At deafscotland we have been working to reshape our work to take a human rights approach. We want to understand how a rights-based, person-centred approach can help those affected by deafness reach equality of access and citizenship, particularly when looking at the social model of disability.
We work across the spectrum of deafness and use the term “four pillars of deafness” to describe the specific communication and language barriers that deaf people face: www.deafscotland.org. Deaf people, like their hearing peers, also face the barriers caused by difference, for example through other disability, race, and gender.
We noticed that communication and language were rights and that good quality information is needed to access these and other rights. When we realised that sensory deprivation is a form of torture, we began to look at everyday barriers faced by those affected by deafness, in a very different way. Those barriers include door entry systems, most kitchen white goods, telephone services like NHS 24 and safety/fire alarm systems that do not have flashing lights. Most people would not realise how challenging a day can be when you cannot hear.
Our membership – www.deafscotland.org/who-we-are/our-membership/ – had already identified inclusive communication as a key area for us to work on. Understanding that communication is everyone’s business, we have been developing an ambition to promote and support a “shift in mainstream communication” to allow those of us affected by deafness to contribute and participate. “Communication for All” is the beginning of our campaign towards Scotland becoming an Inclusive Communication Nation. We will not achieve this on our own, and we will not succeed working only with our members or even on our own campaign. We need to encourage you and others to develop your contribution towards a social movement that challenges current access, integration and participation norms for everyone.