How I found my Deaf Identity

Post by Kim Robinson, Northland

Hi, I am Kim and I’m from Whangarei. I want to tell you how I found my Deaf identity.

When I was young, I was applying for jobs, the bosses would always ask how I will use the phone. Many jobs were linked with using phones. I can’t use the phone. It became a barrier. I can’t get a job. I was frustrated. I felt emotional. It was a real barrier.

I want to go back a little bit, in 1990 I flew to America for one year. In that one year I learnt so much by absorbing everything around me. As a Deaf person I had access to everything I had only been able to dream about. Access to captioned movies available for hire, interpreters, relay, access to TV with captions, it was everywhere. New Zealand at that time did not have all those things.

I came back to New Zealand. Everything stopped. I felt like I was in prison. I was stuck. That’s why when I was applying for jobs and they asked me that question, ‘can you use the phone’, I decided to start complaining to the Human Rights Commission about Telecom not providing an accessible relay services for Deaf people. I never thought it would take 7 and a half years of lobbying. I never thought it would take that long. I want to thank Victoria Manning too as she did a lot of work to advocate for this as well. We went together to lobby and won our case. Thanks to Victoria.

From that I was more motivated to advocate because Deaf need access to everything. That is part of my Deaf identity. Deaf identity plays a huge part of our lives every day, it is what helps us to access everything, education, work, health, family, everything.

Thank you for watching – cheers.

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