Joanne Fardella is a solicitor. She recently started a new role at Joseph Frasier LLP solicitors, leading their department supporting D/deaf and hard of hearing clients. Joanne also lectures in law. One of her two children is deaf.
Describe yourself in a sentence
I would probably say: a down to earth, determined young woman with a sense of humour (when not tired) who always tries to help others in the way I would have wanted help myself.
What role has equality played in your life and why is it important?
For me, discrimination was more of a secondary issue that primarily faced my mother as she gradually became severely deaf through a genetic conductive hearing loss. Luckily for me, my mother is a very strong willed and determined woman, and my role model. She ensured that the organisation she worked for, worked equally as hard for her in relation to her deteriorating hearing loss and what equipment or adjustments would be needed to be made. She was persistent and assured in what she was entitled to and what she required. Her awareness and hard work within the issue of equality in the workplace was an inspiration and a good example that set me in good stead for when my youngest son was born profoundly deaf.
What advantages would more equality bring the UK?
A fully integrated and well informed community. This can only be achieved through awareness and training. It is all too often noted that there needs to be equality and compliance with the Equality Act 2010, as well as feelings of disappointment and let downs when some form of discrimination takes place. It seems as though it is a ‘reactive’ response or a feeling of futility to change; especially when it comes to legal services for the deaf. A need to adopt a more ‘proactive’ attitude in developing an awareness of the rights and entitlements would empower those who are the heart of equality issues, on a small or grand scale. Organisations should be well aware of compliance with relevant legislation- but what does it matter to them, if those people for whom they may be making reasonable adjustments for; are not aware of their rights? The obligation on them, seems to be ineffectual. In respect of the D/deaf/HOH community, this is precisely the issue. A combination of the knowledge and information of legal rights and services will allow for access to it, from both provider and consumer.
Describe any important turning points for you
The birth of my second and youngest son.
I was a Criminal Defence solicitor at the time, having studied and trained for many years. As either coincidence or divine fate would have it, my second child was born profoundly deaf in 2006. It is as if he was meant to me mine! My work as a criminal defence solicitor and advocate in the magistrates court did not fulfil me since his birth and I wanted to work hard to find a role as an advocate of deaf services within my own field of expertise.
Since his birth, I have faced many barriers that I have had to fight on his behalf, and he’s only 3 years old. As a family, we are yet to encounter school and other services. Having to deal with these barriers on a more personal level, rather than a secondary party has been challenging and far more emotional than expected. It has opened my eyes further to the level of inequality and just how easily we accept its presence.
What helps inspire you?
My mother, family, husband and two sons. They are committed and supportive in all aspects of my life- even if they do take the opportunity to tease me where possible!
I am also inspired Verfügung wirklich
by a challenge and the chance to take it on. I have teamed up with Joseph Frasier Solicitors LLP who not only shared my vision and passion, but had already started a very fruitful campaign, achieving the Action On Hearing Loss ‘Louder than Words’ charter mark in best practice to Deaf/HOH clients and staff as well as being Highly Commended in the Law Society Excellence awards for excellence in equality and diversity. I am lucky enough to be working for such a forward thinking and progressive firm with real potential to alter attitudes. I can now use this to develop my role further and allow all D/deaf/HOH the same access to legal services as the ‘hearing’ world. This I hope, inspires those like my son and paves the way for others to follow- the way it should be. [external-link title="Click for information on Louder than Words." url="http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/supporting-you/accreditations-assessments-and-training-for-businesses/accreditations/louder-than-words.aspx" text="Click for information on Louder than Words."]
If you could give your younger self advice, what would it be?
To enjoy my youth a little more. I was so eager to be a professional and begin my career in law, that I probably didn’t savour my youth as much as I could have. Hindsight is a wonderful thing to possess.