DeafWire Edition – 30 July 2022

Weekly DEAFWIRE news recaps
Full DEAFWIRE videos can be seen


Walmart violates disability law

Walmart, an American operator of discount stores, was accused of violating a disability rights law when refusing to provide a work coach to a DeafBlind employee, Paul Reina of Beloit, Wisconsin. When a new manager was appointed, Paul, after working for 16 years, had to start from scratch and resubmit all the necessary paperwork. Walmart cut him off.

The jury awarded Paul $200,000 in compensation and $5 million in punitive damages. Walmart, however, still denies they were wrong and claims that the employee could not perform the essential duties of his job either with or without reasonable accommodations.


Gallaudet security licence expired

Patrick Rader, Gallaudet University’s Field Manager, announced that the University broke the law. Since October 2021, Gallaudet’s Department of Public Safety, DPS, did not have an active licence to provide security on Gallaudet Campus. While waiting for a renewal, campus officers cannot wear uniforms or badges or drive marked vehicles. 

The DPS will work with the Metro Police Department to provide support in the event of incidents. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, DCRA, will fine Gallaudet for not having the proper paperwork and they should not be providing any type of security services at all.


Face masks a barrier to learning

Giselle Nissenbaum, a 23-year-old Jewish-American Deaf teacher in Israel, shared that face masks have caused communication barriers at work. Due to COVID-19 regulations, they had to wear face masks at school, which made it impossible to read lips which made teaching difficult. She decided to teach her students Israeli Sign Language to solve the issue.

Giselle volunteers at the Community Centre for the Deaf in Rishon Lezion where Deaf seniors teach her sign language and she teaches them American Sign Language. Giselle became a teacher as part of the Masa Teachers program with Israel Experience, which offers a 10-month fellowship for college graduates who want to make a difference.


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Festival Clin d'Oeil

Between June 30 and July 3rd, more than 20,000 people gathered in Reims, France to attend the 10th Clin d’Oeil Festival. The festival was first started in 2003 by Rémois David de Keyzer. Clin d’Oeil is currently the only major festival in the world that celebrates sign language with all the diversity of its culture and art forms.

This year, South Korea was selected as the guest country to showcase Deaf culture. In 2019, Canada was the guest country. There were educational and artistic workshops, street entertainment, theatre and music performances, film competitions, professional and artistic exhibitions, and a Deaf party. Oscar-winner Troy Kotsur from “CODA” was also in attendance.


Deaf barista at Hilton Hotel

Deaf-owned business Employ & Empower Deaf (eDeaf) connected a Deaf woman, Phumzile Mazibuko, with Ciro training to help her become a professional barista at the Hilton Hotel. She went through training for three months and was immediately offered a job. Phumzile said she gets along great with customers and the sign language chart to order drinks have helped.

Nicky Bezuidenhout of eDeaf said over 80% of Deaf people in South Africa are unemployed and the company seeks to change that alarming statistic. There are many government incentives on offer to sponsor training for Deaf people and it’s eDeaf’s role to ensure the integration is smooth and placements are set up for success.


Bank refuses to use interpreter

In Ireland, a bank refused to communicate with Sofiya Kalinova, a Deaf woman, through a sign language interpreter when she contacted them about having difficulties with her online banking password. The bank manager said the bank cannot do anything because the interpreter was a third party and told Sofiya to come into the bank with proof of ID to resolve the issue.

Sofiya wrote several complaints to the bank which were unsuccessful. Her argument was that a sign language interpreter is an essential aid to the Deaf person in the same way as a guide dog is for a blind person. The Free Legal Advice Centre represented Sofiya in the matter. She won the case and was awarded  €8,500 in compensation.

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