There they go… again

Last month at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) meeting, a democratic commissioner and a republican commissioner both quoted President Ronald Reagan. Given that this is in vogue, I decided to pull a quote myself “There they go again.”

I received a press release a couple of weeks ago announcing that Communications Services for the Deaf (CSD) is going to spin off the video interpreting services into a for-profit company. CSD has helped a lot of people, and provided many services. Their press release, unfortunately, contained a huge mistake.

The CSD press release stated: “VRS offers the nation’s 28 million deaf and hard of hearing individuals the ability to communicate using sign language when making telephone calls.” As I have stated many times, the most generous estimates are that 500,000 people utilize sign language to communicate in our country.

Every time an organization states or implies that 28 million people use sign language, it has a negative impact for the more than 97% of people with hearing loss who do not use sign language. It hurts our advocacy efforts to increase services that really will help the majority of the in this country with hearing loss.

When I point out errors like the one in the CSD press release, I am inevitably called an audist, or someone will say that I am “anti-sign language.” All of this is done to draw attention away from the facts. Some organizations or agencies have responded in recent years by adding “and hard of hearing” to their names or mission statements. They did not change, or offer any new services, but made the change to keep the government money flowing in.