New Zealand cricket great asks leaders to experience deafness

Lance Cairns
Lance Cairns

AUCKLAND, NZ–Here’s a novel idea from Down Under. Lance Cairns, a legendary figure in cricket from New Zealand, is asking corporate and community leaders in his country to go deaf for a few hours. The idea, says Cairns, is that if people get a better understanding of what it’s like to have a hearing loss, they may be more motivated to support the National Foundation for the Deaf’s efforts to raise nationwide awareness and funds for its work in preventing hearing loss and supporting people who are hard of hearing or deaf.

Cairns knows well what it’s like to have a real hearing loss–not one that can be cured by taking the plugs out of your ears. Profoundly deaf since age 17, Cairns, now 63, was fitted with a cochlear implant in 2009. Despite his disability, he excelled in cricket. During the 1970s and 1980s, he played on New Zealand’s national team and was twice honored as the New Zealand Cricket Almanack Player of the Year.

Now, as an ambassador for the National Foundation for the Deaf, Cairns is asking his fellow Kiwis to take part in the Silent Leadership Challenge an event that requires them to be hearing impaired for a day. “We’re asking corporate and community leaders to experience what it’s like to have a hearing disability, for a just couple of hours on one day,” he said.

Participants will tackle three communication challenges at work and one at home while wearing bright yellow hearing protectors to simulate deafness. The challenges, to be undertaken on August 2, are a one-to-one meeting, a team meeting, a social get-together, and watching TV with the family (without the assistance of captions).

“A hearing disability can cut you off from other people and significantly diminish your quality of life,” said Cairns. “The Silent Leadership Challenge is a way business and community leaders can help create a better quality of life for the one in six of us who are hearing impaired.”

The fundraising target for the inaugural Silent Leadership Challenge is $100,000. The money raised will directly support the Foundation’s advocacy, support, and prevention work. Further information is available at the Challenge’s web site.