Is it really an accessible world for the Deaf?

I will never hear words ever1bbetterSmlCropped for frame

I have come to realise, as a Deaf person all my life, the whole world is actually not all that accessible to the Deaf community. Fact is, a lot of things are unavailable to us.

The way companies/organisations do podcasts without thinking about text, without thinking about how they have made their podcasts inaccessible to a huge group of people! The Deaf community is a huge huge community. Not only podcasts, but also webinars that have no speech to text or automatic captioning feature!

Kudos to Youtube for making their video platform accessible to us by including an automatic closed captioning feature (that I WISH ALL users who upload videos would ACTIVATE – hey, the CC feature you don’t bother ticking actually does not automatically come up on screen, WE have the option to turn it on if you activate it during uploading videos!) so I WISH other platforms like the various webinar platforms, school course online platforms, facebook videos, IGTV, Twitch, etc would put the automatic captioning feature on their platforms to make it accessible! Vimeo has moved towards doing this, so kudos to them too.

You know, realistically we are excluded from many things, and as my experience and the experience of many other Deaf people go, a lot of people forget that Deaf people would like to be involved, learn new things, have more opportunities. Things like going to the cinema is not all that easy. Cinemas in Australia simply do not want to caption all movies because it “annoys other people” so they have special times just for captioning and when are those times usually? In the morning or afternoon! As if Deaf people don’t have jobs to go to or other commitments during the day! What about night time captioned screenings? European countries learnt to get used to and accept captioning so that Deaf people could enjoy movies alongside them. WHY can’t Australia do the same? Limited screenings, really? Deaf people want more inclusivity.

Other things Deaf people find is, people in general don’t want to learn sign, not even basic sign. A few people yes, but many no. Businesses make no effort to give their employees an opportunity to do a short Auslan course (Auslan – Australian Sign Language). I often go in to shops, and come out frustrated! I am not just a Deaf person that doesn’t mind. I DO mind. I do mind about service, I like good service, friendly service, understanding people. And also people are often scared to communicate with us, scared to give us a chance, or get all nervous. Why? We are not that scary, really.

Public transport is often a problem. There are screens on main stations, sure, but they don’t give enough information. Take the trams in Melbourne for example! They announce more detail but don’t show enough detail on screen for many of us to really understand which stop is where. Train station screens have gotten worse. Only showing the train line, time and not all the train station stops but announcing them! And hearing loops, really? Is that all they can do? Which leads me to the issue highlighted in my artwork at the top.

Have a think about the image above. The fact is I will never hear words ever. The hearing loop’s only purpose is to help those who are hearing impaired who would have already had all or some hearing before they lost most of their hearing. Deaf people who were born deaf (which many were) have never heard words and never ever will, not even with an aid. Why? Because the auditory memory we are all born with, babies with hearing grasp the words as they grow up so by the time they are 5, they already have a grasp of hearing words when the auditory memory disappears – so therefore, those who are Deaf never get the chance to use their auditory memory (unless they were implanted with the cochlear implant very early) and by the time they reach age 5, it is too late. Too late. Those like me who were not able to be implanted with the cochlear implant early in life because it was fairly new and babies were not allowed on the pilot program, missed that window. Not all parents today want to have their Deaf babies implanted with the cochlear so those younger generations miss out. However having said that, Deaf people do have the right not to have the cochlear implant and they want to be Deaf, and have the Deaf culture which is important.

So from all this, I WISH the communities would understand Deaf people will NEVER hear words clearly EVER. So I would like to see MORE text based detailed information everywhere for Deaf people, like braille is in most places for the blind.

Yes we Deaf community have a big Deaf culture, that is important to us. I feel it is not understood much outside the Deaf community or even in some cases respected.

Other thing is businesses, a lot of them, don’t want to move on with technology and make emails and SMS important, preferring to have contact by phone! Why? What for? What about Deaf people! Again not that inclusive.

I will say what also really annoys me is, forms we fill in online force us to enter a phone number! I don’t like that. A lot of Deaf people don’t. We don’t want to be called up because it is no good, it is a waste of time ringing us. Then what if it’s an important opportunity and we miss out? Then they decide to give it to someone else because they can’t get through to speak to us and they don’t want to email. Then that is not fair. The other issue with phone numbers is, many businesses when I have spoken to them about giving my phone number, they have said yes yes they will SMS me but then they go against that request and ring me repeatedly! That one really gets to me. It’s disrespect for us, for our needs, for our clear request to sms only, disrespect for our disability and almost like discrimination because they could not be bothered reading our accounts that would have said clearly to “SMS only as person is Deaf” and that there would have been another contact method, email, that they choose to ignore.

We are seeing such a shortage of Auslan interpreters these days. Why? Not enough people want to learn Auslan, and with the disability insurance scheme (which I am very grateful for) many more people are booking interpreters all the time now as they have that sort of access. But then inaccessibility leans to the other side of the scales in terms of not enough Auslan interpreters being available for something you might need or want to do, be an event, drs appointment, a workshop. Because the interpreters are booked out. The reality is, Auslan takes a few years to learn through TAFE and to acquire the status of qualified as an interpreter and people don’t want to take the time, but there are those who do and they are currently studying. Some however pull out half way. The thing I wish the most is that schools had made Auslan a requirement to learn from the 1950’s so that kids back then may be Auslan signers, even for basic signs. We have been held back for too long.

Another thing I must mention while on the subject of learning langauges is, I am annoyed that my early schoolings didn’t think I should have learnt Italian! That really got to me more recently because I realised I needed to learn Italian properly to converse with my relatives over in Italy. Yes I have google translate, thank god, but it would have been nice for me to know Italian BEFORE google translate was born. Then I would have been able to talk to my beautiful Nonna! But no, school decided I should not learn Italian because it was simply too hard for them! To me that is bollocks. Sorry. My Nonna passed away in 2006 without me ever having the real chance to converse with her. My mum luckily knew Italian and interpreted for us. I could learn Italian today and I am trying to but it is not as easy as it may have been in school.

So now I have listed out all the above inaccessibility issues – sorry about the rant but it needs to be said! It’s time to stand up and speak out loudly for all of us Deaf people!

The real fact is, our whole Earth here is not really all that accessible to the Deaf. At least not in my experience or of the many Deaf people I know.

Anyone who has not lived the experiences I have, will not truly understand so to try and argue their points would not work. I would hope they would just try and understand and gain insight from this written entry.

I will be doing more works on my developing art project on experiences as a Deaf person and my history, stories of my experiences. They’ll be compelling, interesting and insightful I hope.

An Arts marketing Conference and Deaf Services Queensland support!

I just returned from a fantastic arts business marketing conference for artists on the Gold Coast, in Queensland! It was also my birthday while up there and I turned forty! But I don’t feel forty, I feel younger than I did a decade ago.

The conference was organised by Art Lovers Australia, an influential and growing online art gallery that supports artists and promotes them online and in magazines and encourages us via the artists’ facebook group they have for us. Art Lovers Australia is owned by Nancy Donaldson and Jarrod Knight!

I attended the conference with the support and sponsorship of Deaf Services QLD and their Life Enrichment grant. Thank you Deaf Services QLD! Deaf Services QLD is an amazing organisation set in Queensland and they support the Deaf community through various services including Auslan interpreting, support for counselling, events, funding and they have an annual juried art show (which I was the lucky second prize winner at last year’s art show!). You can learn more about this fantastic organisation at this link.

The arts conference, titled โ€œTHE BUSINESS OF ARTโ€ / CONFERENCE 2019″ (see link about this here) was a great experience with the presence of well known international Arts marketing guru, Cory Huff of The Abundant Artist (see his website at this link) and Emma Hannigan, a fabulous international journalist and story teller! I was fortunate to have the presence of two fantastic Queensland based Auslan interpreters who were top notch in interpreting for me everything spoken at the conference.

We also got to listen to five talented successful artists talk about their arts practice and how they became successful! They were Ian Tremewen, Jeska Valk, Johanna Nulley, Amica Whincop and Maggie McDonald and I feel very fortunate to have met them (and the many awesome artists that attended the conference) and learnt some valuable ideas and tips about growing my arts business and success. The conference was very valuable and I learnt how I can approach the media to share my story about an art project and share the personal side of a story which was exciting to learn that we should share that part. I was also given exciting ideas for my projects upcoming, including one I am doing about Deaf history and my history as a Deaf child and what happened with wearing weird equipment at age 9! I will share more on that project as time comes.

I have a further exciting thing happening, I am being booked for a half hour interview with Emma Hannigan the journalist in the next week to share my story and learn from her how I can pitch my story to the media! I will do another blog on this interview and include the video.

Below are some photos of the conference.

The latest – abstracts for the 10 year anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, Australia

I’ve been working on a set of abstract paintings commemorating the Black Saturday fires that happened in Victoria, Australia. This project was sponsored by the Regional Arts Victoria organisation who gave me a grant to work on these paintings and present them in an exhibition. The artworks will be shown at the local Wonthaggi ArtSpace Gallery in Wonthaggi from 24th March until 1st April and then another exhibition of this series will be shown a bit later in the year in Melbourne. These artworks are large sized 1 x 1 m each and I painted with acrylic and thick gesso for texture. The artworks are shown below, with the 5th one in progress currently.

Further on, exciting news! I’m heading up to the Gold Coast to attend an arts conference organised by Art Lovers Australia. My attendance to the conference has been sponsored by Deaf Services QLD with a Life Enrichment grant.

Art Lovers Australia is an influential and growing online art gallery that sells our artworks and they have a selective collection of artists on their site and they have organised this – see link: https://artloversaustralia.com.au/the-business-of-art-conference-2019/

Part of the conference means I will get to meet Cory Huff, a well known art marketing guru and businessman from USA who runs Abundant Art and has helped many artists to succeed in their arts career beyond the normal boundaries. Someone from the ABC will also be at the conference to do interviews with artists, which is another exciting aspect!

2018! Moved interstate and new studio

Hello! Here I am, in May 2018. So much has happened since I returned from Berlin! First, Berlin was the BEST experience ever. I met with 7 other Australian artists when Arts Access Australia organised an arts exchange program and selected 8 of us Australian artists to go to Berlin and do a project with Berlin artists. I worked with Corry Siw Mirski, a fabulous esteemed artist who is a prolific artist working in mixed media. Particularly in sculptural painting and sculptures. In the two weeks we had in Berlin, I went into introspection and learnt a fair bit about depth of creative expression and realised I had not allowed myself to express creatively my much deeper thoughts and feelings and experiences I had had in life.

On leaving Berlin, I and my friend traveled to Rome to see my works in an exhibition with other artists from all over the world, a great exhibition that had a publication in an annual book which my work made into, a honour!

Arriving back from Berlin, my house sold in Adelaide and it meant I was able to make the move back to Melbourne and start afresh, which was the best decision it turns out! Since I returned to Melbourne in December 2017, I have had many great opportunities given to me in the arts. First, I was selected to show works in my new local town, Wonthaggi at the Wonthaggi Artspace from January until June which has been wonderful as a couple of my works have sold there.

After around early January, I was also selected by The Other Art Fair for Sydney, which is a prestigious art fair and a huge world wide event. I was one of the lucky 70 artists selected and set for March. March came around and I took my artworks to the Art Fair and had my own booth. It was a huge success! 10 of my artworks sold! As a result, I have now been selected for the second Other Art Fair, held in Melbourne in August. The dates it will be on are 2nd to 5th August, 2018 and will be held atย The Facility, 2 Chelmsford Street, Kensington, Melbourne Victoria.

If you are reading this blog and you are keen on visiting my exhibition at the art fair, you are eligible for free tickets, normally they cost but via me you can get them for free using a special code as one of my supporters of my art (yes you, blog readers included!) ๐Ÿ˜‰ Please contact me via my website http://www.chelledestefano.com to get a code to get free tickets.

I have been doing some sculpture (wire sculpture) along with more paintings! See below photos of the latest artworks.

The Cot sculpture encompasses a story I’m telling about a time in Adelaide when I had been attacked on the last day of first year at Art School and the events that followed. This is hopefully developing into an art installation for the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Images of the Sydney’s The Other Art Fair:

Images of my latest 2018 paintings (there is many more in production right now so be very excited!) ๐Ÿ˜‰ :

And The Cot story progress images! There will be a separate post on this later!
You can see the cot finished in its perspex box, and the rattle in making with a wood turning tool, and the rocking chair TRIAL version before I make another one with the right materials.

Also you can support this project by going to this link here. The best thing about supporting this crowdfund for the sculpture and art installation project is your donation is TAX DEDUCTIBLE so you get a refund!

Berlin! And Art books!

I currently have an art book going for fundraiser and this art book is the Vdub artworks of mine turned into an art book. I am very excited about this! The book features all my vdub artworks from the last 10 years and new vdub artworks, the story on how I began painting vdubs in different places and situations – all for the lighthearted fun and laughs you will get from Taxi Bug the loveable yellow bug’s adventures with his vdub friends.

Who would love a copy of this book? If you do, head over to this page Kickstarter here (or click on the image below) where I am raising funds to get the first print run of Volksy’s Adventures Art book printed and to send some of the artworks to Berlin!

I have also some other exciting vdub-art rewards on offer at my Kickstarter fundraiser so check those out too. All the rewards including the book are on the right side column of the Kickstarter page.

taxi easter dogs for KS main bannerSML

See some of my vdub artworks and images of the book that is in production currently, below.

Berlin! – I am going to Berlin in October on an Arts Exchange program with Arts Access Australia who are sending me along with 7 other Australian artists to Berlin to work with artists from Berlin as part of the Arts Festival. This is an exciting time for me as an artist and my career, and a pivotal turning point for my arts. I will be teaching a workshop with a Berlin artist to a group of people who are interested in learning our mixed medium works and I will also be having an exhibition afterwards!

After Berlin, I am heading to Rome to be in an exhibition for the Rome Arts Expo which will be an exciting opportunity for me to meet other artists and network.

Arts Access Australia are also holding a fundraiser for the Arts Exchange program – go over to their page here and check out what is on offer.

berlin exchange promo by chelle

 

I have a group now for my arts!

I recently set up an arts group on Facebook as the arts page I have was not getting much traffic so I was unable to engage much with my followers, due to Facebook’s sweeping changes to their algorithms!
Read on below to get more information.
screenshot of my fb group1
My arts group is for my artworks and arts, where I update everyone on a new artwork I have finished or an update on what is happening in my arts career and I have found it works so much better! I find I am engaging so much more with my followers and they equally love the engagement. It is important to me to engage with all my followers who support my arts so they all feel they are part of my arts and I just LOVE my supporters! ๐Ÿ™‚

So now here is my Facebook group link!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/chelledestefanoartstudio
If you enjoy my artworks and want to follow me, I encourage you to join my group.

Additionally I have an arts newsletter, so come and join! I sometimes do giveaways and competitions and often have many stories about what is happening in my arts!
Join my newsletter at this link!

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Or use this QR code to join my arts newsletter

NEW ARTWORKS
My latest artwork that I did as a commission (and part of the new Enchanted series) below is of a boat in stormy seas and I was delighted with how the stormy sea turned out, considering I have never painted a stormy sea before and I had fun with the techniques of painting the waves, the blues and the white froths, and then the sky with the lovely lightning, and of course the detailed boat!
stormy seas boat di briffa commissn1SML

The first artwork of Enchanted Series finished!

The artwork is now titled “Ancient Memories – 6 of Cups”, being an artwork for a tarot deck collaborated by 78 artists all over the world that do a card assigned to them each year to make a full deck – themed. This year’s theme is Astral. I spoke a bit about the story in the previous blog post but I’m going to go into some depth on the story in this post.

Old memories are being accessed by the moon, and as the old wise moon moves past, he stops to look over his back/shoulder and watches a relive of his memory as a kid-moon being presented with one of the cups of flowers that would help pave the way in his life. The ancient alien is the passer of the cups, a memory record and Egypt was the first place where ancient people used to teleport from to other parts of the world through the Giza pyramid. Wise moon was reliving old good nostalgic memories as he passed through “town” and onto the rest of his life, moving on from old times to new. Can you spot the 4 crystals in the artwork? A turquoise on the Chelle-Alien’s necklace, an aquamarine in Kid Moon’s hand, two behind him on the ground (amethyst and citrine)

The deck can be pre-ordered at Kickstarter at this link –ย https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kayti/78-tarot-astral

After this artwork, I have begun new artworks for the Enchanted series, one about Earth, and more others about blue roses, dreams, fairies, forests, dragons, angels, wands, fruity trees among the seas, mists and all. A lot to look forward to. Oh and those artworks will include a real crystal or few in them. The Enchanted series is stories about the awakening that is happening right now all over the world….. not just fantasy, but a dimension higher than ours that is becoming real. Among the Enchanted series, I have started to expand the mediums to sculpture and mystic wands with crystals through them and the wands are made of natural wood found on the grounds around the woods, bushes, backyards and on the beach. I hope each artwork will bring insight, inspiration, provoke thought and conversation, connection, and some healing for those awakening to the changes in the world, through the images, sculptures and the crystals.

Below you can see my finished artwork and the template of the artwork in the card for the deck done by the wonderful 78 Tarot team leaders.

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Ancient Memories – 6 of Cups by Chelle Destefano (copyrighted to Chelle Destefano)
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The artwork templated as the tarot card for the Astral tarot deck