Sunday, February 18, 2007

Part II: The contractor at the airport insisted me to...

Holy cow! I have been bombarded with mostly supportive comments, shared stories that almost resemble to mine and suggestions so thank you! Sorry I couldn't vlog this time since I blogged my thoughts from the airport while being stranded during long ungodly hours in the wake of the blizzard! But no wheelchair shoving in my face this time, thank goodness! Now to answer to some of the questions from the commenters who left in my recent vlog and to share suggestions to eliminate this ongoing problem…read on..

Someone said I was at fault for using the sidekick giving away that I am deaf. Fault? So I should not be using it in the plane while hearing people use their devices (that includes sidekick too!) before and after taking off? Also so what that I am deaf? What's wrong with you people who think that way? The only difference is that they get information through the pager announcement first before me. As we all know, deaf travelers tend to find out this kind of information last. I find it interesting, yet sad, that there are internalized oppressors within our oppressed society. What a shame, tsk tsk!!

Someone said that I should have called for a supervisor. In reality, that was not possible since I had to catch the next plane in a limited time. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean I will let this go so no way, Jose!

Someone said that the contractor must be a con artist and an imitator. Do you really think I am that stupid? Actually, I can smell the difference between a con artist and a contractor. He was inside the plane chatting with a flight attendant as she identified me to him. Besides he wore a uniform indicating he worked there and greeted several other contractors who wheeled the disabled while walking by. So he was for real, folks! And one more clarification, he did not touch my arm but offered his arm for me to hold on and I told him a firm no, in fact twice, sheesh.

Someone said I should have brushed him off and not follow him. When you are in the airport and an employee who approaches you, you can’t mess around by not cooperating especially in post 9/11. You are supposed to be civilized and be reasonable. After finding out his intentions, I politely told him several times that it wouldn't be necessary while walking my way to the gate but he tagged along. It was not like I was following him because all that time I've been walking on the way, not out of the way, to the designated gate. Besides he insisted and helped himself by placing my bags on the wheelchair while walking on the way. In addition, I was in a state of shock and disbelief not to mention how tired I was from skiing the moguls the day before not putting me in the mood to haggle.

As you know, when looking back, you should have done this and that but what was done was done. On the other hand, I hope that my story will help you prepare how to react better if you ever have this similar experience in the future. Nevertheless, I'll make damn sure that the person who is in charge will know the details inside and out.

However, I'm not letting this contractor getting away from murder since he dismissed my decision that I didn't need service. That was annoying to me and I will make several pointers to the supervisor in the letter. It is not acceptable for a person's decline of service to be ignored. Paternalism? Harassment? You betcha! And believe me, they are gonna hear that LOUD from me.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) going to a wheelchair room wasn't out of the way. That's right Elizabeth (Mishka Zena), it doesn't make sense for me to walk to the wheelchair room if I truly needed a physical assistance. It doesn't cease to amaze me how some people are so ignorant about the deaf. And some of you were guided to read Braille? How bizarre!

Someone who sat on the board of NorthWest and Delta said that it is the airport employing the contractors not the airlines. I was advised to write a letter to the airport and CC it to the airlines.

Getting to share your similar experiences had confirmed that we still have this epidemic of mistreatment toward deaf individuals by those imbecile employees. Now let’s look for ways to eliminate this absurdity since I am not the only one facing this problem. It is obvious that we still see the need to educate the public since this case scenario is becoming a broken record. So when enough is enough? We are currently living in the advanced so-called Informational Age of the 21st century. Are we going backwards or what ? Trying to get that Geico caveman mentality out of my head!

One of the suggestions I saw was to contact NAD about the need for them to educate these clueless staff members. I will make a note to NAD about what happened but honestly, I don't expect swift action from them.

Well, we are bloggers/vloggers here who had once took visible action to support the unification for Gallaudet, right ? So why don't we help ourselves ? Instead of only just to write an individual letter by ourselves, it would be much more powerful to include countless signatures all in one place to identify this common problem among deaf people not receiving appropriate service. Majority rules, baby! All you have to do is to click on the link to sign the letter of petition that states the message to call for a need in diversity-in-disability training and accessibility. So we can we work together on this folks? I'm not intending to leave NAD out of this, no, because it is important to get them endorse a petition (that is now in the works) to pressure the FCC to make significant changes. I will share you the draft of the petition in part III after getting your input by posting your comments below. It’s for the benefit for all of us. The petition will not only be about the treatment but the lack of accessibility in airports. For instance, we are getting tired of facing T.V. screens with no captions both inside the plane and the airport. This is really no excuse.

Also start planning on how you can make an impact at your hometown airport to ensure that they have received training by including deaf professionals to conduct such workshops. If you could do your homework, (sorry it’s a habit for me to say this as a teacher) call your local airport and ask if there were any workshops provided for employees to learn about disabilities and deaf people lately. Ask if the employees ever get to attend to a workshop presented by a deaf person. If so, then how often did they have the opportunity to be trained? I promise I will give you an A when I get your report, smile!

Please add your comments on what reforms you want to see in the airport. Boy I love this b/vlogging thing to put us together for a cause to see the positive outcome hopefully. This is surely a revolutionary modern approach so let's try this. Thank you for your time.


Lantana said...

Perhaps I am wrong, but I always go to the desk and identify myself as deaf before I even board. I cannot hear the loud speakers, so what else am I to do? I also make sure that the flight attendants know that I have to read lips. Otherwise how am I to know if we have to land at a different airport for some reason?

I have been grounded by fog so many times at the Sacramento airport, they often changed gates on us 2, 3, 4 times! I always look for a friendly soul who is on my flight and tell them my predicament. This has always worked well for me.

I think the problem is (with the wheelchair), they probably use the word "disabled" instead of deaf (or blind). I have heard of blind people being forced to SIT ON A BLANKET which id's them as being blind. There was a big revolt about this, as I recall.

Anonymous said...

Please do understand that the staff at all airports need an update or a refresher course on how to treat different kinds of disabled people. The turnover is so high that I am sure the requirement for training the courtesy staff is overlooked. Consider it as one of your craziest and funniest experience. Try to approach them in a light but sober manner and advise the United personnel as to what should be properly taken care of.

Anonymous said...

I think what you went through is so funny. Know what I would have done if that also happen to me?

Me: You think that I have to ride this wheelchair?

Contractor: Yes. It's the airport policy, so please sit in it.

Then I would RUN in opposite direction and the contractor would be chasing (and pushing the wheelchair) me yelling "Sir! Sir! You have to ride this wheelchair! It's the policy! Stop!" and the people who see everything will wonder why a man that is capable of running need a wheelchair.

But hey, it's that's just me. :-P


Anonymous said...

Don't feel like logging in Blogger right now, but I just wanted to leave a note saying good job!

I volunteer with a local deaf services agency, and we are definitely working with the airport on deaf issues. It also helps that the airport manager has a deaf son. Heh... So if you ever fly to West Michigan, you all just might be surprised at the nice quality of services you all will get. ;)

~ Deaf Pundit

Josh said...

Don't use online petitions, they're pretty much a waste of time.

Written and mailed letters will have much more of an impact. More effort, yes... but more impact.

Anonymous said...

This story is amazing and hilarious in some ways... can't believe that someone would do something like this to you. This reminds me of one day where a hearing student was surprised when I told her that I drove back and forth (as a commuter) to college. She said to me, "Hooowwww??? You can't hear!!!" Jeez! LOL And then I told her that I could see. She was really, really embarrassed after that.

BTW, I heard from somewhere that online petitions aren't regarded as valid because the signatures aren't being witnessed by someone else. I would go the "paper" way instead.

Anonymous said...

Hi Barb, I live and work in Chicago and agree that your treatment was completely inappropriate. If I may suggest, please contact Karen Tamley, who is the Mayor's Commissioner on People with Disabilities. Karen has a disability and is Deaf-supportive. She is trying to get Chicago's airports to be more accessible and appropriate. Clearly, work needs to be done! Her e-mail is Good luck!

Amber Smock
Access Living

jason t. klein said...

i have been in flight few time since i was 19 yrs old and i have alway been plm at plane u name it i did and done it i was like laugh at them or piss off either way .. same as plm with cops or plane or bus and train no matter where i go !!! it making worse for them than i !!! same as my wife didnt like they treating me like that what am i low level ?? moron!!! and now any plane business getting worsse cuz they are losing jobs!!! lost alot of billion since 9/11. what to expect!!!

Ricky said...

Barb, pls email me at -- wanted to talk with you since Winter Deaflympics!


The One and Only Living Queen -- Ridor

Anonymous said...

hey a question can you speak vocally or did you write on a piece of paper or act out everything you tried to say to this man at the O' Hare airport .. the reason i inquire is you said you were on your sk or pager or whatever it is while followin him so this gives the impression you can speak and hear some? or are an amazing muiltasker? lol if you could speak etc and understood him when he was speakin why didnt you just say hey dude i dont need a wheel chair and if you dont bug off i am going to report you for harrassment? lol

Barb DiGi said...

I spoke with him verbally. Yes I have residual hearing and I have already told him, ok. He understood me perfectly clear but he just glued me in. That's right, this was harassment.