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Concerned Deaf Group

Concerned Deaf for Total Communication in Education Group

‘Concerned Deaf Group’

In 1981 a small group of deaf people with hearing supporters formed the Concerned Deaf Group whose aim was to lobby for the acceptance of Total Communication in education. The group advocated for better communication access in schools, TAFE and universities so that deaf children and adults would have more opportunities for their education.

Dorothy Shaw was instrumental in forming the Concerned Deaf Group in the Year of Disabled Persons, 1981. The group’s focus was on Total Communication, an approach to deaf education that made use of a variety of different communication modes such as Sign Language, oral, written and visual aids, depending on the particular needs of the child. Since the vast majority of schools and tertiary education institutions at that time did not have qualified teachers and interpreters who could sign fluently, a communication barrier existed that prevented many deaf people from pursuing their rightful educational opportunities.

One of the main objectives of the Concerned Deaf Group was to get schools to adopt the Total Communication approach. This was first successful with the Farrar School for the Deaf in Croydon Park who came to use a combination of Signed English, Auslan and fingerspelling in order to teach their students. The Concerned Deaf Group also lobbied for qualified interpreters and notetakers in tertiary education institutions so that Deaf people could pursue further education. The Group actively promoted Auslan as a community language in its own right and was instrumental in having it recognised in the National Language Policy.

People involved in the Concerned Deaf Group include:

1982 - Ward Ballard - President, Diana Joyner - Secretary, B Stewart - Treasurer, Committee members - Lynette Pivac, Graham Weir, Eric Johnston, G Hansen, Karen Lloyd and M Roberts

1986 -Alison Trott - President, Karen Lloyd - Secretary, Kevin Beath - Treasurer, Committee members - Nola Colefax, Margaret Ryan, C Sharp, Dorothy Shaw, Dorothy Sankey, Meg Stewart, Noleen Waltl and Michael Shannon

1990 - Alison Trott -  President, Diana Laing - Secretary, Kevin Beath - Treasurer, Committee members -Nola Colefax, Rebecca Ladd, Dorothy Shaw, Dorothy Sankey, Karen Lloyd, Wanda Stewart and Tony Nicholas

When the Concerned Deaf Group folded in 1991, their concerns were taken up by the NSW Association of the Deaf.  Each State now has its own Association which comes together under the umbrella of the Australian Association of the Deaf (AAD) who speaks on behalf of deaf people in Australia by lobbying the government and media on issues such as education, access and equal opportunity.



Nola Colefax’s book ‘ Signs of Change’, 1999

Silent Messenger issues

Women’s Weekly Aug-Sep 1982