Bridging The Gap between the Deaf and Hearing Communities

  • Andy Dexterity

Deaf Australia wants to reassure the deaf community about Andy Dexterity’s intention as an Ambassador for Deaf Australia. We acknowledge deaf members’ views and opinions and wish to clarify for Deaf Australians our partnership with Andy Dexterity.

Deaf Australia has always believed that the Australian community could do more to promote inclusion in Australian society and for deaf people to not having to rely on Auslan/ English interpreters for everything. Members of the deaf community have told us they want that too. Many deaf people have told us they wish hearing people would learn and use Auslan so they can communicate anytime, anywhere.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) offers greater access to the community; however, we are limited by the inadequate resources that are available. We also know that many organisations and providers are not willing to organise and pay for interpreters and there are not many people who can use Auslan competently. This means many deaf people will continue to be excluded from participating equally.
It is clear to Deaf Australia that this will not change if we continue to advocate for inclusion when there is little or no support in the wider community in understanding the needs of deaf people, the language and our cultural identity.
Most people in the Australian general community do not have the time or motivation to properly learn Auslan and its very complex structure. Learning any language can take a lot of time and commitment and only a few will go on to take the course. Our experience tells us that many hearing people learn Auslan because they know someone who is deaf, and a few wants to learn Auslan simply because they want the challenge.
Marketing is a very complex business requiring skills that neither Deaf Australia nor the deaf community have in abundance. We see lots of marketing in the Australian society (and world-wide) focusing on making deaf people ‘listen and speak’ and there are significant financial investments into that intervention approach and very little for Auslan. Deaf Australia has lobbied for years for funding for Auslan learning. Auslan course providers are limited in what they can do. This is a significant financial disparity that we must consider.
The ‘Ambassador’ role plays an important part in bridging the gap between the deaf community and the community ‘out there’.
It is without doubt that deaf people can play this important role; however, the wider community’s attitudes towards deaf people are often negative and they often are not willing to listen to deaf people. At times, it is necessary for Deaf Australia to seek out hearing people who can help us achieve our goals.
Deaf Australia believe Andy Dexterity plays an important role in bridging the gap to generate public awareness of Auslan through the performing arts.
Andy is widely recognised as a performer who worked with the Yellow Wiggle, Emma Watkins, incorporating Auslan into live performances and recorded materials. They have worked with Auslan consultants and respect the need for deaf inclusion in this arena.
Andy have been a high school teacher for 14 years and understands the process of education and transmitting information. It is important to note that Andy is still learning Auslan and is incorporating Auslan in his performing roles so as to raise awareness of the value of visual communication. He does this voluntarily.
Due to Andy’s profile and wide network in the arts industry, he is committed to consulting with relevant experts in the deaf sector when undertaking this role. We must acknowledge that Andy can only do so much given the limited resources that are available.  Windows of opportunities, at times, are very small. Andy aims to take as many opportunities as possible to raise awareness.
Deaf Australia see Andy’s role to use his skill to raise awareness about Auslan and to entice hearing people to learn Auslan. It will be up to deaf community to provide the structure in which they can learn.
He is championing our vision of an inclusive Australia for the deaf community and we would appreciate your support for Andy by providing advice, strategies or ideas constructively.
Deaf Australia is pleased to have Andy Dexterity as our Ambassador who works to bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing communities and make Australia a better place for deaf Australians.

About Deaf Australia’s Ambassador Program.

Our Ambassador program exists to represent the interests of Deaf Australia to the wider community through increasing awareness about our work in the deaf community and to help raise funds.
The key focus of the Ambassador role is to:
  • Promote and raise awareness of Auslan
  • Raise awareness of Deaf Australia and its position
  • Championing the cause of Deaf Australia
  • Challenging myths and perceptions.
Ambassadors will champion the cause and often challenge opinions and perceptions whilst demonstrating loyalty and commitment to Deaf Australia’s mission and values.
Deaf Australia does not have a specific number of vacancies for the role of Ambassador. The board of Deaf Australia determines the appointment of Ambassadors who will represent Deaf Australia to communicate policies, objectives and goals of Deaf Australia and meet with individuals, organisations and/ or government on behalf of Deaf Australia.
Ambassadors will be in a position to help promote Deaf Australia’s mission and values and utilise ways to raise our profile, awareness or causes through campaigns or fund-raising.
Ambassadors communicate policy positions and promote inclusion of deaf and hard of hearing people in alignment with the National Disability Strategy and the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability and demonstrate commitment to Deaf Australia’s mission and values and assist to protect the interests of Deaf Australia and its constituents.