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Why are the deaf overlooked?



Published: Tue, August 14, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Why are the deaf overlooked?

This letter is in reference to the column, “Disability rights go global” featured in The Vindicator on Aug. 7.

Bob Dole, the article’s author and the Republican candidate for president in 1996, knows the hardships that disabled Americans endure these days. According to the 2009 report by the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission, 70 percent of the disabled are unemployed, and many deaf clients are under-served and face accessibility issues in employment and in health care programs.

During Dole’s term with the U.S. Senate, he had a deaf staff member in his office on Capitol Hill. Dole supports human rights for the disabled, including the deaf.

At this point, leaders of several national-level disability organizations are actively involved in speaking engagements to support a resolution on the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) before Election Day in November.

On July 25, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) urged deaf leaders of state associations of the deaf to take immediate action by calling U.S. senators to support the ratification of the CRPD which my association’s officers, and I did.

A few days ago I watched the Democratic National Convention Platform Draft Committee’s July 27 hearing on C-SPAN. This three-day hearing at the Marquette Hotel in Minneapolis, Minn., was chaired by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

One of the speakers who gave testimony on CRPD was a hearing administrator of a national organization for the disabled. To my disappointment, no representative from a national organization of the deaf or from Minnesota’s deaf affiliates was in attendance at the committee meeting. In our country, deaf Americans are under-served and under-appreciated.

The question is why do American politicians reach out to disabled leaders who can hear, not the deaf?

Irene Tunanidas, Boardman

The writer is vice president of the Ohio Association of the Deaf.


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