Sunday, 3 March 2019

Irish deaf candidate unsupported to run for office.

Interesting in that deaf support is still only via system areas alone, and wanting to be a LA representative is being classed as a 'social' area, and there are no funds available to empower deaf socially with hearing people.  

A major aspect was concern deaf being insular to their own area lacked the local knowledge and contacts needed to challenge hearing on their own terms, it wasn't just an issue of own support.  Albeit he can claim its a catch 22 system.  He has started on the wrong foot by localising the issue to deaf access, hearing won't see that as a priority, they will want to know if he understands THEIR issues and concerns.  Deaf can be involved locally, by being willing to step outside their comfort zone, even without signed access it can be done.  There are alternatives.

NOTE: The article incorrectly noted his area was part of the UK, it isn't, it's in the Irish Republic, Northern Ireland is in the UK.

MICHEÁL KELLIHER is the first Deaf person to run for election in Ireland. Although the Deaf community is active in campaigning, there are obstacles when it comes to running for a seat on a council or in the Houses of the Oireachtas. Kelliher said he is hoping to break down some of the barriers in his local election campaign and encourage more Deaf people to take the chance and throw their hats into the ring. 

“Canvassing requires a lot of time and without any funding, hiring interpreters is a huge financial strain on any campaign. Attending meetings can be more challenging as well. I wanted to attend a small political party’s public meeting and had requested an interpreter. However they were struggling to pay for rent, never mind paying for an interpreter. The same happens with grassroots campaigns, where they don’t have any funding for interpreters. Canvassing will be the biggest challenge. 

I’m fortunate that I have a great team of interpreters willing to volunteer with me. “And that’s only the challenges I’m aware of as a Deaf person, there are many more for people with different disabilities like wheelchair access etc. It can all feel daunting and discourage people from participating,” 

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