Deaf Protest – One Guy’s Opinion…

By Billy Koch
June 5, 2009

Okay folks – I just got an email about a pending protest that some deaf individuals are planning to have on June 16th. Now I am going to have to admit, I am really bothered by this approach. I am speaking from a personal level – this approach in my opinion will not reflect positively with us and the deaf community. We, the deaf community have already been reflected negatively by the people from our two protests at Gallaudet. The first one was acceptable and totally understandable – but the second one people were like again??

Granted they may NOT understand why, but its is not the point. The point is we need to make our opportunities in a positive manner and have people to reflect off us in a positive manner. For example I am going to say this – we are at fault for where we are. As I wrote in my “Together we Stand, Divided we Fall” article. We are just as responsible for this situation as they the hearing community is. You ask why? I’ll tell you why!

What have we done in the last 20 years? Have we made an effort to create an organization that could be a political and vocal voice for the deaf community? No we haven’t. Instead we whine and cry about what we don’t have. You know from the late 80’s to the mid-90’s we had Deaf Awareness week – which was a wonderful way of exposing the deaf community to the City of Houston. And keep in mind back then we dont have all the technology or media we have now. But by having Deaf Awareness week and utilize this as our opportunity to educate the City of Houston on the people we have in Houston would yield in a much more positive manner. And I know someone has been talking they are looking to start it up again this year! *hands waving* This – I believe would yield more recognition and in a much positive manner than having a protest. Honestly from what I am hearing the community is divided on this protest. And if the community is divided on this protest – then we will fail. We will not look like a strong community.

Keep in mind – everything takes patience – we have to educate the community and the people on our needs. It took me almost two years to get my work to finally provide me a video phone for work. And it was all on education because they don’t understand. All I am asking is, take a step back – lets organize this deaf awareness week – get the media involved so we can utilize this as an opportunity to express ourselves. (those of you who would like to get involved – please do so – Deaf Awareness Week can’t be done just by 1 or 3 people – it requires a COMMUNITY of you!

But what I do ask is, take a step back – pull back lets have Deaf Awareness Week, lets keep trying to educate the community and if next year comes around and we still are being fustrated. Then lets come up with facts, come up with issues, come up with true dedicated information then we as WHOLE can go and protest. I just ask of this from you! Do not lose faith – keep the faith. Lets work together in a positive way and focus on the positives. A protest at this time is not going to help, lets do our part. Create more information, create an organizaton who can help one another, educate the community, and if we are still not getting any positive results then we proceed.

Remember Together we Stand, Divided we Fall. Think about it and choose your path…



6 comments for “Deaf Protest – One Guy’s Opinion…

  1. June 8, 2009 at 6:03 AM


    This email caught my eye & I can’t help but smile at the similarities in the feelings expressed now and back during the first protest at Gallaudet University for a “Deaf President Now” in March, 1988…

    I was fortunate to be there as a graduate student at Gallaudet and on the front lines as history was made…and I learned some valuable lessons in working with the media & politicians in general. There were folks who opposed the protest and those who supported it, but the important thing is that we put aside our differences and worked together for a common cause. I’m not sure that waiting to have a Deaf Awareness Week the most appropriate thing to do to get your legal issues addressed now…I’m also not saying that the Deaf Awareness Week isn’t important, it IS but you need to do much, much more than that…protecting your legal rights is a daily, weekly, monthly, year-round thing…not a onetime event during the year!

    You need to have your act together – the Houston Deaf Rights group needs to organize and put out a list of Issues with concrete examples of each, i.e.: legal rights not being addressed or respected, discrimination, etc. What have you tried in terms of resolving these issues in the past? Again you needs dates & data to prove your case..

    There is a HUGE amount of pre-planning and organizing to be done before your March — Be sure you have other members of the Deaf Community involved – Interpreters, CODAS, Parents of Deaf children, Deaf-Blind, Teachers from Deaf Programs, members of other disability groups, lawyers, etc…everybody knows somebody who know somebody else who has contacts or can help! They should all help you get the word out to the WHOLE Community, not just the Deaf groups, etc, about the March and be in the City Council Chambers when you speak to the Council.

    When you march, keep it peaceful – be sure you have a city permit to march…make sure you are visible, wear similar colors or t-shirts with your slogan on it so people will know who you are

    Alert the TV/News media in advance so they can be there to publicize your march – prepare a flyer to distrubute during the march, see if a local printing company can donate this for you…

    Have ONE Spokes-person to address the City Council – be sure you know the protocol for signing up to speak, which is usually limited to 2-5 minutes, depending on their rules & respect that – be sure to request an Interpreter be there, and bring one along just in case!.

    Prepare a hand out to give to the City Council Mambers which lists your concerns and what you want done to resolve them

    Present your information in a calm, professional manner, with clear “Talking Points” that show each issue. Appeal to the Council’s sense of doing the right thing, appeal to their sense that we are all on the same team, not a “us vs them” approach. Show them you want to help and work with the Council to improve things so Houston can be a model city, contact Advocacy Inc.and the Texas Governor’s Committee for Pesons with Disabilities to get their ideas & support.

    I know the Houston Deaf Rights Organizers are great people and good Leaders, and I wish you all the best!!

    Good luck with your Protest and Remember, “It’s always cheaper to provide access than go to court!”

    Patti E. Singleton, Ph.D.
    [email protected]

  2. June 8, 2009 at 6:04 AM

    Please remember how nature really is, we are almost deaf or going deaf because that’s the way nature is, cruel and mean i wear 2 hearing aids and very glad i have them, but i did not expect them to be provided for me, life owes no one nothing but a kick in the ass and that is what we all get in one form or another, no one likes your deafness or going deafness? to hell with them go out and grab the reins and rid`em cowboy.

    Darren Thomas

  3. Brian Determan
    June 8, 2009 at 12:15 PM

    That’s why we are having a meeting tomorrow night to clear any misconceptions or to provide information in details to anybody who claims that our purpose of having a march is vaque or are skeptical. The meeting is held at Memorial City Mall – Food Court (Gessner Road by I-10 between West Loop 610 and Beltway 8) at 7pm ,Tuesday, June 9th.

  4. Brian Determan
    June 9, 2009 at 6:29 PM

    That’s understandable that those who are not informed on the true agenda of having a march is against the idea of having a march.

    We had facts that had been addressed at our last Deaf community meeting last month. We are having another meeting tonight, and the facts or the information on true agenda will be presented for those who previously were not

    Also, many deaf service providers in Houston who serves our target population has been aware of how the city treats deaf and hard of hearing citizens.

    Back in 1998, two deaf individuals filed a lawsuit against City of Houston as well as Harris County with Department of Justice, Advocacy,Inc., and National Association of the Deaf, and they won. The settlement had been made. NAD’s website has an article about this case so you all may want to check it out. Anyway, even the settlements had
    been made with DOJ, our deaf citizens have ongoing complaints. Apparently, Houston Police frequently ignored their communication policy, based on these citizens’ ongoing complaints, and that also applies to municipal courts.

    For an example, in fact, this year, there were instances that HPD or Harris County Sheriff failed to provide a communication access to these deaf citizens even they requested for an interpreter when they dialed 911. They got arrested instead because HPD listened to hearing
    citizens, and didn’t even bother to try to communicate with the deaf ones.

    Dial 311 and Dial 211 both are not accessible to both of groups of deaf and hard of hearing who use VP or Captel. For TTY users, they claimed that it took them forever.

    Currently, some of these deaf victims already filed a complaint against HPD with a legal assistive organization.

    Again, thank you, Patti, for sharing your experiences and providing a suggested guideline of having a productive march, etc.

    Yes, we have learned through the deaf advocate’s recent participation in other disabled
    activities that our effort to ensure the City’s compliance with ADA and other disabled laws related to deaf/hard of hearing has to be ongoing.

    Will keep you all posted.

  5. Julie Reese
    June 9, 2009 at 9:42 PM

    “That’s understandable that those who are not informed on the true agenda of having a march is against the idea of having a march.”

    Brian, just because we were not “informed” of the true agenda of having a march does NOT mean we are against it. I did hear about it before any of this was posted online.

    I just believe that if a protest takes place, organizers should go to great lengths to post more information and educate the community about what is going on. Only a room full of people at the last Deafness Resource Meeting only knew what was going on, but no one outside that room knew enough information to be aware of the situation (other than providers who serve Deaf and HOH in Houston).

    I believe that Houston Deaf Rights leaders DO have a GOOD cause to lead this protest… I am just strongly urging further education towards the Deaf Community and to make sure the Deaf members fully comprehend what is going on and what they are protesting against.

    Brian, I truly hope all goes smoothly and peacefully and that your voices are heard and that light is shed on what is going on with HPD and City of Houston. 🙂

    Warm Regards,

    Julie Reese

  6. Brian Determan
    June 10, 2009 at 12:33 AM

    Thanks, Julie. I agree with you that everyone needed to be well informed in details on why we are having a march. Our blogspot has been updated.

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