Post 2 of two posts today.
I am angry. Totally angry. The relay services that is provided in many states have helped the deaf community to reach out to the hearing community in a very easy way. We have gone from typing on the Teletype devices for the deaf (TDD) to now using the Videophone.
But what if the computer or the video phone is out and we must bounce back to the TDD? Think about it.
TDDs may be a bit slower, but the point is, we're reaching out to the relay services to help us communicate to the hearing community. Even in a moment of emergency crisis.
The flooding across the east coast are a testament to that crisis.
Now, 911, which is an emergency services center as mandated by State and Federal laws, can't hang up on a relay call at all. They *must* treat deaf relay calls as if they were an emergency call as well. These operators are trained to work with the deaf, disabled, and people of different languages. It is their responsibility to learn that.
But what about businesses? For years, not only the NAD but also the local deaf community groups and deaf clubs have been trying to reach out to businesses to be prepared for relay calls.
Given the flooding situations along the East Coast area, should a business facing a crisis of many customers calling for emergency help should be allowed to discriminate the type of callers in order to provide the emergency services that customers are looking for?
Let me give you an example: A good deaf friend of mine asked me to come down to her home for help. Unfortunately, I had to tell her that the roads down in to the southern part of PA and through Maryland to Virginia are unreliable at the moment. She was dealing with a flooded basement. Not only did she need me to help in her home, but she needed me to hear on the phone.
Since I couldn't come, she turned to Virginia relay services. She called a business through the relay services. Believe it or not, THEY ACTUALLY HUNG UP ON THE RELAY SERVICES !! This happened 3 times. They thought it was a prank or something. However, given that it was a crisis situation for businesses are customers are calling for help, I look at it as a business that giving preference treatments to hearing callers and forcing the deaf callers to find a hearing person in order to get help.
That is what my friend was forced to do: finding a hearing friend in order to get emergency services for her home.
UPDATE: Her personal account of the situation: http://deafness.about.com/b/2011/09/09/being-deaf-in-a-crisis.htm
I believe personally that it was a blatant discrimination. According to Robert Goodwin, who says that some businesses are not aware of relay services as he says he sees it from time to time. I said "big bullshit!".
This is 2011 not 1970s, 1980s, 1990s or 200os. We're not in the age of the TTY relay services any more!
As I said, NAD and local deaf community chapters have reached out and communicated with businesses to come to expect communication with the deaf community through the relay services. Even in times of crisis.
What will it take for a business to realize that the state relay services is a deaf customer on the other end of the line? Should they be served with legal papers of discrimination lawsuit and splashed across the media outlets?
Or should they be given a second chance by the deaf community that these business should take advantages of handling a relay services workshops?
I can understand that businesses want to make a profit in the times of crisis. But discrimination shouldn't even happen as well. A lawsuit would destroy their business as well.
It's time for all businesses, whatever they're established or new, to get on the ball and get connected with the deaf community through the relay services. They need to train their staff as well.
Let's hope it doesn't have to take a new state law that makes it a crime for hearing people to turn away state relay service for the deaf from them. 911 can't do that and they know it. (but they've been able to get away with it from time to time.).
So business owners get with today's time. Learn about the state relay services for the deaf. Look at it as an extension of your business to potential deaf customers. There's income to be made here as well.