White House rally focuses on deaf grassroots movement

British sign language letter A

Written By: Katrina Mensell 15/9/15

More than 1,200 deaf people from across the nation were joined by hearing supporters recently at the White House to get rally for attention of the significant needs of deaf citizens.

The challenges emphasized by those rallying were lack of equality in jobs, communication and education. The message to Washington was that deaf people want equality in jobs and advancement opportunities, equality so that communication barriers are removed and equality in education for their children.

Deaf people came to make their “voices” heard. They wanted to let the public, Congress and the White House know that it is time for improvements for deaf adults and children.

Many participants attended because of incidents that have occurred in their own lives.

One of the seven rally leaders from across the country, Adam Stoffer from Ohio, explained, “I have been working 25 years without an accident and I have a better work record than many hearing employees. Many employers don’t realize that deaf workers are excellent workers. They often don’t want to give us a chance.”

He pointed out that the deaf are often more visually aware than others and, therefore, very safety conscious.

A female leader, Denai Atych of Florida, has experienced communication discrimination and wants the world to understand that there must be equal access in all public places.

Another key leader, Charlton LeChase, reported that when he was stopped by police, there was no qualified interpreter. He did not understand what the officer was saying, and he ended up with a broken jaw.

“I just needed an interpreter so we could communicate and there would have been no problems,” LaChase says.

In addition to the communication barriers the deaf encounter, LaChase is an example of the inequality in the job market. He has been looking for a job for nine years and has not been able to find one. He knows five languages.

Cheryl McGilvery Quntal of Massachusetts is a deaf mother. “I hope that people will understand why deaf and deaf/blind people are upset,” she says. “They are upset because there are communication barriers. There are not enough qualified, certified interpreters.”

Wesley Avery of Virginia says there’s a video relay system for interpreters online, however, the technology itself is poor and causes lots of communication problems.

“It’s like a car engine that isn’t running well. Once it gets improvements, then the car engine will run smoothly,” he says.

Scott Byrne, who owns a company in New York, hope for a brighter future for the next generation.

“My hope and dream is that our children will not suffer the way my generation has had to suffer,” he says.

The White House rally is the beginning of a movement with a goal of raising awareness of the present inequalities of deaf citizens today.

“When these goals are met and when deaf people have equality in jobs, communication and education, the quality of deaf citizens’ lives will be much improved,” rally leaders say.

The message deaf people want everyone to know: They are good workers, and they need opportunities to be hired. The deaf community hopes communication barriers will be removed and that deaf education in schools will be equal.

Source: The Southern Times



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