OPINION: It’s time to end deaf discrimination


Photo credit/ Autumn Bohner

Contributor Victoria DeFrancis says we’re all human so let’s treat each other like it.

Victoria DeFrancis, Contributor

Although I am a hearing child of deaf parents, I can never truly know what life looks like through the eyes of a deaf person. However, I am able to see firsthand how difficult it is for the deaf community to keep up with the hearing community.

It’s worth mentioning that technological advancements, such as the disability feature on the iPhone, have been able to help improve the lives of the deaf community. However, members of the deaf community still face a number of challenges on a daily basis.

Throughout my life, I have spoken with my parents about the obstacles that they have to face that most hearing people never have to think twice about. I never realized how unfair life can be for them. I’m saddened that they aren’t able to acquire the most basic luxuries as the hearing community has.

I could not imagine not having the ability to hear and I am grateful to be able to be there to help my parents. For example, when my dad visits the city and uses the subway, he cannot hear the announcements. When I’m with him, going anywhere, I have to be extra vigilant.

Recently, I spoke with my dad, as well as his friends who are also deaf, about their struggles to find accommodations for daily activities. One of the most popular topics within the deaf community regarding discrimination is the lack of accomodation for them at drive-thrus.

Unfortunately, members of the deaf community do not have the opportunity to just speak out loud and order like the rest of us. Recently, I came across a heartbreaking video of a woman being yelled at, and disrespected by a worker at a drive-thru. While watching the disappointing video, it made me feel angry for my parents. Fortunately, my parents have not experienced issues, like the one seen in the video, at drive-thrus.

However, some quick service restaurants are showing some improvement with accommodating all customers. In October 2018, the first ever Signing Starbucks location opened up for business in Washington D.C. Also when I visited Canada last summer, my dad and I were pleasantly surprised when the employee taking our order began to sign. It took some weight off both our shoulders.

Members of the deaf community may also face hurdles at their place of work. At my dad’s workplace, he is very respected and gets along well with everyone he works with. Even though he has worked there for quite some time, he sometimes misses out on certain announcements.

A few months ago, there was a day where he was the last worker to go home because no one notified him that everyone had left early for a half day. This frustrated me more than him, I think, and I cannot understand how he was the odd one out. This was not intended with malice, but there is no excuse for this kind of mistake.

Traveling can be another obstacle for the deaf community to overcome. One complaint my dad shared with me was the fact that there are hotels that do not properly follow the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Passed in July 1990, Section 806.3 of this act states that hotels are required to offer accommodations such as audible and visible devices to alert guests with hearing disabilities.

As a hearing person and child of deaf parents, my eyes are opened a bit more to what it’s like for them and others with hearing disabilities have to deal with on a daily basis. Unfortunately, not every deaf person has the luxury of having someone to watch their back for them. My parents are fortunate enough to have two kids who can do that for them.

To ensure that the right measures are being taken to protect those with disabilities, contact your representatives and be vigilant with noncompliance of the ADA. The deaf community must be included just like the rest of us. We’re all human, let’s treat each other like it.

Contact the writer: [email protected]