The serious side of Ken Behrens: what subtitle mishaps mean for people with disabilities

Dominic Giannini 23 August 2021 9
Ken Behrens shout out

The Chief gives a shout out to all of us – Ken Behrens. Photo: Twitter.

While Ken Behrens was able to give Canberra a laugh and a slight reprieve from the depressing COVID news cycle, it also presented an opportunity to raise awareness about the difficulties faced by people with a disability during the pandemic.

Jenny Atkinson, who runs the ACTQueer and Queerberra groups, noticed the discrepancy in how the auto-captioning mishap was interpreted after making light of the situation with her friends with disabilities, who then thought she was “taking the mick” out of the subtitles.

“I [want to] stress how important accurate subtitles are for people with a disability,” she said. “[It] should be part of the story.

“People with disabilities get left out so much [and] this story can highlight it.”

The ACT Council of Social Service’s head of policy, Craig Wallace, said he shares concerns about access to information in a range of formats.

While the ACT Government has been picking up and addressing these issues relatively quickly, the organisation will call out measures that do not meet the high standards required, Mr Wallace said.

“The ACT Government is responding fairly well this time around, including through its sensory vaccine clinic and in-reach testing for people with disabilities,” he said.

“But we want to see good, timely communication into the disability community, noting that this is a fast-moving issue.”


READ ALSO: Canberrans among the kindest people in Australia, but we’re urged to look after ourselves, too


ACTCOSS has also called for a more comprehensive government strategy within the confines of the upcoming budget, saying accessibility measures need to be in place across all of Canberra’s primary and acute health settings outside of COVID times.

Mr Wallace said ACTCOSS remained focused on ensuring Canberrans with a disability were able to get vaccinated, considering the cohort has been eligible to receive a jab since February.

Fewer than one in five people in residential disability care were vaccinated at the end of June.

Craig Wallace

ACTCOSS head of policy Craig Wallace. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

The vaccine rollout for people in both residential disability and aged care is primarily the role of the Commonwealth Government, but Mr Wallace said any vaccination targets that lead to an easing of restrictions in the ACT need to explicitly consider the vaccination rates of vulnerable people.

“We need up-to-date data by population group including people with a disability, released at least weekly, so we have an idea of the vaccination rates,” he said.

“We need transparency and to address any barriers to vaccinations that people with a disability are facing.”

People with a disability who need to access in-reach COVID-19 testing throughout this lockdown can call the ACT’s COVID helpline on 6207 7244.


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9 Responses to The serious side of Ken Behrens: what subtitle mishaps mean for people with disabilities
Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:19 am 24 Aug 21

What about all the people across NSW and ACT whose only language isn’t English?

Avril Pounds Avril Pounds 12:10 am 24 Aug 21

What about all the people across NSW and ACT whose first language isn't English?

Malcolm Roxburgh Malcolm Roxburgh 7:30 pm 23 Aug 21

Got a lot to do with Andrew Barr's pronunciation.

Magarac Singh Magarac Singh 4:00 pm 23 Aug 21

The subtitles don’t even recognise the words Pfizer or Astra Zeneca.

Sher Bee Sher Bee 1:08 pm 23 Aug 21

16 new cases in the ACT is equivalent to 303 cases in NSW. It took NSW 8 weeks to reach 300+ new daily cases. The ACT has reached the equivalent in under 2 WEEKS 😳. We should not be complacent. *calculations estimates based on the NSW population being 18.94 times greater than ACTs population.*

    Woody Brenden Woody Brenden 1:28 pm 23 Aug 21

    Sherbie Leo that doesn’t consider population density. NSW is 8 persons per kilometre. ACT is 151 persons per kilometre. ACT is doing great. We just need to stay the course.

Jesse Peter Jesse Peter 12:27 pm 23 Aug 21

oh sure let's talk about subtitles instead of MASKS.

imagine being hard of hearing and reliant on lip reading and facial cues

    Gus Maher Gus Maher 4:54 pm 23 Aug 21

    Jesse Peter that’s why there’s an exemption to wearing a mask when it’s necessary for someone to see your full face to communicate effectively, ie for a deaf or HoH person. Subtitles are also a valid point re accessibility, unsure of what your point is aside from vague whataboutism

    Jesse Peter Jesse Peter 5:01 pm 23 Aug 21

    what a comfort for them.

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