We need to be heard

The National Foundation for the Deaf wants to give people who are hearing impaired and deaf the opportunity to be heard by their Members of Parliament.

NFD chief executive Louise Carroll says the hearing-impaired and deaf have taken a number of serious hits from government decisions over the past year, and the NFD believes part of the reason is that MPs just don’t realise the impact of hearing loss and deafness.

“Because of this, MP’s don’t understand how their decisions are making life so much tougher for people who are hearing impaired and deaf,” Mrs Carroll said today.

In a global first the National Foundation for the Deaf has asked all Members of the New Zealand Parliament to make 9am to noon, on Saturday, September 18, 2010, an opportunity for people who are hearing impaired and deaf to meet with their Members of Parliament at their electorate office to discuss issues they are concerned about.

“We’re calling it the ‘Be Heard Day’,” she said.

Mrs Carroll said people with hearing disabilities faced a raft of serious, life-impacting, issues ranging from ACC coverage and hearing aid funding through to education and isolation.

She said research showed about 450,000 New Zealanders had a hearing loss and nearly 290,000 of them regard their hearing loss as disabling.

“This is the largest sensory disability group in the country, but the disability is invisible,” she said.

“And so, we want to talk to our MPs we need to be heard.

“This has not been done in New Zealand before and in fact I don’t think this has been done anywhere in the world before. We want Be Heard Day to become an annual event. “

Mrs Carroll said the various party caucuses considered the NFD request at their meetings on Monday and MP’s are now positively responding.