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Two Deaf Passengers Denied Communication by Delta! 😲😲😲

Late sunday night, I was on twitter when I saw a link to a Facebook video from Melissa Yingst (an anchor for DPAN news, Tru Biz and behind the Facebook page MELMIRA) and Socorro Garcia (co-founder of Alma de Muxeristas). I clicked on it and was immediately shocked and outraged! The two were refused communication repeatedly while trying to board their plane and even had the police called on them, who said there was nothing they could to help them and they were forced to reschedule their flight!

I'd like to say that in this day, I can't believe that this kind of discrimination still happens, but it honestly doesn't surprise me, as awful as that might seem. I've seen first-hand by the way people treat and react to both my father (who is extremely hoh and also suffers from awful tinnitus) and my Darling (who is Deaf). 

So what happened? I'll be posting the link to the video that has transcription in the description, and also giving a brief run-down below.

They went to get on their flight at a Detroit airport and learned that their seats weren't together, but were assured by one of the female workers that she had made a note that they were supposed to sit together and that they would be given their adjourning seats when they went to the departure gate. However, when they got to that gate, the second worker repeatedly spoke to them without writing anything down and they were not given seats that were next to one another. Melissa then showed her her iPhone and asked why they were initially told they would be seated together at the front. 

At this, the worker rolled her eyes at them.

When Melissa asked for her to communicate through writing, she finally wrote on a piece of paper that the flight was full and they wouldn't be able to seat them together. Then, when they tried to continue communicating by writing on that piece of paper, the worker crumbled the paper in front of them and threw it away! When Socorro tried to get this piece of paper, the worker shoved her and even got her own phone out and recorded them when she saw that Melissa was recording what she was doing! This video was in the comments of the original video and you can actually hear someone asking the worker if she wants them to call the police, which she says 'yes' to and then a few seconds later, she tells someone (presumably the person who is calling the police) "No more talking. No more talking."! You can clearly see in the video that Socorro is repeatedly trying to communicate and asking for her to communicate to them in writing, which is again and again denied. 

Obviously, the main issue here isn't that they weren't able to sit together, but the way in which they were treated by the worker, named Felicia (she was asked repeatedly for her name, but denied to provide it. Fortunately, she was wearing a name tag, so Melissa was able to get her name) and the repeated refusal and denial of communication. There is no way that this is ok in any way, and I hope that Delta responds quickly and in a way besides trying to sweep things under the rug, like so many companies seem to do nowadays. 

Another thing that is a huge issue is that this didn't happen in a barren and empty hall with only the three of them, there were plenty of people who saw and heard what was going on and yet, no one chose to help Melissa and Socorro. Not when they were being denied communication and being disrespected by Felicia, not even when the police were called and Felicia lied and said that she was assaulted by Socorro. Instead, everyone decided to remain quiet and watch what was going on, and at least one person even helped aid Felicia and called the police on the two of them. It's important that when these kinds of situations happen, that people stop and help d/Deaf/hoh or DeafBlind people, whether it be with helping with communication or calling out those who are actively participating in the discrimination! Everyone wants to say that they would help if given the chance or would stand up to discrimination, yet so often, these are proven to be falsehoods. 

I understand that it can be difficult or even uncomfortable to stand up to what's happening, but stop and think how uncomfortable and traumatised the people being discriminated feel. Nothing will ever change if we don't stand together and fight against audism, however uncomfortable you might feel. Make the people discriminating feel uncomfortable instead and make sure they know that their disgusting behaviour will not be tolerated.

Let 2019 be the year audism dies a long-overdue death.

1 comment

  1. Thank you for this post. It goes without saying that the Delta gate employee was in the wrong in her refusal to communicate further. At the outset, she should have apologized for not being able to honor the request of the inial Delta ticketing agent re: allowing the couople to sit together. And, certainly, she should not have taken away the device through which both parties could communicate: the piece of paper.

    Having known deaf folk, I would not have thought to jump in to aid the passengers because I would not have wanted them to feel as if they were somehow incapable of handling the situation. Of course, the hearing passenger who offered to call the cops behaved in a despicable manner.

    Bottom line: Delta should, ideally, have staff who are fluent in ASL. Barring that, Delta staff should be trained to have an understanding of the deaf community, so that they don't come off as hideously rude when engaging deaf customers.


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