Guy Wonder. Deaf Artist.
There was huge news around about Starbucks announcing about first American Sign Language (ASL) signing store in United States for Deaf community and it is in Washington, D.C; it is perfect location to match our national intellectual movement. It is the Deaf community generates ideas that we all should make commitment to improve unemployment concerns. It is huge news.
First, I’d like to point out some important movement that had generated Deaf community in D.C; As Starbucks opened its first store in America: Seattle, Washington in 1971. The same year in 1971, Frederick Schreiber, former executive director for National Association of the Deaf (NAD) coined Deaf Studies, in his profound thoughts,
“If Deaf people are to get ahead in our time, they must have a better image of themselves and their capabilities. They need concrete exampled of what Deaf people have already done so they can project for themselves a brighter future. If we can have Black studies, Jewish studies, why not Deaf Studies?” (Note: Quoted in Charles Katz, “A Partial History of Deaf Studies, in Deaf Studies VI Conference Proceedings: Making the Connection (Washington, D.C.; College for Continuing Education, Gallaudet University, 1999. 120.)
ASL informs us that human beings have been around for many centuries before the writing culture merged. Deaf people are to get ahead in our time, signing hands are the reason why every day across the nation, including nation’s capital, and it offers life. Don’t forget Deaf President Now (DPN) in 1988. That time in ’88, Starbucks owned 33 stores.
Starbucks have around 8,000 stores. The first signing store in U.S. could be a huge project to discover the root causes of Deaf Studies. Like Schreiber said, “If Deaf people are to get ahead in our time, they must have a better image of themselves and capabilities…” and expand more signing stores across the country.
Starbucks is also one of largest companies in the country that would help former prisoners. It is called ban the box. When I lectured “Deaf Returning Citizens as Forgotten People” at California State University Northridge Social Justice conference sponsored by Deaf Studies Association in 2015, I explained about ban the box as well as Starbucks in that lecture. I also met the creator of “Ban the Box” at Yale Law Conference in 2014.
The District of Columbia has adopted a ban-the-box policy. Deaf returnees (former prisoners) who are living in DC are encouraged to get a job. In this time of crisis, it is Deaf leaders who hold out, by our very nature, the deepest vision of healing and peace that is possible for Deaf returnees.
I hope Starbucks would teach Gallaudet University the same model that does not discriminate Deaf returnees or shame them in the name of hate and suffering and support ‘ban the box’. Same idea that when employers are being interviewed at Gallaudet, they are not required providing background check. I had asked several faculty members at Gallaudet that they never had background check at all. Irony, right? Privileges?
It is now becoming a central theme in the face of Gallaudet University. Deaf returnees must not be more invoked than deeply understood. Not everyone will agree with that, but it is essential for three critical reasons. 1) It is necessary for empowerment. 2) It is necessary for Deaf returnees. 3) It is necessary for the quality of higher education for Deaf returnees.
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:
As a best practice, and consistent with applicable laws, the Commission recommends that employers not ask about convictions on job applications and that, if and when they make such inquires, the inquiries be limited to convictions for which exclusion would be job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.”
Deaf returnees are struggling to find new ideas, avenues, directions, and motivations to change their lives around that is to be understood, appreciated, and used in growing pain stories. Higher education is the highest point of getting out of dark caves, and the critics are due first to the readers themselves, whose judgments can be traced not only to their past but also to their abilities and expectations.
As Starbucks is opening its first signing store in DC, it is something that will generate discussions in Deaf Studies classrooms for sure. Deaf returnees are encouraged to apply to work at this historic Starbucks and show that they can be hardest workers. After all, it is perfect location to match our national intellectual movement.
Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier
This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.