She ran in the headlines for several weeks.
Firstly it was the good news.
New Zealand has its first profoundly deaf MP in Parliament. Welcome Mojo Mathers.
But wait there was a catch.
The headlines had a field day. New Zealand’s first profoundly deaf MP has been told parliament will not pay for the technology she needs to fully participate in parliamentary debate.
It costs too much at $30,000 for her to have the adequate electronic note-taking equipment to part-take in parliament.
She was told this was to be met from her own parliamentary budget.
Ouch – I thought that was a bit harsh. I can’t begin to imagine the hurdles she has probably tackled to achieve what she has to date – only to be told – it’s not good enough – you’ll need to pay to do your job.
As the debate ravaged the papers, I felt sympathy for her. Imagine having to fight just to be able to do your job well.
It was a shame, considering that New Zealand prides itself on being an all-inclusive society – yet sometimes we fall short.
But at the same time I couldn’t help but wonder at the immense cost of an electronic note-taker.
Being involved in writing for a transcription company got me thinking – could transcription software meet this need? At a cheaper cost?
Not just for Mojo Mathers, but for the other 200,000 people that Deaf Association of New Zealand says have some form of hearing impairment in New Zealand. Between 2500 and 7000 people of whom identify as deaf.
Though many use hearing aids, or use sign language or even lip read – transcription could make life easier.
Even an interpreter is not always sufficient, as it is hard to take notes whilst watching an interpreter.
A New York based school – The New School says transcription services are one way in helping students to receive adequate information in class.
“Transcription services are also available to deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Some schools that have more extensive programmes for deaf students offer real time speech to text transcription services by utilising voice recognition software.”
At present TranscribeMe is taking steps towards becoming instantaneous voice-speech software, but in the meantime its quite quick turnover can still provide a good option for those in need of a note-taker.
So watch this space!
As technology improves, the hearing impaired or deaf will be able to get one step further towards achieving dreams in the hearing world, whether it’s as an MP or as Prime Minister.
The hearing world will be theirs for the taking.
By Corazon Miller, Journalist