Posts Tagged ‘deaf’

Petition: Support for Mojo Mathers *** Update ***

8 March 2012 6 comments



Support for Mojo Mathers and the wider Deaf and hearing-impaired


Paul Gibson, the Disability Rights Commissioner, has called for the Speaker Lockwood Smith and Parliamentary Services to accommodate Mojo Mathers’ need for live electronic notetaking. Article 21 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which New Zealand has ratified, specifically deal with the right of persons with disabilities to access information intended for the public in a timely manner without additional cost, and the right to serve effectively in public life.

Many other figures and organisations have come out in support of Mojo Mathers.

The Human Rights Commission currently has a discussion paper out for consultation called The Wider Journey, which deals with accessibility issues for disabled people in the physical environment, in accessing information, and in the political process. If you have experience with disability, hearing-related or otherwise, I recommend you make a submission to this report detailing obstacles in the political process.


Sign Petition Here


* * *  Update  * * *


from:    Suzanne Culph,
date:    Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 8:00 PM
subject:Speaker’s answer

Frank, huge news!

Late last night, Speaker Lockwood Smith announced that he will fund the note-taking Mojo Mathers needs to do her job until a permanent solution is found.

What’s more, he’s promised to develop live closed captioning of Parliament — something that would give over 700,000 hearing impaired New Zealanders unprecedented access to their democracy.

It’s been an uphill battle to get this far. From the start, Speaker Smith was reluctant to commit to the funds, and claimed that the decision was out of his hands. But then student Merrin Macleod started a petition, and 6,200 people — including you! — joined her.

Merrin started her petition after hearing that New Zealand’s first deaf MP was essentially being asked to pay $30,000 to participate in Parliament. She spent hours contacting media, friends and everyone she could think of to spread the word.

Thousands signed, driving media coverage in the New Zealand Herald and across the country. And last week it was tabled in Parliament — in front of MPs, a packed press gallery and Speaker Lockwood Smith himself.

The pressure is working. Yesterday, the Speaker committed to making Parliament “more accessible to the hearing impaired community at large,” and to “make sure Mojo is getting all the support she needs” — including funds for her note-takers.

There’s still a way to go before ongoing funding is guaranteed in a way that is fair for all MPs with a disability — the long term issue is now before the Standing Orders Committee, which is yet to deliver its verdict. But expert legal advice suggests that there is every reason for the committee to grant the funding.

And with thousands of New Zealanders uniting behind Merrin’s petition, and intense media attention on Speaker Lockwood Smith, it will be near-impossible for decision-makers to avoid the issue.

The progress is proof that ordinary people coming together really can make a difference. And by sending a powerful message in support of Mojo Mathers, everyday people are helping pave the way towards equal access in the country’s highest institutions.

Thanks for being part of this,

Suzanne and the team


And a really, really B I G thank you to everyone who read this (or heard about the petition from some other source) and put their name to the petition. People-power can work!

– Frank