World Health Organisation is dangerous for Deaf people


(image description: painting by Nancy Rourke: 5 stylised children sitting in a classroom with hands chained and blindfolded)

First we need to understand audist/audism.

Audism is an erroneous set of beliefs that include:

hearing people are superior to Deaf people;

Deaf people should be pitied for having futile and miserable lives;

Deaf people should become like hearing people as far as possible; and,

shunning of Sign Languages.

In September 2018 an outrageous audist Call for Paper was published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) (pdf: Bulletin of the World Health OrganizationSeptember2018-18-221697).

The Call for Papers by Dr Shelly Chadha who leads the WHO Programme for Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Loss, wrongly claimed: “Hearing is important for achieving a good quality of life.” This is clearly absurd and incredibly offensive.

Shelly is an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor with a PhD in public health. She then wrote: “hearing loss is associated with delayed cognitive development in children“. Well yes it is. BUT and it’s a huge BUT, the cause, as Shelly should know is language deprivation because Deaf kids are not given Sign Language. The cause is not due to deafness or difficulty hearing.

By not mentioning this incredibly important fact, Shelly is contributing to the audist abuse of Deaf children’s rights to Sign Language. One third of children, even on a Cochlear Implant Program, do not develop proper language.

Shelly and the WHO should apologise and amend this Call for Papers.


Update 5 Sep 2018: I emailed Shelly on 2 Sept about this saying:

Dr Shelly Chadha
WHO programme for prevention of deafness and hearing loss
I saw your Call for Papers on hearing loss and was disgusted by your ignorant and destructive audism. Have you never heard of Sign Language? Do you not know that 1/3 of kids on a Cochlear Implant Program end up without any proper language? I suggest you amend your Call for Papers.
People like you enable the continued abuse of the rights of Deaf children to a language.
And here’s some info for you:
Yours in livid outrage
Kevin McCready
I also copied the email to Karen Reyes whose name was also on the Call for Papers saying:
I see you name is also on this Call for Papers, Karen. Very disappointed. Please tell me what steps WHO will take to eliminate Audism.
I got a joint reply 5 Sep saying:


Dear Mr Kevin McReady,

Thanks for reaching out to us. At WHO we value your opinion and take it seriously. It is unfortunate that this publication has led to such confusion.

In WHO, we envision a world in which no person experiences hearing loss due to preventable causes and those with hearing loss can achieve their full potential through rehabilitation, education and empowerment. This includes sign language.

We appreciate your feedback  and request for submission of papers that highlight the need and effectiveness of sign language.

Best regards

Shelly and Karen


I emailed back saying:

Thanks guys
Will you be publishing and apology to the Deaf community and an amended Call for Papers?
BTW, you’ve misspelt my family name.
I then got an immediate response which didn’t answer the question:

Dear Kevin McCready

Apologies again for having mis-spelt your name.



Sex offenders – myths and facts


Click for the pdf by Rethinking Crime and Punishment (sexual- offender-myth-fact)

Highlights from the pdf (which has the scientific citations):

Myth: Public sex offender registers keep people safe.
Fact: Multiple studies show no evidence for this. In fact the reverse may be true because harassment prevents reintegration.

Myth: Most sexual offences are committed by strangers.
Fact: In NZ 86% of child sexual abuse is by a male family member.

Myth: All child sex offenders are male.
Fact: Females abuse up to 24% of boys and up to 14% of girls.

Myth: Most sex offenders reoffend.
Fact: Only 14% reoffend. The longer they remain offence free, the less likely they are to reoffend. After 17 years in the community the chances of convicted “high risk” people reoffending are the same as anyone in the general community.

Myth: Treatment for sex offenders doesn’t work.
Fact: Treated offenders are up to 11% likely to reoffend. Untreated offenders are up to 19% likely to reoffend.







Unsolicited abuse re Sign Language First


New Zealand people in the Deaf community and the Cochlear Implant industry are aware of some of my views. I promote the science which says Deaf kids should learn Sign Language first. Some people find that threatening. Some people actively campaign against Sign Language, including against NZSL. Some of these people contact me unsolicited to abuse me. Some of them publicly defame me. So here’s some examples. I’ve removed real names.


Betty used to be very senior figure in the hierarchy of Deaf affairs in NZ. My Deaf friends had warned me about her. So it was no great surprise that she should decide to contact me via a private Facebook message.

Sat 24 March 2018 10:41pm
Take [your post off the] facebook page – it’s unfair on [Therese]
But for someone who isn’t deaf, or doesnt’ have an implant, you really shoudln’t be a spokesperson

You accepted Robyn’s request.

Bullying people who MAY have a different view to you. Is not cool – neither is toxic identity politics.
The toxic side of Identity Politics
Identity politics means different things to different people. For marginalised people it can be a positive expression and a way to counter power imbalances in society. Deaf Pride, Gay Pride, femini…

Im not bullying. I’m trying to make you understand that your point of view was in the wrong forum.. It’s about adults and your beef is with children. That was all. But you can’t seem to get that

See my reply to Sym. And I’ll take your response as an acknowledgement that you tried to engage in toxic ID politics.

You can take it anyway you like, but I didn’t.

Oh well. Fact remains. BTW you don’t seem to understand how science works. You can’t just “pick” a study that backs up your beliefs.

But that’s exactly what you have done because you only quote Ann geers study and no one elses

That’s untrue. I quote lots of science.
Cochlear implants – 5 big lies
This blog post is for parents deciding whether to teach Sign Language to their deaf children. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying a cochlear implant program (CIP) is bad. I am…

That’s a blog, not a scientific paper and it still quotes Ann geers
Go to science papers not just opinion pieces

It references the papers. Silly billy. To see if my argument stacks up you have to read the references, ie the scientific papers. Silly billy.

For every one of those there are peer reviewed papers that show the opposite. There will always be children and adults that don’t do as well, some better than others. But you can’t term it as a failure, as I know an adult that gets no speech sounds. Yet she loves her implant as she can still hear environmental sounds. For her that means everything and so she terms it as a success. Everyone is different. Some of the kids that don’t do well often have multiple disabilities and motor problems as well. Sign language is not the answer there. There is no one size fits all and as soon as you recognise that you will why your fighting this all the time brings derision amongst those that are both deaf and hearing. You have been added not to represent the deaf by deaf leaders. Even they know that what you say is wrong, we don’t need you to champion for us we are perfectly capable of doing what is necessary ourselves. So please consider this. You.are.not.needed.or.wanted. Most of us that know of you think there is something weird about you for this. If I were you i would stop what you are doing as you aren’t doing any favours for yourself, for deaf people, and certainly not deaf kids implanted or otherwise.

OK Betty
Let’s take this one by one.
1. your aggression is unhelpful. Please stop it.
2. The idea that for every scientific paper there is another one saying the opposite is absurd. Please educate yourself about how science works.
3. I try not to use the word failure, but when I do, I mean it. I too have friends with CIP and HA who value just the environmental noise.
4. The multiple disabilities fallacy has been demolished by science. Are you telling me that NZSL is not the answer for [well known Deaf+ person] for example?
5. I certainly know that one size does not fit all. I have never said that. You are being intellectually dishonest to suggest it. Please stop being intellectually dishonest.
6. Name me one “Deaf leader” who says I am wrong.
7. I have heaps of support from Deaf leaders and Deaf friends. It is laughable for you to make the claims you have made.

Betty didn’t respond further.


3 October 2017

“Kia ora Carol Thanks for reacting to my post. I’m really glad to hear [your son] is making good progress with his CIP. Spare a thought for 1/3 of Deaf kids for whom the program doesn’t work. What the Hearing House is doing is morally wrong. Could you mention it to Scott?”

4 Oct2017
I think you are a dispicable individual who is acting like an uninformed zealot. Take your imbecilic ideas elsewhere please

I bear you no ill will. Good luck. BTW I know what I’m talking about. What errors do you think I’ve made?

Carol didn’t respond further.

Abuse of Cochlear Implant Parents

male female verbal abuse

I’ve been publicly defamed by Sym Gardiner who alleges I contact parents whose Deaf kids have a Cochlear Implant Program (CIP). He alleges I have a “pattern of initial friendly contact, increasing pressure regarding NZSL usage and then finally verbal and emotional abuse.”

Sym refuses to provide evidence, even confidentially to a third independent party, yet keeps making the defamatory claim. He should provide the evidence to a third party who will maintain confidentiality or he should apologise for defamation.

I’m publishing the following (with names removed). I’ve engaged in an honest, respectful conversation with parents. Judge for yourself.

[I’ve changed the Deaf child’s name and used “Mum and Dad” instead of the parents’ real names. I’ve changed the name of the Audio Verbal Therapist. Julia Sarrant’s real name is used.]

Facebook Chat [The parents maintain a public page, bravely and honestly describing the journey Charlotte is on with them. I only wish more people would be so open.]

9:05pm 29JN2017
Kia ora. Hope it’s going well. I noticed Charlotte was having trouble with p’s and m’s. I guess you have a technique for focusing on that?

Hi Kevin
Yes we have had a lot of trouble particularly with P. At the moment we are doing a lot of practice in front of a mirror so that Charlotte can see the shape her mouth needs to form. M has come a lot easier, but P maybe a lot further down the track.

Are you doing minimal pairs?

Not sure what that is?

Adapt the following for no sound because I’m guessing that even with the CI she can’t hear the differences.

“An MP sets up two items which are pretty close ie minimally different. Your aim is first to hear the difference, then reproduce the difference. Here’s how a typical MP session works. The teacher writes down the MP. It can be two sounds, words, tones (for tonal languages), phrases or sentences. The teacher says one of the MP at random and the student points to which one they hear. AFTER the student can hear the difference correctly, the student says them at random and the teacher points to what they hear. After the teacher can hear correctly what the student is trying to say, then you’ve probably made a good start. ”

Jul 3rd, 1:18pm
Sorry about the delay in reply we have all been sick 😷
That sounds really great. The issue we have with Charlotte is that the in order for her to spontaneously say a word she must have heard it many times before she will attempt it. The experts think that she may have speech apraxia. [Kevin note. Good news. This was later ruled out.] In saying that she said ” ice cream” very clearly and has said it many times since and that is not something we have worked on.

Jul 3rd, 3:20pm
Sorry to hear you’ve been sick. I hope you’re feeling better. Joanna and I had our flu shots last week. We were a bit late. Wow, pretty good on ice-cream. How does she go with simple sign language? That might help reinforce a minimal pair. Or you could use pictures.

Yes we haven’t been sick in two years which I thought was pretty good going.
Charlotte uses basic sign drink, sleep, good etc and the core board for other complicated requests.

Jul 11th, 12:36pm
Sounds good. Is she planning to learn the signs for the other stuff on the core board?

Jul 17th, 4:50pm
Just saw this and thought you might be interested for Charlotte.
Rotorua mums write book celebrating three NZ languages
17 Jul, 2017 6:00am Jenny Chapman and Molly Chattell have written Korero Mai – Speak To Me incorporating 14 first words frequently used by children, such as mum, dog and bed in te reo Maori, English and New Zealand sign language. Baby sign movement.
available from]

Great article!

Glad you liked it.

Public posts on Mum and Dad’s public FB page for Charlotte:

Kevin August 6 at 9:11am
Kia ora Mum and Dad
I’ve wrestled with my conscience for days before posting this. I woke up this morning and knew I could not live with myself unless I reached out to your family today. I sincerely hope for Charlotte’s sake that you won’t mind.
I guess by now you’ve met some of the Deaf CIP kids in NZ who are Permanently Language Deprived; it’s one of the saddest thing I’ve ever witnessed. And recently for the first time I met a Deaf man my own age (58) who has no effective language. He’s a lovely guy but his life is incredibly hard and his understanding of the world is incredibly limited. He can’t even convey his thoughts effectively in NZSL at Deaf Club although he hangs out there for companionship.
So with Charlotte’s language acquisition window coming to a close, I want to beg you to try perhaps 15 minutes per day of NZSL with Charlotte. You could do it with her board or with the language tasks you’re working on at the time, or you could do it in child directed play. Other parents I know who have done it are truly astounded by the changes.

Mum and Dad
August 6 at 11:50am
Hi Kevin
Thank you for your post. I understand by making Charlotte’s page an open forum that I am potentially putting our choices out there for possible questioning, and I am ok with that.

Whilst I certainly have nothing against sign language we have included the basics into our day to day life, spoken language is still our goal.

I am very aware of the controversy surrounding deaf children and adults and the subsequent push to learn sign. I am also aware of recent research of parents that persevered beyond the normal realms with outstanding results and we have been fortunate to meet these children.

Like anything in life there are no guarantees, we don’t know what Charlotte’s outcome will be.

What I do know is being deaf regardless of your method of communication is bloody hard,but if we can give her a spoken method… it will make her life a little easier.

Kevin August 10 at 8:59am
Thanks guys for your response. I just want to be as supportive as possible. I’m wondering, given what you say, if someone has said NZSL will be detrimental to Charlotte’s chances of learning to speak?


August 10 at 10:45am
Hi Kevin
Just recently there has been a lot of research on this topic. Just recently ( August 2016) Dr Julia Sarant an audiologist and senior research fellow from Melbourne came to Auckland to present her findings.
Once I find them I will post if your interested.

August 10 at 11:28am
Hi guys. I went to Julia’s talk and talked to her afterwards and exchanged emails with her. If you google “Mccready Sarant” you will see the result. Best wishes.


August 10 at 12:28pm
Yes I have read your take on it ” abuse of deaf kids human rights” let’s just say this is not something I agree with and leave it there.

I’m really pleased that Dianne doesn’t believe Charlotte has apraxia. And I really admire the amount of love and hard work you are putting in. I was both happy and sad to see the video. I admire you and Dianne for bravely putting them out there and wish more people would do the same, because everyone can learn from them. So please don’t take what I’m about to say as criticism.

It’s just that it appears to me that Charlotte may not be fully engaged. When she is engaged it’s for the reward or the play and I can’t see real engagement with the sound reproduction task. Before she can reproduce the sound correctly she has to be able to know it from similar, but different, sounds. This is called a ‘minimal pair’. I can’t see that she knows the differences in a minimal pair.

Kids have the ability to soak up language like a sponge and I think that with a good NZSL teacher Charlotte would be fully engaged. Perhaps you could ask Dianne if she would work together with such a teacher? I know you currently believe that this would not be a good strategy, but the science shows Julia Sarant is wrong about bilingualism, even though she acknowleges that profoundly Deaf kids have greater language delays (and therefore greater chances of being left without a language at all) [Spoken Language Development in Oral Preschool Children With Permanent Childhood Deafness, Julia Z. Sarant Colleen M. HoltRichard C. Dowell Field W. RickardsPeter J. Blamey.]

I know you also believe that there is a “controversy” about these issues. I think the controversy is similar to the controversy about global warming or tobacco and cancer. Some parents have had success by essentially excluding sign language, but I also know that the gamble doesn’t pay off for 33% of Deaf kids who are left PLD.

From your previous response to me on 10 August, I think we may have a miscommunication about my human rights commitment. I’m not saying that not teaching sign language to Deaf kids violates their human rights, but I am saying, like the SB210 law in the US says, a child shouldn’t be denied a language. SB210 sets up useful benchmarks and a timetable. We all sincerely hope Charlotte will not be permanently language deprived and I guess the question is, at what age do you try NZSL fully?

Unfortunately most research doesn’t separate profoundly Deaf kids from other deaf kids. I’m strongly of the view that profoundly Deaf kids need their own research. If ever an expert tells you something I’d ask, does that science specifically focus on profoundly Deaf kids?

Anyway, the good thing about datasets is the ability to find information within them that the original producers of the data have missed, or have decided not to mention. This is the case for example with Ann Geers’ data on profoundly Deaf kids (google: Mccready “Ann Geers”).

I’ve done my best here so please don’t take it the wrong way, my concern is totally for the best outcome possible for Charlotte. It would be an entirely natural reaction for you to have a negative response to my post, but please consider it and talk about it. Good luck. I know it’s hard. I admire your courage.


I heard no more from the parents and they deleted the conversation from their public facebook page. I really hope Charlotte does well. But you can see the damage that Julia Sarant does and the damage that The Hearing House does in giving her a platform. It’s wonderfully ironic that The Hearing House updated evidence link contains no evidence.

Cochlear Implant Progam (CIP) Chat log

happy young man pointing

This is a chat log of a CIP person who has publicly defamed me. I am releasing it so that the Deaf community knows the full story.

Most names have been changed to protect the possibly innocent.

T=Fred (not their real name)
K=Kevin (me, real name)

Fri 10.12pm 3NV2017
Just had a few questions for you – apparently you’ve been contacting parents of Deaf/deaf children with CIs? Can I ask why?


k Sat 4NV 10:41AM
Kia ora Fred. Good to hear from you. I’ve kept records of all my contacts with CIP parents. My stance is well known. Some of them have been directing hate speech at me. When it gets to that stage I disengage. I’d be very happy to sit down with anyone and talk with them about any issues or problems they may have. I might add that some people are quite capable of either deliberate or unintentional lies when they get emotional. So be careful about believing stories you hear about me. And, let’s face it, human rights can be an emotional topic. We saw that in NZ in the debate over whether parents had the right to assault their children or not. Anyway, as I say, I’d be happy to explore any allegations and refute them. But I think the best approach is to try to stay respectful and tolerant and built an understanding of the Rights of the Child and the importance of NZSL for profoundly Deaf kids.

oops. I meant to say “build” not “built”

T 12:36
So what gives you the right to contact these parents? Where’s your standing on the issue? You’ve not been very clear with these parents because some of them think you represent our community which you don’t – and that damages the community’s relationship with those parents which is important to us.

T a few minutes later
And I don’t appreciate your comparision to the “anti-smacking” bill – that was more about the fact that courts were letting parents getting away with actual physical abuse based on the previous law rather than any right to smack/similar forms of discipline

k 4:28 leaving time for his anger to subside
Kia ora Fred. Did you read my article? I’m at a bit of a loss to understand your anger, especially where the rights of kids are at stake. Perhaps it would help if you told me what the allegations are and we can take it from there. I’m also a bit surprised because I thought you knew me better. I try always to have the best interests of all people, especially vulnerable people, in the forefront of my mind at all times.

T 5:34pm
I don’t know you at all, I’ve talked to you twice if that. Myself and others are annoyed with your attitude.
I have read your blog, it is poorly written, terrible and damaging to the relationship between Deaf community and hearing parents of deaf children when you write something like “My Deaf friends know of babies dying on the operating table.”
There are no allegations, just that you have been, for want of a better word, stalking and harrassing parents who did not ask for contact from you, as well as trying to mount a campaign against the Hearing House/SCIP’s Loud Shirt Day. Those parents have also assumed you were part of the Deaf community when in fact you are not.

Your statement that you always try to have the best interests of all people, especially vulnerable people is especially offensive as it implies that you see Deaf as being vulnerable and unable to make decisions for themselves so you must defend/protect us instead of letting us represent our own view and community. Do you know of the Milan conference where sign language was banned worldwide in educational settings? That decision was made by hearing people with the same attitude as you – that Deaf people cannot represent our own community and advocate in issues important to us.
You also do not understand that our community includes a wide range of people, with different levels of hearing. You expose your own privilege here and elsewhere for example making negative comments regarding DA’s translation of the last election debate.

My question again is: what is your standing in this issue? You are not deaf/Deaf, nor are you a parent or grandparent of a deaf child, nor part of the community. You have no published research nor completed any formal study. Have you even attended any Deaf cultural awareness classes or siginficant amount of NZSL classes?

I ask that you stop with what you are doing – or at least be clear about who you are – ie a hearing man looking for a cause to champion. Leave the issue to community to work on.

Sunday 5NV2017 12.59 (noon)
Kia ora Fred. You’re one of the lucky CIP people. 1/3 of others aren’t so lucky. You say there are no allegations, then you say I’ve stalked people. That’s ridiculous. Who am I supposed to have “stalked”?

I’m happy to have a dialogue with you, but abusing me is not going to help you or me or Deaf kids or the Deaf community. Of course many Deaf adults are also vulnerable. I’ve seen Deaf adults bullied by their hearing CODAs. I’ve seen Deaf adults financially bullied by their hearing CODAs. I’ve helped Deaf adult friends who have been bullied by real estate agents and WINZ. For you to misinterpret that in the way that you have is wrong Fred. There is no way I would ever try to remove agency from anyone. You might also want to sit down with Mary and have a talk to her about how older Deaf people are faring in nursing homes.

Your reliance on the toxic form of identity politics and your attempts at credentialism also do you no credit. Likewise your insults and calling me a liar and your attempts to undermine me psychologically will not affect me, so I urge you not to try. Can you hear the silliness of what you are saying? You say you don’t know me but then give me a list of things you claim to know about me. The Deaf community is a very broad church and you telling me I don’t belong is, quite frankly, ridiculous and strongly contradicted by my Deaf friends. By all means point out where we may differ. Then we can try to have a rational discussion about it.

I am still at a total loss to understand your anger or why you seem to feel so threatened. I can only surmise that your anger has led to a misinterpretation of my views. Your feelings may have clouded your ability to be objective and perhaps you have been influenced by hate speech without finding out the facts.

Focus again on my blog and try to be objective rather than try childishly to insult me. Tell me what, if anything you think is wrong with my PLD conclusions.

I think it’s amazing and sad that parents with Hearing Privilege make their kids spend literally years of time on a CIP (with its one third failure rate) but won’t bother to spend a bit of time learning NZSL (I’ve never heard of PLD for kids raised with Sign Language). It’s sad that they believe the anti-bilingualism propaganda of the CIP industry.

Re my critique of the DANZ terps, I’ve sat down separately with both Adele and Christine. Both acknowledged truth in what I had to say and DANZ agreed to remove the intemperate and personal attack on me by one of the terps on the DANZ FB page. To be fair in representing Adele and Christine views, both didn’t like the way I presented the critique and we agreed to disagree with the mutual hope that these issues will be further discussed once the next iteration of Trish Fitzgerald’s report is available. Once again, my Deaf friends loved my critique and I had sensible discussions with Adele and Christine.

If you insist on misrepresenting my actions re Loud Shirt day, that’s a pity. The fact of the matter is that the Hearing House, even if it does have an NZSL tutor on the premises sometimes, is deeply against NZSL. Its support of Julia Sarant is disgusting. I attended her lecture where she told grieving parents that they should avoid NZSL. Those parents were deeply disturbed and in tears trying to make the best decisions for their kids. They then get locked into the wrong decision (Check out the SB-210 laws in California) and seek to protect themselves and their psyches in any way they can even when they suspect they may be wrong. They watch their kids fail to thrive on CIP and they feel very cut up about that. Perhaps it’s that which generates the hate speech. I’ve met PLD kids and you probably have too. Sym Gardiner estimates he’s met over 100 and says that number is only a drop in the bucket [edit 30 March 2018. Please see comment 2 below for clarification of Sym’s views].

The closed minded attitude of Scott Johnston is equally reprehensible. Here’s what a Deaf person had to say for example about an advertising campaign run by a company in the CIP business structure of which Scott is an intergral part:

“But by far the worst advertisement was the television advertisement made for the Cora Barclay Centre in South Australia. This was some years ago but this advertisement was incredibly offensive. In the advertisement there is an angelic boy. He has a mop of brown curly hair, he might have been about 12 years old. The boy looks sadly into the camera and in halting sign language explains that many years ago people who were deaf communicated in sign language JUST LIKE THIS – He stops momentarily – then in a sing song voice, with just a trace of a deaf accent he proclaims – “But NOW THERE IS A BETTER WAY.” He then begins to exalt the virtues of the Cora Barclay Centre. Donate and more kids will speak just like him. None of this nasty sign language rubbish, thank you very much. I really do not need to repeat what the Deaf community thought of this one. Suffice to say several staff of the Cora Barclay Centre – past and present – contacted me at that time to express their sorrow and embarrassment in relation to this advertisement. The Cora Barclay Centre did not even respond to criticism of the advertisement.”

I can tell you Fred, that not much has essentially changed since then.

Anyway, like I say, I’m happy to continue a discussion with you, but the bullying doesn’t cut it.

Fred Sun 11.55 PM
Kevin – again you twist and misinterpret this conversation so I guess I will respond for one last time in a brief style – even though you have gone all over the place. I am not discussing with you the benefits or the cons of having CI – I’m letting you know what it is you’re doing and the associated harm. However as your post is all over the place – I will try my best to respond to each as they come up – hence you may need to refer back to your own post to make sure you fully understand.

What else is it that you are doing, other than stalking them? You obtain their names/contact info and then contact them out of the blue to pressure them when you have no connection to them or any standing. Why do you do this? Are you obvlivious to the process that parents go through when they have a profoundly deaf baby? That they are generally given information regarding both NZSL and hearing aid options and where to from there, how AODCs initiate certain things happening depending on parents wishes etc?

If you believe me to be abusing, bullying or childishly insulting you then please do highlight where so – because I do not believe I have, but maybe I need to self reflect on that. However I would ask you to reread your post – you come across as talking down to me – as if you know more about the topic than I could ever do – despite me living it, experiencing it, knowing many Deaf youths and deaf youths and their experiences, and also having done a bit of reading into the audiological and language studies.
You are using your privilege to assume you know about my experience and presume to understand it – implying that I’m lucky because of my particular use case of my CI. Everyone uses or don’t use their CI differently and that’s fine with me – I don’t judge that. I don’t consider anyone lucky or unlucky because they can understand English with a CI.
I at least understand most of the privileges that I am fortunate to have – for example having the privilege of being able to walk where I like at nighttime without worrying about other people jumping me or whatnot because I am a tall big man and no one is likely to mess with me, hopefully, but a small woman does not have that same privilege and has to constantly worry about their surrounding and peoples in it. I recognise that by crossing the street to the other side if I am coming up behind a woman because I don’t want them to stress out about me for example.

Again you twist what I say regarding vulnerability – I said you view us Deaf as being all vulnerable. You’ve gone on to list incidents of vulnerability and I am well aware of those cases happening but does that mean the community is as a whole vulnerable and needs you to do what you’re doing, making ‘representations’ on our behalf? No. Also – It’s the community and community organisations that tend to help these people understand what has happened and how best to resolve and hopefully prevent from happening again in the future.
The Deaf community is indeed a broad church – but like how we have to conform to the wider hearing world at times, people coming into the community should understand Deaf etiquette, how issues might be discussed and advocated for etc. And if you don’t, are you part of the community?

Could you highlight where I’ve called you a liar please? Regarding “identity politics” – do you think that being Deaf is just about “identity politics”? Also – “credentialism” ironic term for you to use, yet you cannot even use a basic terminology of the field right. CIP does not mean cochlear implant, it means cochlear implant programme. When you say CIP, you mean CI.

You sound very silly yourself – I of course do not know you, but I have learned from others and seen with my own eyes through your comments/actions on Facebook. It’s kind of like how I don’t know President Trump but I can see what type of person he is through his comments and actions. An extreme example but apt, I think.

I have tried focussing on your blog – but it is poorly written with emotive language with incredibly bad information such as CAT scans being dangerous – that’s MRI scans, duh. However again, the most striking example is “My Deaf friends have told me babies have died on the operating table” – yet no links, no studies, nothing whatsoever. You know what’s hilarious? I doubt you’re even aware that there IS a slightly higher risk for people with CI to contract meningitis and flu – which is why you get vaccinations before surgery, and the govt provides yearly flu vaccinations for free.

It seems you’re pretty unaware of the history of the Deaf community – this fight over CI was had a few decades back, and it took a long time for things to come right and to start education Deaf children with NZSL again. That is one of the risks of your actions; to start it all over again.

You missed my point again. Doesn’t matter if you were right or wrong about your critique about DA’s translation of the debate – the point is – why did you do it? Have you learned NZSL in a formal setting? Have you completed the AUT interpreting qualification or at least started studying? Again my point is, when you made your critique, where is your standing to do so?

How have I misrepresented your views re Loud Shirt Day – please do read again – I said “campaign against Loud Shirt Day/The Hearing House.” That is what you did, right? I have heard, though perhaps that is not true, that you approached some of the big funders to try discourage them from having any association with Loud Shirt Day. Which again isn’t your place to do so – no matter the problems The Hearing House might have.

Honestly, regarding the rest of your post – it interests me not in the slightest and does not affect the topic that I am driving at and you are wilfully and arrogantly ignoring. It does however interests me that you’ve read so deeply into some of what I’ve said, imagined so many insults and gone way off target with your topics. I can imagine that it must be upsetting for some of those parents you contact – it’s like reasoning with a brick wall. And that is one insult I’ll happily give…

k Monday 6NV2017 12.12 pm
Kia ora Fred
Thanks for taking the time to reply. You are wrong and make erroneous assumptions on many things. So I will also keep it on point and not respond to each of your assumptions. I will say that it is refreshing to hear your honesty that you’ve formed conclusions about me via listening to rumours – nice one Fred.

1. You appear to have been lied to. I have NEVER “obtained” peoples names and contact info and “pressured” them. You need to provide evidence of this ridiculous proposition and stop spreading defamatory lies. I have no idea what you are talking about. Who has been telling you these lies?

2. This issue is about Human Rights. Is PLD a serious problem, yes or no? Until you answer that question this dialogue has a glaring deficiency. You disappoint me if you think I think this is about “benefits or the cons” of CIP. I have never argued against CIP. It is not about CIP; it’s about language (CRPD/UNCRPD Article 24).

3. Parents of new born Deaf babies are pressured big time to begin CIP ASAP. The Hearing House flies dodgy “academics” into NZ to actively tell parents not to use NZSL. The funding disparities between the two (CIP/NZSL) are enormous. Some parents don’t know about First Signs. Some parents hate NZSL and are afraid of it and are clearly encouraged by bullshit academics backed by the CIP industry. A Deaf person who is a First Signs Facilitator has told me that they were too scared to talk about bilingualism with parents. Despite this, many parents, but not all, want NZSL. In feedback about First Signs 19/22 respondents said they wanted more NZSL. So you are wrong to think the program proceeds the way you think it does.

4. You call me a liar by saying my friends have not told me about Deaf babies dying on the operating table. They have told me. And you can google the facts of the matter. I make no apologies for leaving the statement in my blog. It was left there via the specific request of a Deaf friend who helped me on the project. And more than one Deaf friend had input into it. And yes I got it wrong about CAT/MRI on an earlier blog and I had the courage to say so and leave it there. Nice of you not to notice my reasons for doing so.

BTW when I say CIP I mean CIP. For kids, it’s years of intensive P because they are trying to learn a language at the same time and for one third of them it never works out. For older kids born Deaf who already have 2 languages (eg Sign and written English like Leah Coleman) the P is less problematic. For adults generally there can be an ongoing P need or a need for periodic topup. Without it some people develop a stronger “deaf accent” which loses the high frequency consonants and makes communication more difficult.

I knew about the Milan conference before you were born. You have no idea of my links to the Deaf community in many countries around the world or how I came to be involved.

I’m a bit shocked that you try the NZSL credentialism card again; that’s just intellectually sloppy. And you appear not to know what I mean by the toxic form of ID politics. I’m happy to expand on this if you wish.

Once again, please be assured of my ongoing desire to see the best outcomes for everyone in these things. If you stopped making assumptions and stopped paying credence to rumours without checking the facts you may get to see that. Please don’t be responsible for spreading any furthe hate speech.

Fri 17 Nov 2017
Kia ora Fred
I haven’t heard back from you. I am very keen to sort this allegation out. You have made a serious allegation that I have been “stalking and harrassing” parents of Deaf children. You provide no evidence other than rumour which I am guessing comes from parents who have been taught to hate NZSL and who now hate me and are trying their best to damage me. I look forward to getting this sorted ASAP.


Hiya, you refused to listen to me when this original conversation happened so I’m fairly sure I was clear that I couldn’t be bothered to carry on an endless argument with you.

Really, that’s your own problem – it’s nothing to do with me and I can’t sort it out for you. I came to you to see if you would stop but you have refused to. The “damage” being done to you is being done by yourself through your own actions.

I am amused however, that you think I have “ongiong P need or a periodic top” I’d better let my audiologist know she needs to be giving me dat drugs

Kia ora Fred. I’m not happy with that response. You are now ‘victim blaming’. Clearly people, including possibly yourself, are spreading lies about me. Either you name the source to me or we agree on a 3rd party you can give your evidence to. You could give your evidence in confidence if you feel you don’t want to tell me the name of the person spreading lies.

I’m sorry that you’re not happy with my response, but guess now you can understand why I feel unhappy with your response.
Are you threatening me?

I’m sorry if you see any threat. What threat do you think you see?

There seems to be a pretty clear threat implied in your either or statement but if you say there is no threat then that’s fine. However, I can’t be bothered continuing with you, you clearly do not listen to alternative points of view so why would I waste time and energy on you?
In a moment I will block you but please do let me know when you read so I can do so.


Don’t be a #helmetdenier

little girl bike helmet

There’s lots of misinformation spread by people who believe the myths that helmets mean reduced cycling rates.

Here’s the science: Olivier JACRS 2014 helmet (PDF 664KB – If you’re worried about clicking, below is the plain text version unformated and no pics – not as good, but still useful).


Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety – Volume 25 No.4, 2014
Peer-reviewed papers
Anti-helmet arguments: lies, damned lies and flawed
by Jake Olivier, 1 Joanna JJ Wang 1,2 , Scott Walter 3 and Raphael Grzebieta 2
School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of New South Wales
Transport and Road Safety (TARS) Research, University of New South Wales
Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research, Australian Institute of Health Innovation, University of New South Wales
Bicycle helmets are designed to mitigate head injury during
a collision. In the early 1990’s, Australia and New Zealand
mandated helmet wearing for cyclists in an effort to
increase helmet usage. Since that time, helmets and helmet
laws have been portrayed as a failure in the peer-reviewed
literature, by the media and various advocacy groups. Many
of these criticisms claim helmets are ineffective, helmet
laws deter cycling, helmet wearing increases the risk of an
accident, no evidence helmet laws reduce head injuries at
a population level, and helmet laws result in a net health
reduction. This paper reviews the data and methods used
to support these arguments and shows they are statistically
flawed. When the majority of evidence against helmets or
mandatory helmet legislation (MHL) is carefully scrutinised
it appears overstated, misleading or invalid. Moreover,
much of the statistical analysis has been conducted by
people with known affiliations with anti-helmet or anti-
MHL organisations.
Bicycle helmets, Bicycle helmet legislation, Statistical
Use of the helmet is the most controversial topic in all
issues discussed in cycling. Media discussions about
cycling safety often devolve into a debate about helmets
[77]. To date, a substantial body of research has been
published both in favour and against bicycle helmet use
and mandatory helmet legislation (MHL). It is important to
note there are two distinct but related debates with regards
to bicycle helmets. One is centred on the helmet itself
and its effectiveness in a crash. The other debate focuses
on whether governments should mandate their use. It is
not uncommon for an individual to favour helmet use but
oppose government mandated use of helmets.
Research evidence supportive of helmet use notes a
protective effect in mitigating head injuries while research
opposed argues helmet use increases the likelihood of
rotational head injuries, increases risky behaviour and is
associated with closer motor vehicle overtaking. Research
evidence supportive of MHL notes declines in bicycle
related head injury coinciding with an increase in helmet
wearing at the time of the law. On the other hand, research
opposed to MHL argues declines in head injury are due
to less cycling as MHL is a cycling deterrent and also
claims there is an absence of population-level evidence
demonstrating a benefit. MHL opponents further argue
the combination of deterred cycling, increased risk per
cyclist due to fewer cyclists and risk compensation leads
to a negative health benefit. Note that this final argument is
dependent on the other arguments holding true.
This manuscript will demonstrate the primary arguments
against helmet use and/or MHL are statistically flawed.
In turn, we will discuss the arguments (1) helmets are
ineffective, (2) helmet laws deter cycling, (3) helmet
wearing increases the risk of a crash, (4) no evidence
helmet laws reduce head injuries at a population level
and (5) helmet laws result in a net health reduction. These
are the core arguments found on anti-helmet advocacy
websites (Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation, http://; Cyclists rights Action Group,; Helmet Freedom, http://helmetfreedom.
org/; Freestyle Cyclists, http://www.freestylecyclists.
org/; Transport and Health Study Group, http://www. and even cycling organisations
(Bicycle NSW,;
European Cyclists’ Federation, of the Australasian College of Road Safety – Volume 25 No.4, 2014
Helmets are ineffective
There is substantial biomechanical evidence using test
dummies that helmet use will lessen the kinetic energy
to the head when struck in a collision [for example, see
McIntosh, Lai and Schilter, [61]. Randomised controlled
trials are not ethically possible to assess the potential
association between helmet wearing and head injury;
therefore, most human subjects’ research on helmet efficacy
comes from observational studies. There have been many
case-control studies that assess the association between
helmet wearing and head injury and, to date, there has
been a Cochrane review [96], a meta-analysis [5] and three
versions of a re-analysis of the meta-analysis [37, 38].
In each case, the odds of a head injury were significantly
diminished for cyclists wearing helmets versus those that
did not.
Curnow [26, 27] suggested helmets exacerbate rotational
injuries; the more serious being diffuse axonal injury
(DAI). Although Curnow only hypothesised the DAI/
helmet link unsupported by any real world or experimental
evidence, some have taken this as fact [11, 13, 42, 94, 82,
83, 14]. There is, however, no existing evidence to support
the DAI hypothesis. McIntosh, Lai and Schilter [61] found,
when testing oblique impacts on dummies to simulate
head rotation, helmet wearing did not increase angular
acceleration, a result unsupportive of Curnow’s hypothesis.
In a study by Dinh et al. [34], using trauma registry data
from seven Sydney area hospitals over one calendar year,
110 cyclists were identified and none were diagnosed with
DAI regardless of helmet wearing. Walter et al. [110], using
linked police and hospitalisation data in New South Wales
(NSW) from 2001-2009, reported at most 12 possible DAI
cases out of 6,745 cyclists in a motor vehicle collision.
Seven of the twelve cyclists were unhelmeted. These results
suggest the incidence of DAI among cyclists appears to
be rare and unrelated to helmet wearing. Additionally,
computer simulated studies of bicycle crashes found no
evidence helmets increased the likelihood of neck injury
among adults [63] nor was there evidence helmets increased
the severity of brain or neck injury in children [62].
In addition to head injuries, Elvik [37] performed separate
analyses by combining head, face and neck injuries. The
results from a random effects model adjusting for potential
publication bias estimate a small, slightly significant
benefit to helmet wearing to protect the head, face or
neck (OR: 0.85, 95% CI: 0.74-0.98). However, due to
data and analytic errors, Elvik published a full length
corrigendum to this article reporting a slightly different
estimate (OR: 0.82, 95% CI: 0.72-0.93). More errors were
found in Elvik’s correction [22], which led to a correction
of the corrigendum [38]. The current version estimates a
substantially larger overall benefit of helmet wearing (OR:
0.67, 95% CI: 0.56-0.82) to protect the head, neck and
face. With regards to head injury alone, which helmets are
designed to mitigate, Elvik [38] estimates an even greater
reduction in the odds (OR: 0.50, 95% CI: 0.39-0.65).
Additionally, Elvik [37, 38] reported an increasing
time trend for odds ratio estimates of helmet efficacy
and suggested his summary estimate, OR=0.50, fit the
trend “remarkably well.” However, it is unclear if a time
trend truly exists as more recent studies have estimated
substantial reductions in head injury associated with
helmet wearing that do not follow this pattern. Dinh et al
[33] estimate an odds ratio of 0.19 (95% CI: 0.06-0.59)
for intracranial bleeding or skull fractures, Amoros et al
[4] report an odds ratio of 0.34 (95% CI: 0.15-0.65) for
serious head injuries (AIS3+) in urban areas, Dinh et al
[34] estimate an odds ratio of 0.18 for head injuries in a
trauma registry (95% CI: 0.07-0.48) and Bambach et al [9]
report an odds ratio of 0.26 (95% CI: 0.15-0.45) comparing
severe versus possible minor head injury (survival risk
ratio ≤ 0.854). In a technical report cited by Elvik [38] but
not included in his meta-analysis, Amoros et al. [3] report
an odds ratio of 0.29 (95% CI: 0.13-0.56) for serious head
injuries (AIS3+).
Helmet laws deter cycling
Using NSW and Victorian data, Robinson [85] concluded
the impact of MHL in Australia was to reduce cycling
numbers and not reduce head injuries. Some recent
researchers have taken MHL as a cycling deterrent as fact
and present no supportive evidence [83, 90]. It should be
noted, however, that Robinson omits important, relevant
data and other information from her analyses.
When describing cycling count data in NSW for children
(< 16 years), Robinson [85] states
“Comparable figures were not available for adults”
and, in a related paper, Robinson [88] states
“all available long and short term data show cycling
is less popular than would have been expected without
helmet laws.”
Cycling count data for adults does, in fact, exist for NSW
before and after MHL. Additionally, Robinson [85] omits
NSW cycling counts for children from October 1990 in her
Prior to MHL in NSW, the Roads and Traffic Authority
commissioned a series of helmet wearing surveys with data
collected at road intersections and recreation areas for all
ages as well as school gates for children only [106, 107,
108, 92). Note counts were not taken at recreation areas
in the 1990 report. The counts of adult cyclists from these
reports are summarised in Table 1. MHL became effective
for NSW adults on 1 January 1991.
11Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety – Volume 25 No.4, 2014
Comparing the October 1990 and April 1991 counts,
there was a 7% increase in adult cycling counts at road
intersections spurred by a large increase in Sydney (+22%)
but a decline in rural areas (-10%). Thereafter, counts at
road intersections declined; however, counts in recreational
areas increased substantially from the second to fourth
surveys (+141%) and the absolute decrease in road
intersection counts was smaller than the absolute increase
in counts at recreation areas. In their summary of the
effect of helmet legislation on bicycle ridership, Smith and
Milthorpe [93] found “no drop in adult ridership following
With regards to children cycling, Smith and Milthorpe [93]
noted a decline but concluded
“The unevenness in the change in ridership – up at
some sites, down in others – makes it difficult to draw
conclusions about trends.”
Table 1. Counts of adult cyclists in NSW from RTA
surveys (*adult recreation cycling not separated by
Oct 90 April 91*
April 92 April 93
5118 3332
5478 2796
4729 2591
n/a n/a
6573 911
6185 1345
It may be argued that cycling counts in October are not
comparable to those in April. However, these two months
have similar weather patterns for Sydney in terms of
average high temperature (22.1 0 C vs. 22.4 0 C) and average
number of rainy days (8.0 vs 9.0) according to the Bureau
of Meteorology [17]. They do differ in terms of rainfall
(77.1mm vs. 127.2mm); however, this would contribute to
a decline in post-MHL adult cycling since weather is often
cited as a cycling deterrent. Additionally, Olivier et al.
[74] found no significant difference in cycling related head
injury hospitalisations between those months in the
pre-MHL period for adults.
Caution should be taken when interpreting statistical
results using this survey data whether supportive or
opposed to helmet legislation. There is only one pre-law
observation making it impossible to control for existing
trends. Smith and Milthorpe [92] note the surveys were
designed to estimate helmet wearing in NSW and not
to estimate cycling exposure. A recent article found that
direct observation of cyclists could lead to biased trend
estimates if precipitation, temperature and day of the week
are not taken into account in the analysis [51]. Also, over a
forty-eight month period, data was only collected over four
months (akin to an 8.3% response rate). However, the use
of the NSW helmet use surveys only support Robinson’s
conclusions when the data and its limitations are not
considered in full.
A series of Victorian cycling surveys found results similar
to those in NSW. Cameron et al. [18] report a 3% drop
in young children (aged 5-11 years), a 43% decrease in
older children (aged 12-17 years) and a 44% increase in
adult cycling comparing surveys from 1987/88 and 1991.
The authors conclude for all ages “bicycle use was higher
during the post-law years than it was in 1987-88”.
Marshall and White [59], in a report assessing the South
Australian (SA) MHL, give estimated changes in cycling
exposure. This work is cited by Robinson [88]; however,
she does not mention survey results of cycling exposure.
Using data from approximately 3000 households before
(1990) and after (1993) helmet legislation, the authors
found no significant declines in cycling exposure regardless
of age, gender or level of urbanisation. Marshall and
White [59] also report a 2.9% increase in counts of cyclists
into Adelaide following MHL. Another survey of helmet
wearing among SA schoolchildren did note a 38.1% decline
of cycling to school from observational surveys of helmet
wearing in 1988 and 1994. This is inconsistent with the
other SA surveys; however, the authors note only 20% of
those aged 15 years of age or younger reported cycling to
There is evidence cycling was declining prior to helmet
legislation in Australia and New Zealand (NZ). The mode
share for cycling in Australian metropolitan areas peaked at
approximately 8-9% in the early 1940’s [8]. Since that time,
travel by private vehicle steadily increased, plateauing just
under 90% mode share while active transport modes (i.e.,
cycling, walking and public transport) steadily declined
during that period. With regards to New Zealand, Tin Tin,
Woodward and Ameratunga [95] noted commuting by
bicycle was in decline since 1986, eight years prior to the
NZ helmet law.
In Ontario, Canada, Macpherson, Parkin and To [56]
reported no declines in children cycling (5-14 years) after
the introduction of helmet legislation. In another Canadian
study, Dennis et al. [32] found no evidence of declines in
cycling in provinces that introduced helmet legislation.
Current opinions in Australia regarding bicycle helmets
suggest it is a minor issue with more important concerns
regarding cycling. Recent surveys list helmet wearing asJournal of the Australasian College of Road Safety – Volume 25 No.4, 2014
the 10th and 13th most common barrier to cycling among
current and non-cyclists respectively [29]. This survey
allowed for multiple responses making it difficult to
ascertain the primary deterrent to cycling; however, helmet
wearing comprised approximately 4% of all responses.
In a survey of Australian women regarding encouraging
women to cycle more, 4.1% gave the repeal of the helmet
law as their main response [30]. In both surveys, the lack of
cycling infrastructure and safety concerns were much more
common responses.
Rissel and Wen [84] report significantly more people would
cycle without helmet legislation. However, Olivier et al.
[69] note the authors misinterpreted their statistical results
by confusing between group comparisons with prevalence
estimates. Their results actually indicated most Australians
would not cycle more. Further, since Rissel and Wen’s
survey only concerned helmets as a cycling deterrent, it is
unclear if those indicating they would cycle more without
helmet legislation would not be further deterred due to
other, more often cited factors such as lack of cycling
infrastructure or concerns regarding safety.
Although the evidence is weak or mixed with regards to the
argument helmet legislation deters cycling, this hypothesis
cannot be fully rejected. However, it is important to note
this is not a phenomenon unique to countries with such
legislation. Cycling has decreased 17% in Denmark from
1990 to 2008 [28] and there was a decrease in on-road
cycling of 19% in the United Kingdom from 1989/90 to
1997/98 [100].
It has been argued that increasing the number of cyclists
will lower the number of cycling injuries per cyclist [48].
This is often called the safety in numbers (SiN) effect
and is a variation of Smeed’s Law. Robinson [87], using
her estimates of the deterrent effects of MHL, further
hypothesised helmet legislation could increase the number
of injuries per cyclist. The mathematical representation of
SiN for cyclists is
∝ C − 0 . 6
where I represents the number of injuries and C is the
amount of cycling.
As noted above, very little cycling exposure data exists at
the time of helmet legislation in the early 1990’s. Yearly
estimates of cycling participation does exist beginning in
2001 as part of the Participation in Exercise, Recreation
and Sport (ERASS) surveys from the Australian Bureau of
Statistics [6].
Equation (1) can be reformulated as
 C 
I = I 0    
 C 0 
0 . 4
where I 0 and C 0 are initial values for injuries and amount of
cycling respectively. Using NSW hospitalisation data [73],
Figure 1 gives actual and expected head and arm injuries
for 2001-2010 using equation (2) and 2001 injury and
cycling participants as initial values.
The results are not supportive of SiN as the observed
injuries differ substantially from expected (chi-square
test, p<0.001 in each case). Additionally, using the counts
of head/arm injuries and ERASS cycling estimates, the
exponent is estimated to be 0.94 (95% CI: 0.59-1.30).
Therefore, this data suggest a proportional change in
cycling is associated with a similar change in the proportion
of cycling-related injury and is not supportive of the SiN
effect for cycling.
Although the counts of observed and expected injuries
diverge immediately, they seem to converge after 2006. In
fact, observed head injuries are less than expected by 2010.
This change coincides with increased cycling expenditures
in NSW [66] suggesting segregated cycling infrastructure
and helmet legislation, not safety in numbers, are major
causal factors in cycling safety. In other words, the safety
in numbers effect may be a consequence of an existing
safe cycling environment. Other authors [10] have further
questioned the use of SiN in determining transportation
policy due to the lack of supportive evidence.
The increase in cycling injuries is also consistent with
increased cycling per person (measured in either time or
distance). The ERASS surveys estimate a 45% increase in
Australians cycling from 2001 to 2010, although these are
participation rates and not actual amounts of cycling [6, 7].
However, this would indicate the amount of cycling (not
just participation) can increase in jurisdictions with helmet
legislation which runs counter to most arguments against
helmet legislation. In fact, a key assumption by de Jong
[31] is the kilometres cycled per person can only decrease
with helmet legislation.
Helmet wearing increases the risk of a crash
Robinson [85, 88] suggested a cyclist’s perception of risk
is modified when wearing a helmet and, as a consequence,
will exhibit riskier behaviour when wearing a helmet. This
is often termed risk compensation or risk homeostasis. In
a criticism of a Cochrane Review assessing the protective
effect of bicycle helmets [96], Adams and Hillman [2] argue
in favour of risk compensation. Adams [1] has made similar
arguments around seat belts in motor vehicles. However,
there is scant evidence to support this theory.
13Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety – Volume 25 No.4, 2014
Figure 1. Actual and expected NSW cycling hospitalisations
(2001-2010) for (a) head and arm injuries and (b) head only
A series of Norwegian studies, in an effort to measure risk
compensation for helmet wearing, recruited cyclists who
either usually wear or not wear helmets. Their primary
outcome was average speed while wearing or not wearing
a helmet and a measure of psychophysiological relaxation.
For usual helmet wearers, Phillips, Fyhri and Sagberg
[76] report lower cycling speeds and increased heart rate
variability when not wearing a helmet. No significant
differences were found for non-helmet users. A plot of this
relationship is given in Fyhri and Phillips [41] which has
been reproduced below in the left panel of Figure 2. The
authors urge caution regarding helmet legislation in light of
their results.
These results, and particularly their figure, are misleading
as it conveys a temporal ordering that does not exist. This
figure gives the impression a cyclist who usually wears a
helmet will increase speed when wearing a helmet. The
correct temporal ordering here is the reverse for usual
helmet wearers and the correct ordering is given in the
right panel of Figure 2. When plotted correctly, their results
demonstrate a decrease in cycling speed when a cyclist
moves from their usual condition (helmet use or non-use) to
the treatment condition (non-use or helmet use). This is also
true for their psychological relaxation results, i.e., declines
in both groups when subjected to the treatment condition.
Further, it is unclear if increased speed is a valid measure of
risk compensation for bicycle helmet use. Through the use
of computer simulation of bicycle crashes, helmet use was
found to increase in protection as cycling speed increased
thereby negating any potential effect of risk compensation
[62, 63].
More importantly, helmet promotion and helmet legislation
have a clear temporal ordering: usual non-wearers are urged
or mandated to put on a helmet. In this situation, the authors
report no significant changes in speed or psychological
relaxation when a non-user wears a helmet, so their results
do not support risk compensation theory as it relates to
helmet promotion or legislation. On the other hand, results
from case-control studies give evidence non-helmet users in
a crash were more likely to exhibit illegal behaviour [52, 9].
One of the NSW helmet wearing surveys [107] examined
whether helmet legislation may have influenced levels
of compliance with other regulations governing the use
of bicycles on the road. The data estimated a decrease in
certain illegal behaviour by NSW adults including riding
on the wrong part of the road or riding on the footpath
following MHL. There was also no evidence that dangerous
riding behaviour, such as doubling, riding ‘no hands’ or
‘no feet’ or riding more than three abreast, increased after
the law. The report concluded that “the evidence available
provides no support for the risk hypothesis.”
Thompson, Thompson and Rivara [97] have called
for a systematic review of the evidence surrounding
bicycle helmets and risk compensation. In their view, the
“empirical evidence to support the risk compensation
theory is limited if not absent.” In a response, Adams and
Hillman [2] argue such a review would be difficult due
to the “tens of thousands of articles that have a bearing
on risk compensation”. A search using the phrase “risk
compensation” turned up 147 articles on Medline, 322
articles on Scopus and 343 articles on Web of Science (14
August 2014). The number of articles reduced dramatically
when the phrase “bicycle helmet” was added to the searchJournal of the Australasian College of Road Safety – Volume 25 No.4, 2014
Figure 2. Cycling speed with and without helmet wearing for regular helmet users and non-users
with (a) incorrect and (b) correct temporal ordering (source: Fyhri & Phillips [41])
– one for Medline, nine for Scopus and six for Web of
Science. Note that four of the nine Scopus articles are
opinion pieces co-authored by Adams or Hillman.
In a study of driver behaviour towards cyclists, Walker
[103] reported significantly less overtaking distance when
wearing a helmet versus not. Although not an example of
classical risk compensation, the implication is the cyclist’s
environment is riskier when wearing a helmet.
It is known that lateral forces are increased as a result of air
turbulence when vehicles get nearer a cyclist. This is often
the basis for the one metre rule, or similar three foot rule
in the US, for safe overtaking [55]. Further, on his website,
Walker [104] supports the categorisation of his data using
the one metre rule stating “this is perhaps the clearest
way to illustrate the effect of helmet wearing.” However,
using data available on his website, Olivier and Walter
[72] demonstrated the association between helmet wearing
and unsafe passing distances (< 1m) is non-significant
(OR=1.3, p=0.182) and this effect is reduced when adjusted
for vehicle size, city of occurrence and distance to the
kerb (aOR=1.1, p=0.540). This result is not due to lack of
statistical power since the sample size of the original study
was based on 98% power. Walker, Garrard and Jowitt [105]
found no evidence overtaking distance was associated with
helmet wearing in a follow-up study.
jurisdictions with helmet legislation. Both authors cite a
study by Hendrie et al. [47] using Western Australian (WA)
data to support their arguments, yet each fail to note the
paper found a significant decline in the ratio of cycling to
pedestrian head injury at the time of the WA helmet law.
Comparing head and arm injury hospitalisations in NSW,
Voukelatos and Rissel [101] concluded helmet legislation
did not lead to a greater reduction in head injuries beyond
an overall declining trend in cycling injuries. However,
serious data issues were identified in this study [21]
and the article was later retracted by the journal [44].
Subsequently, however, the results from the retracted paper
have been used as evidence against helmet legislation [82].
Additionally, Gillham [42] uses the incorrect data reported
by Voukelatos and Rissel [101] as the basis for arguing
against conclusions drawn from subsequent analyses by
Walter et al. [109] using the same source data while also
hosting the original, retracted article (http://www.cycle-
No evidence helmet laws reduce head
injuries at a population level Mindell, Wardlaw and Franklin [65] combined figures
found in Walter et al. [109] and state “it is difficult to
discern any particular reduction in head injuries to cyclists
(black) compared with pedestrians (grey), although the data
are rather “noisy”.” Their plot is given in Figure 3. Note
that these plots do not correspond to the actual data. In fact,
the time series of head/arm and head/leg ratios for cyclists
and pedestrians respectively do not overlap at all and
exhibit differing amounts of variability or “noise”.
Although helmet use has been shown to be beneficial
in a cycling crash, Robinson [88] and Rissel [82] argue
a population level effect has not been detected for The correct plots are given in Figure 4. To reproduce
the plots in Mindell, Wardlaw and Franklin [65], the
height and variability of each time series would need to
15Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety – Volume 25 No.4, 2014
be adjusted producing time series that are ultimately no
longer comparable. This is a clear case of manipulating the
presentation of data to lend support to an existing policy in
opposition to helmet legislation [98].
Relative to the other time series plots, there would appear
to be less variability (i.e., “noise”) in the head/arm ratio
for cyclists and the head/leg ratio for pedestrians. By
contrast, there is more “noise” in the comparison between
cycling head and leg injuries. This suggests cycling arm
and pedestrian leg injuries are better comparators with
their respective primary outcomes (i.e., head injury). With
regards to cycling injury, this is supported numerically as
the within-month correlation is higher comparing cycling
head injuries to arm injuries as opposed to leg injuries
[110]. Further, Figure 5 gives a plot of the head/arm injury
ratio and the estimated counterfactual, i.e., the trend without
the effect of the helmet law. This plot demonstrates a
clear level shift in the head/arm ratio for cyclists after the
helmet law as 89% (16/18) of monthly ratios are below the
called the “signal” to “noise” ratio. Importantly, Ramsay et
al. [80], in a systematic review of studies using interrupted
time series designs, found over 40% of studies in which
the data was not analysed or analysed inappropriately,
the original conclusions were reversed when appropriate
statistical methods were used.
A numerical analysis of the NSW hospitalisation data for
cycling and pedestrian head injuries is given in Table 2.
Walter et al. [110] validated the fit of their model through
inspection of the deviance residuals which included
checking for residual autocorrelation. Furthermore, this
study meets all the quality criteria for interrupted time
series designs proposed by Ramsay et al. [80]. Additional
resources for properly assessing population-based
interventions through interrupted time series designs are
Wagner et al. [102], Shadish, Cook and Campbell [91] and
French and Heagerty [40].
Table 2: Ratio of head to limb injury hospitalisations
in NSW for cyclists and pedestrians immediately before
and after mandatory helmet legislation (source: Walter
et al., [110])
Pre-Law Post-
Law %
Change p-value
Pedestrians 1.075
1.579 0.779
1.756 -27.5
+11.2 0.03
Pedestrians 2.164
0.896 1.493
0.804 -31.0
-10.2 0.03
Note that the p-values given are substantially lower when
the within-month correlation between head and limb
injuries is part of the model or the most parsimonious
model is chosen [110]. For each type of ratio, there is a
significant change with the helmet law for cyclists but not
for pedestrians. In fact, there is an estimated increase in the
head/arm ratio for pedestrians while there is a substantial
decrease for cyclists. These results point to a small amount
of “noise” relative to “signal” in the NSW hospitalisation
data for cycling head injuries around the helmet law.
Figure 3. Time series of the ratio of head to limb injuries for bicycle
and pedestrian related hospitalisation in NSW
(source: Mindell et al. [65])
Although graphical displays of data are an efficient method
for presenting a study’s results, they can also be misleading
as demonstrated above. Additionally, a determination that
data is “noisy” should be assessed objectively by comparing
an observed effect to an estimate of variance, sometimes
There is a drawback of strictly analysing the ratio of one
injury to another. Specifically, the ratio between them may
vary over time, yet it will be unclear whether it is due to
changes in one or both. A more appropriate analysis, and
perhaps time series plot, would be to estimate them as part
of a joint model. Separate time series plots of cycling head
and arm injury hospitalisations in NSW for the eighteen
month period around the helmet law and the following two
decades are given in Figure 6.Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety – Volume 25 No.4, 2014
Figure 4. Time series of the ratio of head to limb injuries for bicycle and pedestrian related hospitalisation in NSW
(source: NSW Department of Health)
January 1994 and Clarke’s comparison ignores intermediate
injury data for 1996-1999 and estimates of helmet wearing.
There is a 17% decline in overall cycling injury comparing
1988-1991 with 1996-1999 data as well as a 53% decline
in serious cycling injury (AIS: 3+). This time period also
corresponds to an increase in helmet wearing (see Figure 7).
Figure 5. Time series of the ratio of head to arm bicycle injury
hospitalisations in NSW and the expected ratio without the helmet law
(source: NSW Department of Health)
In the eighteen month period before the helmet law, the
head injury rate is consistently higher than the arm injury
rate while the opposite holds in the subsequent eighteen
month period. There is a clear divergence between these
injury rates over the next twenty years using yearly
aggregated data.
In a review of New Zealand data found in Tin Tin,
Woodward and Ameratunga [95], Clarke [23] argues the
NZ helmet law is associated with an increased injury risk
of 20-32%. This conclusion comes from comparing overall
injuries per million hours cycling in the periods 1988-1991
and 2003-2007. The NZ helmet law was effective from 1
Although helmet use is a targeted intervention (i.e., a
helmet will only protect the head), Clarke did not analyse
head injuries separately and instead combined all cycling
related injury [112]. Missing from Clarke’s study was
a 67% decline in serious traumatic brain injury (TBI)
comparing 1988-1991 and 1996-1999 data. Further, when
contrasted with increases in helmet wearing, there is a
decline in both injuries overall and serious TBI alone.
While there is an increase in overall cycling injury
comparing 1996-1999 and 2003-2007 data, there is only
a slight increase in TBI. During this period, estimates of
helmet wearing in NZ have remained steady indicating
any changes in the injury trends are unrelated to helmet
Helmet legislation has also been shown to be beneficial in
other jurisdictions. This includes reductions in cycling head
injury or fatality for children under 18 years in Alberta,
Canada [50], children under 16 years in Ontario, Canada
[113], Canadian children aged 5-19 years in provinces with
helmet legislation [57], children under 16 years in the US
[43, 64], children 17 years or under in California [54], male
children under the age of 15 in Sweden [16] and cyclists
in Spain [53]. A Cochrane Review has also found helmet
legislation to be beneficial at decreasing cycling head injury
rates [58].
17Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety – Volume 25 No.4, 2014
Figure 6. Cyclist head and arm injury hospitalisations in NSW during (a) the 36 month period around
the helmet law and (b) 20 years post-MHL (source: NSW Department of Health)
Figure 7. Overall cycling-related injuries and serious traumatic brain injury (TBI) per one million hours travelling
and estimated helmet wearing rates in New Zealand (source: Tin Tin et al., [95], New Zealand Ministry of Transport, [67])
Helmet laws result in a net health reduction
It is often argued the deterrent effects of MHL, and
subsequent increase in injury risk per cyclist through
safety in numbers, leads to a net reduction in health. In a
study regarding the health impact of MHL, de Jong [31]
concludes MHL is only overall beneficial under “relatively
extreme assumptions”.
Among de Jong’s assumptions is helmet legislation can only
lead to declines in cycling. As support for this assumption,
de Jong notes, without citation, motorcyclists do not
like helmets, so it is “safe to assume the same is true for
bicyclists”. He also points to Robinson [85, 88, 89] as the
“main statistical studies” on the subject. As demonstrated
above, there is no evidence adult cycling diminished with
helmet legislation in NSW, South Australia or Victoria and
the safety in numbers hypothesis is not supported using
available NSW data. There is also little evidence helmet use
increases the risk of DAI or an increase in risky behaviour.
Therefore, the belief that helmet legislation will not lead
to less cycling or helmet use will not increase the risk ofJournal of the Australasian College of Road Safety – Volume 25 No.4, 2014
injury are reasonable assumptions. Under those conditions,
de Jong’s model will always demonstrate a net benefit to
helmet legislation.
With regards to Australia, de Jong used model parameters
based on data from other nations. So, it is unclear if
any of his results are applicable to cycling in Australia.
Additionally, Newbold [68] found a benefit to helmet
legislation using de Jong’s model using parameters relevant
to the United States. In an unrelated assessment, Elvik
and colleagues [36] found a positive cost-benefit ratio for
helmet legislation under most scenarios.
In this paper, we discuss common arguments against the
use of bicycle helmet use and adoption of a government
mandated helmet law. As demonstrated, these arguments
are not supported by available data (DAI hypothesis, safety
in numbers); rely on the omission of key data (deterrent
effects of legislation, lack of population level effects); or
the misrepresentation of data (risk compensation, lack
of population level effects). The hypothesis that helmet
legislation leads to a net health disbenefit, or the related
obesity link (for example, see Rissel, [82]), is dependent on
these arguments and is therefore not supported by available
This is not the first paper critical of methods used in anti-
helmet arguments. Other work not cited above has pointed
to common fallacies in the literature portraying bicycle
helmets or helmet laws negatively [25, 46, 45, 81, 70, 15,
99, 19, 78, 75].
Many of the authors arguing against helmets cited in this
paper belong to anti-helmet advocacy groups. Adams,
Curnow, Franklin, Gillham, Hillman, Robinson and
Wardlaw are members of the Bicycle Helmet Research
Foundation [12]. Curnow and Gillham also maintain their
own websites dedicated to anti-helmet advocacy [24,
42]. Mindell is vice-chair of the Transport and Health
Study Group whose objectives include “To promote a
more balanced approach to cycle safety and oppose cycle
helmet legislation” [98]. The THSG is affiliated with a
new Elsevier journal with Mindell as editor-in-chief with
Rissel and Wardlaw as members of the editorial board [49].
Additionally, Rissel has participated in anti-helmet protests
Quite often arguments against helmet legislation are framed
as an all-or-nothing safety intervention strategy that is
in direct competition with creating segregated cycling
infrastructure. In other words, it is believed a government
will support one but not both. To wit, Ian Walker in a
recent New York Times article states “Any solution to
bicyclist safety should focus on preventing collisions from
taking place, not seeking to minimize the damage after a
collision has occurred” [35]. This strategy runs counter
to the safe system approach supported by government
and safety advocacy groups, where personal protection
is seen as a critical component of the whole system to
reducing vulnerable road user (cyclist and motorcyclist)
injuries. There is also little support for focussing on injury
avoidance alone in the injury record. In NSW from 1991
to 2010, only 12% and 23% of bicycle related head injury
hospitalisations for children and adults respectively involve
a motor vehicle. The goal of the safe system approach, on
the other hand, would be to minimise the risk of a crash
(crash avoidance) and to minimise the risk of injury when a
crash occurs (personal protection), i.e., a holistic approach
is used to reduce road trauma.
There are other anti-helmet arguments we have not
addressed. A Straw Man is often posited that helmet use is
not mandated for pedestrians, so it should not be applied to
cyclists. This argument has appeal on the surface; however,
a similar argument could be made regarding seat belt
legislation. A similarly structured argument might be “seat
belts are not required for cyclists who are often injured
falling off a bicycle, so it should not apply to drivers or
passengers.” Another argument is that helmet legislation
impedes personal freedoms [81]. In a democratic society,
this is a valid argument for an individual. However, helmet
legislation would be valid for a democratic society with
support from the majority. An estimated 94% of Australians
support helmet legislation [39]. Consideration should also
be given in jurisdictions with government funded health
care as the cost of cycling injuries is shared by all tax
payers. Olivier et al. [71] point out that presently more than
700 head injury hospitalisations are currently being avoided
with the associated reduced health burden cost saving on
the order of around a third of a billion dollars saved each
year by taxpayers.
This paper does not suggest research in favour of helmets
is not without flaws. For example, Robinson [86] was
critical of Povey et al. [79] for not fitting time trends in
their assessment of the New Zealand helmet law. Povey et
al. fit the log of the ratio of head injuries to limb fractures
with estimates of helmet wearing for years 1990-1996.
Observations taken over time can exhibit serial dependence
and failure to account for this interdependence can lead
to invalid inferences. The model used by Povey et al.
assumes independence, serial or otherwise. Fitting time
trends is an indirect method for accounting for serial
dependence and there are more direct statistical methods
for this purpose, for example, autocorrelated regression or
autoregressive integrated moving average models (see, for
example, McDowall et al. [60]). At issue with the Povey
et al. analysis is whether their model assumptions were
justified, specifically serially independent observations.
Neither Povey et al. [79] nor Robinson [86] assessed
serial dependence in the NZ data and there are other
19Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety – Volume 25 No.4, 2014
methodological issues in much of the research assessing
the NZ law [111]. Importantly, the Durbin-Watson statistic
for this data is 1.8 indicating an independence assumption
is reasonable and, therefore, the results of the Povey et
al. [79] analysis are valid. So, Robinson’s concerns were
reasonable, although her specific criticism was not.
7. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2010). Participation in
Exercise, Recreation and Sport 2010. ABS, Canberra.
Available at:
8. Australian Department of Infrastructure and Transport.
(2012). Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport:
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9. Bambach, M.R., Mitchell, R.J., Grzebieta, R.H. & Olivier,
J. (2013). The effectiveness of helmets in bicycle collisions
with motor vehicles: A case–control study. Accident Analysis
and Prevention, 53, 78-88.
While there is much conflicting evidence related to helmets
and MHL efficacy, when brought under statistical scrutiny
the majority of evidence against helmets or MHL appears
overstated, misleading or invalid. Moreover, much of it has
been conducted by people with known affiliations with anti-
helmet or anti-MHL organisations. Ultimately, this body
of work distorts our understanding of the mechanisms by
which helmet wearing protects the heads of cyclists and the
factors related to the success or failure of helmet legislation.
Future research should exercise caution regarding the
validity of the anti-helmet arguments discussed in this
paper unless, of course, they are supported by robust data
and analyses from the peer-reviewed literature. We further
caution against the use of advocacy groups, such as those
listed above, as a resource for shaping road safety policy.
The authors wish to thank the NSW Ministry of Health,
Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence for providing the
data analysed in this study. An early version of this article
appears in the 2013 Proceedings of the Australasian College
of Road Safety Conference.
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NZ Deaf kids suffer further setback

KDEC Insists on strong verbal skills for Teacher of Deaf

This is an obscene joke. This ad demands strong VERBAL skills to teach Deaf kids in NZ. NZSL is NOT required.

Many Deaf kids in NZ suffer language deprivation because they are denied Sign Language. Denying people a language and an education in that language is against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which NZ has signed.

The NZ Ministry of Education (MOE) has appointed an Administrator (Limited Statutory Manager) Terri Johnstone for the only 2 Deaf Education Centres in NZ.

Terri’s business is to administer schools all over NZ which are placed under an administrator (the School Board of the Kelston Deaf Education Centre and the Van Asch Education Centre, including Deaf Board members and student representatives have been sacked).

As far as I can see, Terri has very little connection or knowledge of the Deaf community in New Zealand or their needs.

This is the sort of job ad being placed under her rule.

This is one of the most disgusting things I have seen in a long long time.

This is AUDISM running wild.

The Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008, (reprinted 2017) allow for the MOE Secretary to gazette rules for Early Childhood Education services. The Secretary could easily say that qualifications giving primacy to NZSL take precedence. The service can also be “parent led” under the regs.

Early Childhood Reg Updated 2017 re qual

We certainly want the best person for the job, but the primary need is a strong Deaf person with good NZSL. Deaf kids need strong Deaf role models. There are many such Deaf people in NZ.