I turned up to work one day at DSWS and within 30mins, I have seen THREE shocking moments that I will remember forever.
1. Arrived at DSWS couple of minute early, so i sat down by the desk of the deaf assistant to the boss of the PWD department, his name is Tim. He was working away, recording some data from the recent application forms into his book, his way of tracking all the applications that gone in and out. A woman, I'm calling her Veronica (only because she has the same moody pout as Veronica/Ronnie from Eastenders) walked up to Tim and begun speaking without engaging an eye contact. Tim was still working while she was speaking. Veronica is clearly impatience, biting the insides of her lips, which gives her this moody pout, while tapping the floor with her right foot, holding a big pile of paperwork in one arm and a hand on the waist.
I tapped the desk to get Tim's attention and to let him know that Veronica was speaking to him. Veronica eye rolled and repeated what she had said earlier but even faster, even I didn't get what she had said. Tim looked baffled and got out a paper and a pen for her to write down what she wanted.
Veronica SLAMMED all her paperwork on the desk in front of Tim and a growled while she walked away, and there was Tim, who didn't look remotely astonished, meaning that this was not the first time.
Something inside me flipped. I shouted 'OI' (may have been a little bit too loud than intended) to get her attention, everyone else's head was bobbing over the divider that divided the room to see what was the commotion all about. I said to her,
'You will go back to Tim, and apologise what you just did and write down what you had just said. It is NOT his fault that he doesn't understand you, it is YOUR fault that he doesn't understand you'
Her face looked like she had been electrocuted and walked ever so slowly back to Tim who, poor thing, didn't even know what the hell was going on! I explained after and he had confirmed that that was not the first time.
2. While I was still waiting for my boss, I watched the other assistant, Steve, who has some sort of mental disability that I didn't understand, filling out some document on the computer. I couldn't help but feel raged when I saw what he was typing out, he was copying what was on paper beside him that someone else had written onto the computer, so I knew it was not his fault but I had to let him know. On the computer screen, it shows…
- Multiple Disability
- Visual Disability
- Orthopedic Disability
- Deaf Mute
- Mental Disability
- Other Disability
I approached Steve and asked if I could show him something. I went ahead and changed 'Mental Disability' into 'Mental Retardation'. As expected, Steve looked incredibly insulted and changed it back to original. I asked him to be patience and let me explain, I did it again, changing 'Disability' into 'Retardation' and stopped him from touching the computer. He asked what I was doing, looking quite upset. I said to him,
'That feeling you are feeling right now is EXACTLY the same as I felt when I saw Deaf Mute. On the paper it says Mentally Retarded, so you changed yours, that fine, I now want you to change Deaf Mute into Hearing Disability from now on, on ALL documents, past and future. Understand?'
He did change it on most documents and today I had a text from my boss apologising what had happened and they are now going to change all documents and will not be using the word Deaf Mute on any documents any more'
3. Tim was growing frustrated with Steve as apparently Steve was not doing the job properly which meant that Tim was taking on extra work - correcting his mistakes. Sound like a typical office room scenario. Except what happened next was out of the ordinary.
Tim went over to Steve's desk and whacked his head with a roll of newspaper and did a HUGE rant by sign language, which Steve had no idea what he was saying and looks very uncomfortable. Tim then ranted to my counterpart, moaning about his mistakes and how he is very stupid and that Steve should be kicked out.
Once again, 3rd time in 30 minutes, I flipped.
I stood up and signed to Tim 'You cannot ever treat other workers that way, ok Steve may had made mistakes but that does not make it ok for you to abuse him! You are sick of people treating you like crap, like Veronica earlier; you are doing that to him! It is not ok and it is so wrong. You two should be supporting each other because you both are getting treated wrong in this country, not to abuse each other. How can you expect hearing people to support your rights if you behave like that"
Tim looked like he had just been slapped in the face and carried on with his work.
On the positive note, in just two weeks in placement, I have already made a significant change within the department, eradicating all words of Deaf Mute in documents. Now that's progress in just two weeks, roll on the next two months!