Online petition for deaf M P passes 4450 signaturesBy Alan Tristram
The deaf Green MP Mojo Mathers has told the Kapiti Independent that an online petition backing her plea for an electronic note-taker in Parliament has attracted nearly 4,500 signatures.
Mojo Mathers made history last year when she became New Zealand’s first profoundly deaf MP.
But speaker Lockwood Smith told her she had to pay up to $30,000 for the instant transcription note-takers out of her own support budget.
She has told the Kapiti Independent she now feels talks with the Speaker’s Office will get action.
Mojo says: “The current situation is that the discussions with the Speakers office are ongoing. We are hopeful we can reach a positive resolution soon. We feel that it is really important that the resolution achieves greater accessibility to parliament for people with hearing impairments.
“We appreciate that this is a new situation for the House to deal with, so recognise that this will take time.
“Most of the feedback I have had from the public has been tremendously supportive. There seems to be a good understanding that there needs to be a level playing field so that parties are not penalised for selecting candidates with disabilities.”
And Ms Mathers goes on to say: “Parliament is having to adapt to having an MP with a hearing impairment, which is taking time.
“In the past Parliament had to change its ways of doing thing in order to include women and Maori and there were complaints at the time, but now it is accepted that this is what genuine representation looks like.”
She says she was unaware of the online petition, organised by a student, until it was live. The petition calls for the captioning of parliamentary TV as a result of the saga.
You can sign the petition at this site — http://www.change.org/petitions/speaker-of-the-house-of-representatives-pay-for-live-closed-captioning-of-question-time-debates-in-the-parliament