Closed captioning in Australia

At the age of 5, my mother bought a tiny Panasonic TV (it was TINY – about 31cm, if I remember) for our caravan. We all loved it. I loved it because everything was so animated. I could already read, but I didn’t know it was possible to watch TV with captions.

Fast forward to 2 years later.

I was 7 when I first came across closed captioning. School was about to finish up for the year, and my teacher had put Home Alone in the VHS player. There was an odd device sitting on top of the VHS player. My teacher fiddled with it then pressed play.


There was CAPTIONS!

I was beyond mesmerised. It felt like a whole new world had opened up right in front of my eyes.

I then discovered the Bundaberg Library had VHS tapes with open captions, and I didn’t need a special device connected to the VHS player in order to be able to play the movies. I loved it.

By the time I was 9, I had watched The Neverending Story SO many times with open captions.

I was 10 when my mother decided to uproot and move us to Brisbane, and she enrolled me at a mainstream school with a Deaf facility. They had a HUGE collection of movies with captions on VHS tapes, and I took advantage of it. One of the teachers there took it upon himself to tape all movies playing on TV with captions, so we could borrow them anytime we liked.

It was around the same time I realised how important it was to be able understand popular culture, and to keep up with the times. Captions provided that opportunity. I remember watching an action movie, and one of the main characters said “YOU ROTTEN SON OF A BITCH!!!”. I laughed because I had learnt that people can be creative with insults.

I also learnt more about history and the world around me. In Grade 6, we were learning about the World War I, and I had discovered I was a history buff. I was constantly transfixed, especially when my teacher showed us two Australian movies – Gallipoli and The Light Horsemen. I still love military movies ;)

My teacher gave me a petition paper from Australian Association of the Deaf (now known as Deaf Australia). They wanted to make captioning mandatory during primetime TV (6pm-midnight). I took the petition paper home and got signatures from my family, neighbours and the local church. Deaf people did the same all over Australia. It was successful, and we were able to access more TV programs at night time. Deaf Australia has been working hard on captioning access in Australia for the last 20+ years, and their job still isn’t done.

With the introduction of DVDs, we were able to watch more movies, TV series and documentaries than before with captions. There has been times I was disappointed to find out a particular movie or TV series on DVD did not come with captions, only to learn that it was available from either UK or USA and I would have to order online.

Captions have become a huge part of my life. I’ve learnt more about popular culture. I’ve learnt more about the world. Heck, I’ve learnt to memorise my favourite quotes from TV shows and movies.

Rory: You look happy.

Lorelai: Yeah.

Rory: Did you do something slutty?

Lorelai: I’m not that happy.

Gilmore Girls: Season 1 – Pilot (S1E1)

Australia has always been decades behind UK and USA in regards to captioning, and there’s still lots of work to be done yet. Like many other Deaf people around the country, I’ve resorted to Netflix because of their fantastic captioning provision and quality. Quickflix doesn’t provide captions for their streaming service, which is highly disappointing BUT Netflix is a lot cheaper than Quickflix. Foxtel doesn’t provide captions for their streaming service either. Only ABC iView and 7Plus provides captions. Access to Australian streaming services is still limited, hence my decision to jump onto the Netflix & VPN bandwagon. Well worth the money, I’ll have you know that ;)

The other day, I learnt that the Abbott Government wanted to get rid of mandatory reporting on captioning for TV broadcasters in the proposed The Broadcasting and Other Legislation Amendment (Deregulation) Bill 2014.

If the Bill is passed, we will be taken backwards. Waaaaaay backwards. Decades behind our UK and USA friends.

And not only the Deaf community, but for those who like to watch shows with captions for many other reasons.

Without mandatory reporting, the quality and quantity of closed captioning will go downhill…slowly, if it is not already. Our complaints might be ignored and become lost in the system.

That being said, the Abbott Government is a HUGE joke. It’s easily the worst Government in nearly 30 years of my life.

We need to fight against the proposed Bill. We need to show the Government that this is not cool.

Let’s get together and make sure the Bill does not pass.

Yours in CC,

S xo

Links to news articles:

Government proposes to end caption reporting by free-to-air broadcasters

Deaf community concerned over proposed changes to television captioning requirements

Deaf identity, pride and diversity

This year’s National Week of Deaf People theme is Strengthening Human Diversity.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been proud to be Deaf.

I have been exposed to sign language and Deaf people since I was an infant, and because of that I learnt not to see my deafness as a stigma. Instead, I was taught to see it as an identity.

I identify as Deaf.

What’s the difference between deaf and Deaf, you ask?

Deaf – culturally deaf; uses sign language; active in the Deaf community.

deaf – audiological ability to hear, or rather from a medical perspective.

The Deaf community is extremely diverse; not everyone are the same. It not only consists of Deaf people, but it consists of people from every walk of life.

“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.”
Ani DiFranco

There are Deaf people who are juggling other identities. I am one of those people.

There are Deaf people who are:

– Deaf and Aboriginal

– Deaf and gay

– Deaf and Muslim

– Deafblind

– Deaf and Indian

…and so much more. Diversity is clearly evident in the Deaf community.

Everyone within the community are constantly unpacking their identity as a whole. Identity is like a jigsaw puzzle; there are pieces that makes you unique when put together.

Deaf Australia (NSW), The Deaf Society of NSW and Parents of Deaf Children along with Helen Westwood (Member of Legislative Council NSW) hosted yet another successful NWDP launch and panel at the NSW Parliament House last night.

Alex Jones (co-founder of AI-Media, actor and advocate) facilitated the panel, and there was a special guest, Nareen Young – one of Australia’s leading diversity thinkers.

The panel was very diverse and definitely gave us food for thought, and we learnt more about diversity within the Deaf community.

It made me think about my own life experience, especially growing up in a diverse background.

To give you a snippet of my diversity:

– my mother comes from a Middle-Eastern ancestry, although she was born in Malaysia. She also comes from a Muslim background.

– both paternal and maternal sides on my father’s side can be traced back to Germany and Ireland. Apparently one of my grandmother’s cousins was Hitler’s secretary…!

– I was a child of a LGBT parent from the age of 10.

– I don’t like labels. Instead, I’m me and I like women, but I can identify as a LGBT person.

I was thinking recently about how it would have been fantastic to have access to Deaf LGBT people when I was younger, especially in my age group. Whilst going through a confusing time in regards with defining my sexuality, I wished I had someone to talk to, especially throughout my teen years. I wish I had someone tell me at the age of 16 that it was perfectly okay to love women.

From my memory, there wasn’t many – if any – Deaf LGBT people close to my age, so it was one of the main reasons why I repressed my feelings towards women until approximately 4 years ago when I realised I did actually like women A LOT more than I did men.

It’s now coming up 1 year anniversary of my coming out on a public scale – see my post here: Coming out as Deaf and Gay. To date, it has received nearly 400 views, which makes it the top read post on ISIW.

My family and friends accept and love me for who I am. My coming out experience has been a positive one, and I am incredibly grateful for that.

As I mentioned that I did not have a Deaf LGBT person as a role model in my younger years, I would love to be someone that young Deaf people can come and talk to, especially so I can tell them that it’s perfect okay to love someone regardless of their gender.

Role models with diverse backgrounds should be prominent for the Deaf community, especially for Deaf teenagers when they’re starting to figure out themselves and their identities.

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
Maya Angelou

Not just parents, but the Deaf community should also teach one another about the importance of diversity – after all, we live in a diverse world. Schools should also teach children about diversity.

Diversity is what strengthens us. We learn from each other. We love and accept each other.

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”
Stephen R. Covey

I am Deaf, gay and multicultural…and I am goddamned proud!

Happy National Week of Deaf People!

S xo

To Melbourne, with love.

I’m writing here at one of the huts on Brighton Beach. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Today has been the epitome of a beautiful spring day. Sunshine, no clouds, blue skies and temperatures in mid twenties.


It’s been 3 months since I moved here. Time has flown by so fast, and I feel like I have been here only 4 weeks.

Before moving here, I never thought it was possible to fall completely in love with a city.

Melbourne proved me wrong.

I am SO in love with this city.

Every cranny and nook of this city has captured my heart. Alleyways, beaches, houses, people, food, drinks, shops – you name it, a piece of my heart has been left there.

One of my favourite things about living here is that it has taught me to fall in love with life itself. It’s such an amazing feeling to have – and something everyone should experience at some stage in their lives, no matter where they are in the world.

I’ve stopped in the middle of a footpath to smell flowers. Heck, I’ve relished the aroma of spring and it’s bloody amazing. My nose has never felt so alive.

I’ve woken up and decided to go to a place I haven’t been before and enjoyed it immensely.

I’ve enjoyed that $2 pizza from a kiosk on Elizabeth Street whilst making my way to a friend’s farewell. And you know what? It tasted 100 times better than Dominos – although, homemade pizzas are better.

All in all, my life has changed for the better.

I’m now eating better.

I could pretty much give Jamie Oliver a run for his money… no actually, there’s still a lot to be learnt about cooking, but I’ve whipped up some impressive meals. I’m pretty sure my current housemates and my mother can vouch for that.

I have cut down on sugar, preservatives, and other junk – massively, and my body is thanking me for it. It has been letting me know that it cannot tolerate junk anymore.

A couple of weeks ago, I caught up with an aunty for dinner and we had dessert. I ordered a lemon meringue tart. It looked so damn good. However, I was unable to finish all of it and I didn’t feel so good afterwards. I woke up at around 4am the next morning with back pain, and I knew I had to chuck my guts out. That was my body telling me not to eat anything with so much sugar ever again.

McDonalds and other fast-food outlets are no more. The last time I had McDonalds, I woke up the next morning feeling like I was hit by a truck. I also felt like I had an awful hangover, and I spent the day dying quietly. The other day, I had fish and chips and a small amount of junk. Bad idea. Woke up yesterday morning feeling gross, but I pushed myself to get out of bed and hit up the zoo.

I’ve also started drinking heaps of peppermint tea and it’s helped with my digestive system, and I don’t feel bloated so much nowadays.

Dairy also has been eliminated – mainly due to my lactose intolerance, and it’s helped massively. Soy is no more as well, as I drink almond, coconut and rice milk now.

I have found my creativity.

I recently purchased a mirrorless digital camera, which I LOVE. It’s an Olympus OM-D EM10 – one of the cheapest and best mirrorless cameras on the market.

Olympus released it earlier this year, and it’s received heaps of raving reviews from photographers and people who are starting to dive into photography.

Apparently it’s a popular camera with the blogging community, and I can see why! It’s so portable and not so heavy like a DSLR camera. It’s quite easy to travel with as well.

I went to Melbourne Zoo yesterday and came up with some fantastic photos – now, that’s another blog post to come yet!

Melbourne is a photographers’ dream. So many places to take photos of, and also gives you an opportunity to explore what this city.

I feel much more confident than before.

I feel like I can do anything without anyone and anything stopping me.

I’ve found my path, and because of that, I changed courses at university. I have transferred to Master of International and Community Development with PhD pathway. This past semester, I have discovered that communications isn’t what I want to do, and I haven’t been happy with my studies and because of that, my results have suffered.

The new course starts in Semester 1 2015 – or rather, Trimester 1 for Deakin – and I look forward to a long summer break starting at the end of October. Although, I’ll be actively looking for a job – I do need to save up extra money for Turkey next year.

But the most important thing is that I now know what I want in my life.

Ohh, look at that…the sun is now setting!


Melbourne, I love you.

S xo

Gallaudet Dreams


Whilst procrastinating on my analytical essay about the study of positive media portrayal of Deaf President Now! movement at Gallaudet University, I decided to check out Gallaudet’s graduate course.

There it was in its finest glory…

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ISIW Interview #3 – Willos Callaghan

Willos Callaghan is a Deaf man who has discovered his talent for ocean and landscape photography. I am a HUGE fan of his work, hence my choosing him to be the third lucky interviewee in ISIW’s interview series.

His tools are: GoPro Hero3+ (Black) and Canon 5D MKIII. He’s new to photography, only having started late last year but his skills and talent have developed so much in short time, and he devotes his spare time to capturing the beauty of bodyboarding, the waves and the tranquility of the beach and the ocean. His photos beautifully captures his passion for the ocean.


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I’m Deaf, not stupid.

“Being deaf doesn’t mean you’re stupid: One woman’s experience with workplace discrimination in Australia” 

My Facebook newsfeed was flooded with this article, and many Deaf people can relate to it. I can relate to it as well.

As a Deaf person, I have experienced workplace discrimination. It’s not a pretty experience, to be honest. It’s extremely frustrating.

Like Ms Carlton, I use Auslan to communicate with others, however I do not speak. I’ve never been able to speak a whole sentence. I’ve found myself more comfortable signing rather than speaking.


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