see a successful Deaf person who could motivate them to continue their studies? It was a long way to go and would necessitate a day off work. She discussed the invitation with Des, suggesting she should decline it as she was so busy and it was so far away. Fingerspelling emphatically, Des’ response was simple and unmistakable: “Noblesse oblige!” he said. When you have been fortunate enough to reach a position of some privilege, you have a responsibility to help others achieve their potential. You never know when you may be able to make a difference in someone’s life. And that is how he lived too.
Des leaves his wife, Professor Mary Power (Bond University), children Lucy, Ben, Linus and Peter, and grandchildren Jack, Caitlin, Lucy and Ella. Our condolences are extended to his family and his many friends and colleagues around the world. Not only will he be missed by them all, he is also a great loss to the Deaf world.
Carty, B., Davie, C., & Power, D. J. (Writers). (1989). Signs of Life: Australia’s Deaf Community. Australia: Deafness Resource Project, Division of Education, Griffith University.
Dawkins, J. (1992). Australia’s Language: The Australian Language and Literacy Policy: Australian Government Publishing Office.
Hyde, M., & Power, D. (1991). The Use of Australian Sign Language by Deaf people: Australian Federation of Deaf Societies and Griffith University Centre for Deafness Studies and Research.
Hyde, M., & Power, D. (2010). Hearing Health inquiry submission: Community Affairs References Committee. Research Contexts of Cochlear Implantation of Young Deaf Children.
An edited version of this obituary will appear in the next edition of Sign Language Studies, Vol. 14, no. 1, Fall 2013.
[content_box style=”green” title=”Written by:”] Robert Adam, Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre, University College London/Department of Linguistics, Gallaudet University;
Breda Carty, RIDBC Renwick Centre [/content_box]

Four positions open at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

The Government is seeking expressions of interest for four positions at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The Tribunal is an independent statutory body that reviews a broad range of administrative decisions made by Australian Government ministers, officers, authorities and Tribunals.
The positions, which have arisen due to the designation of the Tribunal as the external merits review body for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), are:

  • a part-time member in New South Wales (Sydney) or the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra)
  • a part-time member in Victoria (Melbourne)
  • a part-time member in South Australia (Adelaide), and
  • a part-time member in Tasmania (Hobart).

Further information about the NDIS can be found at
The successful candidate must have a high-level of demonstrated experience, knowledge or expertise with disability.  Individuals with a lived experience of disability are particularly encouraged to apply.  The successful candidate must have the ability to conduct hearings and must also have decision-making and decision-writing skills.  Legal qualifications are not required.
The advertisement for all positions was published in the Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, Melbourne Age, Canberra Times, Adelaide Advertiser, and the Hobart Mercury on Saturday 30 March 2013.  The advertisement has also been placed on the APS Employment Gazette at
A full information package, including the selection criteria, is currently available from the Attorney-General Department’s website at

Applications close on 19 April 2013.

Further information on the available position can be obtained by emailing [mailto][email protected][/mailto] or by calling Edward Lee on (02) 6141 3439.

Captioning Working Group – Expressions of Interest

Deaf Australia is setting up a Captioning Working Group.

We want to bring together like-minded organisations and community groups to work co-operatively to:

  1. Work as a unified front to address captioning issues across various media formats
  2. Undertake campaigns to promote increased access to captioned content suitable for Deaf and hard of hearing people in various media formats
  3. Keep abreast of research and identify best practice for delivery of captioning.

The following organisations and community groups have been invited to send a representative to the Working Group: Deaf Australia, Deaf Victoria, Deafness Forum, AOCA, Media Access Australia and Arts Access Victoria.
We are also calling for Expressions of Interest for two independent community representatives to join the Working Group. Please see the Expressions of Interest document and the Terms of Reference and send your EOI in English or in Auslan to [email protected] by 26th April 2013.
[button url=”” class=”button” size=”large” color=”green” target=”_blank” lightbox_content=”” lightbox_description=””] Download the EOI Document (PDF 87KB) [/button] [button url=”” class=”button” size=”large” color=”green” target=”_blank” lightbox_content=”” lightbox_description=””] Download the Terms of Reference (PDF 100KB) [/button]

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