Tuesday, October 03, 2006

352: George Allen: Macaca, Deaf people!

There have been some blogs about the FCC sending exemptions to people so they don't have to close caption programming on television. Now from the Virginia Young Democrats:
Advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing packed the most recent hearing of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on September 26, 2006 in protest of two major decisions that roll back the rights of the deaf and hearing impaired to closed captioning of emergency information and television programming, and the procedural irregularities surrounding those moves. Virginia advocacy groups such as the Northern Virginia Resource Center for the Deaf, are outraged by the series of steps taken by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. Despite serving on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FCC, Senator George Allen has met the deaf community’s protests with a stony silence!

First, in August, the FCC distributed a “Clarification” to TV stations in the top 25 major markets in the country that essentially eviscerated requirements that emergency information be provided through closed captioning to the deaf and hard of hearing. According to this FCC decision, all that the TV stations needed to do in emergency situations was “try” to provide captions. If the TV stations said they couldn’t do it and presented critical information through some other form of visual presentation, the commission would not second guess their judgment – even if it put lives at risk by not providing adequate details about tornadoes, hurricanes, forest fires, floods or other threats. In light of the breach of public trust by the federal government to persons with disabilities during Katrina, it is a solemn responsibility of our elected leaders to ensure that everyone has the information that is publicly available, which will allow people to make decisions consistent with their well-being.

This is the problem with "deregulation": it puts lives at risks. TV programs are one thing, although God knows we are paying customers too and entertainment should make sure they can reach as many people as possible (you can BET they're not going to take off spanish-language options.) Now they're putting the safety of thousands of Deaf people at risk. Or maybe we should say MORE at risk. Go back to my post of one year ago, No Information: Deaf in the Hurricane:
The Louisiana School for the Deaf is reported to be providing a temporary place for deaf people who are homeless, serving meals and washing clothes. However, the school could not take people who had health problems or require medication. There are also reports that many deaf people in Louisiana lost their homes and all their possessions, and some are now in the Houston Astrodome, feeling lost without communication and unsure where to turn for help.

Local news in one area of Louisiana does not have captioning or other visual information, so people who are deaf and hard of hearing are having to get their information from national news programs, just like so many of those in New York on 9/11. Unfortunately, those national news programs do not provide specific information about what is going on in their local area as their local stations do.-this is a huge problem all over the country. local news agencies - NY1 is among them - do not provide closed captioning. it's not likely the money will appear for this with Bush in charge.

It's sick, sick, SICK that one year after Katrina, they're cutting corners and effectively making it more likely people will die. Luckily, you CAN do something. Go to the National Association for the Deaf website and TAKE ACTION against this SICK indecency!

Note: crossposted at Daily Kos.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why should Deaf people pay taxes if the government doesn't protect them? What a crazy idea, that government should protect the people!