Imagine this: the stage is set, the lights are on and a snappily dressed presenter is standing in front of you, talking about a riveting concept. Their words are captivating, the topic is fascinating, and you’re on the edge of your seat waiting to hear what comes next.
Now imagine this: you’re deaf, and there’s no Auslan interpreter onstage with the speaker. You can’t understand what is being said, and you can’t experience the event you’ve decided to attend. It’s a simple mistake to make as an organiser, but it’s an easy fix, and it can make every event better for everyone.
Many conferences, debates and presentations take the stage without an Auslan interpreter there to assist deaf people. This results in people being excluded from participating in speaking events, or renders them unable to experience the event fully if they do attend. This can be damaging, as it can discourage deaf people from seeking out opportunities and events that are generally directed at a hearing-only audience.
By now, we all know that inclusion of all people in society can foster discussion, debate and the exchange of ideas. The Deaf community has many wonderful people with insightful ideas and diverse interests, but they are often excluded from the public forum because of oversights like this, and it hurts not only the Deaf community, but also the event organisers. By keeping deaf people away, event organisers are inadvertently rejecting the experiences and ideas that deaf people might like to share, whilst reinforcing the feeling that deaf people are not fully welcome at speaking events, seminars and presentations.
Having an interpreter onstage can open any number of events up to the thirty thousand deaf people in Australia. This type of inclusion promotes participation and can expose deaf and hearing people to ideas and insights that had not been readily available to them before.
Debates between scientists, motivational talks from life gurus and comedy specials by some of the world’s funniest people are traditionally events that cater only to hearing people, but by inviting an interpreter to the event to provide Auslan services, organisers will be able to open the door to the Deaf community, for the benefit of everyone involved.
Promoting inclusivity is a worthwhile endeavour, and when it is as easy as including an Auslan interpreter at an event, the benefits are wide-reaching. If every speaking event had an interpreter present, deaf people would have access to all manner of experiences that were previously not accessible to them. It’s a simple fix, but one that could have a big impact on the Deaf community for generations to come.
Featured image from Unsplash.