Friday, 24 April 2009

A personal account of how recession affects the deaf

It has been a treacherous year in the financial world. Never has so much been risked to stabilise what was supposedly a flourishing global economy hit by the high rates and a significant drop in shares.

In late March, the G20 summit of world leaders were battling to defeat the tenure of misery. To combat this Satanist figure looming over the Globe, we relied on the precision of Gordon Brown’s financial plans, inevitably backed by US President Barack Obama. This has seen a trillion dollars pumped into the world market in the hope of restoring trade between countries.

A trillion: to comprehend this is mind-boggling. According to Jerome R. Corsi, who writes an intelligent column on the networldblog website: ‘If someone spent a dollar a second of the trillion, it would take 32,000 years to spend.’ It’s effectively more money than in circulation in the world.

Our ever-cheerful Prime Minister himself stated: ‘This is the day that the world came together to fight back against the global recession.’ Fight back? Surely it will only encourage the greed culture that needs stamping out? This is why the French president initially rejected the plans, claiming better governance of the financial world was required. If not, the Western World will resemble the hyperinflation seen in the aftermath of the First World War in Germany. And who came to the rescue? The most deranged human being to walk the planet, Adolf Hitler, who spoke charmingly at large rallies to gather support from those tired of paying hundreds of German Marks for a loaf of bread as a result of the Weimar Government printing more money then it could afford.

However, with numerous Government incentives inviting businesses to employ those belittled by a disability, hopefully now the hard of hearing can secure those jobs that in years gone by have eluded them. I have felt the harsh reality that my hearing loss has conferred on me, which has prevented me from working alongside associates and acquaintances either in bar work or administration. I was left pondering, as my CV boasts experience and good references.

One such catering boss, upon finding out from a fellow worker that I had hearing problems, suddenly seemed despondent around me, and the next day I was dismissed on grounds of being ‘slow’. If I wasn’t so shocked, I would have complained. How can a fit, lively 18-year-old – who regularly hits the gym and plays football – be ‘slow’ when fellow workers were mostly oldage pensioners?

Despite the legislation such as the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 against such woeful treatment of the disabled, it will always occur in small businesses, such as the one run by that gentleman with his mind still in the 1970s. I was surprised he didn’t start irritatingly quoting from the sitcom Steptoe and Son or calling staff members by the names of characters in Dad’s Army.

With the input of new money and business hopefully starting to improve the economic situation, more jobs may become disability-friendly. A quick glance at shows around 40% are disability-friendly, with the majority paying just the minimum wage. Surely, if the Government is eager to improve the life of many, the disabled should come into consideration.

Alternatively, there is Incapacity Benefit, starting around £60 per week, if you go to the mandatory appointments regularly. Yet the process of application still takes approximately three months.

But many disabled people wish to work. With no solution to the lack of jobs, there is no choice but to continue receiving this allowance, which is a pittance when you compare it with what you could be receiving if working full-time. Even part-time work at around 36 hours a week at £6 an hourly rate is £216 per month – a huge increase. That’s a guaranteed £10,000p.a with overtime and holiday pay added. It would mean food in the cupboards and bills paid.

Another area of concern is the ignorance of a Job Centre I visited, a service which we rely on more than ever before. On one occasion I was asked to phone the disability employment adviser – who was just upstairs – to arrange an appointment, which I explained would be a futile task when my hearing is almost 95% deficient. They appeared to sympathise, but reverted to ignorance by asking: ‘You can hear us now, can’t you?’ Well, yes, that’s because I have been trained to lip-read. I cannot imagine what it’s like for those who are profoundly deaf.

Awareness of our issues should be a top priority for the Government and its officials. A deaf MP on the front bench to replace Jacqui Smith would be a dream come true. Will it ever happen? If only. The closest to this was the ex-Labour MP Lord Ashley, who lost his hearing in 1968 yet carried on his duties in the House of Lords until 1992, where his respectful colleagues recognised his efforts to change disability rights. He now acts as president of the RNID.

There is also the issue of introducing British Sign Language on a wider basis in the hope that communicating with the deaf would allow more perspective of deaf and hard of hearing needs. I recall a minister for the disabled called Maria Eagle stating: ‘We need to work as a Government with the deaf people and their organisations to work out what the barriers are.’

Will things ever change?

By Benjamin Stonehouse

1 comment:

  1. "Success is almost totally dependent upon drive and persistence. The extra energy required to make another effort or try another approach is the secret of winning."