Youth politicians paving the way for great accessibility

This piece was written by Kimberley Price, YMCA Youth Parliament Press Gallery member. Thanks Kim for allowing us to share! Read her writing on the 2018 Deafhood team below.

By Kimberley Price

Imagine going to the cinema with your friends, except there is no audio. You can’t understand anything being said so you have to rely on your expertise of lip reading.

Photo of the 2018 Deafhood Team

Photo L-R Cate Dunn, Sara Weir, Kelly Sparks, Tayla Percy and Nicholas Steer.

You go to another movie, and they say ‘we will have this audio working soon’. You watch the movie and miraculously the audio works! But every 10 seconds it cuts out so you can’t hear anything again.

Imagine going out on your first date to the cinema, you like this guy and you want to impress him. It’s really embarrassing, but you have to go up and ask for a captiview, (which is this clunky weird device). You have to take it with you to your seat and everyone is looking at you, it kind of puts that label out there of ‘Hey everyone, look at me, I’m deaf’.

This is the current movie-going experience for deaf and hard of hearing members of our community.

A team of young people from the deaf and hard of hearing community are fighting to change this after having successfully passed a Bill in Victoria’s Youth Parliament which aims to make cinemas more accessible.

Deaf Children Australia’s Deafhood team, including Nicholas Steer, Cate Dunn, Tayla Percy, Sara Weir and Kelly Sparks, shared their personal experiences of the struggles they regularly face in a simple luxury the majority of Australians take for granted.

The Closed Captioning for Victorian Cinemas 2018 was presented to the Legislative Council this afternoon. The team spoke passionately, eloquently and intellectually about their bill – which will see greater access given to the 20 per cent of Australians who are hard of hearing.

Deaf Children Australia’s chief executive Roz Keenan threw her support behind the team in a statement to the Press Gallery.

“This bill could allow deaf and hard of hearing people, and their families, to have choice of cinema and movie, as hearing peers have,” Ms Keenan said.

“This would allow them to actively participate in life and the community on a more equitable basis. For so long, deaf and hard of hearing people have been dictated to by a lack of choice, and underdeveloped and poorly maintained technology, when they just wanted to enjoy the cinema experience. One movie in one cinema on one day of the week does not give them anywhere near the choice and control the greater population enjoys.”

The team highlighted the importance of this bill for all members of society, stating that studies show captioning will help early age readers, reading, literacy, fluency, word knowledge, vocabulary and literacy acquisition, word recognition and listening comprehension, as well as providing great access to the deaf and hard of hearing community.

The Council voted overwhelmingly for the Bill to be passed and it will now be handed to the relevant Member of Parliament for consideration for Victorian legislation.

In the words of Cate Dunn; “the privilege to simply go to the cinema should not be something we need to fight for.”

Kimberley Price is a member of the Youth Parliament Press Gallery 2018.

First Deaf Youth Governor

Thanks to last year’s partnership between DCA and YMCA, Olivia had the opportunity to be part of the first Deafhood team, then supported the 2018 Youth Parliament teams as a volunteer this year. She has now been appointed as the first Deaf Youth Governor for 2019. Olivia says she hopes to improve accessibility for all communities, specifically cultural, disability and LGBTIQA+.

Media Roundup

See media and YMCA Press Gallery coverage of the team and their Bill:

Time to be Heard – Star News Cranbourne

YMCA Press Gallery Day Two Wrap Up

Deaf Children Australia Deafhood’s Emotional Cinema Closed Captioning Bill is Passed with Overwhelming Support

Youth politicians paving the way for great accessibility

Acknowledgements

We would also like to thank the Office of Children, Youth and Families for their support in funding access for the team.

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