National Week of Deaf People: Simon's Story

 A Deaf Bookkeeper by trade, Simon is also an Auslan teacher and avid Collingwood supporter.

Born in Ballarat, Simon played many sports growing up with his brother, including football and cricket on hearing teams. It was an eye opener when he played his first game of Deaf cricket as he could communicate clearly with his teammates via Auslan for the first time.

“Playing my first game of Deaf cricket when I was young was such an amazing experience because it was really the first time I could discuss tactics in Auslan with my teammates”, Simon said. “Before I had to guess what hearing teammates were trying to say to me, which was very confusing.”

Simon moved to Melbourne and attended the Victorian College of the Deaf and Wesley College in his final three years of high school before he studied a double degree of Marketing and IT at university. However, after two years, Simon wanted a change in direction and worked for his father’s accounting business, using this experience as stepping stone into the workforce.

“It was hard at times working with hearing clients and colleagues because I couldn’t communicate with them via spoken English,” Simon explained. “I was always proactive, using a notepad and pen to write down what I was trying to say.”

This didn’t discourage Simon, eventually working for a big accounting business that employed over 1,200 staff all around Australia.

In 2017, a job opportunity opened for Simon at Expression Australia and he took it up instantly knowing he would be able to work in a Deaf friendly environment and communicate via Auslan.

“In my previous roles, I only had to deal with smaller payrolls,” Simon stated. “At Expression Australia we have nearly 400 staff that I need to look after. It’s a massive responsibility but with my colleague Jane, we work very well together as a team and make sure everything is done right.”

Simon has also become an Auslan teacher, teaching community classes after work hours at Expression Australia and was recently asked to teach Auslan at the MCG to a crowd of over 46,000 people.

“It was the opportunity of a lifetime,” Simon exclaimed. “I’ve supported Collingwood ever since Nathan Buckley started playing for them back in 1994. Teaching some basic Auslan signs to the crowd on the big TV was quite daunting at first but I got used to it quickly. I was touched when I saw people in the crowd repeating the Auslan signs as I taught them.”

As Expression Australia celebrates National Week of Deaf People (23 – 29 September), Simon hopes that more people will want to learn Auslan.

“The more people who learn basic Auslan, the more included Deaf people will feel in society. In a perfect world, everyone would be included in everything. We want people to try and communicate to us in our language, Auslan.”

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