Equity through advocacy: advancing rights
All of us have rights. It does not matter if you are deaf, deafblind, hard of hearing, or someone who can hear, we all still have rights. We all have the right to work without discrimination, choose where we live, choose who we marry, and to do whatever we want to do without fear of harassment or persecution. We all also have the right to be taught in sign language.
We deliver an advocacy service because this is our vision, which is to work towards equity for deaf people. If any of our rights are not being met, then we will advocate for change to ensure that they are and to ensure that we are all treated as equal to other people.
In 2010, we held a number of consultations with members of the NSW Deaf Community and asked different people to tell us what work we should do, and we were told that they would like us to deliver an advocacy service on behalf of deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people and that we should focus mostly on Interpreting, Education, and Employment.
We were told that deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people need better access to education and that it is hard to access sign language in schools. They told us it is hard to access interpreters for private courses. Deaf and hard of hearing people still feel they don’t do as well as hearing people in their education and we have decided to work on improving this.
Another area which deaf people want to see improved is interpreting. Deaf people who use Auslan need to be able to access interpreters in all parts of their lives. At the moment, deaf people can only book interpreters free of charge to see the doctor or go to hospital but not to see their private solicitor or to attend a family wedding. We do not think this is right and we want deaf people to be fully involved in their community and the world around them and to do this, they need access to interpreters without having to pay for them themselves.
Deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people also need to be able to get jobs that they enjoy and which they can keep. If they do not have access to special equipment or support services such as interpreting then they cannot participate equally in employment such as getting a job, attending meetings at work, or get work replated training. This is another area that we are working towards improving.
Please remember that the advocacy work that we do benefits all deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people.