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Queen's Birthday Honours 2008

In line with tradition, the Queen's Birthday Honours for 2008 has been published [PDF].

The relevant Orders of the British Empire in relation to Deaf people are:

Order of the British Empire
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire

Dr John Menzies LOW
Chief Executive, Charities Aid Foundation. For services to the Voluntary Sector and to Deaf People.
(West Malling, Kent)

John Low (hearing) was CEO of the RNID until 2007. He was previously Executive Director, Research, Technology and Health at the RNID, responsible for bio-medical and technical research programmes.

Order of the British Empire
Officers of the Order of the British Empire

For services to People with Hearing Difficulties and to the Newbury Spring Festival in Berkshire.
(Stockbridge, Hampshire)

Hearing. Once the Chair of the Board of Trustees at the RNID, features well in a book by Doug Alker, Really Not Interested in the Deaf.

Sandra Anne, Mrs VERKUYTEN
Chief Executive and Registrar, Hearing Aid Council. For services to Healthcare and to the community in London and Essex.
(Brentwood, Essex)

Assume hearing, we don't know anything about her - please use the comment box.

Order of the British Empire
Members of the Order of the British Empire

John Alexander HAY
Senior Lecturer, Deaf Studies, Wolverhampton University. For services to Higher Education and to Deaf People.
(Wolverhampton, West Midlands)

Deaf. A lecturer, broadcaster and involved heavily with the British Deaf History Society, penning many publications.

Jennifer Mary, Mrs SMITH
For voluntary service to Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.
(Tring, Hertfordshire)

We don't know anything about - comments would be appreciated.

Those awards are listed in order of rank, with CBE being the highest. Looking at the explanations offered, it seems to suggest that the position of rank is offered based on national / regional / local prominence, which becomes a sliding descending order scale. The key critical question being, prominence for whom? A wider hearing society, which perhaps does not make it easy for deaf people to penetrate due to various glass ceilings that has existed? Does it not assume a society that is constructed in one manner, through one construct?

As a deaf person, I am always left asking the question, why do we tolerate such a system awards a higher rank to those who many deaf people would claim have oppressed them, yet they get awarded "Services to Deaf People"? Did anyone actually bother to ask deaf people if they've actually been a service when in fact they could have brought nothing but total anguish and misery? Awards for, "highly distinguished, innovative contribution in his or her area of activity", and being a "notable practitioners known nationally". Is this really the only justification for an award?

To quote from the Honours website:

An honour, decoration or medal is a public way of illustrating that the recipient has done something worthy of recognition.


What does worthy of recognition mean? Now Low was earning £100k per annum, and carried out duties in the usual course of a job. So my question is why? Is a mode society praises the voluntary sector, and/or redeems itself towards a feel good factor? Why not award the person who works for no money, at your local Deaf club or on the ground who keeps the links in the chain together, communicates with Deaf people? Is this system actually about leadership? If so, what is leadership?

Whilst any interpretation of contribution is ultimately subjective, surely the group to whom an award is in respect of should be asked? Little does the system able to do enough self analysis to understand that its promoting oppressive attitudes and ultimately underpinning the status quo.

If I was dishing out those honours, it would be John Hay that would get the CBE. Livermore would be knocked right off the list, because history has drawn up otherwise. Did anyone ever bother doing some basic within relevant communities research here?

Ask the Readers:
Do you think the Honours system is flawed? Do the above people deserve the awards bestowed on them? Throw us your thoughts in the comments.

See also:
New Year's Honours List (2007)
2008 New Years Honours
Low: RNID CEO needn't be deaf or hard of hearing
John Low the soap star!
Photo Friday: Deaf Chair Now
Spot the Difference

Comments (9)

I am astonished that John Low has been awarded an OBE for 'services to...Deaf people.'

As a deaf member of RNID, I asked of Dr Low two simple things - a better record at RNID on employing deaf people, especially at Senior Management and better representation, so that us (deaf people) could have a say.

Re: employment, Dr Low was interviewed by See Hear (Ceefax BBC2 pp640-5) early in his tenure, in which he claimed that the fact that there were no deaf or hoh people in his senior management team was his biggest disappointment. He left the job with that unchanged.

Re: representation, Dr Low pushed away all my requests to merely be able to have effective consultation with the trustees. In other words, he would not even give deaf people second hand representation!

What on earth is going on that people other than deaf people can affirm whether Dr Low deserves this award? As usual, we are treated as if we are inconsequential in matters which directly concern us!

RNID is, in my opinion, the biggest oppressor of deaf people on the planet.

Low actually got a CBE, which is one up from an OBE. Check out this link.

Low - CBE
Livermore - OBE
Hay - MBE

Now would someone mind explaining to me why someone who is doing a job @ 100k per annum (and perhaps failed at certain aspects) gets the top award ... yet a Deaf person, who often works for nothing e.g. British Deaf History Society, and has contributed much ORIGINAL work to the understanding of history ... gets the lowest ranking award.

And did anyone actually bother to ask if we thought it was okay, given it is services to us?!

Jennifer Mary Smith is a deaf person who has a hearing dog. She has given more than a 1000 talks to various organisations over the past 18 years to raise awareness of the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf.People. She has also conducted a tour for vistors to the Hearing Dogs facility at Saunderton Nr High Wycombe nearly every Thursday for the past 18 years. Her hearing dog Molly and her retired hearing dog Riley accompanies her on these activities.

@ Claire - thanks, that's really useful. :)

Of course the medals system is frigging flawed.. all the wrong people get recognition. Also, they are patronising in that it is cheaper to award a piece of metal, rather than financial or actually using taxpayer funds to imporve the lot of people.

It's an elitist system where they skim the cream, and then give us recogniton with cheap metal, for the work we do in cleaning up their fucking mess.

I remember some years ago, an Aussie Deafie got a Queens Bday award, can't remember what it is what, I think it was an OAM [?] but I made the comment on Australian Association of The Deaf forums, that the letters stood for, "Oh Another Medal!"

And boy did it set off some people......... well I hope they suck on those medals, cos the lot of deafies in OZ hasn't changed much since then!

And hearing actors get oscars for playing people from minority groups, while they get best supporting...................

The title is confusing:

Is it service to deaf people or service to servants of deaf people?

I have never met Dr. Low nor Mr. Livermore, so they are most probably very unaware of what I required from their servitude. Although, I have met Mr. Hay and admire what he has achieved.

If (!) I ever get an award, it will be due to my 'service to hearing people'. Or perhaps join this list:

Hmph. I'm half thinking "well, who cares what the Queen thinks anyway?" (yes, I know she doesn't do the selection on her own, but you know what I mean) and the other half of me isn't at all surprised. I think people who are good at selling themselves as do gooders are more likely to get awards. TBH, the whole thing seems a bit of a farce because there are hundreds of these awards and the people who do the awarding are extremely unlikely to know in-depth about everything that everyone's meant to have done, hmm?

Having said that, I do want to congratulate the lovely Mr Hay on his honour! I think I'd be following John Walker to that list though, personally ;o)

Pity nobody noticed that Dr Low personally persuaded the Government to allow private dispensers to work with the NHS and clear the hearing aid backlog. As a reseultn of that millions of people now have hearing aids who would have still been waiting.

John Hay is a nice chap, a lot fatter since we were at school together but he hasn't done anything on the same scale as giving thousands of hearing aids to people who need them.

I don't know whether it's true that Low 'personally persuaded the Government to allow private dispensers to work with the NHS and clear the hearing aid backlog,' but he certainly deserves credit for it if he did. However, when you place the work done by both men in their context, I think it's a bit like comparing apples with bananas.

Like others have pointed out, Low was paid £90K+ and he also had a lot of power and influence as CEO, which cannot be compared to somebody who does something weighty for little or no pay.

Low could have used all that power and influence to give deaf people a true voice in their own affairs, but seemed to prefer to keep us disempowered.

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