Rightful Presence in Justice: Challenging ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620)

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I am writing this out of my great concern to respond what Congress wants to pass so-called The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Education and Reform Act of 2017 [H.R. 620] this coming Thursday, September 14th. From the moment of its passage in 1990, it has quickly reached an unprecedented global scope, overwhelming the human rights formed by Deaf people because of Deaf President Now (DPN) in 1988 to the waves of marginalized people from shore to shore in America upheavals of earlier decades.

ADA became important for everyone including Deaf people and Disabled people. The doors were open. They were left out for generations. It reminds me of a movie called Music Within based on a true story. Richard Pimentel who lost his hearing during war in Vietnam then comes home and became oppressed after that then he became a disability rights advocate. One scene where he and his friend in a wheelchair went into a restaurant in Portland, Oregon and the waitress asked them to leave because they were not “standard” people according to a law called “Ugly Laws” so controversial that made people hate people who had disabilities.

The law continued to practice for almost 100 years from late 1860s until 1970s– several American cities followed the law where people were “unsightly” or “unseemly” to appear in public then it was removed from the law books. ADA of 1990 recognized the growing pain of ugly laws and gave those people with disabilities to have rights. No more hatred. Sandra Fredman in her book, Discrimination Law in 2011, writes:

Individuals with disabilities are a discrete and insular minority who have been faced with restrictions and limitations, subjected to a history of purposeful unequal treatment, and relegated to a position of political powerlessness in our society, based on characteristics that are beyond the control of such individuals and resulting from stereotypic assumptions not truly indicative of the individual ability of such individuals to participate in, and contribute to, society.

Tyler Ray, Americans Civil Liberties Union [ACLU] Washington Legislative Office and Vania Leveille, Senior Legislative Counsel writes on September 6, 2017:

H.R. 620 would completely change the way in which a business is required to comply with the ADA. Instead of requiring that a business comply proactively, the bill would place the burden on the individual who is being denied access. This bill proposes that after an individual with a disability is denied she must first notify the business owner, with exacting specificity, that her civil rights were violated, and then wait for six months to see if the business will make “substantial progress” toward access, before going to a court to order compliance. 

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The key word: “would place the burden on the individual who is being denied access”—isn’t that the same thing that applies to so-called Ugly Laws? The civil rights would be violated in the highest sense of oppression. The disabled people are at a higher risk of rejecting in a bias-motivated attitude. Why should Deaf people and disabled people suffer and deal with Eighth Amendment “nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” in the United States Constitution?

As bad as Congress brought the idea about wanting to pass unlawful H.R. 620, we must remind ourselves that the old-school politicians have since the last removal of Ugly Law in 1970s, at least moved in the direction of making strongest effort possible, through the eyes of public policy, to reduce inequality for Deaf and disabled people. We must also be aware of 1964 Civil Rights Act, and ADA that has carried the legacy in our society to keep and protect the rights of all our citizens. No matter what the cost is. The H.R. 620 is unconstitutional and inhumane!

-JT

Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.

References:

Fredman, Sandra (2011). Discrimination Law [2nd ed.]. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 96.

https://www.aclu.org/blog/disability-rights/congress-wants-change-americans-disabilities-act-and-undermine-civil-rights

 

Stop the Eye of Hate

The term EPHPHATHA, as it appears in the Seal of Gallaudet

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The term EPHPHATHA, as it appears in the Seal of Gallaudet University (see the picture) is strictly a Christian propaganda by putting it in our Deaf minds. It was an Aramaic word used by Christ (Mark 7:31-37) who made a Deaf man to hear. EPHPHATHA means “Be (thou) opened”. The International Standard Version reads the prophecy (Isaiah 35:5): “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf shall be stopped”. Mark 31-37 is a cross-reference, as if the prophecy was fulfilled.

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I do not know exactly why Gallaudet University has this “non-diversifying” term on its official seal. It is an evangelistic effort to impose such a Christian value on all degrees and diplomas? Even university class rings, too! When Gallaudet University changed its name from college, it changed the seal to make it university-like but let alone this Christian EPHPHATHA. Why?

EPHPHATHA means loss of individual liberties, which are their “inalienable rights” of state of being Deaf. Audism needs to be rejected in their eyes and noting that it does led to an unacceptable loss of individual liberty. Gallaudet is flirting with monumental scale with tragic consequences. The whole point is that people who are in the direction to preserve their state of being Deaf should not give up in their own individual liberties. The administration has been seen as executive branch already abusing its authority and allows this word to be around. Deaf people should not sacrifice their freedoms for their ideological utopian dreams to heal the Deaf people into hearing-minded people. Why is the administration so focused on healing Deaf people? Their actions have caused mental and emotional scars that will last a lifetime.

I am hereby submitting the proposal to the Gallaudet community to replace the EPHPHATHA on the seal to implore the creation of a stronger task force dedicated to improve Deaf people to heal from Audism. Deaf people have an unique set of barriers to access services when there is a power dynamics of Audism has committed at Gallaudet. The same university that does not have policy for Audism and the staff may lack a core cultural competence necessary for understanding the unique barriers faced by Deaf people whom I see as survivors. Due to their unique barriers, Deaf people under-report Audism perpetrated against them. The creation of task force to implement a comprehensive training for university staff will improve Deaf people’s access to their rights of being Deaf. The task force has a tremendous opportunity to shape and transform existing services for Deaf people into services that offer comprehensive support, safety and healing to survivors through medical, legal, and social advocacy.

The faculty and administration need to become our important advocates as we the Deaf navigate the legal systems to obtain understanding orders and legal supports from Audism. Mental health can serve as community educators of Audism related to psychological, medical, and social issues faced by Deaf people and can promote healing. Where can best practices and culturally competent protocols be attained? Deafhood Foundation is an organization that offers technical training to stop the power dynamics of Audism. This is an absolutely slam dunk case of negligence.

-JT

Copyright © 2013 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.

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