As the UK goes to the polling booths, I interview someone familiar with elections and building support for a campaign. Josef Baines is a successful deaf manager at Interactive in London. He was the first elected President of the Students' Union at Brunel University where he took two degrees. Josef is interested in political work in the future.
Josef - everyone's talking about voting at the moment. You had personal experience of winning an election when you became President of the Student's Union at Brunel. You were the very first Deaf person to achieve this. Can you explain how you did this?
Josef: I spent most of my time going out meeting people, putting up posters of myself, meeting and greeting students at various busy points of the university and spoke in many lectures. I have had to show my face, make myself known and changed my name to Joe to make it easy for people to remember.
What would you say are the most important qualities a person needs to be able to influence others positively?
Josef: They need to be: charismatic, polite, fair, assertive, subtle, patient and positive.
Many see deafness as a barrier to communication, yet people with Deaf friends and colleagues often comment on what strong communication skills they have. You hold a managerial role at work yourself. How do you feel about this issue?
Josef: I would say strong communication skills is down to being bi-cultural (having involvement in both the deaf and hearing communities) and a full understanding of how hearing people structure their thoughts when communicating. For a BSL user without a sign language interpreter, this will be a really challenging issue at work regardless of how well you communicate. The Tories are currently making life very difficult for deaf people by capping their Access to Work support. Can you imagine Access to Work doing this to a very busy Prime Minister, by putting a cap on his support and reduce his ability from running a country?
Resilience is a quality everyone needs, but particularly those trying to lead the country. Would you have any advice for the incoming new MPs?
Josef: Really listen to the community and fully understand their needs. The MPS must keep them close to their hearts and remember why they got elected in the first place. Don't be elitist.
Thank you and good luck for your future!