Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Faux outrage!

Here’s the story so far:

  • StatsCan approaches a Fredericton resident for a survey on technology.
  • In subsequent communications between StatsCan and the candidate it is determined the candidate is deaf.
  • The candidate’s daughter, who is of normal hearing, tells StatsCan they need to get a certified interpreter to be available during the survey.
  • StatsCan then effectively says, never mind, it’s too much trouble, we’ll find someone else to do the survey.
  • Daughter goes ballistic. It’s a “violation of rights”, we’re going to “lodge a complaint with the Human Resources Development”, “Completely, completely angered!”, “I’m not going to let it drop.”

So let’s back up just a bit.

The survey is a computer-based survey. It is not relying on an oral exchange. The only reason an interpreter was insisted upon by the daughter was in the event there were questions about the survey. So why couldn’t those questions be asked and responded to in writing? After all StatsCan and the prospective survey respondent managed to communicate quite effectively using that medium until the daughter got involved. And for that matter, why didn’t the daughter herself step up to the plate and take a couple of hours out of her busy-being-outraged day to lend her parents a hand?

Look, I fully understand that deaf and other disadvantaged people often do have a hard time fitting in. I also understand that governments (at all levels) have a role to play to make life easier and as near-normal  as possible for them. But to insist that the only acceptable option is the most difficult and most expensive (when there are equally effective alternatives readily available) does everyone a disservice and makes the complainant (the daughter in this case) simply look like a whiner with a big chip.

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