Toowong is a quiet suburb in the middle of Brisbane that attracts tourists now and then because of its proximity to historical heritage sites and natural parks. But, what most people don’t know is that Toowong State School also hosts an annual Hand and Hearts Fair in conjunction with the Queensland Deaf Festival for the children of Toowong.
A Special Day
The Queensland Association for the Deaf declared the first Queensland Deaf Festival in 1991. It’s a special day to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of deaf people not just in the community of Toowong, but all of Australia as well. Thousands of members from various communities across Queensland joined that first festival, and support for its mission continues to grow every year.
Toowong accommodates a wide variety of people during these festivals. Visitors from across the state don’t consist of just those who are deaf or have hearing disabilities, but include those who have deaf friends and relatives, stallholders representing organisations and businesses, and good hearted people who simply want to show their support for the deaf community.
Teaching a Generation
The latest incarnation of the festival took place in the Toowong State School and even featured a unique bilingual/bicultural program for hearing impaired and deaf children. The program taught children about Auslan, Australian sign language, along with English to help future generations understand deaf culture. The event was celebrated in conjunction with the school’s fete with the theme ‘2013: The Year of Equality’.
There are still significant obstacles in achieving equal opportunity for deaf people in Australian communication and entertainment, and admittedly, money is a big issue. It’s more expensive to caption everything on TV in order for deaf people to enjoy, and it will take a national initiative to help people learn signing to broaden the opportunities for deaf people.
But, if a small suburb like Toowong can make adjustments and accommodate the needs of people in need of a fighting chance, then why not the rest of the country? Reach out to your local councillors, or even just your friends and family, to see what you can do to help the deaf community.