Freda Sandon says she has been “proudly Deaf” all her life. Coming from a majority deaf family (both parents and 3 of four siblings), Freda has long been aware of the importance of accessible information in emergencies.
“I often feel helpless and lost in these situations,” she says. “I’ve had to ask my neighbours for help and try to explain why I wanted an ambulance. I really hated being so helpless. I am a very independent person and still feel guilty asking for things.”
Freda relies on television with subtitles for information, especially in the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“My TV comes on first thing in the morning when I get up and goes off just before I go to bed,” she says. “My grandchildren, who are hearing, had to get used to it, but now they understand that Grandma needs to understand what is going on around her.”
Freda says accessibility has improved, but there is still a long way to go to make all information available and accessible to the Deaf community, especially in emergency situations.
“I amazed how my parents coped in their day,” she says. “Things have improved twofold now, but I understand now how strong my parents were, and how I learned from them. We are lucky with mobile phones these days, and can text. When we communicate in Auslan, though, it makes things so much easier.”