Challenging Ableism

I’m a bit busy with offline work, so apologies for the lazy posting…

A Key Moment

There’s a LTTE in the RG today, concerning the lack of close-captioning on local television, which I thought interesting.

It’s perhaps a little known fact that I first got into ‘formal’ politics to improve things for special needs students at my undergraduate university.  Having special needs myself, although relatively minor compared to others (a form of dyslexia/dyspraxia, primarily auditory), I ran for, and was elected to, the Trent University’s Student Union as their Special Needs Commissioner.

I’m far from an expert on the issues affecting the impaired in our population – I’m not even sure of the politically correct terms to be frank – it remains one of my main concerns, politically speaking.  It was part of what got me involved, politically, and it’s something I intend to keep central to my continuing activism.

Comments on the LTTE

As I’m a little busy, but I thought it an important issue, here’s my comments to that letter, in the hope of encouraging discussion on this, and related, issues.

The hearing impaired are faced at a great disadvantage above and beyond the lack of close-captioning on our TV.
The TV’s mounted at the bus station appear to have been out of action for years now; they should be used to communicate information (schedules, strikes, accidents, public service announcements) to the benefit of hearing impaired – and also of benefit to our visitors, unfamiliar with our public transport systems.

A similar system on the buses itself, to indicate key stops/landmarks and public announcements would also be of benefit for the hearing impaired and visitors.

The recent announcements to send text-messages out to cell-phone users concerning hurricanes and EMO announcements is good, and this should be of particular use for the hearing impaired – I don’t know if the existing service is free or not, but I hope it is for the hearing impaired and seniors.

I understand that there is a device that attaches to the dashboard of cars, which identifies emergency vehicles sirens and provides a visible signal, allowing hearing impaired (and this could benefit also those who listen to loud music!) to know when to take action in advance, rather than being caught out at the last second only when the emergency vehicle and its lights are visible.

In addition to close-captioning, it would be advisable to have sign-language interpreters for at least our local channels programming (the news, mostly).

Personally, I believe that every front-line part of Government Departments should have someone capable of communicating in sign-language (American Sign Language – ASL – is the dominant one in Bermuda) to facilitate this – and ASL should be offered as a second language option in our school system.

Quite frankly, there’s a lot of work that needs done to make our island a less discriminating one against those of our population (and visitors) with various impairments.

As far as I can see, this is every much a civil-rights issue as the days of racial segregation – and one might even argue that our society maintains a form of segregation towards those in our population with various impairments.

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One thought on “Challenging Ableism

  1. This deserves more attention since it significantly affects an important sector of our community…

    At least one of the local TV broadcasters should have considered hiring an on-air interpreter for the TV news. Even if it would be just for the ‘headline stories’, it would show something, assuming that CC functionality would be cost-prohibitive. But this is 2013. We’re at least 20 years late (probably 30) on this kind of thing.

    One of the various gaffes by the powers that be in the design and build of the revamped central bus terminal was allowing the TV screens to be exposed to the elements. Now we have a batch of rusting hulks of equipment, sitting useless.They’d have been better off with a more enclosed screen area with scrolling or flipping data on bus schedules, delays and other key information (drivers’ strike? Hell yes we want to know).

    Initiatives like having schedule information or ‘upcoming stops’ in the buses themselves would be a real plus, but I’m afraid with the apparent lack of funds available as it is, we’re going to be stuck with this antiquated system for at least ten more years. At least the drivers have a snazzy control center thing, to go along with the smaller-capacity handicapped-friendly-but-not-really buses that they brought in.

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