There’s a bushfire near me…

Originally posted on 8th January 2013.

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And I’m not seeing an interpreter on the bloody TV!!

Seriously, there is no bushfire near me, but what about those Deaf and hearing impaired people who are living in bushfire prone areas?

They urgently need access to visual information on TV – and that means recruiting Auslan interpreters to interpret emergency announcements.

You may remember the 2011 Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi and the profound impact it had on the entire country. The Queensland Government recruited a team of interpreters for their emergency media announcements, which was BEYOND AMAZING. Do you know how that happened? The Deaf community in Queensland made themselves HEARD by using social media – Facebook for instance. A large number of Deaf people had posted on the Queensland Police’s Facebook page asking for interpreters – and then again when they were annoyed with the TV stations for cutting the interpreter out of the broadcast frame. If an interpreter asked the Government if their emergency media announcements could be interpreted – they would have been ignored.

That said, we NEED the COMMUNITY to SPEAK UP, using the power of social media.Facebook is a powerful tool of making yourselves heard – and I have seen that happen. It’s beyond amazing.

However, I wonder if emergency services all over Australia would be willing to listen to the Deaf community, just like Queensland Police did…? Only one way to find out…and that we, as a community, need to speak up LOUDLY.

NZ recruited interpreters for their emergency announcements for the Christchurch earthquakes. New York, USA had an ASL interpreter for their emergency announces during Hurricane Sandy. And I’ve heard of a few other countries who followed Queensland’s example.

I wonder why the other states in Australia are not doing the same…? One could have thought Queensland would have had a profound impact on Australia when it came to accessible emergency announcements. Apparently not.

The bottom line is – we need to make ourselves HEARD using the power of social media – be it Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc etc. We need to work together to make this happen. We need to use the example of Queensland to make our respective state governments act on recruiting interpreters.

Just my two cents.

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