From police stops to medical emergencies, members of the Deaf community often confront significant language barriers when they interact with local government and institutions. In Arlington County, a deaf man alleges he was held for six weeks in a county jail without access to an interpreter. But beyond cases of alleged discrimination, members of the Deaf community say there are deeper problems of cultural misunderstanding and unqualified interpreters. We explore the rights and responsibilities of the Deaf and hearing communities during these vital encounters.
Caroline Jackson Staff Attorney, National Association of the Deaf Law and Advocacy Center Steven Collins Assistant Professor, Department of Interpretation, Gallaudet University; Certified Deaf Interpreter Adam Bartley Interpreter, Gallaudet Interpreting Service Ellen Schein Interpreter, Gallaudet Interpreting Service
Before turning the page on 2014, All Things Considered is paying tribute to some of the people who died this year whose stories you may not have heard — including Marion Downs.i
For more than 30 years, Marion Downs pushed for newborns to be screened for hearing loss soon after birth.
Marion Downs Center
As recently as the early 1990s, if you were born deaf, nobody would know for years. Parents were left to realize that something was amiss when their toddlers were not learning to talk or communicate at a normal pace. A diagnosis that late meant many deaf children never fully developed the ability to use language.
Today, things are drastically different for hard-of-hearing children, thanks to the efforts of a remarkable woman: Marion Downs.
It was just chance that Downs ended up as an audiologist. In the 1930s, she dropped out of college to marry and have children. When her children were old enough to spend their days in school, she wrapped up her bachelor's degree and headed to the University of Denver to register for graduate school.
I'll be the first to admit that I had a little trouble wrapping my brain around this one, but I think I've got it now. Sure the appeal of closed-captioned radio for the hearing impaired is clear, but what wasn't immediately apparent was why, precisely, one would want a standalone box for such information if you could potentially get it just as easily through, say, the station's website. This first iteration (which is very much still in the proof-of-concept phase) is intended for emergency relief organizations like FEMA and NPR and its partners are currently testing it out in the Gulf states. The box uses a tablet as a display, getting emergency information through the radio spectrum, so you can use it when the power is out and your WiFi isn't working -- assuming you've still got juice in your tablet, which powers the box.
Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons, along with Hearing Loss Association of America, has been working with National Public Radio and Towson University for several years to make radio broadcasts accessible. We are close to the finish line! Technology now makes it possible for radio broadcasts to be captioned both over the air and online.The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is being asked for a research grant to do for pilot demonstrations in several cities. We believe CPB is a good match because of its particular responsibility “to encourage the development of programming that involves creative risks and that addresses the needs of unserved and underserved audiences, particularly children and minorities.”
We invite everyone who supports this request for funding to sign onto a letter to Corporation for Public Broadcasting.