September means DEAF AWARENESS MONTH

Dr. I. King Jordan

I’ve become busier once again this semester driving some of the over 40,000 UA Wildcat students, mostly to and from campus and of course the bar scene! They certainly know how to party! It’s a good thing I’m Deaf, because many times, drunk students will like playing very loud music in the car — which I naturally love feeling the vibrations of! I’m glad to do my job, making sure they get home safely!

With so many events starting in September, such as school and the NFL season, it’s also a great month for Deaf people. September is when people everywhere celebrate Deaf Awareness Month! Throughout this month, I’ll share a few historical moments and some news on my timeline. Be sure to check back often!

Many agree that the most pivotal moment in Deaf history was the “Deaf President Now!” civil rights movement that took place at Gallaudet University in March 1988. This is when students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters shut down the campus for a week in protest over the college’s selection of a lesser qualified candidate, who was hearing, over two far more qualified Deaf candidates. Finally, I. King Jordan became the university’s first deaf president in its 124-year history. He retired in 2006, having done many great things during his presidency. The current president, Roberta J. Cordano. J.D., became the university’s first Deaf female president on January 1, 2016; her parents both graduated from Gallaudet. 

Another important milestone was United Parcel Service (UPS) allowing Deaf employees to become delivery drivers in 2009. However, this came only after numerous lawsuits against UPS. UPS argued that Deaf drivers were more likely to get into accidents because they couldn’t hear sirens, screeching tires or other danger signals. This was easily dispelled by evidence showing that Deaf drivers were actually safer drivers than most. To learn more, visit this link: https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/UPS-to-allow-hard-of-hearing-drivers-3227177.php Afterwards, many other companies immediately started accepting applications from people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing who wished to apply for driving positions. 

Another historical victory for deaf and hard of hearing people was the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) 2013 decision to allow them to operate commercial motor vehicles, including large semis. Largely due to the National Association of the Deaf’s long work and its many Deaf truckers, deaf and hard of hearing people now can earn their commerical drivers’ licenses. Read more here:

https://www.nad.org/2013/02/01/dot-recognizes-deaf-and-hard-of-hearing-truck-drivers-in-a-historic-victory-for-deaf-and-hard-of-hearing-truckers-the-united-states-department-of-transportation-dot-announced-today-after-decades/ 

https://cdllife.com/2018/deaf-truck-driver-achieves-dream-and-passes-cdl-test/ 

Yet many argue that the most welcomed technological change is the advent of video relay services (VRS). VRS, funded by the Federal Communications Commission, allows deaf people to use the phone like anyone else, but with a video telephone via a sign language interpreter.  Today, there are numerous VRS companies, including Purple, Sorenson, and Convo, but Convo is the only Deaf-owned and Deaf-operated VRS provider. DEAFinitelyRobb patronizes Convo Relay for its high-quality, seamless VRS options.

But my personal favorite historical moment — for me, anyway — is the launch of DEAFinitelyRobb in 2017! Combining my experience from operating a guided hiking tour company and my personal experiences as a Deaf person who has encountered many cases of discrimination and audism, DEAFinitelyRobb aims to help people learn more about Deaf people, their experiences, their stories, and beyond. DEAFinitelyRobb also provides other Deaf-owned companies who promote here at no cost to them. To sign up, click here.

There is so much to celebrate during Deaf Awareness Month. Be sure to check back often to read my new blogs. Have a great month, everyone!

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