Monthly Archives: May 2009

Accessible movies – not

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to be a panellist to discuss a film in the Human Rights Festival. The film was called Nobody’s Perfect. Since it has an English title I was unconcerned until I was given a copy to preview. Imagine my chagrin, well really my frustrated pissed offness when I couldn’t follow it because much of the dialogue was in German! We tried having it read to me but that is too slow and disruptive, so basically I had to say “no” and explain that subtitled movies are inaccessible to people with low vision or who are blind, and that’s even before you even consider audio description.

Its just as well I found out in advance or it would have been embarrassing for both me and the organisers.

Movies in mainstream cinemas or festivals are never advertised as being subtitled, unless they are captioned for Deaf audiences.

I didn’t attend the screening but heard afterwards that one of the panellists was from the medical school! I know the film was about so called “thalidomides” and no disrespect is intended to that person. But surely we should expect anyone who is involved in human rights activities to have got beyond medicalising disability – even if the subject is related to impairment as the result of drug companies marketing a product after it was know to have side effects.

Disability and human rights are obviously not yet subjects that everyone in the human rights community in New Zealand has quite got to grips with yet. How long will it take?

The festival has finished in Wellington and finishes today in Auckland, but has still time to run in Christchurch and Dunedin.

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Filed under Media, The Arts

Sign language is in your hands

A recent exchange on Twitter.

NZ Parliament: Sign language on Parliament TV, 5 and 6 May [why not all the time?!?]

How many hip operations would a sign language on Parliament TV cost?


Don’t know. How many deaf voters/citizens have to wait 10 days or more for Hansard? Why do they matter less than hips?

And, I might add a Deaf person might also need a hip replacement occasionally. I know A and he isn’t Deaf. Good to see there are more people out there who ‘get it”.

Sign Language Week 4-10 May 2009.

Sign Language Week is this week and the publication of an international report Deaf People and Human Rights that shows that NZ isn’t doing too badly but does still have a few things left to do, particularly around education of Deaf children.

It is obvious that there will be no human rights for Deaf people anywhere without Sign, so maybe we need to start talking about a Sign Language Commission modelled on the Maori Language Commission.

The beautiful colourful butterfly logo is great. Butterflies are free, and Deaf I am told.

Sign language is in your hands. The hands and butterfly are combined.

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Filed under Disability Issues, Disability Rights, Information Accessibility

Louis Braille’s 200th birthday

“Braille is to fingers what print is to eyes” (RNZFB)

It would be very remiss if a blog entitled Low Visionary did not acknowledge the birthday of the man who was one of the initiators of accessible information, at least in hard copy. Louis Braille’s 200th birthday is being celebrated around the world this year.

A celebration in Wellington to mark his birthday drew attention to the contribution of this man from a humble background to the lives of millions of blind people.

January 4, 2009, was the 200th birthday of the creator the tactile code of raised letters and numbers and musical notation that has allowed blind people around the world to read and achieve the great gift of literacy.
While many think that the advent of computers, assistive technology and the Internet have made Braille obsolete, nothing could be further from the truth. Children who are born blind need Braille to learn to read and write, and refreshable Braille displays on computers now provide access to information such as email in a way that Louis Braille could never have imagined. Technological developments have revolutionised the lives of blind and deaf blind people, making new information more readily and cheaply available in Braille.

Louis Braille

Louis Braille

Louis Braille was French. He was blind from the age of three as a result of an accident. As well as inventing the code that is named after him he was also a skilled musician, playing the cello and the organ to a high standard. He was only 15 when he invented the code that was to be named after him, but died of tuberculosis in his forties.
“Braille is knowledge and knowledge is power” was one of the catch cries at the celebration. There is still some way to go if blind and deaf blind people world-wide are to achieve that power. Only 5% of printed material is available in formats that blind people can read, according to the Foundation of the Blind.

I don’t read Braille, but if I lost my sight completely I would still want to be able to read and write. I might well learn Braille. You can find out more about Braille and the celebrations from the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.


Filed under Disability Issues, Disability Rights, Information Accessibility, Media