Canberra woman Brooke Pape from the deaf community talks about her experience prior to Auslan Day – Breakfast

Brooke Pape is a member of the deaf community of Canberra.

She spoke with ABC Radio Canberra’s Lish Fejer ahead of Auslan Day on April 13, 2022 about her experience and what she wants the hearing aid to know.

Brooke Pape also discussed the award-winning film CODA (about a child of deaf adults who wants to sing) and how the deaf and hard of hearing have reacted to it.

Transcript of interview with Brook Pape and ABC Canberra Breakfast host Lish Fejer

Brooke: I was born and raised in Canberra, and I was born deeply deaf, and I currently work for the Australian Public Service, and I also teach Auslan in CIT solutions, and I am also a disability helper for the deaf community.

Lish: Now talking about CODA. Have you seen it?

B: I have not seen and the American version of it, but I have seen the French version of it.

L: What do you think?

B: It’s great for the deaf community and for sign language because we’re getting more recognition and it’s on the way to more exposure and awareness and breaking down barriers. I think it’s really good, but I think people should be aware that it does not represent us 100% authentic – it does cover some bits and pieces.

L: What would you say were the misrepresentations?

B: I’m not CODA myself. So I do not want to speak for the CODA community. I think you should ask that question to a CODA yourself, but for the deaf side of things, I think it was really good.

L: How important is that film in relation to the hearing and the hard of hearing worlds?

B: And the deaf world too. This is important because I think it would be good for a hearing people to see that one can bridge the gap with the deaf and hard of hearing world and that we are not scary and it’s okay to work with us and we can be professional and we can do anything in the world. Just make sure you consult with a professional deaf consultant, and have a qualified professional in the deaf community to be on stage and also interpret.

L: You said deaf, hard of hearing and hearing …

B: All the people who listen to this radio, you have a new identity that is to be heard. And then we have the deaf and hard of hearing. So deaf, with big D is where they were born deaf and grew up in the deaf community, they identify themselves culturally as deaf, and they use Auslan as their main source of communication. Hearing-impaired and deaf people who were not involved in the community while growing up and may have learned sign language later or something.

L: My guest this morning on ABC Radio Canberra is Brooke Pape from Canberra’s deaf community. We are talking about CODA, but also all things that pertain to the deaf community. It was wonderful to see Troy Kutsur win this BAFTA and he stood on the stage as the winner of best male supporting role for CODA. Regarding the portrayal of the deaf in the media – what do you think?

B: There are always positives and negatives that you know you can not really represent anyone 100%. It’s always twisted around in the media, but it’s covered some good pieces,

L: Thinking of COVID: I’ve noticed that the interpreters are covered right there, in front and in the middle, often larger than the actual you know, person speaking. Has it made a difference to understand Auslan or the deaf community?

B: It had affected society in a good way and in a bad way, that is, the interpreter gets more attention than the actual deaf and hard of hearing because it is us who have the life experiences and we ‘are the ones who actually based on it. The interpreters are there just to translate what is being said and what has been signed. Full stop. As I mean, I’m going to doctor’s appointments and the doctors are just starting to ask the interpreter: So how did you learn Auslan? How long did it take to become liquid? And ask all these questions. Instead of, you know, focusing thoroughly on me because I’m here for my doctor’s visit, it’s not here, you know, talking to the interpreters. It’s just that they get paid and you raise more money by paying them by asking them questions.

L: Okay, what do you want TVs and movies to do better?

B: Book interpreters and deaf consultants, and listen to us. Also, do not make a script that is inspiring porn.

L: Wait a minute – an inspirational porn. What do you mean by that?

B: I believe that hearing people can save the deaf, just as we have a poorer quality of life, which is not true.

L: Do you see too much of it?

B: I do. Yes, there are heaps.

L: So how do we stop it?

B: By listening to us. Just listen to us. Do not think that you know better than us. As if we are not inspirational porn because we are like ordinary people. The only barriers are that Auslan is not recognized as an official minority language, it is recognized as a community language.

L: Brooke, when Dylan Alcott became Australian of the Year, what was your reaction to seeing it, and what kind of changes would you like to see?

B: I think it’s great because he actually helped the participants with one of the concerts where we had an Auslan interpreter and it was very good and I think he learns a little bit from Auslan himself and he is really good friends with Drisana Lewitzke-Gray – she won this year’s young Australian a few years ago and she’s deaf as deaf and she’s a great role model for the deaf community.

L: Is there anything else we can do as a community to be more inclusive?

B: On April 13, we celebrate Auslan Day. It would be really good for everyone to actually celebrate with us, this would be a way towards recognizing Auslan as a minority language.

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