I’m Ádám Kósa, MEP from Hungary since 2009 and the first deaf MEP ever. I am a practicing lawyer. I have been the President of the Hungarian Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing since 2005 and the President of the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament since 2009. I was awarded the first DeafNation Inspiration Awards in politics in the USA in 2012 and the MEP of the Year award for employment and social affairs by The Parliament Magazine in 2013.
Aside from the dry facts of my political career, let me share with you some interesting details of my personal life as well.
The person who has most inspired me in my career was definitely my grandmother, my father’s mother. At that time, when nobody had ever heard of integrated classrooms where deaf children could learn with hearing pupils together, she was the one who helped me every day after school. Her patience and resilience made it possible for me to keep up with my hearing classmates despite my deafness. What she taught me was not only what was on the school curriculum but also wisdom, dignity and the courage to fight.
And there was one more person who helped me a lot at the beginning of my political carrier: Mr Miklós Soltész, Secretary of State, who was a role model for me and inspired me with his work and his humanism. My political style in three words: persevering, consequent and cooperative. The smallest change I made in my political career that had the biggest positive result was my first speech in sign language in the European Parliament. I had the honour of being the very first speaker from the EPP Group in the 2009-2014 legislature. On 15 July 2009 I addressed plenary using my mother tongue, Hungarian Sign Language. The fact that I didn’t speak but used sign-language to communicate had a tremendous effect.
The one piece of technology I could not live without are text messages (SMS). And today also chat and videophone. The mother and the wife of Alexander Graham Bell were both deaf. He carried out experiments in their interest, in a quest for better transmission of sound, when he invented the telephone. Yet, the telephone became a barrier for decades between hearing and deaf people because those with hearing impairments were not able to use it. Today, this barrier is already a thing of the past. With the help of smartphones and tablets connected to the Internet we are able to communicate with each other and with our hearing friends without problems via instant messages or videophones.
A personal achievement that would surely surprise people was my scuba diving with a big white shark. The most humbling thing I have experienced in my career was the moment I met with a deaf-blind person who creates beautiful sculptures despite the fact that he can’t see or hear at all. That was a staggering experience. The most inspirational and influential books I have read are the following: The Pillars of Earth by Ken Follett, Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer awarded novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey, which is a real page-turner, and, finally, a novel by a Hungarian writer, Sándor Márai, Embers. The novel’s Hungarian title is “A gyertyák csonkig égnek” which means “Candles burn to the end” and it tells the story of one long night when two old men who used to be close friends meet and talk to each other until dawn. All these books work like glue, once you start reading you will be unable to put them down until the very last page.
Finally, I would like to share a short video with you: