UNITED STATES—A friend of mine shared a link to a video that really disturbed me over the weekend. It involved a deaf woman who was denied service at a Dunkin’ Donuts establishment in Encino, California. The woman posted a tearful video sharing her tale of just feeling defeated and frustrated that a place that she frequently visited denied her service because she could not hear. I hate to say this, but if you have seen that video and it did not strike your emotions that concern me greatly.
I think this video really frustrated me because I do know deaf people in real life and I’ve heard all types of stories of discrimination they have endured because of their deafness. I remember hearing a local reporter indicate her brother being deaf and that he relies on lip reading to communicate and it struck me that is near impossible for deaf individuals to do as a result of the pandemic. Why? People are wearing masks. You can’t read lips with a mask. The past two years have been a massive struggle for individuals who are deaf because of that.
It finally hit me; damn we can be a selfish community at times. We don’t think about others and their needs. I was horrified, just horrified that not a single staff member at this Dunkin’ Donuts establishment did not do more to help this woman. I mean the staff member refused to take off her mask, even though Plexiglas was separating her from the customer. Look I get it with COVID-19; some are more worried than others. I get it, but c’mon this woman was asking for service and she was denied it because she cannot hear.
Tell me in what world is that fair. I’ll tell you it is not! Even if you didn’t want to remove your mask, you could have taken or gotten some paper and communicated with this customer that way. Making matters worse is the manager coming out and then refusing to help the customer as well. I felt this woman’s pain, but I don’t understand her pain fully because I’m not deaf. That would indeed make my boil blood knowing that I’m being denied service or the right to have service because I am deaf.
A lot of people consider someone who is deaf as being disabled and that is not the case. They cannot hear, that doesn’t mean they are unable to communicate. They have ASL, many lip read and some actually speak. There are these misconceptions that linger out there that so many people need to educate themselves on. I mean do we actually appreciate the fact that those of us who can hear can actually hear. We have a sense that those who are deaf do not and we look at it as people who can’t hear are different from everyone else.
They are not. They are still human beings, they still deserve respect and they deserve to be heard people. You should NOT be denied service no matter where you go because you are deaf. Deaf people still function and operate just like other human beings, unfortunately they cannot hear, but for many of them it is not the end of the world they embrace it. I don’t like sharing personal tales, but I know a deaf individual who has been desperately attempting to seek medical attention and has been denied service at countless hospitals and medical facilities because they are deaf. Tell me again how is that possible, how is that fair? It is not, physicians and their idiotic staff can’t take a moment and try to be patient and communicate with my friend via paper or their interpreter who is right by their side? Again make it make sense cause I cannot understand it and it boils my blood to the core that people can be so cruel in not attempting to help those in need.
I just want people to place themselves in the shoes of a deaf person, how would you feel if you were trying to get help, but no one was willing to help you because they didn’t want to take a little more time to assist you because you cannot hear sounds. It would really frustrate you and now you can see how the deaf feel. Do not treat the deaf like they’re less of a person because they cannot hear. They are still human beings and they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and so many are not because people are just ignorant, lazy and don’t feel like they have time to be bothered or have to put in a little extra time to communicate.
I’ve always wanted to learn ASL while in college, but found myself in a pickle because the courses I needed to graduate always conflicted with the ASL classes I wanted to take, but the more I hear these stories about deaf people being treated with such ignorance it makes me want to learn ASL that much more. I don’t like to see videos like my friend shared with me over the weekend, I don’t want to keep hearing these stories of mistreatment. We need to do better as human beings.
Most deaf individuals do NOT see the inability to hear as a disability and those of us who can hear should not treat them a certain way as a result. I want to be able to step in and assist if such a situation arises because you never know what a difference you can make by helping one communicate who might have difficulty because others are not willing to adjust how they normally communicate.
As noted, I want to hear your stories about mistreatment because this can no longer be ignored. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, if you are a physician or primary care doctor who can assist my friend who is deaf who has been desperate for nearly a year, if not longer to see a doctor to be properly treated email me as well.