D/deaf accessibility

#1
Hi Everyone!

My name is Anna and I'm a 3rd year Graphic Design student in London. I am now approaching my Final Major Project and I decided to focus on making our world more accessible/equal for the D/deaf people :)

I would appreciate if you could answer my questions and - if there's anything else you'd like to add that I didn't cover here, please feel free


Here we go! Are there any areas in your daily lives that need improvement in terms of accessibility - I mean public spaces like e.g. train stations, airports or anything else you have in mind? Is there any place/area where you wish could be done more?

Also, I have read a few forums and articles and there were quite a few topics about how D/deaf people have problems with employment - e.g. are afraid to tell the employer about their condition, are discriminated, are being bullied, etc. I know that's quite a tricky one, but is there anything that you wish could be done with this, too?

I know it's a bit of a long post but I would really really appreciate your answers! Anything comes to your mind - let me know :) And also if there's nothing that you can think of - tell me, too!

Thank you so much
 

zeefour

Active Member
#2
Public places? I don't really have any problems. In really loud areas my HAs are worthless, and not a lot of people sign, but that's pretty marginal. I can write things down to communicate with people if I have to. I honestly had a much much harder time getting around places when I was in a wheelchair (I have an autoimmune condition that is the main cause of my hearing loss and it resulted in a spinal cord infection that paralyzed me, I was never supposed to walk again but did and have had flare ups back in the wheelchair, I'm currently standing)

Employment? That's harder. It's not something I could not tell a potential employer. The first time we met or they tried to call me on the phone it would come up, it's not something I've ever wanted to hide. I do remember my first realization of employment discrimination was in high school. I worked at a local pizza place, putting slices in the oven, making salads, running food, etc. I brought a friend of mine who was also DHH, but Deaf she didn't have HAs or a CI or anything and didn't talk like I did, to apply for a job. my boss felt really bad but said it wasn't really the place for her because of safety concerns, being in a kitchen she couldn't announce something hot or her presence and she couldn't hear if other tried to do the same. I was really bummed and tried to come up with ways around it but that was that.

Since then I've been a special needs preschool teacher and worked in hospitality. I can see how in some jobs being HoH has been easier to accomodate than being Deaf from the "get go". But I've had some bad ass Deaf friends who've fought for their right to work places and have an interpreter or whatever they need. I've just noticed, not just with ADA but labor laws and everything along those lines, the more educated and higher level the job is, the more likely those things will be applied. I've worked in shaddy bars and other restaurants and places like that and in my state it's at will so if you raise too big of a stink you'll get fired legally.

I had that problem hosting at a fancy restaurant, walking people to their tables and stuff. The owner would get drunk with his rich friends and grab my ass and other sexual harassment. I knew if I spoke up I'd be fired and everything would be denied and I needed the job while I was in school and as the owner said, good luck finding someone that will hire a Deaf girl. So yeah that's a lot harder.
 
#3
Thank you so much, zeefour - it's really really helpful. Wish people had more understanding of this.
Even though it's not really fair, I can understand that working in the kitchen might be dangerous in this case - my boyfriend is a chef and he got burned quite a couple of times because someone didn't let him know they were behind him with e.g. a very hot pan.
But the other things... I can't imagine. Especially this:

the owner said, good luck finding someone that will hire a Deaf girl. So yeah that's a lot harder.
Just awful!

Do you think people don't want to hire the DHH people because they're scared/unaware of what their condition REALLY means (because, as we know, each condition is different) or because it would be too difficult to make the place accessible for them? Would you see any practical solutions?
 

zeefour

Active Member
#4
Eh I don't think anyone's "scared" of the condition. Honestly I felt that soooooo much more when I've been in a wheelchair. Everywhere I go people would treat me like glass, didn't think I could do things. With my hearing loss... I guess people who don't know me will treat me like I'm dumb (got called a retard a lot in school when I talked which I hated) but as far as a condition... I think people understand hearing loss (or at least think they understand it) way more than "conditions" that cause other disabilities. There's a lot of course people don't understand about hearing loss but they don't know that.

With employers it's become easier IMO because I can apply for jobs online (jobs I know I can do with reasonable accommodations) Once they've seen my resume and had a chance to talk with me via email I'll bring up that I'm hard of hearing and explain what accommodations I might need. They've had a chance to see my strengths and skills before that so they're all more willing to work with me. You might want to talk to someone who doesn't wear HAs/talks, etc. because I know that changes the accommodations I need.

I think the stuff with employers I've encountered that's been the worst isn't just because of being DHH but also because I am a young woman.
 
#5
Honestly I felt that soooooo much more when I've been in a wheelchair. Everywhere I go people would treat me like glass, didn't think I could do things.
Really?! That's so unexpected, I must say. Very surprising that this kind of people still exists, ugh.

When I was starting to think of my FMP, I actually started with disabilities (generally the ones that put people in the wheelchairs). I was googling a lot about it and - weirdly enough - didn't actually find that many insights on it. Which is why I moved on to the D/deaf communities. Now I'm in a dead point as well because seems like D/deaf people don't really have that many areas to improve in their daily lives (or what some consider a daily life struggle, the others don't). Which is why I'm kind of going back with my research and I'm open to other suggestions - like e.g. situation of people using wheelchairs.

Basically, I'm trying to find an area in people's lives that needs improvement and... improve it. I really care about the equality here and would love everyone to feel confident and worthy. If it's about the D/deaf people or disabled - my way of thinking in both cases is quite the same. So, if I'm not taking too much of your time (which I feel like I do!), would you have anything more to add about this 'treating you like a glass' thing? What kind of situations did it happen in? Again, do you think that it's because people are not aware of the fact that people in wheelchairs are not actually... dumb (ehhhhh)?
 

zeefour

Active Member
#6
No worries.

When I was in the wheelchair it happened all the time. I was once at a cocktail type party at a clubhouse with my boyfriend at the time. We were talking with a group of people when suddenly one of the guys working came up and wheeled me away. I was trying to be polite (saying 'Excuse me?' and "Thank you but I'm good where I was" when I guess I shouldn't have had to feel like I had to be, an able bodied person wouldn't feel the need to be polite if some guy picked them up randomly and tried to carry them away. I got my job as a ski instructor taken even though I was a contacted employee, they weren't going to let me teach in a mono ski. I helped run adaptive ski instructor lessons with my friends who were instructors and me in the sit ski, all the trainees treated me like I would break. Teaching them people with disabilities are just normal people and should be treated as such was just as important as the procedures for the sit ski. They finally got me a job as a "greeter" sitting inside the ski school office. It was humiliating. People treated me like I was developmentally disabled. I'd ride the escalators all the time in my chair it was way more convenient, the only elevators were on the other side of the village and you had to go through all these halls with thick carpet which was really hard to push my chair on. People would freak out and demand I go use to elevator. Stuff like that.

If you still wanted to do something for your FMP for the DHH community, I'd focus on communication. I don't know I do hate when people freak out at me because they think I'm rude when I don't respond in public places when they try to talk to get my attention. Like in the store, in the gym when I'm swimming and they want to share a lap lane, etc. But at the same time I don't think I should have to go around informing everyone I'm HoH/making sure my HAs are always visible. If you have any ideas about what to do to help situations like that that would be awesome.
 
#7
Zeefour, thank you. I can't describe how helpful you were. The least I can do is to keep you updated on what I'm doing.

So far I'm back to the subject of DHH community. I do think that the problem of communication between the DHH and the hearing people is the most unresolved one in this whole thing. But also the most difficult one. I had a talk with my tutor the other day and she told me that this might be a bit too broad of an area? Like, she said - 'find one specific situation where this communication can be improved. Not the general daily life.' I do agree on one hand, but on the other - I find so many comments about DHH people struggling with that. Which makes it a burning problem in need of resolving. But what are the options here? Would you consider using your phone for this kind of communication? Or is this a known and used tool for it but not really effective? Have you had any thoughts on this, like 'Oh God, I wish there was *something*'?

But, even though I felt a bit discouraged after my tutorial, I decided to keep developing this concept. However, just for safety, at the same time, I will develop the problem of communication specifically on the airports. I have read plenty of DHH people's posts about how they manage when travelling and yes - they are used to this way of managing things, but I'm not sure this is how it's supposed to be! It seems so much fuss while everything can be done much easier if there was an appropriate tool for this.
 

Lysander

Active Member
Premium Member
#8
Eh I don't think anyone's "scared" of the condition. Honestly I felt that soooooo much more when I've been in a wheelchair. Everywhere I go people would treat me like glass, didn't think I could do things. With my hearing loss... I guess people who don't know me will treat me like I'm dumb (got called a retard a lot in school when I talked which I hated) but as far as a condition... I think people understand hearing loss (or at least think they understand it) way more than "conditions" that cause other disabilities. There's a lot of course people don't understand about hearing loss but they don't know that.
I often wonder about this with employers. I have a feeling it comes down to misunderstanding and laziness. Misunderstanding in that they assume that deaf people won't be able to interact with the public. I was thinking about this in the context of my job. I'm a Nuclear Medicine and CT Tech. My job is 100% about dealing with the public. I have to ask medical questions, take patient history, explain procedures and risks. All sorts of stuff. There isn't really any part of my job that I feel couldn't be done with pen and paper, or with an iPad. And I work in a hospital where most of the time we are working in teams of 2 or more. I don't see how if there was a situation that required hearing there wouldn't be another person there to help. The laziness comes in when people don't want to work to make the accommodations. They assume it's just easier to hire a hearing person because then they won't have to make any effort to accommodate. Deaf people really do have to work twice as hard to get half the respect.
 
#9
They assume it's just easier to hire a hearing person because then they won't have to make any effort to accommodate. Deaf people really do have to work twice as hard to get half the respect.
That is true. But are there many accommodations that employers would have to make? Or is it just about the loops and they are not aware of this?
 

Lysander

Active Member
Premium Member
#10
I don't honestly know. I mean, I can see that if there was anything really important they would need to provide an interpreter. Plus I think it would be important to have an interpreter during training. There's going to be way too much information to do it on paper. But that's an initial cost and an occasional cost. Interaction with coworkers initially might be awkward. But I'm sure some coworkers will be cool and learn to sign. Plus there are apps like Ava where hearing can talk into them and it transmits to another person's phone. That could also be helpful, then Deaf can type back and it transmits back. The job might need to provide an iPad or something similar to help. But again, all of these seem to be one time fees. In addition there are tax credits that go along that could help offset the cost of these accommodations. Disabled Access Credit, Barrier Removal Tax Deduction, and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit are all federal tax credits to help with this.
 

DeafDucky

Well-Known Member
#11
The interpreter part isn't exactly a one time fee or occasional cost - depending on the job. Some jobs require brief meetings every morning (Hello IT tech world...) or once a week 1-2 hour meetings. And even then there are some jobs that have multiple meetings just about every day.

It gets harder though to schedule interpreters when you know for a fact about 80% of the time the meeting will either get canceled or rescheduled (that happened a lot in my last job).

Some other equipment may include Video Relay machines (Unless they will allow for the software to be installed on the PCs/Macs...), light flashers, amplified handsets (the actual handset or 'inline' type- the inline ones are apparently cheaper...).

I think a lot of is ignorance on the part of hiring managers and they don't bother to ask the job seeker because they're afraid to (considering it's illegal to ask as it COULD point to 'discrimination' if ultimately that this why they were not hired). Not only that they're ignorant on the actual cost (not as expensive as they THINK)- for any accommodation for any disability.