Philip Smith: “The economy is at the basis of discrimination.”

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Philip Smith

“I am unsure of how I developed my hearing disability. It was gradual. I am diagnosed as having a nerve deafness caused by bronchitis.

I left school in Form 5, and I’m not sure whether the hearing deterioration had an impact on this decision. But I do know that the lack of support from disability services resulted in inequality for me because I didn’t finish my school education.

At first, I withdrew. I didn’t think of myself as deaf. Eventually it became difficult to communicate and impossible to hear anything. In my case, hearing people speak as if I am not there. I am not always kept in the loop of what is going on. I end up not wanting to continue with work or other activities where hearing people are predominant.

Disability is rated by points. Deaf people don’t reach the required number of points for a pension unless it is connected to other disabilities, such as psychological disability.

The economy is at the basis of discrimination, misled with stereotyping by the general population and within the deaf community. Many deaf people congregate together and won’t have anything to do with the mainstream population, causing a kind of anti-hearing chauvinism.

Equality for people with disabilities could start with changing the health system to make technology affordable. Implants cost $2,000 – 4,000 each. The analogues are cheaper. The batteries cost $5.50 for a 4-battery pack, and I buy them weekly. You can only have implants if you’re profoundly deaf. When Medibank Private lessens the costs, I can proceed.

Cuba has a good health system where the deaf are cared for with better services. They can participate in the community as equals, because the opportunities for training and education are so advanced.”

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