Why I don’t say sorry

a close up in black and white of a mouth. The lip is curled and the teeth are bared.When I don’t hear something I don’t say sorry.

I am not sorry I can’t hear you. I simply can’t hear you. That is a fact, not something I think I should feel sorry about. Do you feel sorry that you don’t speak clearly enough? That you don’t check that I am looking at you and that your lip pattern can be read (with good lighting levels and no moustaches, pens, chewing gum and food/drink etc. in the way)?

It’s not polite, people say.

I don’t think its polite to assume that just because I am hearing impaired and you haven’t bothered to meet basic deaf awareness standards that I should be apologising to you. I think if anything it should be the other way around.

Sometimes, I don’t say please, either.

I’ve a new condition I’m coming to terms with at the moment and sometimes I have low energy and fatigue. At those moments, if you ask me to do something for you, and I need something to do it with, I will expect you to get that thing without me begging you to do so. After all, I am doing something for you and at a time when I could quite do with having a nap.

Can I remember the date that so and so is coming over? No, but if you pass me my diary, I’ll check. Can I look through your application and comment? Yes, but you’ll have to bring it to me with a pen so I can make notes.

It’s not polite, people say. You should always say please and thank you. It’s about showing respect. How about you showing me some respect and recognising that I am pushing myself on your behalf?

Words have enormous power. We are the words we use.  If I say sorry all the time, I become a person who feels they are lesser, that they are somehow to blame for not having heard. If I say please all the time, I become someone who feels they are lesser, someone who has to beg for support.

Disablist language is often used without thought, but it has huge impact. It makes concrete a sense that disability is abnormal or wrong rather than simply a normal part of humanity.

I think what I am doing is part of the same agenda. I’m taking a stand – tiny as it is – and trying to redress the balance, if only in my own head.

I’ve always believe that what we say is linked to what we do. What we write becomes real. When I first became a producer and was uncomfortable with the word I made it a password so I continually had to write Jo Verrent, producer, many times a day. And it became second nature and helped me accept, and even feel proud of the by-line.

Not saying sorry all the time is me accepting my deaf identify. Not saying please is part of accepting the person I am changing into now. Sorry if that offends you.

Thank you.

Connecting Diversity: 15 hot tips for making your main marketing accessible

image out of an aeroplane window of dawn breaking and pink tipped cloudsAt the beginning of the week I presented at The Art of Connectivity, the 10th annual Marketing Summit of the Australia Council held in Hobart, Tasmania.

Since then I’ve been asked a few times for my top marketing tips for reaching disabled people – so in the spirit of international cooperation, these are my tips for making your main marketing materials more accessible. Continue reading

Finding the Glory in diversity

bodies moving in harmony in a rehearsalHow do you make professional work with real people not trained performers?

How do you craft performance for a paying audience when you can’t simply use technique to dazzle them?

How do you draw attention to the beauty in the ordinary, and make us marvel at the very variety contained within the human species?

I don’t know, but I know a woman who does. Continue reading

Witnessing a Private Party

a blurry pic of lots of people at a party dancing including a wheelchair userOver the past few weeks I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the development Janice Parker’s latest dance piece – Private Party. Conceived as a follow on from Private Dancer, her award-winning Unlimited Commission for 2012, Private Party takes an eclectic group of 12 dancers one step further to open up various notions, rites and rituals associated with the concepts of both ‘private’ and ‘party’.

I use the word ‘witnessing’ with care as it has both a general and a specific meaning within dance. Continue reading

Five tips to building personal resilience for those in the creative sector

a drop of water about to hit a pool of water, all lit in reds and oranges.If you work in the arts sector, you’ve probably caught sight of the Guardian’s piece on the fickle nature of acting, and the ultimate toll it can take on actors (also worth a read is Katie Brennan’s musings on that piece).

Basically its harsh trying to make it as an actor, and at the moment I’d extend that to all of us working in the cultural sector – it’s tough out there at the moment and getting tougher. Continue reading