Thumbs Up for the Deaf

Source | By: Marianne Kelly | Tuesday, 09 August 2016


Watching two Deaf women having an animated conversation in their own special language was an inspiration to Gwen Rameka who has organised a unique quiz fund-raiser evening.

It’s a ‘Seriously Funny Silent Quiz’. As well as giving participants exposure to the frustration of not being able to use regular spoken speech, the quiz is designed to show people what it’s like to be Deaf but in a fun way.

It will involve six rounds of silent questions and answers.

Funds raised from the function entry, raffles and auction of two art canvasses will be donated to the Auckland Deaf Society.

Ms Rameka’s awareness of the lives of the Deaf was initially prodded when she watched a television story about two Deaf youngsters who, after a trial run, were employed permanently as front-of-house staff at a South Island cafe.

“People were so impressed that it took off,” she says.

“A couple of months ago in Pakuranga mall I saw two Deaf ladies having a wonderful conversation. It intrigued me.”

Ms Rameka has worked with The Prospect of Howick’s publican, Barry O’Shaughnessy since he took over the establishment more than 20 years ago.

He was all for the idea of a fund-raiser for the Deaf in the wake of a recent successful Pink Ribbon event held at the pub’s Good Home restaurant and bar which raised just over $4000.

With a fund-raiser for the Prostate Cancer Foundation organised for August 27 he’s hoping the three events will be annual.

“Feedback from the Pink Ribbon function was outstanding and hopefully it will be the same for the Blue Ribbon and the Deaf Society Quizz events,” he says.

“It’s a win-win for everyone.

“If anyone wants to donate to the raffle we will take items with open arms.”

When Ms Rameka approached the Auckland Deaf Society, fund-raising and marketing officer, Taryn Banks suggested the quiz.

“We originally created this quiz for a 30th birthday about two years ago,” Ms Banks says.

“It’s a fun way to raise awareness and debunk some of the myths. We want to share some of the history of the Deaf in New Zealand in a fun way and raise some money.

“A lot of people don’t know there is a culture of the Deaf and see it only as a disability. The quiz gives hearing participants the exposure to the frustration of not being able to use speech.”

Techniques used in the quiz will include finger spelling – as opposed to sign language which is a language in its own right and belongs to New Zealand Deaf people, Ms Banks says.

“The quiz might involve using play dough and we will provide resources to help people use their bodies to communicate along the lines of charades.

“It’s more an activity-based quiz. It’s almost a journey of discovery for participants,” Ms Banks says.

Funds raised at the Howick event will go to a project to help adult Deaf people who, in New Zealand, have an average reading age of 8.5, Ms Banks says.

The society’s events coordinator, Julie-Anne Taylor says, through an interpreter, that in earlier days Deaf children were mistreated and sign language was banned.

“So it was very difficult. For example the word love and enough look the same on the lips.

“Deaf people suffered from a lot of mis-information because there were no interpreters or note-takers.”