Deafness Forum Wins Innovation Award
19 March 2001 at 12:03 pm
E-mails are now part of daily life, but the Deafness Forum’s clever use of the e-mail technology won it high praise in the recent 2001 Ericsson Innovation Awards.
The Deafness Forum of Australia was Highly Commended in the ‘non-profit’ or government category of this year’s awards.
The organisation’s Board used to meet face-to-face for two and a half days on four occasions a year and receive weekly mailings of information from the CEO. It now meets face-to-face for less than two days only twice a year but in between meets continuously by e-mail.
The Board receives most information by e-mail as soon as it becomes available. Discussion on all Board business takes place via e-mail exchanges with the CEO acting as facilitator and drawing views together. Board motions are circulated via e-mail for voting after it is judged that there has been sufficient discussion and votes are returned by e-mail.
Similarly, people representing them on various committee and advisory bodies now use e-mail reference groups to develop ideas. Members and non-member organisations operating in the deafness sector are consulted by e-mail wherever possible to facilitate the development of agreed national policy positions for presentation to government and other relevant bodies.
CEO Brian Rope acknowledges that necessity had been the primary motivator in the organisation’s innovative use of e-mail technology especially when the Deafness Forum’s mission is to improve the quality of life for people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment.
Rope says making good use of e-mail technology has cut costs significantly, particularly in the area of Board meetings where they had special requirements such as the need for interpreters, hearing augmentation and other assistance to enable communication between the deaf, hearing impaired and hearing people.
He says face-to-face meetings typically cost around $10,000 while the costs of virtual board meetings using e-mail are negligible.
As well he says discussing issues by e-mail is also much faster and a more effective way of sharing views and reaching agreements than traditional mail and faxes.
The Managing Director of Ericsson Australia, Karl Sundstrom, says the purpose of these inaugural awards is to recognise businesses that are improving the productivity of their work places through advanced technology.
The winner in the Non-profit/government sector was the City of Whittlesea in Victoria for its use of global positioning system technology to significantly decrease fire hazard inspection and report.