New name, new charity?

23 09 2010

I read that the RNID are going to re-brand and possibly change their name as according to Jackie Ballard CEO, the current name ‘is a barrier to people who are hard of hearing.’

The name is a barrier?! Errr  … run that one past me again!

Give me £260,000 Jackie and I’ll show you something REALLY worthwhile to do with it.

It’s a crying shame that charities spend so much money on re-branding …. and for what? Re-branding shouldn’t just be about nice new colours and logos. It should also  be about a change in strategy and service provision – for the better. Be interesting to see  how THIS one pans out.

Source: PR




9 responses

23 09 2010

Yes she was explaining on Twitter how they need to expand their range of activities. If you look at the membership breakdown of the RNID the great majority of their members are HoH.

Consequently most of the RNID’s activities are towards catering for them. The number of actual deaf members is quite small, I think about 15%. The reason for this in my opinion is because of the way they treated Doug Alker. Deaf people will never forget that, it was classic abuse of a deaf person by the hearing. And at the RNID of all places.

So Ms Ballard argues that to “more accurately reflect the nature of the RNID’s activities” some other name should be found. She points out that the RNID had 5 changes of title in its history.

Now that the RNID has decided to go into the field of Deafness Prevention that obviously opens up a whole new field for begging money. They can now claim to be representing the hearing as well as the deaf. I wouldn’t mind so much but in a year when bonuses and pay rises have come under fire, the CEO’s pay went up by 20%. Need I say more?

23 09 2010

Not only name changes but 16 REMIT changes (2 in the last 14 months). Always the focus is moving away from the deaf, and away from charity. I think most who quote charity today have no idea what charity IS in the 21stc term. They are sub-contractors to the state in most part, and no longer act to ‘fill in gaps’ the state left, but tendering for state support options like any other business, except then it is total and unfair ‘competition’ as charity gets tax exemptions..

Hence the freezing out of deaf people, because unlike HoH, who are passive, deaf are pretty ‘vocal’ about rights/politics and direct empowerment and decision-making, they wanted to run the RNID themselves or at least have a major say in how services were distributed, and who by, so the hiring of corporate hearing experience and staff killed that concept. The main issue is then the deaf have NO other national charity input or choice. Most deaf charities have gone to the wall.

It makes no difference what the RNID calls themselves, all deaf are interested in is the removal or ‘Royal’ and the removal of ‘Deaf’ from their title, if only for clarity. We will probably read something medical about ears…

28 09 2010
Dan Schwartz

We had confusion here when SHHH (Self-Help for the Hard-of-Hearing), founded in 1979, changed its name to Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)… Though part of the name change, in fact, is a result of the CI Revolution — People who were “too deaf” are suddenly hearing almost normally now.

Basically, there are four organizations for the hearing impaired (Gallaudet’s definition, encompassing deaf, Deaf, and HOH) here in the States:

1) Hearing Loss Association of America, with about 10,000 members & over 200 chapters. In fact, I believe there is still a SHHH chapter in Australia, and there was (still is?) one in England;

2) National Association of the Deaf, founded in 1880;

3) Association of Late-Deafened Adults;

4) Alexander Graham Bell (AGBell), founded in 1890.

29 09 2010

Hi Tina,
Hope you are well. Just saw your blog entry on RNID rebranding, and actually I completely agree it needs to be rebranded.

This is because I was brought up pretty much as a hearing person and never really knew any deaf or hard of hearing people while growing up, so I saw things pretty much in the same way as hearing people do (the ones who have minimal or no awareness of deafness or hearing loss). I wasn’t really aware of the different charities, etc either. Didn’t even know about finger spelling. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that most people would have no idea what RNID stands for, and would confuse it with something else. Once I went around the office with the raffle tickets, and pretty much everyone drew a blank face when I said RNID. There was just no recognition of the RNID at all. Also more importantly even if people know what it stands for, they assume it’s referring to the very deaf and is not relevent to themselves, which means the word is a barrier to many hard of hearing people. I’ve no doubt about that, as even I dismissed text phones, etc when I was younger as I had assumed it was for the very deaf signing community.

It was only about the time when I met you that I had started to find out more and go to lip reading classes, because I got ear trouble and my hearing wasn’t as good as before (seems closer to what it was now though, but need to get hearing aids tuned right). I wasn’t even aware of the term “hard of hearing” before then.

In recent years I became aware that those who are deaf/hard of hearing aware often use the word deaf as an umbrella term to describe all kinds of hearing loss, but this really annoys me, as I know that this is not how most people perceive the word deaf. Most people will probably say someone who is deaf can’t hear anything and uses sign language.

I’ve also come across old people who refuse to accept they are losing their hearing, because no one likes to associate themselves with deafness. It’s too strong and sensitive a word. Clearly “deaf” is a barrier to these people, and stopping them from getting the help they could get (and stopping people from being aware of captioned relay and demanding it!).

Not only that, but I’ve even had on a number of occasions people talking to me without realising I wear hearing aids, and then when they realise their reaction to say I’m like a hearing person and I’m not deaf. Actually my mum told me once someone asked my sister if I was deaf (I wasn’t there at the time and didn’t know the person), and my sister reacted very strongly with a very firm “NO”! My Dad wasn’t even aware of the RNID either. Given that I’ve always worn hearing aids, and even my dad and sister don’t regard me as deaf and were not aware of the RNID, I think you can’t get a better and clearer example of how the RNID brand does not work, and the word “deaf” is actually often unhelpful.

I still associate “deaf” with being very deaf, and definitely don’t regard hard of hearing people as deaf at all. That is just the way hearing people generally think in my experience.

The big problem is that there is not really proper recognition of the term “hard of hearing”. The fact that there isn’t a word for it, says it all. Hardly surprising then that the general public tend to be ignorant of the hard of hearing and their needs. Having a charity called RNID doesn’t help to promote the hard of hearing, as the name refers to deafness which immediately turns people away before they find out it deals with all levels of hearing loss and with tinnitus.

We need to get away from the medical thinking of using deaf to cover all forms of hearing loss, and start looking at it from a social perspective to make it easier for hearing people to understand and easier for those of us who have hearing loss but are culturally hearing to explain where we stand.

Basically we need a word that describes the culturally deaf, and a word for those who have hearing loss but are the culturally hearing. Those groups have very different needs and lifestyles, but the later is not really recognized and adequately represented despite that group being the far larger one.

This lack of recognition for the culturally hearing people with hearing loss, I think is part of the reason behind the struggle to get captioned relay services. There is only really recognition for the “deaf” and text relay ticks that box for Ofcom. If there was recognition for the “hard of hearing” as a distinctly separate group, it would be far clearer that box is not ticked as far as telecoms access is concerned. Would also help hearing people to accept any hearing loss they get, as they will be more reassured they will still be perceived as being part of the hearing culture and still as capable, since the word deaf won’t get associated with them, just as blind is not associated with people who are short or long sighted.

Curious to see what name the RNID come up with. Not easy to think of a good name. They’ve got to rebrand, but they’ve also got to do it right and get the strategy right, otherwise I would agree with your blog that it’s a waste of money.

Personally I think there’s a good case for having two separate major charities for the deaf and for the hard of hearing (but can work together where there is a common interest). That way people like myself would finally get decent representation (Hearing Concern is too small and not influential enough).

29 09 2010

I had always thought RNID was for sign language / profoundly deaf users and Hearing Concern was for hard of hearing users, and recently RNID have been jumping onto the hard of hearing bandwagon – surveying lipreading classes etc. We had already done that at Hearing Concern, in fact it was ME who organised and reported on the data on that survey! Hearing Concern staff were very clear that RNID don’t really serve the hard of hearing – Hearing Concern did that and they specialised in it. Now they have merged with LINK, emphasising even more that they serve the hard of hearing or recently deafened – i.e. the culturally hearing, not the culturally deaf.

29 09 2010

Perhaps the part of the RNID organisation which is now focused more on the hard of hearing people should leave the RNID and become part of Hearing Concern. It would give Hearing Concern more weight and influence, and avoid having two competing charities. No need to spend money on re-branding in that case! Then the RNID that is left can stick to it’s roots and focus on what most people think the RNID is for (ie. the BSL/profoundly deaf people). That would probably also reassure the BSL/profoundly deaf people that they are not going to get ignored or overlooked.

To outsiders we would then have two clearly distinct charities, representing clearly different groups of people, although of course there will be some areas of overlap. I think that can only help matters.

29 09 2010

In May I was invited by the RNID to a forum to discuss and give feedback on their rebranding. However it became clear their marketing team already HAD produced a new concept and just wanted approval. I listened and voted on the Logos and the “Tag Lines” that explain what the company does. When asked directly for my opinion I replied: ” If is isn’t broken why fix it? ” The RNID have a “name” and an ID within the community. I also made several comments about visual imagery they had presented and the way in which D/deaf people communicate meant it was possible some BSL users whose first language wasn’t English, would not pick up on ” the play on words”. My fellow panelists agreed that I had made valid points. By the time we had ALL put our opinions the RNID agreed that they will have to rethink. That’s what happens when not enough D/deaf people are involved at grass roots.

30 09 2010

This is an insightful thread. The RNID has always loomed large in my life because they used to be more involved with Deaf children years ago. For example they used to run children’s Xmas parties, there was an annual free trip to the circus and things like that.
I did not realise that awareness was so low. Ms Ballard has said that but I didn’t take it too seriously because after all she has an axe to grind.

9 10 2010

The RNID is a still roaming dinosaur that needs to be culled. Back in the day it did serve some sort of useful purpose before technology caught up with us and made all our lives easier. Whatever purpose they have now, I haven’t the foggiest idea. Just remember that as a norm 70 pence in every pound of your donations to any charity goes towards “Admin”. I hope they hire a funky Ad agency.
Rebranding can only help any Charity which has the unfortunate “Royal” prefix ( which mandates the annual cursory wavy glove visit) when you see the words “National” and” Institute” tacked on to the pompous sounding Charity name – Any sane member of the Public would quite rightly stuff their wallet back into their pocket, figuring with Royal and National connections (implying Government funded) why on earth should such a charity need even more cash. I’ve always hated that name- Yes rebrand and change it. We’re not a bunch of destitute retarded disabled lepers requiring Pity. We’re just deaf or HOH.
Now what is it exactly that the Charity does for us again?

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